In this series, believers from Iran write us about the realities of life as Christians inside the country:
Dear fellow believers,
Hello, I’m Tina*. About 10 years ago, I went to a church with my uncle. After hearing the pastor’s words, I felt that I had found the God that I was looking for. I was always afraid of God, and that is why I felt that I could not communicate with Him. The day I heard the verse in the Bible that says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” a deep peace came to my heart. After the service, I knelt and gave my life to Christ.
My parents, brothers and sisters also gave their lives to the Lord. We live in a very religious city, so we decided to keep our faith secret. My parents always emphasized that we should not talk about our faith with our non-believing family or friends at all.
Now that I am speaking with you, I feel a heavy sadness in my heart. Today is the one year anniversary of the death of my father. About two years ago, my father was infected by a rare disease. There was no cure for this disease, and he had to stay in the hospital, where his situation got worse.
During that year, we were extremely upset because we were worried about our father, but being secret believers, we also had to endure other painful situations. I remember well when my relatives came to our home to see my father; some of them brought things that were not consistent with our beliefs. Some brought the prayers of the Quran written on a small piece of paper and put them beside my father’s bed.
I even remember that once someone brought some soil from Karbala and told me that I should pour it into my father’s mouth with some water. I could not tolerate it anymore and angrily told him, “Do you think I am crazy? I will not do it.” We endured this situation because we did not want to disrespect people.
My father died after a year of illness; we were extremely sad about this. But on top of that, we also endured another because we are secret believers. We could not bury my father as a Christian. My father was buried as a Muslim and Namaz (an Islamic prayer) was read for him by his relatives. The whole funeral was held in an Islamic way. We could not disagree with his family because his family was very religious and faithful to Islamic principles.
For three full days, my uncles played the sound of Quran aloud in the yard. I remember when I turned it off, my uncle spoke to me in a very angry way. I did not say anything in return because I did not want to cause problems with him.
In this situation, my only hope was that my father was in the hands of Christ. Today, when I remember that situation, my heart still aches. I hope that one day everyone in Iran can live and act according to his own beliefs.
*Name changed for security reasons
Father, we thank You for Tina’s faith and that of her family. We thank You for her father’s life and that Tina can remember the hope that he shared with her. We are grieved by their sorrow in having to have her father buried in a Muslim ceremony, and that they had to endure superstitions and messages that were opposed to Christ, but we rejoice that her father now lives in glory with You, whole and worshiping You freely with glad abandon. We pray for Tina and her family; that You will continue to protect them and strengthen their faith, and that You will give them courage and wisdom as they live out their faith in a land hostile to Christ. We pray for those in her family who remain in spiritual darkness; that Your Holy Spirit will draw them to Yourself and give Tina opportunities to share Your gospel message of hope, so that Christ will shine through her life. We pray for freedom in Iran for people to worship and live for You without fear. In the Name of Jesus, whose Spirit has breathed life into our dry bones (Ezekiel 37) that we might live joyfully in You both now and in eternity, Amen.