In this series, believers from inside Iran write us about the realities of life for them.
Last week, secret believer Tina* shared the difficulties her Christian family endured when her father died. Today, Somaye shares the difficulties she faces as a Christian married to a Muslim and the impact of an unbelieving spouse on families.
Hello believing friends,
My name is Somaye and I am 40 years-old. I first heard the message of the gospel nearly fifteen years ago. I attended church several times with my friends, but it was just for fun. It was only after my brother became a believer and I attended church with him that my heart was touched and I also became a believer. That was eight years ago.
Today, one of my friends asked me if I have encountered difficulties with being a Christian woman in Iran. When I thought about her question, my heart ached.
I am married, and my husband and I have two children. My husband is not a believer and most of my problems are a direct result of our religious differences. I know many other Christian Iranian women who have found themselves in the same situation.
I do not have the freedom to attend church whenever I want to. Despite the fact that my husband is not a very religious Muslim, he regularly prevents me from attending church meetings. The church is far from where we live and the meetings are held in the evenings. By the time the meeting is over it is usually dark outside. This is a problem for my husband, so he only allows me to go to meetings once or twice a month.
During the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic year [and the most holy after Ramadan] my husband does not allow me to attend church at all. He says that attending church during this month is a greater sin than in other months. We often fight about this. Also during this month, my husband listens to and reads the Quran constantly while at home. It is hard for me to tolerate that. He tries to fulfil all of his religious obligations in that one month.
Another problem that every Christian woman with an unbelieving husband has to deal with is the upbringing of her children. Undoubtedly, a believing mother likes to raise her child according to the Word of God and she wants her child to learn from the Bible, as well. Unfortunately, this is difficult in Iran because our children are not officially recognized as Christians. Only children from ethnic Christian families can be registered as Christian. Our children have to read and pass the Islamic religious lessons in schools. Raising your children as Christians in a society where the religion and education systems are completely opposed to the Word of God is extremely difficult.
Because I have a non-Christian husband, it is even more difficult for me. When my children were young and my husband was at work, I read the Word of God to them and described Jesus as Lord and Savior. I also taught them Christian songs. But when my husband came back from work and the children sang the songs I had taught them, he would tell them to bring out their Islamic textbooks and he told them that, according to Islam, Jesus was just a prophet and not a God. He told them that Christianity was an incomplete religion and that the Bible was distorted. He also told them that Jesus had promised a prophet would come after him –the prophet Muhammad.
When my daughter was sick, I took her to a church meeting to receive prayer for healing. When my husband found out about it, he wasn’t happy. He took her to an Islamic shrine the next day. They spent the whole day there even though my husband normally never visits shrines. For my children, these two faiths of their parents are very confusing. It has caused them to have difficulties with making decisions in other areas of their lives as well.
I have placed my children in the hands of God and I pray that he touches their hearts.
O Father God, how fervently we pray with Somaye for her children, that You will draw them to Yourself in saving faith. The power of Islam in their life is intense, but what others might use to bring harm, You use for good that Your purposes might be accomplished. And so we pray in confidence for them and for the many believing wives in Iran and for their children. Especially as the month of Muharram draws near beginning October 14, grant these women daily wisdom as they seek to serve You while respecting their husbands. Honor their desire to worship You. When they must listen to their husbands read from the Quran, give them and their children ears to hear only Your Word that they have hidden in their hearts. And as Somaye’s husband sees Christ at work in her life, may Your Spirit draw him to Yourself. We pray for an outpouring of Your Spirit across the whole nation of Iran that Your name might be glorified. In the Name of Jesus, who is “far above every ruler, authority, power, dominion, and every name that can be named, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 1:21) Amen.