Iranian Muslims are ‘coming to faith’ in great numbers today.
“God is doing something unprecedented, something remarkable among Muslim people groups all over the world, in particular in the Middle East, and more specifically in the country of Iran, the country of my heritage,” said Shadi Fatehi.
Shadi Fatehi comes from a Muslim background on her father’s side and is Jewish on her mother’s side of the family. Shadi’s parents moved to London in 1990 and she was born and raised in London in an Iranian home. She is currently on a speaking tour in the United States.
“There were times when my Farsi wasn’t so good, but my job forced me to learn and refine. I have a really annoying British accent when I speak Farsi!” she said.
Fatehi cited David Garrison’s book A Wind in the House of Islam, “and he does a wonderful study of tracing some of these movements, Muslims coming to faith and he looks at Iran and notices that Iran seems to be at the center of what God is doing.”
In 1979, the Islamic Revolution occurred in Iran. Fatehi gave some background.
“In the first few years, not much changed had happened for many reasons. Gradually the Regime started having had more of an impact on society — the hijab being compulsory, all kinds of things happening. Then the Iran-Iraq War happened, which had a huge impact on the country in the 1980s. It was really from the early 1990s that a kind of wave of hardline persecution happened where a group of about 7 or 8 pastors were martyred for their faith. So that was an intense time of persecution. But then from the early 2000s to about 2013, again the church was operating — of course it was very difficult to have new members coming into a church, every member had to give their names to the Government. So there was some persecution, but not as bad. A few pastors had been put into prison in the early 2000s. Then in 2012-13, there were a number of significant waves of arrests where the government followed a group of people and tried to find out as many people as possible and arrested them all. Some of them were put into prison and then actually released and forced to leave the country. And then in that year all of the churches were forced to shut down and forced to go underground. And persecution has kind of been on the increase since 2013.”
How did her father from a Muslim background come to Jesus Christ?
“It was the year 1970. My father was born into a Muslim family, his father read the Quran in his mid-20s and after reading the Quran decided that Islam had to be false and so rejected Islam and became an Atheist, but a kind of ‘nominal’ Muslim. My grand-father became a doctor at a hospital in a small town on the Caspian Sea in the north of Iran. There were no Christians in Iran at the time. I think statistics show there were less than 200 Christians living in all of Iran from a Muslim background at the time. My grand-father in the hospital one day encountered two booksellers who happened to be in Iran with the group Operation Mobilization and they just randomly decided to go into this hospital and sell some English books.
“My Grand-Dad happened to be one of the only people who read English in the hospital and loved books. So the first book that he bought from that book seller was a copy of the New Testament. He had never seen one or had access to one before that day. And he also actually bought a number of books by Billy Graham also on sale. So he went home and through reading the Bible gave his life to Christ — his life was transformed and my dad growing up noticed that his dad had changed and would ask his mom ‘what’s happened to dad, he’s now interested in what we have to say. He’s no longer as angry as he used to be. He’s kind of smiling all the time?’ And my dad’s mother would tell him Dad has become a Christian keep it down (said in a whisper). My dad was about 10-years-old at the time. My grand-dad became someone who brought many to faith in the surgery where he worked and in the local hospital. He was well-known as being ‘the doctor (who was) the Christian doctor.’ And eventually my dad when he was 11 years old came to faith. They started a church in their home. It’s funny — they started baptizing people in the bath tub (laughs). And then that became an official church and then my dad kind of took it from there — at an early age he knew that he was called to be a bible teacher and theologian. He’s actually my boss in case I didn’t mention that! It’s amazing — he came across a few C.S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer books at the age of 18 and started translating them at that age and fell in love with that world of theology and God’s word and all of that.”
Earlier, Fatehi answered questions on what it is like to pursue Christianity in Iran.
Two weeks before arriving in the US on her current tour, Fatehi said PARS had a week-long intensive planned and one of the students on the first day of the conference when staff went to meet them realized they hadn’t arrived and eventually called their offices. The student was arrested, taken into interrogation. “They said, ‘we can’t come, don’t contact us and wait until you hear from us.’ And I’ll have to ask my colleagues, but last time I checked we hadn’t heard from them — so please pray for them. But that gives you a taste of the kind of thing that our students are going through.”
Fatehi said the word “pars,” from which the organization she works with gets its name, is an ancient term for Persia or Iran, especially alluding to ancient Persia and the ancient region which was called ‘the land of Pars.’ “That’s where the term comes from,” she said.
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SOURCE: Assist News, Michael Ireland