Everybody has a story. Everybody is on a journey. Everybody is seeking the ultimate truth. Everybody is looking for the ultimate purpose of life. I wasn’t exempt either, until I finally found what I was looking for. Where do I start? It’s kind of a long story and the last thing that I want to do is to bore my readers with the details, so without further ado, let’s get straight to the point.
I’m Persian by descent, from Tehran, the capital of Iran. I was born and raised in a devout Muslim family; the Shiite sect of Islam to be specific. The name that my parents chose for me was the name of the founder of Islam—Mohammad; like everybody else, I learned and practiced Islam and at the time, it seemed like the only legitimate religion in the world, mainly because of how people are indoctrinated by the mainstream media, schools, and lack of free-speech; almost all Islamic states in the world are pretty isolated. I could never completely believe in everything that was written in the Koran. I always had philosophical and theological questions that were left unanswered. I remember how the idea of eternal conscious torment was always something I could never grasp; I could never understand how and why God would send people to a place called Hell, instead of punishing them and killing them. I couldn’t see how the traditional Hell that even the majority of Christians seem to believe in, would be a just punishment.
Apart from my questions, I always found following the Sharia to be almost impossible, and I found myself guilty of breaking it over and over again but I didn’t give up until I moved to Australia to study. When I arrived in Australia, I gradually broke more rules and within a year, I decided to completely let go of Islam and become a Deist. In case you don’t know what Deism means, it’s a belief that there is most definitely a God/Creator, but that all religions are man-made and untrustworthy. I felt pretty comfortable with that position and I made all sorts of friends; deep down I still knew what’s right and wrong, and I would still find myself doing what’s wrong. And feeling guilty before God is a very unpleasant feeling as you all know, no matter how much you suppress the truth, there will be a time when you can’t suppress it anymore and the convictions can sometimes be crippling. In my conversations with God, I would often try to point the finger at God and ask Him, why did You create me or why do You let me live or why don’t You just finish me because I feel like I can’t be who You want me to be; You expect too much from me! Anyways, I graduated from university, found a job and I was waiting for my permanent visa, when a movie about the Bible caught my attention and I decided to watch it. I have to admit, the movie touched me spontaneously; it was as if God was speaking to me through this movie. At the time of watching the movie, I had a lot of convictions in my heart, not for breaking the Sharia, but for breaking the very basic laws of morality that I believed was written in my conscience, and I was also going through a physical injury that was getting worse and worse; the movie broke me down into tears. All of a sudden, I was madly in love with this Jesus, and I knew he was different than anyone else in history. But that’s not enough, is it? Surely, I need to do some research and find out how much of this movie is based on historical facts? What can I really know about this Jesus? The idea of Jesus being called the Son of God was very troubling to me, perhaps because of how I was raised and taught strictly in the Koran that it’s blasphemous to associate a partner with God, or call Jesus the Son of God. But other than that, the idea of God having a Son would go against almost everything I believed about God and His unity.
So I started to do some extensive research. I watched a couple of debates and after the second one, it was almost as clear as day that Islam is wrong on so many levels that it just doesn’t make sense. It has to steal from the Bible which it considers to have changed over time in order to make its case; whether Bible has changed or not, Muslim apologists seemed to be dishonest in the debates when they were trying to make a case for Islam by taking certain verses in the Bible out of context. It wasn’t enough, I read parts of the Bible and the words got through me and I became confused as hell. On the one hand, Islam seemed to be a cult, on the other hand something was holding me back and I thought to myself if Islam is a cult, then perhaps all religions are nothing more than cults or perhaps there’s no God at all? As soon as the thought of atheism came up, a voice was yelling through my conscience, as if I’m talking to myself, saying you know that God is real, regardless of what any religion says, you can’t deny Him, and I was talking to God saying, “God I can’t say you don’t exist”, and among all the people in history who have claimed to be sent from You, I’m having a hard time to say Jesus was a phoney, so please help me God, I can’t know what the truth is, I’m lost and words can’t explain how desperate I am, and how certain I am that I cannot know the truth unless You somehow reveal it to me. Immediately after this little conversation with God I stopped crying, as something really peaceful took over and somehow told me that Jesus is the way, and I immediately decided to follow Him. I know, my decision may have been hasty because I hadn’t even read the whole Bible yet, but I went along with my intuitions because the peaceful experience of God’s presence was real, it was like nothing I had ever experienced in my whole life. That night when I slept, I probably had the weirdest dream in my life. I was getting beat up by an evil character who was threatening me to come back to Islam or he will kill me, and I was crying and yelling at him that I have made my decision, and that there’s no way I’m going back to Islam again! I woke up and after that, I haven’t had a single nightmare ever, up to this very day; it was like a demon left me or something. But of course things got cruel again, mainly intellectually and emotionally because I ran into good arguments against Christianity, each of which would slap me with new waves of crippling doubts, but every time I would pray to God about it, I would hear Him assure me of the truth of Christianity.
I experienced the presence of God over and over, again and again. I have to tell you, if you have never entered into God’s rest, when you do, you will know that this is what you’ve been looking for your entire life, because there’s nothing like it. Words can’t explain it, however I’m sure some of you who are reading my testimony have experienced it too, but to the rest of you, if I wanted to give you an analogy of how good and comforting and peaceful God’s presence is, maybe I can compare it the best pleasure of this world known as climax/orgasm, and then claim that this peace is almost about a million times better, if not more! But of course these are all subjective experiences, and we are living in a world with lots of lies and deceptions and we need to be able to objectively defend our faith, so I still kept getting slapped by arguments against Christianity. I have to be honest with you, the arguments that atheists were putting forward used to really shake my faith on the surface, but deep down I knew they’re wrong and I was crying out for help, to the point that I thought it’s impossible to intellectually defend my faith and I was giving up, little knowing that God was putting me in those circumstances so that I would learn how to best approach them in the future.
Anyhow, my physical injury got worse and I had to quit my job, I went through a really rough patch with lots of gains and subjective experiences, but I also lost it and got mad at God like Job did! I was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia, which is classified as a “suicide disease”, mainly because pain killers don’t help much; the problem of evil in this world hit me hard, and I was so mad at God for allowing so much suffering, and said things to Him which I’m not going to repeat here. God confronted me like He confronted Job, I was at the edge of committing suicide but I couldn’t do it because of what God revealed to me. He first showed me how my parents would feel if I commit suicide, it was horrible. I couldn’t do it to my parents; He then showed me that pain wouldn’t go away if I kill myself, it would still continue in Hell until I pay for all my sins against God, and vanish into non-existent but because I won’t know when exactly my punishment will end, it will literally feel like I’m in Hell forever, at least from my perspective. Then He said to me the choice is mine; life or death? I chose to live, even though I was still angry at God. He then encouraged me to grow through my pain, instead of just going through it. He could have instantly healed me, but then I wouldn’t have gained so much from the pain I went through so I thank Him for that. In this moment, I am writing my testimony and I’m still not 100% pain-free, but I’m doing loads better, and will hopefully start work soon. This whole experience finished in a good way, I finally understood what the book of Job in the Bible is trying to tell us; I might write a separate article about that.
I have had other subjective experiences which I didn’t share, because I believe subjective experiences don’t have a lot of fans. I mean they’re really good for the individuals themselves, but I don’t think they would be considered valuable to others, especially skeptics. Hopefully, God willing, I will be writing more on how I tend to objectively and intellectually defend my faith against popular worldviews, depending on what I have learned so far. I know that we are all learning, and there is no room for complacency here, but I think I have learned enough to easily, quickly and briefly defend my faith against today’s popular worldviews.