From drug addict to being tortured for Christ – a story of redemption in an Iranian’s Life

February 2, 2012 by  
Filed under Asia, Iran, newsletter-world, Persecution

BackIran, January 01, 2012: Crushing demonstrations, killing political opponents, and silencing religious minorities, Iran’s regime has attempted to suck dry the hopes and aspirations Iranians have for a free society. Under such oppression – which outlaws anything not deemed Iranian or Islamic – many Iranians turn to addictions if they cannot find a healing faith to fill the void inside them. Farzad experienced both. From drug abuser to Christ follower, from being healed to being imprisoned and tortured for his faith, Farzad’s astounding testimony encourages us to rejoice in times of both joy and affliction.

Born into a Muslim family, Farzad (not real name) left his home at the age of fifteen after disagreeing with his father for taking a second wife. He began living with his aunt whose husband was an opium addict. “Their son stole opium from them and shared it with me,” Farzad told ICC. “Because of my inner anger and troubles, it was not long until I started smoking it on a normal basis.”

After three years, Farzad was so addicted that he would inject himself 16 to 20 times a day. “I realized that from my neck down there was nowhere to inject myself. No vein was available; I was damaged so badly.” Farzad went to the hospital to ask if they would inject him, but instead they called the police. When the policeman arrived, he refused to take Farzad to the station. “Let the refuse (garbage) collectors take him,” the policeman said. “I don’t want him in my car.”

“After this session at the hospital, I had lost faith in myself,” Farzad said. “I had been reduced to such a state that life wasn’t worth living after that. I decided to kill myself. Why live if I couldn’t live like a human being?”

Late one night, Farzad attempted suicide by overdosing. Halfway through the injections, everything went black. “It was like the electricity went out,” he recalls. Suddenly, Farzad saw a man standing between two bright lights who called him by name, saying, “Listen to me. You are not supposed to die. You are not supposed to just exist. You are supposed to go on living.”

“Who are you?” Farzad asked while trembling in fear. The voice replied, “The Father loves you so much that He sent me to save you.” Farzad’s eyes were then opened and he saw his body lying on the kitchen floor as if he was looking at his dead corpse. The syringe had fallen out of his arm and blood was oozing out.

Suddenly, Farzad awoke. He immediately flushed his remaining drugs down the toilet and realized what he needed to do. With a long and difficult road before him, he felt a strength to overcome that was not his own.

One night he relapsed by getting drunk and went to his Armenian friend’s home. His friend asked Farzad why he started drinking so much, trading one addiction for another. The friend went on to tell Farzad about the Bible. When Farzad told him about his dream, he directed him to Colossians 1:15, which says that Jesus is the “image of the invisible God.”

“When I asked my friend about the concept of embracing your enemy, he brought out the passage in the Bible. And, when I talked about sexual desire, he brought out the verse that says if you even look at a woman in a sexual way than you have sinned,” Farzad said. “I was quite impressed. What a fantastic God you have, I told him.

“All the years I had lived with religious convictions that were in opposition to what I was hearing, yet the words I heard from the Bible were touching my heart.”

The Armenian friend said, “Wait. I’ll show you something.” He read from John 3:16 that God loves the world enough to send His Son to save him. “Suddenly, it came to me,” Farzad said. “It was Jesus Christ who came and saved me.” At that moment, Farzad confessed his sins and gave his life to Christ. “It was very emotional,” Farzad said. “My heart was pumping. It was the moment I will never forget.”

Farzad went in for a medical test following his conversion. “The doctor said I had hepatitis C. My liver was 70 % dysfunctional and 96 % of my blood was contaminated. The doctor said it was too late for me. There was nothing I could do,” Farzad explained.

Farzad’s sickness was announced at a church he had begun attending. “The whole church decided to fast and pray for a whole week,” Farzad said while trying to hold back tears. “No one ate anything and they had a 24-hour chain of prayers for me.”

One member had a vision and at the next service he thanked God for giving Farzad his health back. He told Farzad that God had saved him and that he should return to the doctor for a second test. The test results came up negative. “Do you believe in miracles?” the doctor asked Farzad. “Yes, God has performed a second miracle in my life,” Farzad replied. Handing the doctor a Bible, Farzad said, “Read this so that you will know how miracles are performed.”

Farzad began dedicating his musical talents to the church and completely surrendered his life to ministry. He sold everything he had to open a studio to record Christian music in Farsi. “It took off nicely,” Farzad said. “But, one night I got a call from the police that the studio had caught fire and burned down. I couldn’t believe it. Where had the fire come from? We had taken every precaution to prevent a fire when we built it. And, it was a rainy night!”

Just like that, Farzad lost everything and was $65,000 in debt. “I resorted to driving a taxi for a while to pay off the bills,” Farzad said. “Yet, this never stopped me from sharing about my faith in Jesus Christ.”

With the help of an organization, Farzad began training outside the country to become an assistant pastor. After returning home to share the Gospel and baptize new believers, an informant for Iranian intelligence who had slowly infiltrated into his church group arrested him. “They arrested me; tortured me to get names. They hung me by the feet from the ceiling and lashed me,” Farzad said. The picture at left was taken weeks after the lashing.

Farzad’s uncle, a mullah who had refused to speak or even shake Farzad’s hand after his conversion, asked Iranian authorities to release Farzad temporarily so he could receive medical attention at a hospital. After the treatment, the mullah promised, Farzad would be brought back to prison. The Iranian authorities agreed.

“I was worried about my uncle,” Farzad said. “He had promised to return me to the prison.”

One night, however, Farzad’s uncle knocked on his door. “He said to me, take your wife and children and leave the country. It’s too dangerous for you. They’re determined to kill you. Don’t worry about the bond, just leave,” Farzad said.

They left the next day. “We didn’t even have time to say goodbye to the family,” he said.

Today, Farzad continues his incredible ministry by teaching Iranian fellowship groups and leading worship services. Please pray for Farzad and his family who live off a meager income provided by donations alone as they are not allowed to be employed as refugees in a foreign land.

– persecution.org

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