I Fled Persecution on Account of My Christian Faith, but Found Safety in the United States. Pray with Me for Others Who Need Refuge.
In September, I had the honor of traveling to Washington D.C. to share my story with Congressional offices and the press alongside leaders at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, World Relief and Open Doors US. I have shared my story using a pseudonym in the past, to protect my son who spent several years in prison in Iran for his Christian faith. My son finally escaped Iran and was undocumented in Turkey for years, but now he is in Europe, seeking asylum. He is still not completely secure yet, but since he is not in Iran, I feel more free to share our story.
I became a Christian in Iran in my twenties, after growing up in a culturally Muslim family. It was a combination of Christian friends of my parents who had introduced me to Christianity, trips into Turkey for business where I heard more of the Christian message, and seeing Jesus answer prayers and heal me that led to my conversion. I eventually was involved in the house church movement. When our house church was raided one day, I was briefly jailed, then fled with my younger son to Turkey. Eventually, in 2016, we were resettled to Ohio, among more than 2,000 Iranian Christian refugees resettled to the United States that year. But my older son, a student, was unable to leave at the time and was eventually imprisoned.
I am very grateful to the U.S. for receiving my younger son and me. However, shortly after we arrived, the U.S. dramatically cut refugee resettlement and new policies made it impossible for my older son to be reunited to us. Last year, the U.S. received 95% fewer Iranian Christian refugees than in 2016, as a new report from Open Doors US and World Relief documents, and the number of Christians and other religious minorities from other countries who have been able to find refuge in the U.S. has declined dramatically as well. I am asking the U.S. to continue to remember the persecuted and to address the policies that are making it harder for persecuted Christians like myself to come here.
Last year I became an American. This year I bought a house. I am so grateful to be in a place where I can worship freely, where someone like me can ask our elected officials for changes and where we can speak up. It is a gift. But the greatest privilege, which I have relied upon throughout my hardships, is to bring our petitions before God in prayer, and I’d ask you to join me in some specific prayer requests:
- Please pray for Iran to be freed from the oppression of the Islamic Republic regime and to offer religious freedom to all, as well as for other countries around the world where religious freedom is harshly and often violently restricted.
- Pray for equality of all people, especially women who are often subjected to particular mistreatment in many contexts.
- Pray for the U.S. government to rebuild the U.S. refugee resettlement program to be able to accept more Iranians who have suffered and have had to leave the Iranian regime because of their faith, as well as those fleeing persecution in other countries.
- Pray for the peace and safety of the Iranian Church and the Church in other parts of the world where it is under persecution.
- Pray for the movement of people in Iran that is fighting for freedom of speech, equality, justice and religious freedom, for peace both there and throughout the world.
For those who would like to gather virtually to pray with others for both the persecuted church and for the U.S. to offer refuge for those forced to flee persecution, the Evangelical Immigration Table’s monthly prayer time will be Monday, October 23 at 4 PM ET/3 PM CT/2 PM MT/1 PM PT. You can join the Zoom call via this link or click here to add it to your calendar.