Aug 2015

Sanaz

Hello Christian brothers and sisters. My name is Sanaz. I believed in Jesus 12 years ago by his cousin, Saeed, and then my family and some boys who were our relatives and friends believed. We lived in a small and religious town, and despite many restrictions that existed for believers, we had very good and blessed meetings, but unfortunately they were canceled due to family pressures and threats. Three days ago, I saw one of the boys who were under pressure by his family that time. Her name is Iman and today I want to tell you the story of his faith and his problems that he had.

Iman also believed by Saeed. He was a friend of Saeed and was very bad and wicked before the faith. I well remember that once in the church meetings Iman testified that his family was always upset and unhappy because he constantly fought with others and his mother always said: "I wish someone will find or something will happen that will cause you not to do those things and be obedient". But since nothing affected him, his mother decided to take a wife for him because she thought that he may be clam down with marriage. Thus, she took the girl, whom he loved, for him as wife. But it also had no significant effect.
It is interesting that Iman said that he liked to change and be a quiet and good person and not to do bad things anymore, but whatever he tried, he could not!

After several times that Iman goes to church with Saeed, he believes in Jesus. He said: "I do not know what happened but I could not resist the feeling that had occurred inside me and I felt that that God was the only God who can release me from that situation".

At first, he hides his from his family and his wife because his mother was very religious and strict. On the other hand, he was financially dependent on his family and worked in the His father's store and he feared to lose his support. He wants Christ to change him so that all people are surprised by changing his life and behavior and this change becomes a testimony to his faith in Christ. He said that within a month, that rebel and violent Iman became a quiet and kind so that even he did not believe himself.

According to Iman, his family and his wife were very surprised and his mother thanked God and said that eventually her prayers have been answered. Finally, one day Iman's Mother says him that she has made a vow that if he became a good and calm person, she would go on a pilgrimage of Imam Reza in Mashhad and she wants him to go with her. Iman is upset and says his mother: "I never go to Mashhad because Christ has changed me and I have become Christian".

According to Iman, the very same time, her mother says him: "I preferred that you remained the same rebel Iman but you never became Christian". His mother tries to stop him by her words, but she does not succeed. Finally, when she sees that Iman does not want to convert to Islam, she begins to threaten and bothers him.

Iman said that every time he took Bible to the home, next day he saw that the Bible was not in the place where he had put it and later he had found that his mother hid his Bibles. According to him, one day when the entire family had traveled, he was looking for packages of meat in the freezer that he had seen that all the Bibles he had lost, had been packed in the plastic and hidden in the freezer!!!
Interestingly, Iman's mother had told him: "I wanted to burn the Bibles but I was afraid to do it because I respect the book that could change you so much and instead, I put them in the freezer!"

On the one hand, Iman's mother wants Iman's wife to threaten him that if he do not stop believing in Christ and become Muslim, she will demand her dowry and get a divorce. On the other hand, Iman's father had told him that he did not allow him to work in her store unless he became Muslim!

Finally, one day her mother had pursued him and found the place where the church meetings were hold. I remember that one day when we had the church meeting, his mother entered the house and began to threaten us and told us that she would expose all of us and say police that the house church meeting were hold there and wanted Iman to go with him and then Iman left the meeting with her!
After that, Iman never comes to church and meetings! When Saeed had spoken with him and asked him to come back to the church, he had said that he did not want that other member faced the problem for him, and preferred to keep his faith in his heart!

Shahram

Hello dear Christian brothers and sisters. My name is Shahram and I want to share with you what happened to me early in my faith. I believed in Christ about 4 years ago when I was very frustrated and depressed because of a failure in love.
One day when I returned home from work and watched TV, I unconsciously began to watch a Christian channel. At the moment, a pastor preached: "God is God of the broken hearts; He is God of love and today the same God wants you, who watch this program, to give your heart to Jesus Christ and He will give you a new heart and a new life." I cannot describe the feeling that I had that moment. At the end, the pastor continued this way: "whoever wants to believe in Jesus repeats this prayer with me." That moment, a voice inside me said: "Shahram, what are you waiting for?" and I knelt and repeated the prayer with the pastor with tears and so I believed in Christ. After a while that I always watched Christian TV programs, I felt the change in my life and mood; not only me but my family members had been also noticed this change. But when I saw the believers on TV together who sang and prayed together, I regretted why I was not the member of one church and I could not enjoy the church meetings because it was very important for the growth of my faith as well as my teaching.

That's why I became a member of some Christian groups on Facebook and every evening when I came back home from work, I checked my Facebook and read messages of members. I also studied the Bible and added new matters to my Facebook. The matters that I read in the pages of groups were very useful and informative for me but I was still trying to get a closer relationship with the believers in the groups. Accidentally, I had become familiar with some believer boys but every time I told them to take me to their Church meetings, I felt that they still did not trust me enough. However, they were right because they had not seen me and did not know me. But I do not know why I did not think like them and I trusted anyone very soon, especially when the person introduced himself as a believer.

One night, I became familiar with a boy in the group and we began to talk about how we believed and where we lived. It seemed that he also had no a sense of distrust of me. I made friends with him very soon and that we decided to see each other in one of the parks. That park was a large and quiet park and I felt that it was good for our meeting. When I got there and I was waiting for him, I felt very strange. On the on hand, I was very happy that I met a believer, but on the other hand, I felt uncomfortable. I was sitting in a chair that someone came to me and introduced himself. His behavior seemed strange. He looked around and told me that it is better to go somewhere more uncrowded. When we found the desired place, a few moments later I saw that two Basiji boys who rode on the motorcycle came to us. One of them began to shout at me unexpectedly and said why I had become an infidel or why I had changed my religion and then they rushed to me and severely beaten me. I was very frightened and tried to defend myself but did not cope with three persons. They cursed me and said that I should not live in this country and should be killed. I do not well remember but they told me a lot of very bawdy words and when I fell to the ground and covered my head with both hands and they kicked me, some young people who saw me, came to help me and struggled with those Basiji boys and so I was saved and the Basiji boys went. My face was full of blood and I was very dusty. They raised me from the ground and seated on a chair. One of them informed the police of the park, and when they asked me who they were and why they beaten me, I told them that they were Basiji, but I could not tell them why they beaten me. The police told me that if I wanted to complain against them, I could not do it, because I did not know them at all! Finally, they took a taxi for me to go back home. I regretted why I was not cautious because worse things could happen!

After that event, I deleted the Facebook groups because I had become very pessimistic and I could not trust anyone! After one year, I became a member of one house church by one Christian channel and I thank God that today I am in that group.

Iranians’ Situation During the Sanctions

The sanctions against Iran started ten years ago and it had many harmful impacts on the lives of Iranians. Some experts say that it might take many years for the society after the lift of the sanctions to recover from the negative impacts of them. The sanctions caused decrease of economic and industrial growth, restriction of foreign investments, decrease in producing and exporting, devaluation of Iran’s currency and increase of the inflation rate. These are some of the problems that sanctions caused in Iran. Simply, the sanctions overshadowed lives of the Iranians specially the middle-class of the society who were hurt more than the others.

In this situation and because of the decrease in productions or limitation of the budgets, many people lost their jobs and it affected their families as well. By the increase in school and universities’ fee, many students were forced to quit. It didn’t just happen inside Iran but also affected the situation of the Iranians out of Iran. The American government started shutting down the Iranian students’ bank accounts which made it so difficult for them to reach their accounts. Even the parents whose children were university students outside of Iran couldn’t send money for them very easily because the banks couldn’t work with Iran due to sanctions. Also those people who lived out of Iran and used to send money for their old or sick parents, couldn’t support their families anymore because of the sanctions.

Another example is the food products and medicine which weren’t among the sanctions but as the influence of the sanctions on the situations, these items were included in sanctions as well. And as a result, these items got really rare or they were sold in a very high price. Iran is just like the other countries in the world and for producing the needed medicine whether for medication or in terms of the basic materials or the production, it needs international trade with other countries but because of the sanctions it wasn’t possible. For instance, the European banks were afraid of the fines and stopped any legal currency exchange for medicine even in the frame of the sanctions and it caused the medicine get rare for many illnesses such as cancer, anaemia, M.S, respiratory and heart disease. Maybe there were some Iranian samples in the country but as importing the basic materials got decreased, the medicine got rare as well.

It was almost four years ago that a big company which worked in sea transfer in Asia as transferring ships and containers carrying rice and wheat, rejected to cooperate with the important ports of Iran because they were afraid of the fines by the U.S and it made the condition in Iran worse than before. Due to valid News websites, beside this big shipping company, the other shipping companies also stopped their deals with Iran. In addition to these western conservatives, inefficient conduction of the sanctions by Iran also caused huge damages for the Iranian people. As a result, because of the shortage, the food products were sold in very high prices and again it caused lots of pressure for the middle-class of the society.

Despite the view of the former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who believed the sanctions were only a few papers but the Iranian people were in a lot of pressure. The Iranians problems which were mentioned above were only a few examples. Some groups of people, especially the religious ones believed that the sanctions were the result of America’s behavior and another group of people blamed the government for this issue. But anyway all the people were waiting passionately for a fundamental change and they wanted the sanctions to be lifted. The nuclear negotiations that started by the new government, took almost 21 months to reach an agreement and during all of that the people had been praying to get rid of the difficult situation.

When the agreement was reached, the people came to the streets and chanted some slogans and celebrated that day by happiness. This isn’t the only prayers of us as the Christian Iranians but also it’s the hope of all Iranians that Iran’s government remain obligated to their commitments at the negotiations and the U.S government stay persistent in their promises for lifting the sanctions even if a new president would be elected and the happiness of the people would continue by the coming of the new situations. They always hope that the bad state of economy get better, the problems get solved and the lives become normal. However, by lifting of the sanctions and resolving the problems, the Iranians get back to their situation in 10 years ago. But the people are still optimistic and hopeful.