Mina Nevisa with Jim Croft, Iran
My first pastor, who was martyred in 1990, always said that whenever a Muslim is born again it is a miracle. In this regard my father’s conversion was a miracle of miracles. It took twenty years of intercession, but God is faithful.
My father was a tall, big boned man with gray hair. He was sweet and kind, yet a very serious man who seldom joked. When he did joke, they were funny and made everyone laugh. He took his responsibility of providing for the family seriously and his giving spirit prompted him to frequently bless us with extravagant gifts. Until I confessed Jesus as my Savior, it was my conviction that he was the most loving father that anyone could have.
A good man
Though he had a gentle demeanor, there is no escaping the fact that he was also a fanatical, fundamentalist Muslim. Islam was the priority of my father’s life. The most prominent piece of furniture in the living room of the palatial estate that he had built for our family was a small handcrafted table. It was the revered pedestal for his Koran. My mother never allowed anything else on that table. His Koran was cumbersome to hold, as it was heavy and had ornate artwork crafted into its covers. In addition to his mandatory Islamic prayers, he spent a minimum of two hours a day reading it. He kissed it on each occasion that he picked it up or returned it to its sacred place. Father frequently mentioned that no matter how many times one reads the Koran, there will still be things that mystify one’s understanding. Yet, it was his conviction that it contained useful teachings that could be found each time he repeatedly read it. Everything he said and did had to be in accordance with the strictest interpretations of Islamic Law. His primary goal for himself and his family was that we be pleasing to Allah. We were important, but secondary in his considerations as he labored to achieve his goal.
Father was a uniquely industrious man. At the age of nine, he and a childhood friend vowed that one day they would go into business together. They became partners in a successful leather factory that employed more than a hundred people. In addition he earned a masters degree in Arabic literature. He spoke and read Arabic with such fluency that he served as a Persian-Arabic interpreter. In keeping with his motto that hard work is a part of a Muslim’s life he also became a professor of Islamic theology at the University of Tehran. The trust and reliability that he had in his business partner freed him to give himself to his university work and his studies. His chief joy was teaching. He always said, “Joy, sorrow, wife, children and all of life are to be treasured as long as they do not trespass Islam and adherence to the Sharia (the rules and laws of Islam).”
The dark side
While I was yet a teenager I saw his customary kind demeanor transformed into that of a raving religious fanatic. It all began by my finding a copy of the Bible in Farsi while studying in the university’s library. When I innocently brought that volume into his house his dark side was exposed. With unbelievable fury he screamed that I was to never read such a terrible book. My covert disobedience led me to a supernatural revelation that Jesus is Lord. A series of events ensued that necessitated that my husband and I flee Iran. My father renounced me as his daughter and forbade anyone to utter my name in his presence ever again.
Twenty years later my husband and I were living in Washington, DC. One particular week we were fasting about the direction for our ministry and the telephone rang at 3:30 AM on a Saturday morning. He was already asleep and I quickly answered it assuming that it was likely one of the converts who had returned to Iran and was reporting in to us. They frequently call in the middle of the night. For some momentarily unexplained reason I was shaking as I reached for the phone. No voice came through so I hung up and returned for bed when no one answered my hello. The same thing happened a second time and I decided that I would not answer it if it rang again. It shortly sounded forth for the third time and I dutifully answered it. I heard the operator speaking in Farsi stating that it was a person-to-person call for me from Iran. I assured the operator that I was the person whom the call was for and she told the other party that I was on the line. The male voice that I heard explained the reason for my shaking. Even before I picked up the receiver, the Holy Spirit within me knew who it was. The rush that His presence was causing in my body facilitated my physiological response of shaking. It was my father.
Glorious shock and awe “Mina, my beloved daughter is that really you?” I could not respond instantly due to the fact that I was choking with tears. It was the first time that I had heard his voice in over twenty years. Thoughts of his renunciation of me as his daughter and yelling that my name had been eradicated from his identification papers rushed through my mind. I wanted to speak, but the years of pain forbade his name from spilling over my lips. I rationalized within that it could not be him and was someone with a voice similar to his. “Please excuse me, I must talk with Mina. Mina, Mina is that you? Please talk to me.” His repetitions of my name, which he had vowed to never utter again, finally solicited my affirmation that it was I. “Yes, this is Mina. Father, is this really you?” I wailed and slipped to the floor and he gave me the following testimony that convinced me that God had heard every prayer for him that had ever passed through my vocal chords. Then memories of the happy years of my childhood began to flood through my heart. His big smile the day that he brought home the stroller only days after it was discovered that I was pregnant loomed into my mind. My heart leapt with the anticipation that I would not need to make any more excuses for children not meeting their grandparents.
Holy ground encounter
“Yes, my dearest daughter it is I, your father. It has been so many years and I have secretly longed to call you many times. I am especially sad that I remained silent in my stubbornness after you had the miscarriage in Turkey. If I had it to do over again I would have surely expressed my regrets for your loss of the baby earlier.” At that point, I interrupted him and choked with tears, “Father; you don’t have to apologize. I love you so very much and only God knows how much I have missed you and would love to see you again. It has been a great burden on my heart since the day that I ran away from your home. It was the worst day of my life.” “Mina, I never demanded that you flee. It was also your home.” Then I heard my mothers muffled voice while she asked father to give her the phone. She wept as she called me her beloved Mina. By this time, my husband had come to my side and prayed as my father continued his story.
“My dear Mina, just listen carefully to what I want to tell you about what has happened to me in the last couple of days. Early Thursday morning I left Tehran for our farm in the country and arrived there around noon. Even though it is not Ramadan, I decided to spend the day fasting. I was alone, as your mother was at one of our other estates. I was scheduled to return home later that evening. There were errands to run and I was tired and hungry when I got to the farm. I walked around a little and then decided to return home, only to find that I had accidentally locked the keys in the car. I did not welcome the prospects of walking all the way to town to fetch a locksmith. I opted to recite my salat before the cold darkness closed in and before attempting the journey. The waters of the well were cold as I splashed them over my face, arms, loins and feet in ablution before kneeling in prayer. I was famished with hunger and as I knelt I saw a package of warm, freshly baked bread lying in the grass. There was not a soul around for miles and I began to thank Allah for his provision. I put a piece to my mouth and heard a thunderous voice telling me to arise to my feet. I obeyed and as I arose a heavy rain began to fall over me. To my astonishment, the voice commanded me to look around. It was then that I noticed that it was only raining on me and nowhere else on the farm. The ground under my feet was soaked and everywhere else the ground was perfectly dry.
The voice came again, Do you know who I am? I am the Bread of Life.’ My response was, Allaho Akbar, God is Great. No, you are mistaken. I am not Allah. You don’t know Me at all. Kneel before Me’. When I knelt a radiant figure appeared in front of me. The light from it was so bright that I had to lift my hands to shield my eyes. You are to repent of your sins. I am the Bread of Life and today My blood washes your sins away.’ I fell face-forward into the wet ground and cried out the name of Jesus repeatedly. As I did so, something that felt like a heavenly electrical honey pulsated through my entire body. I screamed into the muddy ground; even though I am now an old man please accept me Jesus and I will serve you for the rest of my life. The voice became even louder and continued, You are to prepare a feast of salvation at your home for all to see.’ I knew that I had to rush home and tell your mother what had occurred. To my amazement, when I reached for the open package of bread, which was beside me, it and the ground that I had been lying upon were completely dry. However, my clothes were still thoroughly soaked and I had no choice but to head for home in that condition. In my excitement, I had forgotten that the keys were locked in the car and put my hand on the door handle. Miraculously it swung open and I found the keys in the ignition where I had left them.
I explained every detail about my divine encounter to your mother. I enthusiastically announced that I now believed as you do because I had experienced the same type of visitation that you had once described. She gently reprimanded me for my previous attitudes and then hugged me as she wept for joy. Oh, so you now believe in Jesus like Mina? Don’t you think that it is a little late seeing how you drove her from our home all those years ago? You are so strange. Because of your fanatical concerns about your precious Islam, you disowned our wonderful daughter who was carrying your grandchild. How could you do such a thing simply to protect your reputation as an Islamic scholar within this ridiculously barbarous regime of the Ayatollah’s?’ She then embraced me with deep affection. My husband, I’m so very proud of you. You can never imagine how I have longed and prayed for the day that I would hear you speaking as you are now. After more than twenty years, it is wonderful to hear you lovingly utter Mina’s name with such high esteem. I will do everything that I can to help you prepare the grand banquet for the Lord that you have been commanded to serve in our home.”
Forgiveness and restoration
In the background I could hear my mother ecstatically praising the Lord and my father went on with the story of his conversion. My husband and I, in Washington, DC and my parents in Tehran cried praises to Jesus, as each detail was recounted. That night the Lord gave him a dream wherein he saw their estate enshrouded by the sparkling branches of a heavenly tree. One of the branches had the name of a famous Islamic politician and Iranian TV celebrity, who had come to know the Lord, inscribed upon it. This man had chosen to maintain his appearance as a Muslim, knowing that it would give him the liberty to smuggle Bibles into the country and to attend secret meetings. Father sought him out and it was he who gave him my telephone number and baptized him.
Toward the end of our conversation I asked my father whether or not he had asked the authorities to reinstate my name on his identification papers. He assured me that he had, as it was important for personal and legal reasons. On the personal level it was evidence that he truly claimed me as his daughter and would risk his reputation for Jesus. On the legal end of things it would prevent complications about his last will and testament after his death. He assured me that he had indeed officially reinstated my status. Of course, Iran’s Islamic regime still hated me and would slaughter me if given the opportunity. However, it was good to know that my father had taken such a bold step for me. “My daughter, you have always been my favorite child and now you are even more precious to me. Without a doubt, I know that everything you believe about Jesus being the divine Son of God is true and that He dwells in each of our hearts. I really need to know, do you really forgive me for all of the heartache that I have brought to you and Javid?” “Father, we love you with all of our hearts. We forgave you years ago and all of our animosities toward the Islamic authorities have been washed away by the blood of Jesus and the waters of baptism. Hundreds of Christians here in America and ex-Muslims around the world have been praying for your conversion. Because of your confession of Jesus the angels are joining Jesus in a dance of joy. When all of our Christian friends hear the news, we know they will do the same.”
It might be easy for readers, privileged by birth in free democracies, to underestimate the strategic spiritual dynamics of my father’s conversion. Like Communism did, worldwide Islam is doomed to crumble. It will because our faith in Christ is the victory that overcomes the world’s evils. When Islam falls, and it will, hundreds of thousands of ex-Muslims will be liberated to evangelize their nations. On that day it will be safe to give my father’s name. It carries significant weight with knowledgeable Muslims. His father, my grandfather, was a world-renowned authority on Islamic issues whose sixty-five books are read by Muslim scholars around the globe. My father was a professor of theology in Iran’s most influential university. When those who are preaching to Muslims give his miraculous testimony, many will be convinced that Jesus is Lord. These will deduct that if he saw the Lord and spoke with Him and was saved, salvation through Jesus’ name has to be legitimate. In addition, ex-Muslim Christians who hear that God answered our years of prayer for my parents will be encouraged that the same can happened to theirs. Now, I can never grow weary in intercessions for the global Islamic community. Anytime one of them is saved it is a miracle. My father’s salvation was a most notable miracle of miracles.
Good news and a challenge to experiment
If you happen to be a Muslim, I have good news for you. Though your multiple daily prayers have been misdirected to the wrong deity, the Living God has been observing you as you uttered each one. His desire is that you no longer labor to appease a remote god who gives you no assurances that your prayers are heard. He understands the prejudicial obstacles that your daily recitations of the Koran and the teachings of your Imams have established in your heart against Jesus. He knows that it requires extraordinary signs to convince Muslims that Jesus is the Way. Therefore, He routinely gives Muslims supernatural revelations like the one that my father experienced. Such are the vehicles that He uses to launch Muslims, like you, into lives of joyful, intimate, two-way relationships with Himself and His Son, Jesus.
I challenge you to engage in an experiment. Simply ask God the Father to reveal Jesus to you through the power of the Holy Spirit. You will not be disappointed. That which He has done for me and my father and thousands like us, He will do for you. He will grace you with a spiritual encounter that will thoroughly convince you that Jesus is the Living Son of God. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by saying that simple prayer. It revolutionized our lives. Yours can be too. It is something wonderful, why shouldn’t you experience it? You too can experience a miracle of miracles.
This article is the adaptation of a section from the book:
To obtain the full book contact – Mina Nevisa, P. O. Box 4331, Silver Spring, Maryland 20914, Tel & Fax 703-691-2583, Minanevisa@aol.com.
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