Muslim Risks Breaking the Law to Access the Gospel

Ramin grew up in a devout Shiite Muslim family in Iran.  His parents instilled in him and his 9 siblings, the teaching of Islam and Sharia law.

“Well the teachings of Islam, they were very important for me because they told us by keeping those laws, you will get points, you’ll earn points to go to heaven. So, we had to keep those laws, like fasting during Ramadan, praying five times a day and giving 1/5 of your income or whatever you have. And I remember as a child, we’d go on the streets and then we’d beat ourselves with chains and trying to please Allah.”

He hoped his faithfulness could earn him a place in heaven, but he wasn’t sure of it.

“Every time we prayed for something, nothing happened. In fact, when we prayed for something to happen, the opposite happened. The worst thing happened. And my question was why? Because I was diligent in my quest and in my obedience but then it seemed like Allah is not answering and hearing our prayers.  God, to me, seemed like a distant tyrant. I couldn’t say that as a Muslim. It seemed like He was ready to punish us all the time but He was distant in helping us.”

At 16 Ramin was riding with friends to a wedding when Sharia police pulled them over.  “In Iran, according to Sharia law, alcohol is illegal. So we were going to this wedding. The people who gave me a ride, they had some alcohol. They took all of us into a confinement, and they took all our clothes off, bare naked and then they poured cold water on us and then they began to beat us with a slash. Without even asking, without even proving that I had drunk. I hadn't. And so that was the first time that I started questioning because I was being beaten in the name of Allah and in the name of Islam.”

Two years had passed when his father died suddenly of a heart attack. Privately, Ramin began to question Islam and the meaning of his own life.  “So pain after pain. The pain of being arrested and beaten unjustly for something I hadn't done. Then upon that my father passed away. So that’s when I really began to question the meaning of life as a whole.”

At 18 years old Ramin was depressed and seeking isolation. He moved out of his family’s home into his own place.  “I felt that, life is meaningless and I don’t want to continue it. And I said, you know, ‘Why do we live 80-90 years, work so hard, we go to a school and we get married, we find jobs. We work hard again and then have children and then you die. And again, you have to endure so much persecution, oppression and injustice.’ 00:38:51 So there was no reason to do that. And I said, If death is the end, why not now? But still, I was afraid to do that because I didn’t know where I’m going to go after I die. So, I didn’t want to live and at the same time I didn’t want to die.”

A year later, Ramin was watching satellite television when he heard a message from a Christian program.  “In Iran, to have a satellite dish is illegal but everyone has one. In the midst of my depression and hopelessness, I came across this channel and this guy was talking about Jesus… That He’s the Son of God, that He died for me on the cross, He rose from the dead and He loves me.  I didn’t believe it at the moment.  I rejected the whole thing. But still, I felt something happen to my heart. I felt that something was telling me that this is truth.”

Over the next week, Ramin sank deeper into depression. Once again, he was watching T.V. when he heard the same, now familiar message.  “And I felt that maybe God is trying to reach out to me. I felt like somebody is trying to talk to me. I had nothing to lose. And that’s the time that I opened my heart to Jesus. And I was going to try Him and ask Him to come into my heart. Because the person that was talking about Jesus said if you do that, your life is going to be changed. He gives you hope, He gives you life, eternal life. And something that I was, as a Muslim, I used to work for so hard to earn—to earn salvation, to earn basically righteousness. To be right with God through the things I was doing. But I heard that this is free. By faith in Jesus I can be right with God.  And I said Jesus today, I hear that You were truly the Son of God. You died for me on the cross. You rose from the dead. I don't know if it’s true or not, but if it’s true, I ask You to come into my heart, be my Lord, be my Savior, forgive me of my sins. Give me new life. And when I said that, a heat went through my hand, a warmth, went throughout all my body. I was shaking and trembling. I began to speak with tongues, in language that I’d never heard of and I was feeling just joy and love. And the first time I prayed to Jesus and I called on His name- -He answered me. That’s when I realized He’s a true, living God.”

In Iran, the Bible is illegal and Christian websites are censored by the government. After three months of searching for a way to read God’s Word, Ramin found a way to break through the internet blockage--finally gaining access to the Holy Bible.

So the Gospel, when I read it, it was the message of resurrection and healing and victory over death.  He shared the salvation prayer with his mother who is also a Christian now. In 2007, he was accepted as a U.N. refugee to the United States.  Ramin is the pastor of The Good Shepherd Church in Los Angeles, California. He teaches the Bible to people all over the world, through his online church at RaminParsa.org. He shares more about his journey from Islam to Christianity in his book titled From Ashes to Glory.

“I feel fulfilled to spread the Gospel and not that I’m doing that to earn salvation or go to heaven…Because I love the Lord, because He has called me, because I know this is a solution for man’s pain, if you genuinely and honestly ask Jesus to show you, He will show you the truth.”

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