As a teenager I was a very arrogant and angry person. I cursed a lot, I wouldn’t accept anyone’s opinion, only my own – it was my way or the highway.
When I got my first job I had a great income and had contact with many people. Some of these people were addicts and through spending time with them I started using drugs. At first it was just for fun – maybe once a week – but as time went by I became more and more addicted. I was 22 at the time, and I was addicted to Opium for 8 years. My addiction was a secret; no one knew except my wife, but I was a dictator in my home, so I forbade her from saying a word to anyone. I was a very angry man and my word was final in the household. That is, until I met Jesus Christ and my life changed forever.
'I was shocked, "Is this even possible that
God could be a father to me?" I wondered.'
I tried so many times to quit my addiction. Sometimes I managed to last two days without a fix, but then I overdosed to make up for it. I couldn’t quit on my own. One day I was flicking through the TV channels and I came to a Christian channel where a woman was talking about God’s love and who God really is. This was so new to me because I thought only mullahs and priests could talk about who God is, not just an ordinary woman. So I became interested in what she had to say. Until this point I had only thought of God as an angry God who just wants to punish you and send you to hell no matter how hard you try to please him, but this woman spoke of God as a Father! I was shocked, ‘Is this even possible that God could be a father to me?’ I wondered. From then on I started to watch every day and my thoughts towards God began to change.
I learned about Jesus from that TV channel, and a few days later a pastor on one of the shows asked if anyone wanted to give their heart to Christ. I thought, ‘Yes! I want to become a Christian. I’m tired of Islam, I want to try it and see what Christianity is.’ So I prayed with that pastor on the television, and right at that moment, I felt my life change. All the anger, all the arrogance, it changed instantly! When my wife came home I told her what had happened.
Even though I was a Christian, my addiction continued because I was scared of what would happen if I suddenly stopped. It continued for another four or five months as I carried on watching these Christian programmes. One evening as I watched, a preacher said that God can free you from any bond, even addiction. So I prayed and asked God, ‘Lord Jesus, please, please, if you are there, please remove this addiction from me!’
The next morning when I woke up, I didn’t go for my fix, and this has continued to this day. Just like that, Jesus had healed me from 8 years of Opium addiction! From this point, I got to know Jesus more and more and I started sharing my faith with my friends, even the people I used to take drugs with. They couldn’t believe I’d stopped using and tried to tempt me, but I told them ‘No, I’ve stopped, Christ has set me free.’ Many temptations continued to come my way, but God gave me the strength to say ‘No.’ All my close friends and family could see the drastic change in me, and I shared with them how God had changed my life.
'Our home was searched for Bibles, documents – anything that
could give them information on other believers and especially
pastors and underground churches.'
One day I was at a gathering with several other believers, and suddenly government agents came and arrested us. We were detained and interrogated and accused of speaking against the government. I told them I had become a Christian, why is that a crime? But they were trying to get information from me about my pastor. We were detained and interrogated for two weeks, but I had such peace to be there because of my God my saviour.
We were eventually released on bail. We had to pay a lot of money. Our pastor moved to the Netherlands and asked us to join him, but when we tried to leave the country we were arrested at the airport, our passports confiscated, and we were barred form leaving the country. Our home was searched for Bibles, documents – anything that could give them information on other believers and especially pastors and underground churches. They even tried to bribe my young son with chocolates for information on me and my friends. Eventually, I was sentenced to six months in prison. My interrogator was still after names of people in my spiritual family, but I never told them a thing.
When I tried to start working again, I found my work permission had been denied and I could no longer work. Even though I had changed my number they would still find me, and kept contacting me. One day they said, ‘What if your son gets hit by a car? What if your family is killed in a house-fire in the night?’ I knew they were threatening me and I had one choice: either let go of my belief in Christ, or leave Iran forever.
We decided to leave. Our passports had been confiscated so I had to leave illegally with my wife and children. We paid a man to take us across the boarder to Turkey. Our car was stopped just 10km inside the Turkish boarder. We were so scared because we knew we’d be sent to prison if we were caught. But the beautiful thing was that even though there were ten guards, not one of them asked about us! They just gave the driver a ticket for speeding! I thought, ‘How great is our God! How incredible the way he works and helps his believers get through problems!’ It made me remember how the disciple Peter walked out of prison and no one even noticed him leaving!
'Even in the darkest times in your life he is as close as a father.'
The most important thing I have learned about God and his character is that he is always with you in the hard times in your life. Otherwise I don’t know how I could bear the situations I was in. Even in the darkest times in your life he is as close as a father. In Islam I never saw God this way. I saw God as so far away and never thought he could be so close.
I was in such a bad place in my life and God took all of this and changed it. I was dead, and I was reborn when I accepted Jesus into my heart. I felt it with all my heart and soul that I was reborn. Becoming a Christian doesn’t remove all of life’s problems; you still have doubts, you still have challenges, but it’s that tangible presence of God with you that helps you get though.
It was only God’s work that has brought me out of my situation. I really believe that as long as we live and give our hands to Jesus, he will have the best plans for us, and our future is secure in the hands of Jesus. If anyone truly wants to change, just speak to the living God in your heart and you will see how easily he will change your life forever!