Feb 2015

Farank

I'm Farank. Today I want to share with you something about my faith. My testimony shows how much patience can be effective in life.

Just three years ago when I suffered from severe depression, I became familiar with Christ by one of my friend. At the time I was a student of a collage and I often spent my time in the library with reading books or I read articles in the Internet. After many researches, I came to the conclusion that all religions are man-made and the theory of evolution was more consistent with my ideas. But interestingly, the more I researched, the more I became depressed and upset.

Finally, one day one of my friends who was aware of my situation, came to see me and talked to me about Jesus. I thought that I knew everything and I did not pay attention to her but since she knew that I love reading, she put a Bible on the desk and went. Curiously, I opened the Bible and began to read from Matthew. The more I read, the more I felt the difference. There were very differences between the words of Jesus and other prophets. Words of Jesus penetrated the depths of my mind and showed me how wrong I thought. After a while, I became Christian and my life was changed.

After a year of my faith, I became familiar with a boy named Mehrdad in the college. Very soon we were fond of each other and decided to marry. I did not tell him the subject of my faith because I feared that he would be dissuaded from marrying with me. He was a very good boy and I loved him very much and I did not want to lose him. Also, I liked to marry with a believer according to Gospel very much and I knew that marrying with an unbeliever person would hurt my faith and I would have trouble in the future!

Several times I tried to tell it to Mehrdad but I could not tell! Finally one night when I was very upset due to hiding this fact I started reading Psalms because always I felt comfortable with reading Psalms: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees. With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth. I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.”

After reading it, I decided to tell Mehrdad the story of my faith and obey God's will. When I told it to Mehrdad, he unbelievably treated me with an open face and even asked me to give him a bible. Thus, after a short time Mehrdad also believed.

Before Mehrdad’s family came to our home, Mehrdad told me not to say anything to his family about our faith because his family, especially his mother, was very religious and certainly opposed to our marriage. Finally our families agreed to our marriage. I was sure that our marriage would be a good marriage and I was very happy.

After marriage, Mehrdad’ sister often came to our house. She did not like me because her only brother was my husband and she was jealous of me. One day she accidentally saw the Bible and our Christian books and asked me whether I was a Christian and I read them. I was shocked at that moment and I did not know what to say to her and I remembered the words of Christ: “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Finally, I replied that yes I am a Christian and read those books. She asked me whether Mehrdad also knew it and I said yes.

After she left our home, a strange feeling told me that a storm would be coming. In less than half an hour after she had gone, Mehrdad’s mother called me and with a harsh tone called me a liar and a witch. She told me that I have misled her son with my magic. She insulted me as far as she could, but I just tried to convince her gently. All that time I had loved them and they had also respected me but within a few minutes their respect was changed to insultation and affront.

At night when Mehrdad came back home, I realized that he knew the issue from his face and he was very upset. He said that his mother had called him and he told his mother that he has also become a Christian himself. Her mother had told him that his sister dreamed the strange and frightening nightmares before she knew that he was a Christian. She had told Mehrdad to divorce me because I was atheist and had also said that he did not have the right to go to her home until he would divorce me.

Mehrdad's mother called him every few hours and discussed with him. I was happy that Mehrdad supported me in the hard situations but on the other hand I commiserated with him because Mehrdad loved his mother and used to see her very day.

One day when both I was very upset and I feared that the pressures of Mehrdad's mother would disrupt our married life, I began to pray. In prayer, God spoke to my heart and told me: "Be patient and love people who annoy you! Your life will not be disrupted because you were married according to God’s will and your life was built according to God's will and God will take care of you." That voice was so real and powerful that my body had sweated due to stress excessively. So I told God that I will obey.

Just an hour later a message came to Mehrdad’s mobile and I was curious to see who had sent the message, so I opened the message. The message was from Mehrdad’s sister and its content was that: "Mehrdad, I talked to our lawyer and he told me that you can divorce Farank without paying a dowry because she is a Christian; we have a few people who testify in favor of you!" After reading this message I lost my moral for a moment and asked myself how I can love those who only try to disrupt my life!

Mother's Day was a few days after this event. I wanted to reconcile with them, but on the other hand I did not have a good feeling. Finally, I decided to fulfill my promise to God about loving them. So I bought a gift and went to his mother's house with Mehrdad. Mehrdad was very happy.

When we reached to their home and rang the doorbell, they thought that Mehrdad was alone and opened the door, but when they saw me with him, they started yelling and screaming. They told me that I am a witch and my gift is devilish! They told me to go out of their home because I have defiled their house and they threw everything to me.

While crying, I put my bouquet and gift on the floor and I quickly left there. Mehrdad also left there after me. I could not stop crying and Mehrdad tried to calm me and said that we've done the right thing according to our faith.

For several months, we did not see Mehrdad’s family and when they called Mehrdad, he did not answer their call. Finally, just before the New Year Mehrdad’s mother called him and Mehrdad who was very homesick for her, answered her call after a few months because of congratulating the New Year. She invited us to their home. First day of the New Year, Mehrdad and I went to their home. Along the way, I was very worried because I thought that she only has invited Mehrdad to their home, but when we entered their home, they dealt well with me, although not as much as before!

Hamid

Dear believer brothers and sisters,

My name is Hamid and I want to share with you an experience of my faith.

Almost nine years ago I was a young man who was caught in the lie and false pride like many other young people. Society had taught me to be a good liar for progressing in the life, to do everything for achieving the goal, and to have no mercy. All these issues led me to live with fear and I always felt like I lived in the forest and I must be strong to be able to survive and live. That's why I always do the heavy exercises to be strong physically.

Well, I remember that I was so immersed in the lie that it was impossible for me not to say the lie even when I tried, and that’s why other people around me did not listen to my words, and it had a very bad effect on me mentally and I felt loneliness strangely. One day my right knee was injured in the sports club and the doctor advised me to stay at home and rest a while. I was at home all the time, and watch TV channels in searching new films and shows. One day when I passed a Christian channel, the name of that pastor drew my attention because his name was Reza, the name of one of the Imams. Until then I thought Iranian Christians were only Armenian, so I began to listen to his talk. Incidentally, that day he said something about Islam that I thought them to be logical. It led me to allocate a time of day for watching his program.

I had just understood how I lived in darkness. Finally, after the internal conflict for some weeks I believed in Jesus Christ and my life changed miraculously. My knee pain completely disappeared and my character so changed that my family was amazing for all the changes. That liars and jealous Hamid that was extremely rough had become a kind and gentle man who wanted to love all persons.

Retribution vs. Forgiveness

According to one of the Islamic websites:” retribution means a punishment for an undesirable or an unacceptable behavior which is considered to be among one of the quintet punishments in Iran’s criminal law. Retribution means a revenge in which the offender will suffer exactly the same loss”. In Iran a murderer will be sentenced to death that means the kinsfolk of the victim can demand death penalty and that is the retribution.

According to Wikipedia blood money (diya) which is one of the Islamic rules is :” the fine paid by the wrongdoer or his family or clan to the family or the clan of the victim and its amount differ for Muslims and non Muslims”

In Iran there are many people who have intentionally or unintentionally committed crimes such as murder or impairment and have to spend many years of their life in prison waiting for their retribution day to come or forgiveness from the victim or his family.

A few months ago the news of forgiveness of a murderer at moment of his execution impressed many people. Six years ago in one of the northern cities of Iran during a verbal clash between two teenagers one of them stabbed the other one and killed him. Six years passed and he had to be executed. The date of execution arrived.

On that day friends and families of both sides were present and at the moment that the mother of the criminal did not have the strength to stand on her feet and was fallen on the ground ,praying and the mother of the victim was under the gibbet to take the chair away, the criminal for the last time asks for forgiveness then the victim’s mother slaps him in the face and says” my son was only seventeen, did you forgive him?” and forgives the murderer. The murdered mother goes to the victim’s mother and falls at her feet and kisses them to show her thankfulness.

Yesterday, after six months from that day I heard about a report from the victim’s mother:
The reporter asked her if she was regretful for her forgiveness. she answered that she is not regretful. She said that forgiving was not easy for her but she had asked God to show her the right way and she said that God created a love for the criminal in my heart.

Even six months before when I heard that news I wondered if I would forgive such a person as a Christian who has lost her beloved one. May be for those Christians who are completely familiar with forgiveness, forgiving is much easier than unbelievers! But yesterday when I heard the voice of that mother it was so interesting for me that she said although it had been so difficult for her to forgive the one who had murdered her son, God had put that love in her heart and she had forgiven that boy and she wasn’t regretful for what she had done.

I clearly feel the glory and presence of god in this forgiveness. I am thankful for his everlasting presence and the fact that when we go to him humbly he never leaves us and comes to help us. Thanks for the heart of that mother who listened to god’s voice and that she is not regretful.

Although I never judge those who do not forgive since I am not in their shoes and I know that judging is not my duty, I pray : god touch their heart and open their eyes and ears to hear your voice and say amen to you and their mind be filled with peace of the forgiveness rather than the bitterness of the revenge. Give them the power to forgive so that they would enjoy the joy and delight of forgiveness.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Acid Attack as the Result of Violence and Discrimination Against Iranian Women

According to Wikipedia, the definition of “enjoining and forbidding” is as follow: “Enjoining and forbidding the Evil are parts of practical rules for Muslims and in Shia perspective, they’re important in Islam. Enjoining means a Muslim should order the others to do (maroof) or the things which are good according to Islam or the brain; and forbidding the Evil means that a Muslim should order the others not to do (monkar) or the things which aren’t good according to Islam or the brain.

All deeds which are obligatory in religious laws are called “Maroof” and all the forbidding laws are called “Monkar”. So urging the people in the society to do the good things is called “enjoining” and preventing them from doing the bad or forbidden things is called “forbidding the Evil”.

Iran’s Islamic Council announced a law recently which is said “Nobody is allowed to commit a crime while enjoining and forbidding the Evil”. Although this law got thirteen opposing votes, and the majority of this opposition were the council members which were women! But after that, Mohammad Taghi Rahbar, the religious leader of Isafahan in one of his sermons said: “ The issue of veil (hejab) must be treated beyond gentle talk.” It means that just warning the women who don’t have appropriate veil, isn’t enough we we need to do more. And the day after that sermon, a cyclist in Isfahan, a big city in Iran, attacked eight girls from Isfahan with acid and he believed those girls didn’t have “appropriate veil”. This man’s thoughts and motivations are obvious for the people of Iran because they’re familiar with the Islamic Government and they know that this man in his mind had the right for doing such action after the leader’s sermon. And he believed that by performing these attacks, he has done a great and good job.

But the Situation of the Victims and Their Families These Days
I read one of the victims’ interviews which was about a twenty-six-year old girl named Soheyla. She had said:” I was walking along the street and a cyclist went past me and after a few seconds I felt burning all over my face and hands. In order to reduce the burning I tried to take off my clothes. The people in the street surrounded me and some of them told me why I’m taking my clothes off.” And finally she arrived at the hospital. She’s lost the complete sight of one of her eyes in addition to her beauty. Her other eye has only got 30 percent of sight and she hopes the doctors would be able to keep this 30 percent for her.

I also heard an interview of Soheyla’s mother that talked to Masih Alinejad, a reporter outside if Iran. She said:” Soheyla is my only daughter and I’m really devastated to see my girl in this situation.” She added that her daughter doesn’t wear inappropriate veil and she doesn’t have any problems or fights with anybody who would attempt to do such attack. She repeated her daughter’s demand again about keeping 30 percent of sight for her.

People Reaction to This Horrible Event
A group of people in Isfahan gathered in front of the Justice Ministry of Isfahan and a group of protesters gathered in front of the Islamic Council and the State Ministry in Tehran in opposition of the Acid Attack. People like Nasrin Sotoudeh, a jurist and a lawyer and a member of the organization of human rights defendants, and Masoumeh Ataee, an acid attack victim by her ex-father-in-law and some other people who had the horrible experience of acid attack were among the protesters. As Mrs. Sotoudeh and Ataee said, the purpose of their gathering was to show their opposing against discrimination and violence. And they wanted to announce their sympathy with the victims and their families. In this gathering other than the women there were also a lot of men. They showed their opposition by saying some slogans like:
Police, where are my sister’s eyes?
Enjoining, we don’t want acid.
The obligatory veil isn’t possible, Iran isn’t like Iraq.
Rohani (President) we aren’t secure.

Unfortunately there is a fearful atmosphere in Isfahan now and when we listen to interviews of women from Isfahan they’re filled with horror and fear.

And what have the government of the Islamic Republic and the Police done relating to this matter?

At first the Commander of the Police force announced the number of the victims eight. But soon after, the Secretary of State announced the number of the acid victims four. They don’t think that the attacks were done because of the inappropriate veil and they believe that associating the attacks with the veil issue and putting it in the media, are all done by western governments!!! Based on the video clips and the reports done by the people themselves, police tried to suppress the crowd by hitting them and as Mrs. Sotoudeh said they arrested some of the opposition like ISNA correspondent. And they got all of the cameras and practically announced the protest illegal.

A question would remain here that the Intelligent Service of Iran which claim nothing can be hidden from their eyes, and they could arrest a group of young people in two hours, who released a dance video on the internet about the song Happy by Williams, now why they can’t arrest the acid attacker after two weeks!!! Instead of arresting the criminals they arrested the protesters.

I pray for the victims and their families and ask God to grant them patience. And I hope the facilities would be provided for them so they can receive the medical treatment. I pray that the feeling of fear and insecurity in Iranian women’s hearts would be replaced by joy and safety and I hope that unaware people leave their stupidity and respect the other people’s rights by awareness.