(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity.)
“My family was very religious in Islam,” said Ali, who grew up in Iran. “However, my father was an alcoholic. When I got to be 11 or 12, I started drinking alcohol also. Then I started using drugs. That changed me into a very angry person. I didn’t have many friends.”
Note: Ali and his family were Shiite [SHEE-ite] Muslims. Imams are very important leaders among Shiites. Many Shiites believe that the 12th imam, who disappeared in the 800s A.D., did not die. They believe he will return as “the Mahdi” at the end of the world. Learn more about Shiites here.
Ali did not have peace. He searched for truth and peace through Muslim rituals. “Every day I read from the prayer book,” he said. “I was really interested in the Mahdi, the 12th imam.” Every Tuesday for five years, Ali visited a well where Iranians believe the 12th imam will appear at the end of time.
But nothing happened and Ali still had no peace.
Finding the Light
After a Christian relative witnessed about their faith to Ali’s parents, his parents became Christians, and Ali’s father quit drinking! “I wrestled with it for six months,” said Ali. “From the bottom of my heart, I prayed that the Mahdi would show himself to me.”
But still nothing happened. Finally, Ali prayed, “Jesus, Messiah, I don’t know You. But if You really died for me, show me something that shows You are real.”
That night, Ali dreamed of a bright light streaming into his room. Later he heard a voice saying, “Go to Tehran.” When he obeyed the voice and went to the capital of Iran, he visited a church in the city. “I fell in love with the gospel and became a believer there. Then I got on my knees, and I repented,” said Ali.
Persecution and Spreading the Word
Muslim relatives did not approve of Ali and his parents’ new faith. The relatives took all of their photos out of family photo albums. “My grandfather kicked us all out,” said Ali. “He got all our money, and he kept it.”
Even though they are persecuted, Ali’s family tells others about Jesus when they get the opportunity. “My goal, my desire, is to really share the gospel with Muslims who are under the control of Islam,” Ali said.
Learn more about Christians in Iran in Bold Believers in Iran, available in the Downloads section.