A Modern Day Paul in Iran
*Representative photo used to protect believer’s identity
Before he became a believer Paul, who we know from the Bible, dragged Christians out of their houses to put them in prison. Taher* from Iran was no better: he even threatened to kill his own family because they became Christians. But like Paul, he got a vision of the Lord that turned his life upside down.
Taher was the last one you would expect to convert to Christianity. He was well respected because he was a Haji, a pilgrim; a man who had made to Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. His wife was a Haji-eh; she had also made the pilgrimage. So when his daughter came to Christ, Taher was very angry. When his wife also came to Christ, he became even angrier and when finally even his son turned his back on Islam and accepted Christ, he became outraged. He tried to force his family back into Islam in every way he could: he quoted the Koran; he forbade them to visit the church; he beat them up and said he would warn the secret police. At some point he even threatened to kill them with his own bare hands. All to no effect: his family didn’t leave Christ, they left him: they fled abroad without him.
After the first anger of his family leaving him, Taher started feeling lonely. In his despair he memorized Koran verses and focused on Allah, the god he served so passionately that he scared away his own family: “Please show me your face” he begged. The subsequent silence made him doubt; maybe this god he was serving didn’t exist after all and his family was right. He didn’t know if he had to believe Allah or Jesus, the Bible or the Koran. Finally he said: “I will believe in the God who reveals Himself to me.” His prayers were answered by a dream. In his dream he saw a man, riding a donkey. The man came towards him. He had never seen the man before, but the man hugged him and said: “I will clean you from all your sins, you are free: I will give you rest. Believe in me.” Taher asked: “But what will happen if I sin again?” the man on the donkey replied with the same words: “I will clean all your sins.” Then the man on the donkey left, leaving Taher flabbergasted. Another man approached him in his dream: “Do you know the man on the donkey?” the man asked “No, I don’t” Taher replied. “He is Jesus Christ” the man said: “He cleans your sins.” Taher woke up and thought about the dream. When he fell asleep again, he had the same dream. Waking up again, he became afraid. He had served Allah for 45 years, he was a Haji, how could he leave Islam? But when he finally fell asleep again, he got the same dream for the third time. Waking up he knew that Jesus Christ was the only true God.
Taher found the true God, but was doubtful about what he should do next. Everyone in the church knew what he had done. But he realized that he had to go to the church he had forbidden his family to go to, the only place he knew that could tell him more about this man on the donkey. Shyly, he entered the church premises. The Christians present were astonished and at the same time afraid: wasn’t he the man that threatened to kill his own wife, son and daughter because they accepted Christ?
“How can I help you?” asked one of the leaders of the church. The answer was unexpected: “I want to pray, go to church and give my life to Christ” Taher said: “but I don’t know how.” The leader was amazed and still not sure if he could trust Taher; he could be a spy of the government, not an uncommon thing in Iran: “I saw Jesus in a dream, I saw his face!” Taher explained.
Little by little the church leaders started trusting him. Taher was like a baby so eager to learn more about Christ. After being discipled he soon got involved in ministry work, risking his life for Jesus. When his family abroad, who had been praying for him ever since they left him, heard of the change in Taher’s life, they praised God for answering their prayers and happily accepted Taher back into the family. Taher and his family live abroad rejoicing in the fact that they can now all go to church together without any fear.