Saghar found her seat on the plane. Her headscarf was draped loosely around her head; she tried—and failed—to stop her hands from fidgeting in her lap. If she knew that, at that moment, her name was being called on the loudspeaker in the airport, she would have been even more nervous.
Saghar tried to force herself to lift her head to look out the small window and take one last look at Iran, her home. But fear paralyzed her. If the secret service caught her, she might end up in prison. Perhaps even one of the worst ones.
The plane sat at the gate, the flight attendants making their rounds. And there was nothing Saghar could do but wait. Soon she would be free … or she’d be behind bars.
Saghar grew up in a Muslim family. Her first encounter with Jesus was through a vivid dream. “Follow me,” Jesus said. And it was that simple but powerful call that changed her life forever. In Iran, leaving Islam for Christianity is a dangerous choice.
Did she know what she was getting herself into when she said “yes” to Jesus? Probably not. But as her love for Christ grew, so did her courage. Saghar began to regularly gather with other Christians, worshiping and praying. It was always risky, but the fellowship was the basis of their growth in faith. They shared their lives together—and became family. Eventually, Saghar even decided to take the most dangerous job in church: the pastor.
And then, the unavoidable happened: Iran’s secret service raided the church. The officers entered the apartment where the house church members were meeting. They forced open the door with a crowbar but didn’t raise their voices to avoid the attention of the neighbors. They were silent in their aggression and focused on their objective. Before any of the church members realized what was happening, women were pushed into one room, men into another.
The church members looked at their leader, their eyes full of fear. Their faces asked: What will happen to us? Every Christian in Iran knows what might happen if they’re caught worshiping outside the small number of carefully monitored registered churches. House churches are regularly raided by police, and dozens of Christians end up in prison each year. During interrogations, the security officers lie to believers, entice them to give up the names of other worshipers or church leaders, and work to destroy the church from within.
The raid in Saghar’s church was no different.