DISCOVERING CHRISTIANITY
(An Iranian Letter)

From The Archives

Excerpts of letters written in English from a convert in Iran in 1983

Dear brother in Christ,

If through the direct consequences of my love for solitude, I lost the opportunity of ever being able to maintain myself and thereby stay in America, through this same solitude I found a treasure beyond value, Christ.

You might ask why I did not belong to a church from whom I could have asked help when I was cut off from financial aid. Apart from my own innate tendency to be unsociable, I was still in the process of learning and understanding Christ in 1980, and therefore not a Christian.

I believe that any strong, true and lasting belief has to be accompanied by contemplation and a period of true assessment which passes through graded steps. I don't believe I am subjective in airing this opinion, since it has been my way of approach to Christianity. But I just cannot comprehend how a person can understand, contemplate, assess, and decide on his commitment in one second and then walk to the altar to declare his affiliation to Christianity.

I was brought up in a Muslim family with an almost hostile and antagonized attitude toward Christianity. And now that I am 24 years old, I find myself a lover of Christ. It took time. I wasn't really exposed to true Christianity until I came to the United States. I can recall many horrible stories, which I was told about Christians when I was a child.

When I came to the United States, I first learned about Christ by listening to the radio. Little by little as the years passed I began to learn the significance of Christ's love for the world. His sufferings, and the promise that whoever came to Christ would receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life-me, too!

It certainly was a slow process for me, not a sudden enlightenment like Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. Returning to my country, I came to understand and to love Christ to the point that I became a "heart-fast" lover of Christ. I didn't reach the "final stages" at once, because experience has taught me that understanding and loving Christ has many stages. It has no end. I still am in the process of learning and understanding, but the big leap has been jumped-to accept Christ as my sole Savior. It was only after my return home that I became aware of His sufferings for the first time.

Isn't it strange that in spite of despair, or because of it, my present situation has made this process of growth continue unabated? I have come to see that my leaving the United States has been the work of Somebody Else on high.

I have come to see that one of the components of human nature is to make comparisons. I began to make a comparison of what was going on around me with what Christ had taught. Amid the indescribable sufferings of my people, Christ's fundamental doctrine, Love, stood and stands far superior to anything else.

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Now excerpts from a letter written after the receipt of Packer's book Knowing God.

I have studied and restudied James Packer's book, Knowing God, which you sent me. I have read again especially those chapters that had too much meaning to satisfactorily be digested in one reading. I liked the book very much and will treasure it for a long time to come. It surely increased my knowledge of the Holy Scripture.

Many questions that I previous had in my mind but couldn't put into words (or questions hidden in my heart which had been stopped from coming to my mind) were answered satisfactorily. Many new questions were raised as well, but this is a characteristic of any good book-to raise new questions and motivate the curiosity of its readers.

I learned that I am a coward and a bad Christian, by all standards. I learned that if I want to follow Christ, I should heed His warning about the cost of following Him. "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the son of Man has no place to lay his head (Matthew 8:30 NIV) But I haven't lost my hope. With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Mr. Packer very appropriately quotes Richard Baxter's poetical version of the covenant with God:
My knowledge of that life is small;
The eye of faith is dim.
But it's enough that Christ knows all,
And I shall be with him.

There is no religion in the world that gives such hope and assurance to the believer. I completely agree with Mr. Packer that this assurance doesn't give way to looseness. On the other hand, its strengthens the faith of believers.

It struck me when I read that people in Nazareth, Jesus' own home town, took offense at His miracles, but that those in Samaria believed him to be the Son of the Most High because of His miracles. Jesus told his disciples, "Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own home, is a prophet without honor." (Mark 6:4)

I am not a prophet, not even a good Christian. However, I feel that I need to get out of here, my own country, and live with Christians and have their fellowship. As this may not be possible, please contact me now and then so that I will take courage. I need to be reminded that I am a member of a family whose Father is the Creator of heaven and earth. Please remind me that I have been adopted to His sonship through Jesus and have brothers and sisters who care.

With sincerity - Fariborz

It is worth noting that following the Baxter poem, James Packer wrote these words: "If you are a believer, and so a son, this prospect satisfied you completely; if it does not strike you as satisfying, it would seem that as yet you are neither.

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Our last communication from this new Christian was very sad. It was written on a Christmas card dated December 8, 1984

Dear brother in Christ Jesus,

On the night of July 28th, after 14 hours of walking and running in the desert of Piran, I succeeded in making my escape good and put foot on the Pakistani soil on the morning of the 29th. I have been living in Karachi since then. My life is extremely hard down here. Often lacking a proper place and having to put up almost always with only one meal per day. About four weeks ago I obtained an Italian passport, gave it to be photo changed and bought a ticket from KLM via Amsterdam to Toronto, Canada. I failed when the boarding card man became suspicious and refused me a boarding card. I am intent on trying passports of other nationalities and other airlines until I am arrested or succeed in boarding a plane to anywhere in the free world. Please pray for me.


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