Halimeh: The God who hears and answers us

Halimeh, Iran

 

Childhood

I was born in Iran into a very religious Muslim family. My family was very close knit and all of us loved and cared for each other. I never knew what it was to be in need. My parents were wonderful providers.

I learned about the Christian faith from school and my parents. They taught me that Jesus was the fourth major prophet, Muhammad being the fifth and the last. I remember clearly asking my mother why Jesus was crucified. She answered, “Jesus claimed to be God’s Son. Yet God is one and He didn’t marry or have a son.” I understood that Christians believed in three gods: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. This was very confusing. I believed that Islam was better than other religions, because we had only one powerful God.

 


Transition Years

When I graduated from high-school my parents faced a decision. Should I continue my education in the U.S. or should they arrange a marriage for me? They decided that I should marry first and then go to the U.S.A. with my husband to continue my studies. Therefore, my family arranged my marriage.

In 1973 my husband came to America and soon I followed him. I left the country with financial support from both my parents and the Iranian government. My husband and I came to this country on student visas and planned to stay for four or five years, complete our education and return home.

The separation from my parents and the adjustment to a new country was very difficult. I lived on the hope that the moment I finished my studies here I would return to Iran. In those days the political relationship between Iran and the U.S. was great. There was no sign of any problem or conflict. The Shah’s government in Iran seemed very secure.

 

Crisis

It was not long, however, that we began to here of internal problems in Iran. The Shah began to lose popularity with the masses. The Ayatollah Khomeini wanted to return home from exile but only after the Shah had left Iran. This was exactly what happened in early 1979. And, with his approval, Iranians attacked the American Embassy and took Americans hostage. With the takeover of the U.S. Embassy, Iranians in the U.S. began to face difficulties.
Soon my husband and I lost the financial support of our country as the U.S. froze all of the Iranian assets. Also at this time I received word that my father had passed away.

Now we were on our own. We had to support ourselves. With our student visas, we were not allowed to work. However, we had to work to survive. I stopped going to school to cut down on expenses and took a full time job. I thought about going back home, but the war between Iran and Iraq began and that was not wise. The attitude toward Iranians in the U.S. became so negative that we lived each day with fear. The immigration office was searching for Iranians who were in the US illegally. I would have been deported had they found out that I was working illegally. With two small children my income was not enough to support us, so my husband also started working. Needless to say, our lives were filled with stress, anxiety, and fear.

Throughout these difficult times, I continued to pray five times a day toward Mecca and I often fasted. Now that I needed him, my “god” seemed very far away. I sent both of my children to church preschool because I felt they would receive less harassment. During the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons, I was invited to participate in and help with the festivities. But I never went. I always thought that these festivities were wrong. Instead, I invited them to my house with the intention of teaching them about my God. But, deep down inside I felt that my God was just too far away to hear me.

My life consisted of no more than work and the care of my children. I kept asking my God, What did I do to deserve this? Life became so hard that I began living on tranquilizers. My doctors told me that I was depressed and I needed to return to Iran. I wanted to but I couldn’t.

The church were my children went to preschool, offered an aerobics class. Exercise was one of my doctor’s prescriptions to deal with the anxiety attacks. The aerobics class started with devotions and ended with prayer requests and prayer.

Although I participated in the class, I avoided the prayer times because they conflicted with my own beliefs. In spite of this, the ladies in the class were very kind to me, and I realized that their concern was genuine. In the meantime, my husband and I saw many attorneys seeking work permits so we could work legally. Work permits would mean less anxiety and fear. All seemed hopeless until we found an attorney through a T.V. commercial. He represented a glimpse of hope for us. The attorney told us that the U.S. Department of Labor would grant him a permit if a company maintained that my husband’s mechanical skills were essential for that company. Finally, my husband received an offer from a Cuban owned company. We immediately took all of the documents to our attorney who promised to send them to the Department of Labor.

During this time we did not hear from our families because of the political situation in Iran. When we did occasionally make contact by phone, my mothers words were always the same, It is not safe here. Stay in the States.

I was going through much disappointment, bad treatment and harassment from our neighbors. I was frustrated and angry. I did not come to this country to be told, Go home, you bad Iranian. I didn’t come here to work the way I did – taking care of an Alzheimer’s patient. And, most of all, I did not understand why my God did not answer me.
I held on to the hope that we would hear from the Department of Labor and my husband would be able to work legally. All our problems would be solved and I would no longer be dominated by fear and anxiety. One night our attorney called. He had heard from the Department of Labor. The request had been denied. We were devastated! All our hopes vanished. We faced a stone wall!

I told my husband that it might be for the better if we returned to Iran. I was tired of working illegally and the harassment. But at the same time I was concerned for the welfare of our children. Did we want to take them to a country that was being bombed every day? That night I reviewed my life. I thought about every thing that had happened to me since coming to America. I had tried everything to solve our problems. I had worked as a baby-sitter, a house-sitter, a housekeeper, a hostess in a restaurant, a helper in a laundry room, a nurse’s aid, and a companion. I said to myself, My plans have hit rock bottom. This is not why I came to America. I fasted many times. I prayed and cried to my God but he never answered. I was tired of being a foreigner. I cried, If my father was alive I would go back home. I wouldn’t put up with this life anymore! As I went to bed that night, one bright thought entered my mind, I was going to aerobics class the next morning.

The next morning, I arrived at the aerobics class early. I listened attentively to the devotions. I had never done this before. Throughout the entire class I kept thinking about my family’s future. I stayed for the prayer time after class. When one of the ladies asked if there were any prayer request, I responded by pouring out all my problems. They listened. And then they prayed for me. They took me and all of my problems before their God. They called Him Jesus. and they called Him Father. One of women read from the Gospel of Matthew 18:20, For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. They claimed this promise and ended the prayer with, We ask this in Jesus name. They also told me that they would continue to pray for me. The name of Jesus stayed with me as I left the class. On the way home as I talked to Jesus, I started to cry. I said to him, If you really are God, then all of this time I was wrong. I was talking to the wrong God. That evening at the dinner table I asked Him again, Jesus, if you are the true God let me know what I should do about my life’s problems.

 

The Dream

That night I dreamed that I had prepared myself and my children to go to Jerusalem to see Jesus. I was going to visit Him to tell Him about my many problems. We started to walk on the road. It was very rough and seemed endless. Finally, very exhausted we arrived in Jerusalem. We stood in front of an old brick wall. But there was no door. I started to cry and said, Jesus, I came all this way to see you. Is this your home? There is no door. Is there no way of reaching you, either? I remembered the promise the ladies gave me when they prayed for me. Is this the end? Then I heard a voice, No, that’s not it. At that moment, we began to ascend the door less brick wall higher and higher until we stopped in front of the Heavenly Gate. The gate opened and my children and I walked inside. It was beautiful! Immediately I noticed a person welcoming me with open arms. He held a candle in each hand and wore a white robe and sandals. I couldn’t see His eyes because in their place was an intense radiance which gave light to the entire place. I knew immediately that I was face to face with Jesus!

I began to talk to Him, telling Him all my problems and difficulties. I told Him everything from my childhood up to that day. As I turned each problem over to Jesus, I began to feel lighter and lighter. The depression and anxiety gradually disappeared. I talked so fast that I was out of breath. When I was too tired to utter any more words, Jesus read the questions in my mind and continued to respond to me.

As I looked around, I saw many rooms, each opening onto a garden where people stood in white shiny robes. Jesus pointed out, These are the prophets from the past. Then I realized that I had never worshiped Jesus. I had always worshiped Allah, but he never responded. A group of angels appeared encircling Jesus with a crown and sang, This is the Lord. Praise his name. I joined their song, Praise the Lord. Praise his name.

Jesus gave me all the time I needed and answered all of my questions. Afterwards, nothing bothering me any more. I felt as light as a feather. Jesus gave me these promises: Things will be okay! Things will be taken care of; “I” will take care of everything! These promises were enough for me! I had found the true God! With that I woke up.
Freedom

The following day I felt magnificently. My feelings of depression and frustration were gone. That evening we received a phone call from our lawyer. This time he said, The Department of Labor has approved your husband’s labor certificate. It will take some time to receive your permanent residence but here is your permanent residence card number. That’s all you need at this time.

I asked Jesus for a “drink of water, and He gave me a full cup!” He has proven Himself to be my provider and my sufficiency. He has given me His strength so that I don’t bend under the weight of worries and cares. He has given me joy in the midst of tears. He has promised me that He will never leave me not forsake me! I don’t have just a God – I HAVE A HEAVENLY FATHER!

Halimeh

 

This testimony was originally published by Iranian Christians International, Inc. (ICI). It is used here by the express permission of ICI.

To learn more about ICI, visit:

www.IranChristians.org