(Source: VOM Radio. Edited and condensed for length and clarity)
Photo: Interviewing Ebrahim
Internal Exile: Being forced to move from one’s home or community to another place, usually far away from main centers of population.
Ebrahim Firouzi spent seven years in prison in Iran. Most people in Iran are Muslims, but Ebrahim became a follower of Christ after he heard the Good News of Jesus on the Internet.
“What I did was a crime under Islamic law, and you have to pay,” said Ebrahim. “But let me tell you what I actually did, which was basically my involvement with Christian groups, Christian activity, and fellowship.” (Islam is the religion of Muslims.) After Ebrahim got out of prison, the government sent him into internal exile in Iran. Christians who have been through struggles often have words of wisdom that can help others grow in their faith. Read below some of his inspiring words.
Ebrahim had a choice about going to prison. “At one of my court appearances, the judge told me they would free me if I would renounce my faith and convince other [Christians] to renounce their faith,” Ebrahim said. “I never responded to these offers, never argued or compromised in any way. By God’s grace, I endured a few years in prison in exchange for eternity with Him.”
“We can never have anything bigger or more valuable than God Himself and His wonderful presence with us at all times,” Ebrahim continued. “In that sense, I have to say it was absolutely worth it.”
Open to the Truth
“If [the government’s] intention for imprisoning us was to discourage us from sharing the message of the gospel with others, it worked quite the opposite,” said Ebrahim. “Once you are in prison, you realize the value of freedom from bondage even more. Everyone is more open to receive the Good News. I always showed love and grace to others, never projecting any superiority. That is why I never had any bad experiences and was never abused by anyone.”
Living in Exile
Ebrahim described his daily life in exile. “Most days I have to report to local police here. Then I start my day afterwards with resting, preparing meals and most importantly, catching up with reading many new Christian books, seeking God and spending as much time as I can pursuing Him.”
While in exile, Ebrahim now lives very close to the border of a neighboring country. It would not be difficult for him to cross the border and escape his captivity. But he doesn’t do that.
“I was not looking to escape the will of God for my life,” Ebrahim said. “I always believed I must stay and bring change through the gospel and sharing the Good News with my people. God chooses everyone according to His will and has a unique plan and purpose for each one.’
Grace and Strength
“I would like to emphasize that I don’t want people to get discouraged by hearing stories of people like myself being in prison,” said Ebrahim. “But instead, I want them to emphasize on the fact that God is with the church in Iran and gives grace and strength to believers to endure difficult times.”
To Talk About
*What did Ebrahim mean when he said, “By God’s grace, I endured a few years in prison in exchange for eternity with Him”?
*Why do you think people in prison may be more open to hearing the gospel?
*Why does Ebrahim not sneak out of Iran?