Stacks Image 1479
The shelf life for the gospel in Iran is at least 20 years.

The message was planted in Aziz’s* life when he was a teenager but it didn’t take root until he was in his mid-30’s. While he liked what he heard he couldn’t accept the idea of a free gift of salvation from God. One of his best friends who also heard the same message readily accepted it and committed his life to Christ.

As his friend grew in his faith, Aziz stayed on the fringes, believing that Islam was the purest of all beliefs and that Christianity, while nice was corrupt. Aziz became a dedicated student of the Koran and prayed daily. “I wasn’t just going through the motions. I really concentrated.” In spite of his efforts, Aziz says, “I felt nothing in my heart.”

Over time, Aziz and his friend drifted. His friend left Iran and Aziz got married. The marriage was strained from the beginning and things only got worse. Aziz would leave for work early and not come home until late at night. Aziz felt trapped and wanted to get out of his marriage, “I hated my wife. We were two enemies.” He reasoned that Islam allowed him to have more than one wife and begin looking for a second wife. He also began seeking advice on how to get a divorce from his wife, Shirin*. At one point he became so desperate that he contemplated simply leaving the country without telling anyone.

While Aziz was plotting an escape, Shirin was frantic to keep the marriage going regardless of how wretched things were. Unable to bear the shame of divorce in Iran, Shirin put up with the fighting and cold silence. She even resorted to superstitious rituals of Islam and began chanting in hopes of keeping the marriage going.

One Friday, Aziz decided to go to church, “While I was there I heard the same words from 20 years before. I really felt changed.” From that time, Aziz began living a different life. As Aziz began reading his Bible and spending time with other believers he realized that he must begin treating his wife better. Aziz prayed for forgiveness and was amazed at the quick change, “I forgot all of our differences and quarrels. I didn’t hate my wife anymore; I loved my wife.” The single women he was considering as second wives simply went away for no reason, “It was a miracle the way all of my plans didn’t succeed.”

Still hurting from years of conflict and sadness Shirin threatened to expose Aziz to his family and friends as a convert to Christianity. In addition to being angry with Aziz she felt embarrassed that she was married to a Christian.

One evening Shirin went out to the balcony of their apartment. While there she looked up and asked, “God, why have you trapped me in a terrible marriage and why is my husband my own enemy?” As she pondered the silence a thought came into her mind, “ I have done everything according to Islam. Maybe I should try reading the Bible.” A few minutes later she was back on the balcony reading Aziz’s Bible. That evening, as she read the Bible, she became convicted of her need for change. She became a believer that very night.

Since their decision to become Christians Aziz and Shirin have grown closer and neither can imagine what life would be like without each other. They weather the normal storms of a married couple, but now do so as a couple. The differences they had have given way to their common bond of Christian love.

They are actively involved in an evangelical church and Aziz is emerging as a leader in the Christian community. He is planning to begin a drama troupe to share the gospel that saved him from a life of misery and an eternity of hell, “God saved me and He saved my marriage.”

The 20 year-old message of hope lay dried and withered within in Aziz until it was watered with the tears of repentance.