Iran is currently in the news as some cities are facing protests from poor communities against the countries ruling clerics and government. So far, several people have been killed, and international leaders are trying to hold Iran to their human rights commitments. But for years, Christians in Iran, especially those from a Muslim background, have faced the full force of the governments aggression. Christians like Mojtaba, whose heart changed completely when he got to know Jesus, know exactly what that looks like. But even the misery of prison couldn’t dim the light that was born in his heart.
“With Christmas I celebrate more than just the birth of Jesus 2000 years ago. For me, Christmas represents how Jesus was born into my heart and in my house.”
“I grew up in a house with a lot of violence. My drug addicted brother especially influenced the atmosphere. So when he came to Christ, everything changed. Through him I also came to Christ. It was like a light was lit in our house. Jesus came to our dark house and made it a peaceful house. Likewise, he made my heart peaceful. It was dark but he filled it with joy and peace. I felt like a different person. Jesus was born into my heart. My own personal Christmas.
“I started attending a house church. And whenever Christmas would come, I would celebrate the fact that Jesus was born into my heart. In the house church, Christmas really was an inside celebration. Something that filled our hearts with joy and worship.
“Of course we tried to make a little more out of the celebration than usual. We decorated the house with a flag line and shared some food together. The decorations weren’t Christmas themed. Then if the police would raid us – which often happens that time of year – we could say we were celebrating a birthday.
“Our church started growing and I became a leader. On a cold winter day the police raided our house church meeting. It was terrible. The kids were crying while the police were shouting at the parents. The other leaders and I were separated from the rest. Then we were thrown into prison.
“I spent three years in prison, and so I had three Christmases there. Christmas had always been an inside celebration for me, so inside the prison I could celebrate it just the same. I would feel the joy of liberation in my heart. It was a very joyful feeling.
“It was such a contrast to the situation in prison. Packed in a cell with men that committed the most terrible crimes. The interrogations, the uncertainty about what was going to happen. As much as I was being joyful inside, my outside was sad.
“Especially in prison I learned that that contrast belongs to our faith. We read it in the Bible. Like persecution, it brings us only closer to our Lord Jesus. Born on the earth and born in our hearts.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.