29 May 2015
Noushin* is a house church leader in Iran. When people from her network of secret believers started being arrested she feared that she would be next. Would her faith be strong enough to endure persecution?
I am the leader of my house church, so when one day I heard of yet another arrest in my network I feared for my arrest as well. I wasn't ready to go to prison. I knew that it was a dirty place, a place where people are tortured and locked up in solitary confinement. I was afraid that I would be so fearful that I would give up all the names of the members of my house church. I even feared that I would deny my faith if they tortured me. I felt like such a coward, so I asked God with all my heart to not test me beyond my ability.
A KNOCK ON THE DOOR
A few days after this prayer, I heard a knock on my door. My heart skipped a beat. It was the secret police. I had a few minutes to prepare myself to go with them. I was angry. Hadn't God heard my prayers? Walking to the door I argued with God. Hadn't I asked Him not to put me in this temptation? Hadn't I told Him that I couldn't withstand persecution? So why did he put me in this position?
When I walked out the door, what I feared most happened. They blindfolded me, put me in their car, and drove me to prison. There I was put in solitary confinement. The smell of the cell made me sick. I was scared to death. What was going to happen to me? Hours later, guards came to take me out of my cell. Walking through the corridors, all sorts of thoughts went through my mind. Were they going to torture me and force me to give up the names of my Christian friends? Was I strong enough to testify that Jesus was my Lord?
They set me down on a chair in front of an interrogator. He asked me: "Why did you become a Christian and why are you seducing other Muslims to do the same?" I looked up at him. I wasn't strong enough to answer. But then, suddenly, I felt a peace coming over me. The type of peace I knew only from my times with God. It was the Holy Spirit. To my own surprise I wasn't afraid anymore.
"It's an honor for me to talk about Jesus," I said to the interrogator whose face expressed more anger with every word. "You also need Jesus in your life. I cannot be indifferent towards you. I want you to experience the joy and blessing of salvation. I can't keep silent about this."
Furiously, the interrogator sent me back to my cell. Walking back I thought about what I had just done. The interrogator warned me that the testimony I had given could become very costly for me. My fear returned. I couldn't sleep that night. I decided to keep quiet the next time they interrogated me. But the next day, the same thing happened. Again I was touched by the Holy Spirit and started sharing about Jesus with the interrogator. That night I didn't sleep.
A HEART FOR JESUS
It was only the third night that I managed to get some sleep. I was so extremely tired. But in the middle of the night I heard a knock on the door. This couldn't mean anything good. I heard the voice of the interrogator. Did he come to beat me up or rape me? But he said: "Don't be afraid, I need your prayer." We talked about Jesus for hours until finally the interrogator gave his heart to Jesus. We prayed together. Looking at him, I could see that his face looked brighter than before. "This is the first time I have experienced the peace and love of God in my life," he shared.
The interrogator couldn't help me openly, but in his own way he helped me with my case. Shortly after, I was released. I am still in touch with him and his wife who has also given her heart to Jesus. I help them grow in faith. The interrogator wants to be an evangelist one day. Despite all that I had expected, the memories of my time in prison are good. When I was weak, God made me strong. And even in my weakness he chose me as a tool to lead a person to Him.
*Names changed for security reasons
- For the many Christians imprisoned in Iran to know the peace and strength that Noushin experienced
- That many more men and women would come to know Jesus through the testimony of imprisoned Christians
- For protection and wisdom for secret believers
That the dream of Noushin's interrogator to become an evangelist would be realised and bear much fruit.