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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

"The long slow death of Afghan women under Taliban rule."

 

For twenty years Afghan women have had a real taste of freedom. But now all of that has drastically changed! What will their fate now be once again under the oppressive rule of the Taliban?



   When the U.S. Military finally pulled out of Afghanistan on August 30, 2021, they not only abandoned billions of dollars worth of valuable equipment that became a gift for the enemy, but they also left behind thousands of American citizens, including Afghan women. For twenty years, Afghan women had enjoyed a new life of freedom where they could go to school, have regular jobs, vote in elections, and be a productive part of society without the stigma of being treated as second class citizens.


However on August 31, 2021, "all of that drastically changed!"


    The Taliban marched into villages and cities and once again assumed their oppressive power. Christians immediately became targets of their terrorism and were hunted down and executed on the spot if Bibles were discovered on their cellphones. Women feared for their lives and began dressing once again in full length burqas in order to escape from being beaten or killed. Despair filled their hearts as they realized that their jobs would soon be terminated and they would become prisoners in their own homes. Reports began circulating claiming that the Taliban were going to be more lenient this time and give more rights to women. However that rumor was soon put to rest when a local female police officer that was six months pregnant was executed in front of her children and husband!

    In the midst of this unforgivable nightmare and chaos created by the incompetent Biden Administration, the State Department publicly admitted their shock that the new Taliban Government did not include any women!

  "We have made clear our expectation that the Afghan people deserve an inclusive government," a State Department spokesperson proclaimed.

   Are you kidding me? Do you really believe that a group of terrorists care about some politically correct inclusion? Do you really believe that they will change the rules of Sharia Law to accommodate women? What planet are you living on?

    The so called rumors of a gentler, kinder Taliban are completely false!

    Women will not be permitted to work. Girls can no longer go to school or leave their homes without a male escort. "You're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy!"

    Veteran war correspondent and reporter Lara Logan, a regular guest on Fox News,


believes that The Taliban will put a small number of women in prominent roles such as doctors in order to create a false image to the media that they have really changed. For people like Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who holds out the possibility that the new government will recognize the "basic rights of its people, including women and girls," this new image will be very believable. He will swallow it "hook, line, and sinker!"

    "It's a long slow death if you are unlucky. If you're lucky you'll just be slaughtered quickly, Lara Logan says with tears in her eyes. "This is what life is like for women under Taliban rule."

    Is there any hope for the Afghan women? Are they really destined to be like sheep taken out to be slaughtered?

    I am a person of prayer. I believe in the power of prayer. I have seen God do amazing things for my Iranian refugee friends in response to the prayers of many people. The Bible teaches that God is committed to the welfare of the oppressed. He is a God that rescues the broken and hurting because human lives are precious to him.

    Psalm 72:12-14, is a beautiful little, but powerful psalm promising deliverance to the oppressed:


    "He will rescue the poor when they cry to him; He will help the oppressed who have no one to defend them.

    He feels pity for the weak and the needy and he will rescue them. He will redeem them from oppression and violence, for their lives are precious to him."


    This is the God I know!  He hears the cries of the oppressed and will deliver them. He understands the suffering of the Afghan women, because he took on human flesh in Christ and lived among us. During his earthly ministry, Jesus showed compassion and love toward women. He lifted them up from the gutters of discrimination. When Muslim women discover Jesus in the gospels and see how he treated women, they are willing to leave Islam in order to follow him.

    Afghan women are not alone. God sees their plight and when we pray, He will act! He hasn't changed. His character of mercy and compassion remains the same. He is a God of irresistible love that wants to lavish his goodness and mercy on us when we pray. The lives of Afghan women are precious to Him!



Friday, February 12, 2021

Mojdeh Fard, "I gave up everything to follow Jesus."

 

Mojdeh Fard's dramatic conversion from a strict Shia Islamic family to Christianity demonstrates the incredible power of the gospel in the heart of a true seeker. For a young Muslim woman in Iran to convert to another religion carries the most serious of consequences. Hadith 9:57, quoting the prophet Mohammed declares, "Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him!"

Despite the risk to her own life and the ridicule of her family, Mojdeh bravely accepted the consequences.

Here is her incredible story!



    I was born in the city of Qom, Iran's holiest city, the seat of Shia Islam, into a very strict Muslim family. As a child, I loved the Prophet Mohammed, the Imams, and all of the Islamic rituals. Religion was at the center of my life. I pursued Allah with all of my heart in order to gain the righteousness required for salvation. In my quest to prove my worthiness to Allah, I surrounded myself with books and immersed myself in the daily rituals. I loved to read books and being at the library had literally become my second home.

    The school where I attended was holding a contest for its students to learn the laws of Islam, the laws for purity and cleanliness, and how to perform our daily prayers. I was very excited to participate in this contest and show my classmates how well I understood our religion, so I began reading many books on this subject. 

    When a Muslim wants to study the traditions of Islam on rituals of cleanliness, washings and preparations for prayer, the Hadith is the best source for this, since it contains the sayings and actions of the Prophet. I began reading the Hadith. I was zealous to learn and understand the rituals. I wanted to not only please my teacher, but my family as well. During my intense study, I came across a quote from the Prophet Mohammed, that would change my life forever! In Islam, a Muslim is to worship only Allah. To worship or prostrate oneself before anything else would be considered blasphemous. In commenting on the Muslim duty of worship, the Prophet made a very interesting observation:

    "Had it been permissible that a person may prostrate himself before another, I would have ordered that a wife should prostrate herself before her husband."

                                                             (Narrated by Ibn Maajah (1853) and Al-Bayhaqi)


    When I first read this saying of the prophet, I was shocked. I couldn't believe it was true! My first reaction was "this is unfair" for any Muslim woman to have to endure. This obscure quote in the Hadith was the beginning of my intense research into the rights of women in Islam.

    After researching the Hadith, I next consulted the Quran and came across another quote that I was unaware of.  It was found in Surah 2:282. The context of this Surah was the testimony of women in court cases about a financial debt.

    "But if two men are not there, let there be one man and two women, as witnesses from among those acceptable to you."

    I was outraged! I felt that this chapter in the Quran was belittling to women. It required two women to equal the testimony of one man. A woman's testimony in court only equaled half that of a man's. I concluded that a woman's worth is only half that of a man's. Women are less than men in Islam! 

    My research had ignited a passion deep inside me for justice. I firmly believed that that there should be equality between men and women in Islam.  All of my life, I had believed that this equality already existed, but now I knew the truth! For the first time in my life, I was unhappy with my religion. It seemed so unjust. I was now on a quest to find out the truth about Islam, so I began studying the history of Iran and was shocked to discover that Muslims had killed many Iranians when they refused to convert. I immediately realized that my ancestors didn't become Muslims by choice but rather by force. I became so angry at this injustice!

    I remember one night listening to a podcast teaching the history of Iran and how Muslims killed my people because they refused to convert. This was a defining moment in my journey for the truth. I could no longer accept or tolerate this injustice. In Shia Islam, we have a specific tradition in our prayer time where a person prostates himself by placing his forehead down upon a small piece of clay. In anger and frustration, I stomped down with my foot on this piece of clay shouting, "I can no longer be a Muslim anymore!"

    I began investigating other religions, in particular, Zoroastrianism, which was one of the pivotal religions in early Persian history. The more I studied, the more dissatisfied I became. I felt hopeless and very depressed and made a conscious decision that God probably didn't exist. I remember praying, "God, if you exist, please show yourself to me. If not, then I will be sure you don't exist!"  For four years, I had no belief in God, but my family maintained their religious zeal, forcing me to still do my prayers. During this time, they forced me to go on my Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca which is a required of every Muslim at least once in their lifetime. They did this hoping I would repent and return to Islam. Unfortunately their plan didn't succeed. I still didn't find God there!

    In 2009, during the violent election protests, when Iranians took to the streets speaking out against a rigged election, we finally decided to buy a dish and begin watching satellite tv. We were tired of just watching the government version of the news and wanted to understand what was really happening in the world. My brother and sister and I discovered the Christian channel and began watching a pastor on a daily basis who was speaking out against Islam. While he was critical of Islam, he always made sure that he gave a positive view of the God of Christianity. When he said, "God is Love,"  my heart was warmed inside me. The statement, "God is Love," was a revolutionary, life transforming statement for me! I had never heard that in Islam! I had been reading the book, "The five love languages," by Gary Chapman and this statement by the pastor reinforced within me just how important the subject of love was! Next the pastor proclaimed, "Jesus is Lord!  I thought to myself, "That is very beautiful."  As I continued watching this Christian program, I realized that my depression was starting to leave. For the first time in four years, I was emerging from my pit of hopelessness and was beginning to feel at peace once again. At the end of his sermon, the pastor invited the people watching to believe in Jesus and asked them to repeat a prayer. In my heart, I repeated this prayer along with him. I felt that Jesus was very good. I believed in Jesus, but still didn't believe in God.

    I didn't have a Bible. I wanted to understand more of what the Bible taught and after watching the movie, "The Jesus Film," based on the gospel of Luke, I was very hungry and thirsty for the truth. Watching this movie together with my brother and sister was an incredible turning point in our lives. Our relatives and families immediately noticed the differences in our lives. Now we were totally happy and full of joy. "A light had invaded the darkness in our lives chasing away the hopelessness and despair."  I was careful not to share my new found faith with my parents right away. But as I began studying the Bible, I realized that this was no longer an option for me.

    "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge before my father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I will also deny before my father who is in heaven."

                                                 (Matthew 10:32-33)


    Telling my parents about becoming a Christians was a big step of faith for me. My mother became outraged, screaming that I must return to Islam, but I gently informed her, "I can't go back mom. I can't deny Jesus!"  My mother disowned me and my father stopped financially providing for my studies at the university. I was now forced to scrape up coins for a taxi fare.

    While at university, I began sharing my faith with my a couple of my friends and they told me that they were eager to watch the Christian channel on satellite tv. However,  my zeal to share was met with harsh consequences. One day, I was called to the office of intelligence. They wanted to ask me some questions. My friends had warned me that they expect you to support Islam and the Supreme Leader. I replied to my friends, "I believe in Jesus. I will not deny him. That is my red line!"

      I sat nervously before a lady who began interrogating me:

    "We heard that you are evangelizing, spreading other religions in our university. We heard you are promoting Christianity or Zoroastrianism."

    I took a nervous deep breath. I firmly believed that God had spared me from a very dangerous confrontation. The lady who was interrogating me had paused after mentioning Christianity and then added Zoroastrianism. This provided me a convenient way of escape.

    "Yes I have been studying Zoroastrianism, I replied, but I did not convert to it."

    Unfortunately, the interrogations didn't end there. Next they called my father into their office and confronted him about my behavior.

    "Your children have converted to Christianity. Aren't you ashamed of that?"

     My father was shocked and taken by surprise. He nervously stuttered and replied:

    "Oh no. They are researching. They are not sure."

    The Interrogator didn't believe his story and firmly warned him:

    "Either you return them to Islam or we will do it ourselves!"


    I was now in a very serious life crisis. I knew it was not possible to practice my Christian faith in Iran. It was far too dangerous. Desperate for a new life, my brother and sister and I escaped from home fleeing toward the border of Iraq. When we called to inform our parents, they begged us to come back and promised to make things better. We reluctantly returned, but nothing ever changed. We knew we were constantly under surveillance. My parents had lied to us. They confiscated our passports and locked the doors. Once again we managed to escape in the night, leaving home without our passports and without shoes, we traveled by taxi and bus, crossing the border into Iraq. We became ayslum seekers and for the next six years, we had no ids, no passports, and no jobs. Even the Christian church in Iraq refused to believe our stories. They didn't trust us. This was heartbreaking! It was then that I realized the reality of my commitment to Jesus. I had given up everything to follow Jesus! I had left behind my family, my law career, and all of my friends. I had no money, no job, all I had was Jesus. But that was all that I needed, Jesus was everything that I needed. He was the treasure of my heart.

    Yet, God was faithful! He rewarded my suffering. He honored my uncompromising commitment to him. An international church finally agreed to sponsor us and after six long and grueling years, we finally found a new home in Canada.



    

    It has not been easy, but Jesus has kept his word. He has never forsaken me. I gave up everything to follow Jesus, but I gained the greatest love of my life. Jesus is so precious to me. He is worth every trial and tribulation and I would do it all over again to follow him!



Friday, January 8, 2021

"What Iran taught me about stolen elections." (Marziyeh Amirizadeh)

 This is a powerful article written by my dear Iranian friend Marziyeh. She writes from firsthand experience living in Tehran during the 2009 bloody presidential election protests in which many Iranians were killed and imprisoned. Marziyeh's message challenges us to stand up and fight for our freedoms or risk having them taken away forever!



Millions of Americans went to the streets on January 6th because they believed that their votes were stolen. They came to stand with President Donald Trump who was fighting for them to show their unity and objections to the Fraud and corruption. It is so sad and heartbreaking to see how some innocent and brave Americans lost their lives during the peaceful protest in DC. It is so disappointing to see how the peaceful protest turned violent through a predetermined conspiracy. Unfortunately, most of the Republican leaders (RINOS) who were chosen by we the people, in order to be our voice, not only stabbed the President in the back, but also betrayed the people who are paying them to work for them and to be their voice. They also ignored the voice and the blood of those innocent Americans who were demanding the integrity of the election, for the sake of their own benefits. In addition, some religious leaders who were strongly showing that they stand for Christian values changed their words and now decided to stand and support those who are destroying God’s values with their corrupt policies.
These leaders shamelessly call their betrayal ‘unity and democracy’ while ignoring the opinion of millions of Americans.

The peaceful protest in DC on Wednesday reminded me of the Iranian Green movement that arose after the 2009 presidential election in which the protesters demanded the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who took office by cheating. Thousands of peaceful protesters came to the streets to show their objections to the fraud and cheating in the election. The Government shot many people in the streets, tortured and killed hundreds more in prisons. I was in Evin prison at that time, fighting for my Christian faith and values. I witnessed how many people were imprisoned and tortured for protesting the election fraud. When the Iranian government turned the peaceful protest violent and started killing protestors, the Iranian people asked for help from the United States. They were chanting “Obama are you with us or with them?” ‘Obama’ in Farsi means, He is with us; O (he) ba (with) ma (us). Despite people’s hope and expectations, Obama stood with the criminal regime in Iran. He not only failed to help the Iranian people who were fighting for their freedom, but he later made the worst deal in history with Iran (JCPOA), shook the bloody hands of Mullahs, and transferred thousands of dollars into the pockets of the criminal Mullahs which was used to expand terrorism in the Middle East. Iranian people will never forget such betrayal by Obama. He is the most hated president among a majority of Iranians for his foreign policies toward Iran and for his support of the criminal Islamic republic regime in Iran.

Dictatorships like the Islamic republic regime in Iran never care about people’s voice or their choice; they make decisions for their people and suppress any objections. Dictators like the monstrous leadership in Iran always resort to force or fraud to gain political power and maintain it through the use of intimidation, terror, and suppression of basic civil liberties. They also employ the technique of mass propaganda through their fake news in order to sustain public support.

Ignoring the voice of millions of Americans who showed their objections to cheating, fraud, and corruption is truly an act of a dictatorship. Closing their eyes to the blood of those innocent heroes who were murdered, with their voices never having been heard is the same thing that happening in dictatorships such as Iran. Democrats and the RINOS did not bring unity, but caused more division, disappointment, and caused people to lose trust in each of those who betrayed them. People will never forget.



True democracy is when the leaders hear the voice of millions of people, try to bring clarification, and prove the integrity of the election to those who believe that their vote was stolen. Bringing Joe Biden to the office without considering the voice of millions of people and resolving the issue of fraud is a true dictatorship system not a democracy. Millions of Americans will never trust their leaders anymore.

True leaders are those who hear the voice of their people, stand with them and fight for righteousness; those who risk their own safety and benefits to fight corruption, not cover it up: those who always stand for the truth no matter what the consequences may be.

President Trump is one of the greatest presidents in the history and I will always respect him. He is a true leader who has never been appreciated by the many people of whom he has served.
When persecution comes to the United States, which I see it very close, many will regret and appreciate those who truly fought for them. May the Lord open the eyes of those who are in power and who ignore the truth for the sake of their own benefits.

This is my opinion and I do not let anybody lecture me if I am right or wrong. My true leader is Jesus Christ who taught me how to be bold, tell the truth, and stand for the righteousness even at the cost of losing my own life.



 our freedoms from being stolen!

Monday, November 9, 2020

"What Iran taught me about corrupt elections," (Marziyeh Amirizadeh)

 

Please take a few minutes to read what my dear Iranian friend Marziyeh Amirizadeh wrote about our election. She made some incredibly good points that all of us need to reflect on. Marziyeh understands the beauty of our country's laws and freedom and how important it is to fight for them everyday!
Why? Because in 2009 she was on death row in Tehran for distributing Bibles!



I moved to the United States in 2011 and proudly became an American citizen in June 2016. I love this beautiful country and its amazing people. This country and its people have given me so much, and I hope I can do something in return. As you know, these days all the news is about the election; many people remain shocked and confused about the results of this election, despite all the propaganda by the fake news media which try to deceive people that Joe Biden is the winner of the election. I feel responsible to write this to every one of you who believe in Jesus and His power, to assure you who is the true winner of this election, and the chosen President of the United States; not only by majority vote but also by God.

Since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, elections in Iran are a symbolic game. The people of Iran don’t have any role in electing a candidate to represent them. Whoever the Supreme Leader of Iran, the criminal Khamenei, decides to be the president of Iran will only be in power as a delegate who follows the rules of Khamenei. It is obvious that while a dictator like Khamenei rules over Iran, the Iranian people will not have a fair election and the opinions of the Iranian people or the ballots do not matter. Most people in Iran do not approve of the Islamic Republic, but they have no power to change this system. Iranians have no hope for the future of their country, or the elections, until this regime is no longer in power. The people of Iran long to be free from this oppressive regime and have a free and democratic country. Iranians do not want the criminal Ayatollahs and hope that one day they will have a righteous government and experience true freedom.

In 2009, during the presidential election, I was in prison for my Christian faith. I witnessed and heard how many innocent people were arrested, tortured, and murdered only because they were protesting against election fraud in Iran. The violence against peaceful protesters was terrible and beyond imagination.

In 2016 after I became a US citizen, I was very excited that as an American I could vote for the first time. I never had the experience of voting in my own country because, as mentioned above, evil and criminal Mullahs, who have captured the country for over forty years are in power and I never voted for those evil people. In 2016, I was very excited that in the United States I could vote for the candidate I wanted and there would be no cheating or fraud in the election.

Four years ago, I decided to vote for Donald Trump, but because of the toxic news media I got confused and did not know who I should vote for. Then I prayed and asked God to show me who He wanted me to vote for. Since I gave my heart to Jesus, God speaks to me through my dreams and reveals truths and events before they happen. This is the way that God communicates with me, guides me, and helps me make right decisions. After my prayers about the election I had a dream in which God showed me Donald Trump as the chosen President of the United States. God revealed to me how Trump would bring great changes to this country. After that dream, I became sure that Trump was God’s chosen President.

However, since 2016, President Donald Trump has been attacked nonstop by democrats and even wrongfully impeached. Despite all the attacks he stood firm and fought for this country and the American people. This year again before the election, more than a month ago, God gave me another dream. He showed me how Joe Biden would cheat in the election and try to steal people’s votes. After that dream I knew the fraud would happen soon. The night of the election again, the Holy Spirit woke me at 3:00 am to pray for the election and for the President. Nowadays, Joe Biden who is the true loser of this election with the help of the fake news media is trying to show himself as the winner of the election.

I believe that Joe Biden is not the winner but is a big loser. In my eyes there is no difference between him and what the Islamic Republic does in the elections in Iran. What he did reminds me of the system of elections in Iran. Recently, the supreme Leader of Iran (the murderer of thousands of innocent people) has mocked the liberal democracy and the US elections on Twitter: “The situation in the US & what they themselves say about their elections is a spectacle! This is an example of the ugly face of liberal democracy in the US. Regardless of the outcome, one this is absolutely clear, the definite political, civil and moral decline of the US regime.” I believe Joe Biden learned a good lesson from his friends and supporters in the Islamic Republic regime how to deceive people and take the power. The fake news and the social media also are trying to cover the big fraud for him and tell us that Biden is the chosen President by the will of the people and is the true winner of the election.

I wrote this in order to tell each one of you who voted for the President Donald Trump that now is the time to be united and support the President in this battle. The United States is a country governed by law not by fraudulent and corrupt people. Therefore, let us not be disappointed or give up on this election and stand with the President in his battle against the corrupt people. This is not only his battle, but everyone who believes in the truth and in God’s will. Don’t allow the fake news to decide for you and to determine the future of this country.We should all pray on our knees for the President and for the future of the US. Let us show the world the true power of God and His miracles through the mighty name of Jesus. As a country under God, we must stand for righteousness together, and not accept the fraud and the cheating.

We have to teach dictators like Khamenei in Iran, what the rule of law and true democracy means: that in a democratic country like the United States, fraud and cheating has no place and even if this happens, it can be peacefully set right without people being arrested, tortured or murdered.



Romans 8:28
“and we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Rojina: "A light in the darkness of Turkey."

 

 "It has been a very long and difficult eight years in Turkey as a refugee. Most of the day I am depressed, thinking about all of my friends back in Iran. I miss them so much! I cannot see them or visit them at school. The memories of my childhood have nearly faded away in the chaos of my life! My teenage years have all but been forgotten! I miss the birthday parties with all of my dear friends. I miss not having my own room, where I can relax and be alone. Instead of remembering the few happy times that I had growing up, all I think about every second of every day is, "How will I pay the rent and my bills? There are no jobs for me here. It is like living hell on earth in isolation because of the virus.

    Living in isolation gives me hours to think and ponder about my life. I want to share with you how this all began.......

                                                                 ************


    I remember being miserable as an eight year-old child in school. I was forced to read the Quran and pray. I hated wearing the black manteau! It was like a coat that you had to wear which included the scarf or hijab that covered your hair. I hated this clothing! One day I got so furious that I tore off this silly clothing and left school. My teacher chased after me shouting, "Don't do that! You are behaving like a sinner!"

   Life at home was not any easier for me. My mother, Parisa was miserable. She had no peace. She felt lost inside. Her parents had pressured her into reading the Quran and she felt no joy in doing this. My mom had the difficult task of being a single parent after divorcing my father. We were both searching for meaning and purpose in our lives.

    One day our neighbor Roya visited us. She could see the misery and despair in my mother's eyes. Roya was a Christian but because of fearing the government, she was careful not to intrude too much into our lives. She knew we were Muslims. However that memorable day, she decided to reach out to us. Roya recommended that we watch Mohabat TV. Mohabat TV was a Christian channel beamed into Iran on the satellite. It featured programs about the Bible and Jesus. She also gave my mom a Persian New Testament and asked to her to read it. She agreed.

    One night my Mom had an incredible dream. In her dream she was visited by Jesus. He burned a symbol of the cross on her arm and said, "This is going to be painful. Being a Christian will not be easy!"

    Parisa woke up frightened. Beads of sweat were rolling down her cheeks. When she gazed at her left arm, she panicked! There was a burn spot on her arm just like in the dream!

    She immediately showed her arm to Roya and Roya took a picture of it. She sent it to her pastor. A few days later the Pastor visited our home and prayed for my mom. That was the day that she accepted Christ as her savior and became a Christian.

     I immediately recognized the dramatic change in my mother's life. She was no longer angry. As a Muslim she was always angry and never happy, but now she was calm. Her change in behavior was like heaven for me! The Pastor gave me a children's Bible and instructed me to read the story of Jesus. I remember how different Jesus was compared to Mohammed. Jesus was kind and compassionate. As a Muslim, all I ever remembered was anger and violence. I never knew what true love was. One story in the gospels made a big impact on my life. The night before his crucifixion when the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter becomes angry and cuts off the ear of Malchus, one of the servants of the High Priest. However Jesus rebuked him and instead healed the servant's ear. I was so impressed by the kindness that Jesus showed his enemies! This story touched my heart and changed my life! At the age of eight years old, I asked Jesus into my heart and became a Christian!

    After becoming a Christian, one of the first things I wanted to do was to share how Jesus changed my life with my friends at school. However my mother warned me not to do it. For a Muslim to change their religion in Iran is very serious. They can be imprisoned or put to death. . I was so excited about my new found faith and I wanted to tell everyone! As soon as I got home from school, I turned on the Christian music. I played it loud. It filled my heart and mind with so much joy. One of my favorite hobbies is painting. I would make paintings of the cross and decorate the walls of my room with them! For the first time in my life, I was so happy!

    However, my happiness ended whenever I entered through the doors of the school. I was so frustrated that I could not share my faith with my friends.I had to pretend that I still liked Islam and wear that stupid hijab! One day I told my teacher that I couldn't take it anymore. I explained to her that I was now reading the Bible. The teacher was astonished and immediately contacted my Mom. She warned her that I must change my behavior or else be expelled from school! My mom took me aside and gently persuaded me to be patient and to obey my teacher. I reluctantly agreed. I was a straight A student at school. I excelled in all of my studies, but the day the teacher found out that I was reading the Bible, she began lowering all of my grades to a C. The living waters of happiness that I had found in Jesus was slowly drying up from the persecution at school.

    I will never forget one of the darkest times of my life. When I was 11 years old I was sexually abused. 

    My Uncle had a friend who was a math teacher. He would often come over to our home. He knew that I was struggling in school. So he offered to help me with math and my mother agreed. He was a Muslim and knew that we were Christians, but seemed not to be offended or disturbed by our faith. Whenever my mom left me alone at home, this Muslim man would instruct me in my studies. However, for a solid year, he did more that tutor me in math!. He began touching me, putting his hands all over my body. I was terrified! I didn't know what to do! He would stare intently into my eyes and warn me, "If you tell your mother, I will report you to the government!"

    All I knew how to do was to pray and cry out to Jesus...and Jesus answered my prayer!

    We loved meeting with other Christians in our home. We were part of a house church movement meeting secretly for fear of the government. We played our music loud in celebration and raised our voices loudly in prayer at every meeting. One day the police came to our house while we were on vacation. Fortunately we were not there. When we returned home, our pastor told us that we must immediately leave and go to Turkey. We were in danger of being arrested. Instead of going to Turkey, my mom took us to a small town named Miandoab where we hid out from the government for a year and a half. It was then that I realized that Jesus had answered my prayer. He had allowed the police to come to our house so we had to move. When we moved, the sexual abuse ended. It was the last time I would ever see that Muslim man. I was finally safe and protected. The nightmare had ended!

    In 2013, we finally moved to Turkey after an undercover agent came to our home looking for my mother. We sold everything that we had and left our homeland. It is so sad to say good bye to the people that you love just to find freedom. We lived for two months in Istanbul with my mother's friend Afsaneh. As refugees, we were prohibited from getting jobs, so my mother secretly opened up a bakery at home and began selling delicious pastries to all of the Iranian tourists. We desperately needed a place to live and one of my mother's friends connected us with an Iranian man. The Iranian man agreed to help us find a place. This was one of the worst mistakes that we ever made. This man became controlling and abusive. He demanded money from us for the rent, groceries and bills. It was like living back in Iran. Then one day, he tried to sexually abuse me. Horrible memories of abuse flooded my mind from when I lived back in Iran. He tried to kiss me but I resisted. He even tried to sexually abuse my mom. We quickly packed up our few belongings and left!

  A year after living in Turkey my mother received her first interview with the UNHCR in Ankara. Her interviewer was a Muslim woman. For five or six hours, my mother explained why she became a Christian. She shared with her the incredible dream and how Jesus had changed her life forever. Unfortunately she was rejected. The interviewer didn't believe her story. We found out later that unless we had documents about our baptism that the immigration board would continue to reject us.

    Living in Turkey as refugees was extremely difficult. Struggling to provide money for rent and food and waiting forever to be interviewed took a toll on us emotionally. It was during this time that I spent most of the day praying and gazing at the beautiful gold cross that I proudly wore around my neck. I was comforted whenever I gazed upon the cross. However, wearing my cross necklace in public brought much conflict and persecution to me. I was harassed by many young Muslims, but I refused to hide or cover up my necklace. I loved Jesus. I was unashamed to wear it. I told every person that I met that, "This is who I am. I am a Christian. I love Jesus! One day while at the shopping market, the owner saw the cross around my neck and threw me out of his store. He scolded me and said,

    "You are a sinner. You need to return to islam. You are going to hell!"

      I was never afraid to share my faith In Jesus. I would always look at my cross and proclaim, "Jesus is with me all of the time. I have no fear."

    This personal declaration of faith that "Jesus was always with me" proved to be an incredible reality that saved my life!

    In 2018, I was finally offered a job in a hotel working as a translator, selling suites to customers. I waited for hours to speak with the manager. It was almost 2 am in the morning. I had no way home and there were no taxis. Finally the manager appeared and offered to drive me home. I sat in the back seat. I remembered feeling very nervous. Something didn't feel right. Something was wrong. A few minutes later, he pulled the car over and asked me to sit in the front seat next to him.

    I said, "No," feeling uneasy and afraid. "Are you scared?" he asked me.

    A few minutes passed by and he forced me into the front seat next to him. I was terrified. My mind was filled with the horrible memories of being sexually molested years ago in Iran.

  "Are you a Christian?" He asked me, "Don't you ever have sex?"

  My whole body was trembling. I grabbed my cell phone, but couldn't get a signal to call my mom. "No I don't have sex," I replied, my voice trembling, "That's a sin before marriage."

    I looked down at my necklace and nervously began praying, mumbling the words, crying out for Jesus to save me!"

    He began to put his hand on my legs, when suddenly his cell phone rang. It was his wife! She demanded to know where he was! His wife became my angel. He finally drove me home and said he would see me again the next day, but I never went back!

                                                 



                                      


    That is my story so far. I turned 22 this year.

    It's been another long day in the city of Yalova, Turkey. Another long day in isolation, but as I think back to when I was eight years old and remember the day that Jesus came into my life, I am no longer depressed. Deep down in my soul I am grateful. I have joy. I know that Jesus is always with me. He will never leave or forsake me. He has a special purpose for my life. I am holding onto my faith in Jesus. I can honestly confess to you that if I wasn't a Christian I would have ended my life a long time ago. But thank God, I didn't. In the midst of turmoil, I have peace. I have peace because I know God has a purpose and plan for my life. He has made me a light in the darkness of Turkey.

    


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Leila Hassanian: "Waiting to die in Turkey."



 


  My name is Leila Hassanian: I was born into a tribal family in the southern part of Iran. I was the second child of parents who had been waiting for many years for the birth of a son. My birth disappointed them. My father was the eldest son of the tribal family. He was desperate for the birth of a male child in order to carry on the family legacy and establish his name.


    "No one was happy with my birth. Even my own grandparents were sad."

    It wasn't until four years later that they were blessed with a birth of a son. That's when the celebration began and the dark clouds of sadness were lifted from their lives. During my childhood and adolescence, all of the family attention was focused on my brother and no attention was ever given to the girls.

    At the age of 20, I became the victim of a forced marriage. My father chose my husband and my marriage was a disaster from the very beginning. My husband was not pleased with me. Very soon afterwards we fled to Turkey to become refugees and that's when my life became almost unbearable! There was no love and communication in our marriage. I couldn't get a job and I suffered day and night under the harsh control of my husband. I became very depressed and although I sought counseling and therapy for relief, I couldn't find any help. Unable to sleep at nights because of the stress, I began taking sleeping pills. The Immigration office refused to give me any help for my marital problems and so one night I escaped to Ankara.

    I applied for a divorce at a court in Ankara and after a week, the Immigration office deported me back to the same city that my husband was living in. They detained me and placed me in a larger central detention center where I suffered miserably for 60 days. I could not prove to the courts that my life was in danger if sent back to Iran and so I am currently in danger of being deported.
    I have no ID cards, no interviews with the UNHCR, no human rights in Turkey, and I am forced to work 12 hours a day earning only $1.00 an hour! While I'm at work, I am the constant target of sexual and psychological harassment from men.
    
    However in the midst of all of the darkness and despair, I have found hope in Jesus. I am busy studying the Christian faith with other Iranian-Christians. For the first time in my life, I have a real peace in my heart. Please pray for me and be my voice. If I'm deported back to Iran, they will deal harshly with me as a Christian. I will surely be imprisoned for the rest of my life.

   "Be my voice in Turkey. I don't want to die!"

Monday, September 14, 2020

Afsaneh: Forty years a slave to Sharia

 

    A young girl or woman living in Iran in the 21st century will quickly understand what it means to be a second class citizen. She has experienced the true meaning of disgrace and humiliation in a country where her value has been reduced to the size of man's left testicle.

    My name is Afsaneh Rostami and I am that woman! I am 40 years old struggling to survive with hopes and dreams for my son's future. I am a single mother with the difficult task of raising him all alone in a male-dominated culture without any support from my family.

    I have been fighting my entire life against a corrupt system of "anti-woman Sharia laws" that devalues and disgraces a woman and treats her like a sexual slave. The longer that I live, the more that I realize that there is no hope in the darkness. My family forced me to marry at an early age and I had a child when I was just a young teenager. Very soon afterwards I was divorced not understanding the true meaning of love and marriage. My family separated me from my son declaring that I was unfit to raise him. For eight long years I was prevented from seeing him because of my gender under existing Islamic law.

    I had to escape in order to find hope and freedom. I stayed awake every night crying because I was unable to hold my son in my arms. Desperate and afraid, I escaped from my family who wanted to kill me because I didn't fit the role model of an Islamic woman.

    "I have not lived for 40 years. I have been miserable and unhappy. I have not danced for 40 years. I am tired......"

    I finally arrived in Turkey to seek refuge in a safe country but my pain has doubled since my arrival. I have no income so I had to find a job, but unfortunately refugees are not allowed to work in Turkey. They are prohibited from obtaining a work permit. When the Turkish police discovered that I had a job on the "black market" I was arrested and my residence card was revoked. After living in Turkey for eight years, the government has given me a deportation notice despite being accepted by the UNHCR. If I am deported back to Iran the government will execute me because I am political activist.




    Iran was once a civilized country but with the Islamic Invasion centuries ago and the Revolution in 1979 that caused the Shah to be exiled, now my beloved Persian nation is filled with death, destruction, and poverty. When the Shah was in power, the face of Iran was changing into a western secular nation that had gender equality and freedom. But when Khomeini seized power, Iran was transformed into a theocratic nation with the iron-fisted rule of Islamic Mullahs. They have suppressed our freedom-seeking heroes, scientists, and educators, silencing their voices. The government is killing our youth out in the streets because of their peaceful protesting. They are imprisoning and executing our sons, our daughters, and our young women, simply because they want freedom and the right to make choices.

    Now that you've read my story, I only have one request of you. Please be my voice! If I am deported, I will no longer have a voice. For forty years, I have struggled and fought in a culture that hates freedom and hates women. I haven't danced in 40 years. Please be my voice so that I can dance again!