People ask me If I really I need a religion to become a complete person, and what was the reason for my decision to follow Christ and to be baptised now, particularly at the age of 55. I will not try to answer this question by writing a story, but by writing what happened to me and at what point in my life my heart was filled by the light of Jesus and how I came to believe in Jesus.
In Hebrews 11:1-3 we can read, ''Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God's command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.'' And in Hebrews chapter 10 verses 35-39 it says, ''So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that he promised. For in just a little while the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away. But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.'' (NLT)
These verses describe what it means for me to have faith in Jesus. These verses remind me of the faith of my Christian friends in Iran who never gave up their faith and they encourage me to do the same.
My mother inspired me to study other religions. She converted from Judaism and became a Muslim in order to marry my Muslim father. As I started to read what was available to me at that time, I learned that Mary the mother of Jesus was venerated in Islam. She was the only woman ever named in the Quran and her name was mentioned more than 30 times. Jesus's name is mentioned directly and indirectly in more than 90 verses in the Muslim holy book.
As a teenager living through the revolution in Iran, I grew up in a society of compulsory religion, school prayers were mandatory and the authorities were unforgiving. I grew up and witnessed restrictions, torture and brutality (the punishment for having a girlfriend was 100 lashes. People were executed because of their beliefs and their religion. People were stoned to death in the 20th century). How could I carry on believing in Islam without thinking of Jesus? In Islam I felt a lack of love and forgiveness. I was thirsty for something different.
When I grew older I joined the air force as a cadet. But eventually I was fired because I couldn’t stand to be quite anymore. The authorities knew I was talking to other cadets and discussing forbidden topics such as Christianity. Eventually there came a time when I shouted out loud, '' thank God I’m not following you. Thank God I’m a Christian.” My destiny was to be kicked out of the air force and not to be executed like Pastor 'Hossein Soodmand' who was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death because he was a Muslim who converted to Christianity and then became a missionary. Even though the authorities don’t want Pastor Hossein remembered, scripture encourages us to, '' Remember those in prison, as if you were there for yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.'' (NLT, Hebrews 13:3)
I was drawn to Jesus Christ after reading about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. Jesus even forgave those who crucified him. Jesus's generosity touched my heart. I felt a deep love and admiration for him and I was encouraged to follow His way. After I received Jesus Christ, His wonderful light, I felt that I couldn't have hate in my heart for anyone. Even when I was treated unfairly, I learned to be more open minded and more forgiving. I began to recognize Jesus in my life in my everyday actions. I wanted to live my life as Jesus did. I was inspired to always do the right thing. In Iran there was no way for me to openly convert to Christianity, a Muslim who converts to Christianity faces the death penalty. In so many countries in the world there is so much bloodshed and terror everywhere in the name of religion. I see the lack of love in our world as the massacre continues. But Jesus has inspired me to always do the right thing and avoid frustration and to stop feeling hopeless.
After I came to Canada and I was finally free to attend a Christian church. I felt welcomed for the first time in my life. No one cared where I came from or what my religious background was. I just felt love and acceptance. Jesus is guiding me to be a better person. I am so grateful to be baptized and be a part of this welcoming community and I am thankful to the people that helped me make this dream come true. God bless.