Growing up as a strict Muslim in Iran, Taher* always felt like there was something more—like something was missing in his life. But it wasn’t until his youngest daughter, Farah*, became deathly ill with stomach issues that things dramatically changed. Through the healing prayers of Christians his wife Donya knew, Taher and Donya* found Christ.
As followers of Jesus, Taher and Donya committed to surrender everything. But for Muslims in Iran—where it’s actually illegal to convert from Islam—“surrendering all” was no small decision. Despite the risks, Taher and Donya met with other believers and discreetly shared their faith with friends and co-workers.
Like many former Muslims in Iran who take the risk to follow Jesus and be part of a house church, Taher and his family soon became targets. Donya remembers the day secret police showed up at their home, looking for any evidence of their Christian faith. “[In our house church] we used to sing ‘I Surrender All,’” Donya says, “and we always asked each other, ‘Are you ready and willing to surrender everything to Jesus?’”
As the secret police tore through the house, Donya told the Lord: “I’m ready to surrender everything.”
During the raid, Taher was arrested and taken away. Over the next week, he was interrogated relentlessly, every night from midnight to 4 a.m. and throughout the day. When he wasn’t being questioned, Taher stayed in a tiny, three-by-six-foot cell. There, he would lean against the cold block wall and quietly sing—each word bringing him both peace and boldness.
I surrender all
I surrender all
All to Jesus I surrender
All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him
In His presence daily live
Eventually, Taher was released, but the situation in Iran grew increasingly dangerous for him and his whole family. Night and day, they were under constant surveillance. Taher couldn’t find a job. The Iranian authorities made it impossible for them to live freely. Reluctantly, they fled their homeland.
Today, Taher, Donya and their daughters Farah and Arezoo* live as refugees in Turkey where life is extremely difficult and challenging. Their decision to follow Jesus didn’t just spark persecution in Iran—the trickle-down effects of their faith have created an unknown future. Like thousands of Iranian refugees who have fled to Turkey, they are not citizens and have little to no rights.
Yet even during the struggles and difficulty, their joy in Christ overflows.
“Jesus is worth everything,” Donya says, “and in my opinion, we have not paid any price yet.”
Would you take a few minutes to encourage Taher, Donya, Farah and Arezoo as they continue to follow Christ while their hearts ache for home?
In Christ, we are One Church. One Family.
Photo: Farah, Donya, Taher and Arezoo
*Names changed for security reasons.
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