"I wanted to love God without any religious law pushing me,” says Jeremiah (not his real name). “But my parents pushed and pushed every day, angry with me because from the age of 15, I didn't like to worship.”
Read as this young man shares his inspirational testimony of how he came to faith in Jesus.
Devout Muslims, Jeremiah's family lived in one of Iran's big cities. When the Shah was deposed in 1979, his parents welcomed Ayatollah Khomeini with joy, because they believed he would bring integrity back to the practice of Islam in Iran.
But like most teenagers, their son felt the need for freedom to discover God for himself. He was sure that God existed but he felt trapped inside a straitjacket of religious law that forbade him to do anything else but follow his parents' beliefs. “I wanted to love God, to know Him, to explore Him in my own way. Every day my parents became more angry with me.”
When Jeremiah was in his twenties, his older brother became a Christian. Knowing that he could not endanger his family by telling them about his dramatic conversion, he tried for some time to be a Christian in secret. After a while he became so hungry for fellowship that he started to look for a church in the Iranian town where he lived. His wife and parents noticed and he realised that he needed to leave Iran quickly, before he was found out. Selling up everything he owned, he managed to get visas for himself and his wife and came to live in England, where Jeremiah was already living and working, having left Iran some time before.
“Suddenly,” says Jeremiah, “I had a phone call from my brother to say he was in England. When we met and he told me that he had become a Christian. I was shocked and said: 'Why? There is only one God. You're a Muslim!' Although I'd resisted being pushed by my parents, I still thought of myself as a Muslim and hadn't found any other belief.”
“Yes, Jeremiah,” my brother replied. “There is only one God. But - it's a mystery we can't understand with our minds – He has three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit Himself teaches us. It is so different from 'religion'!
“As my brother explained, I felt very interested. Over my time in England I'd sunk lower and lower, addicted to cocaine and crack and racked with pain in my stomach. Every day, since the age of ten - when an operation went wrong and left adhesions inside my stomach - I'd been in bad pain. For five months before my brother joined me in England, I couldn't eat solid food without vomiting. I lived just on milk. My life had become rubbish to me and I wanted to kill myself.”
“My brother said gently, “Jeremiah - Jesus is not a prophet - He is the Son of the living God. He can do anything for you. He is Lord.”
“Two weeks later, God organised it that my life got even worse and I reached an end of myself. That night I prayed '“Jesus, I don't know who You are, but my brother says you are Lord - so I ask You to help me!”
A few days later, when Jeremiah woke up, his flat mate asked him if he'd like an egg for breakfast. Half asleep, Jeremiah ate the egg. Suddenly remembering the state of his stomach, he sat waiting for the stomach cramps to start. Nothing happened!
“I rang my brother who said 'Jeremiah, I'm sure Jesus has healed you! Believe and follow Him!' Still I didn't believe. For two days, I ate normally and waited for the gripping pain to start. Still nothing happened. Then I believed! After fifteen years of pain I'd been healed by a Jesus miracle!
“When my brother invited me to a Jesus Army event, I gladly went. For the first time in my life I felt God's holiness in a place of worship. As soon as I was baptised all my addictions stopped. I felt God give me salvation - not just from sin but from religion! 'Church' was not just lots of people together making prayers. Church is God's presence - because Jesus' religion is love and in love you find God.
“Best of all for me - God is no longer a concept in my mind but Someone in my heart, who speaks to me.”