Providing Community Where Churches are Not Allowed

Providing Community Where Churches are Not Allowed

Raha is one of our online church family members. The 56-year-old grandmother of four accepted Jesus as Savior through our programming. In our broadcasts, she says, “I found my place.”

Raha grew up in a devout Muslim family. Her mother read to Raha and her siblings about the prophets from the Quran. Stories about Jesus were always Raha’s favorites.

During the Christmas season, she eagerly anticipated visiting an aunt who lived in a neighborhood that included Christians.

“Christmastime was fascinating and beautiful for me as a child when I was in my aunt’s house,” she recalled.

But based on Muslim teachings, Raha viewed Jesus the same as the other prophets. She believed all could equally answer her prayers when she prayed in their names.

After Raha had left home, married, and started raising her own kids, a Christian invited her to a small prayer and worship gathering. Her parents disowned her when she joined the group. Shunned by her family, Raha struggled to find hope. Her passion for life was drained out of her. Her only happiness came from her children. Fourteen years ago, Raha traveled to northern Iran. A friend recommended she watch Iran Alive’s satellite TV channel. She listened intently as the pastor talked of Jesus in a way she had never heard Him described—not as one of the prophets, but as the Savior of the world. When the pastor invited viewers to join him in saying a prayer for salvation, Raha repeated his words, and Jesus entered her heart.

Raha soon learned that becoming a Christian does not guarantee an easier life. The family that once had been her only source of happiness began experiencing difficulties. Included was an unmarried daughter who became pregnant. The father abandoned Raha’s daughter when he learned of the pregnancy.

Under Islamic law, children born to unwed parents cannot obtain a birth certificate—they are considered what is known as “paperless.” In the Iranian legal system, paperless children do not exist. Schools can deny them enrollment. They often are forced into the outer edges of society. Many unmarried pregnant Iranians choose to undergo an abortion rather than subject their child to a lifetime of marginalized existence.

Raha’s daughter had a dream in which Jesus told her that the unborn child belonged to Raha. Raha decided to raise the child, and when her daughter gave birth, Raha named the girl Mary.

As the family issues piled up for Raha, friends blamed the problems on Raha’s decision to leave Islam for Christianity. But Raha remained committed to Christ. She lacked connection with members of any underground churches. All Raha had to help her stay strong in her faith was the Bible she read alone.

One evening, Raha contacted Iran Alive through Instagram. We provided her our broadcast church’s schedule so she could at least have a regular connection with us until an opportunity arises to join an underground church. Our broadcast church is the “place” she said she has found.

Raha recently shared some of the blessings she is experiencing. All of her children and grandchildren are Christians. Mary’s father was located—“amazingly,” Raha said—and he agreed to go through the process that resulted in Mary receiving a birth certificate and identification cards. That alone brought great peace to Raha’s family.

“As a mother, Jesus freed me from all my worries and difficulties,” Raha said. “I am filled with Jesus’ love!”