Jun 2015

Ali

Hello dear Christian brothers and sisters. My name is Ali and I want to share a story of my faith with you.

My younger brother believed in God about six years ago. I was very surprised because of the changes in his behavior and life, but I do not believe that this changes were serious and from God. That time I worked in the market. My partner named Mehdi and I had a small workshop in the market and only thought of developing our work in the market and did anything to achieve this goal.

I dare say that our progress in the market largely depended on our lies. We often told a lie about raw materials and the quality of our goods and always paid the salary of workers low and late as much as possible because we wanted to become stronger financially and worked with their salary. Of course, doing these things upset me but I tried to calm myself by thinking about money and the future.

My brother always read the Bible loudly at home so that we could hear it, but we tried to be inattentive. But one day he was reading the story of Lazarus and the rich man that the story was very similar to the behavior that I had with my workers. That night, I tried not to think of that story but I could not and throughout the night, I felt that I was that rich man who oppressed my workers. Even, that night I saw a strange dream. So the next day I said it to my brother and his eyes filled with tears and he told me: "these stories are examples that have occurred in the life of many people and are associated with our daily life and God wants to work in this part of your life".

That night, he read many verses of the Bible for me and talked a lot with me and I had a strange feeling and I did not want to live that way anymore and so after a few days I believed in Christ. From that day the world had changed for me and I could not live like before and knew that my faith also affected my relationship with Mehdi. Incidentally, the same day we had an appointment with a customer and Mahdi spoke with me before appointment and as usual we had to tell a lie for more selling but I felt that I could not and did not wanted to tell a lie and when I told it Mehdi, he got very angry and when I told him that it is better to tell the truth to the customers, he totally disagreed with me and said that we could not easily sell our goods and became bankrupt and thus he decided to speak with the customer himself.

After two weeks that passed with the process, our selling had become very low because I always talked with customers and selling was my task and Mehdi could not well praise the goods. Finally, Mehdi asked me why I have changed and when I told him that I have become Christian and I could not live like before, he got angry more. He said: "You're crazy! Do not you want to improve our financial situation? Have you forgotten that we want to develop our business? We should not think about God to be able to get enough money!"

From that day on, our relationship became very bad and every day we discussed together because we disagreed about all things, particularly because I supported workers and I insisted that they should be insured! However, many times I could not practice my words and sometimes I was tempted to get more money. Finally, I concluded that it was better for a believer not to have an unbeliever partner and so I decided to stop the partnership with him.

Although I had many concerns and I did not know what will happen for my capital and what new job I should start, I did it. I can say that when I was separated from him, I had a sense of freedom, although I suffered the financial loss!

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!

Iranian Refugees in Australia

There are many countries that face immigration day by day. Some citizens emigrate from their country and some other countries accept the new people as emigrants and some people have the both conditions. Iranians are the people who leave their own country every year to emigrate to other countries due to different reasons. The main reason for emigration from Iran are as follow: sexual discriminations, not having appropriate jobs, not having equal educational facilities, not having freedom of speech and lack of social freedoms which are the basic rights of each citizen and in a nutshell it’s the violation of human rights. The people who want to emigrate sometimes do it legally and sometimes illegally. However all of them seek a common goal and endure different situations in this way, but each of them face different ending.

Australia is one of the countries which Iranians enter there as asylums. According to French News Agency and based on the official statistics which has been announced at the end of March 2015, almost 20 percent of 1848 people who are kept in the refugees camp in Australia are the Iranians. Many people among 1700 refugees in Naoro and Papua New Guinea camps are Iranians. It’s also estimated that thousands of Iranians live in Australia by temprory admission and are waiting for a decision about their state of being asylum. Australia’s government also says that 23 percent of the refugees kept in domestic camps and also a large number of the refugees who live in Manus and Naur Islands are Iranians. In addition to this, there are almost a thousand Iranians who live in different cities of Australia with a temprory visa and if their citizenship visas get expired, they might be sent to Iran.

Generally the refugees face very difficult and strict situations. But Australian government consider these restrictions as a barrier for illegal immigrations. In the middle of these strict situations since February till September of 2014, two Iranian refugees died. One of those people was a twenty-three year old boy named Reza Barati, who as his father said immigrated to Australia for a better life and he died in September 2014. According to valid News Agencies on that very night hundreds of refugees ran towards the barbed wires around the camp in order to escape and they got attacked by the police. Reza fell on the ground by a strike on his head and his body was hit by the crowd and he died. The Australian government doesn’t accuse anyone for Reza’s death yet. Finally his family was aware of his death by a phone call from Australia’s Embassy in Iran.

After this tragedy the Iranian refugees witnessed another sad event in September 2014. A twenty-four year old boy named Hamid Khazai who was detained in refugees camp in Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and after suffering from blood infection he went to coma. He had a wound in his leg and because there wasn’t enough medical equipments and there was no medical service the infection got through all over his body. And due to this severe infection he had a heart attack and went to coma. His family decided to detach him from the medical devices which were helping him to breathe and live. The Australian Minister of refugees affairs defended the medical services which were offered to Hamid Khazai and he rejected this accusation that he died due to lack of medical services. According to a valid News Agency one of the activists of an organization called “unity of refugees movement”, criticized the camp’s situation which caused Hamid Khazai’s wound get infectious. He said the refugee prisoners sometimes have to walk through the corridors which are full of sewage water because of the clogs in the toilet pipes. He repeated Sarah Hanson’s speech (she is a senator of the green party), she’s said the medical services were offered to this Iranian refugee too late. He described the Manus Island camp as a “dirty hell ditch” and it has to be closed.

At the beginning of April 2015, Tony Abbot the Australian Prime Minister said: Iran has to accept the refugees whose asylum application in Australia got rejected. The Australian government had announced that during the foreign minister’s trip to Iran, he will discuss about this issue with Iranian government. In the other hand, the Iranian ambassador in Australia talked to the media about the refugees and said that Iran’s government doesn’t want to interfere in refugees issues and their reluctance for returning to their country due to human right considerations and he mentioned that anything related to the refugees is an issue only for Australian government. However; Iranian officials claim that if any refugees come back to Iran by their own will, they won’t be punished. But this issue is a big concern for the Iranian refugees’ lawyers because their returning to Iran jeopardizes their safety.

Now there’s a question here: if a person isn’t considered as a refugee due to Australia’s conditions, isn’t a real refugee? And all of us know that any Iranian who came back to Iran got arrested and imprisoned by Iran’s government without any misdeed. Now how important is this for the Australian government; it’s a big question for the refugees, their lawyers and all of the Iranians who hear this news. As refugees’ lawyers said, there are 45 Iranian refugees whose asylum request got rejected and they also refused to return to Iran and now they’re under constant arrest in the refugees camp. One of the refugees is called Saeed Hassanlou who has left Iran five years ago and his asylum request got rejected for several times. Now he’s ill in a hospital in Pert because He was on the food strike for a period of time and it’s said he is in critical condition right now. These refugees are rejected by the two countries and the interesting point is that the both countries claim obeying humanitarian rights.

Finally on 19th April 2015, the Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop came to Iran. As it’s broadcasted by the domestic and foreign News Agencies, in spite of the things the Australian officials said that one of the two-sided discussions by Iran would be the refugees issues, but it seems that other topics such as improving economical exchange are much more significant. There are some Iranian women who are against the discriminations towards women like “Hijab” and they want the world to hear them and they have a facebook page called “my stealthy freedom”. Before Julie Bishop’s entrance to Iran, they asked her not to use “hijab” or “veil” when she visits Iran as a female politician and therefore by this action she could show her objection against this discrimination. Famous Australian broadcasts reported this news to their foreign minister and told her that some Iranian women want her to talk to Iranian officials about discrimination against women and the obligatory Hijab in Iran. But she responded: I sometimes even use hat or a scarf in my own country and when I have Hijab in Iran, it’s a kind of showing respect towards Iranian culture.

According to Julie Bishop’s response, some Australian media and Iranian women showed their objection against her speech. Meanwhile, an Afghan woman uploaded a photo of Ms. Bishop’s recent trip to Afghanitsan in “my stealthy freedom” page. In that very photo, Ms. Bishop is visiting one of Afghan officials men and she isn’t wearing Hijab. She wrote to the Australian Foreign Minister: “Iran is my second homeland. I was born in Afghanistan but I was raised in Iran. When you say you wear Hijab to respect Iranian culture, you should know that Hijab isn’t an Iranian culture but it’s an obligatory rule. So don’t wear scarf (Hijab) in the name of Iranian people.”

Now a question has been raised for Iranians about the Australian Foreign Minister that if you enter Iran as a female foreign politician and you have to wear Hijab, then how more intense this obligation is for Iranian women and Hijab isn’t the only obligation in Iran. Now how can you return the Iranian refugees to Iran who aren’t qualified to be a refugee in your country? And how can you leave them with the Iranian officials?

All of us pray that big changes may happen in our country therefore nobody may have to leave their country and endure difficult situations and everyone would have citizenship rights and would be able to live freely in their own country.

Somaye

Hello believer friends. My name is Somaye and I am forty years old. I believed in Jesus about eight years ago. What is very strange for me is that I heard the message of the gospel about fifteen years ago and I even went to church several times but I did never think to become a Christian and I did not have any sense, and I went to church with my friend just for fun. But eight years ago when my brother believed in Christ, I went to church with him and attended with him in the classroom and that time, my heart was touched and I believed in Christ.

Today one of my friends asked me that what problem I have in Iran as a believer women. When I thought her question, my heart became painful.

As believer women, I endured many difficulties during my faith and I know that these problems exist in Iran society for many believer women who have unbeliever husbands. I am married and I have two children. My husband is not believer and most of my problems are related to it.

One of my problems after believing was that I did not have and still do not have enough freedom to attend the church. Although my husband is not a so religious man but often he does not allow me to go to church meetings because the church is far from where I live and the hours of starting the meeting is such a way that when the meeting is finished, it gets dark and my husband has a problem with it and he allows me to go to meetings one or two times per month!

Also, in the month of Muharram, he does not allow me to go to church and says that the sin of going to the church in these months is greater and this often leads us to wrangle. Also, in these months at all times when my husband is at home, I have to tolerate the sound of Quran because in these two months my husband becomes quite Muslim and wants to do all his religious obligations and continuously reads or listens Quran!!!

Another problem that every believer woman may have in Iran is related to training and educating her children. Undoubtedly, a believer mother like her child to train according to Word of God, and learn Word of God well but unfortunately it's a little hard in Iran because our children are not officially recognized as Christians and they have to read and pass the Islamic religious lessons in schools! So in a society where the religion and belief are completely opposed to the Word of God, training the Christian children is very difficult.

It was harder for me. When my husband was at work, I read the word of God for my children and described Jesus as Lord and Savior and taught them the Christian songs, but when he came back home and spoke with the children and Children sang the songs that I had taught them, he said them exactly the opposite of what I had said, and said them to bring religious textbooks and explained that Jesus was just a prophet who had come, and his religion remained incomplete and Bible is distorted and Jesus had promised that a prophet will come after him and that prophet is Muhammad!

Also, I well remember that when one of my children was sick and we were very worried, I took her to the church meeting to pray for healing her and when my husband came back home and found that I did it, The next day he took our child to a shrine and kept her there a whole day to heal, although, he never went to the shrine himself!

Unfortunately, these dualities confuse the children and have the negative effects on their ability to make decisions for various issues! I have personally given my children in the hands of God to touch their hearts!