We found Jesus through Allah, say Christian converts
MohabatNews: After the Islamic regime of Iran came to power as a result of a revolution in 1979, many Iranians were forced to leave their homeland. This created an opportunity for them to get to know Christ in foreign countries through different ways. This article narrates the story of Iranian Christian converts in Austria, many of whom say they found Christ through Allah!
Iranian Christian news agency, Mohabat News – This article was first published in a German language daily and is translated into English by a translation team at Mohabat News. The article tells the story of people who came to know Christ through various ways after they left Iran. Today they are ministers who have founded Christian associations and house churches in countries and cities of their residence. Through their ministry, they transfer the Christian teachings they have already received to fellow Iranians and Afghanis.
It is Sunday afternoon and about 50 people, both young and old, have gathered under a curved ceiling in Vienna, Austria. A spiritual peace dominates the place, though it is full of people. They all stare at a big wooden cross in front. Then, they start to sing a Farsi hymn. They are holding a Sunday worship service at a local church with more than 100 attendees, most of whom are Iranians and some are Afghani asylum seekers. In Vienna alone, there are five Iranian Christian associations most of whose members have an Islamic background.
Reza A. is one of the founders of a Christian association. He immigrated to Austria 14 years ago when he was still a Muslim. His first contact with Christianity seemed more like an accident, because there was almost nowhere to go and spend your free time in Traiskirchen (An Austrian town nearly 20 KM south of Vienna). It was Christmas. Reza and his wife sent their 9 year old daughter to an evangelical Christian group based near their home. There, their daughter could spend her time and enjoy the happy programs provided by the evangelical group. When their daughter came back, she shared her dream with her parents. Her dream was to become a Christian!
Although Reza was surprised when he first heard his daughter's dream, he did not react. He said, "I was not really religious at that time. My daughter had to make her decision freely, on her own, whether for Islam or Christianity." Reza's wife, however, objected to her daughter's dream, since she was from a strict religious family. She thought that probably Christians had brain-washed her daughter. Therefore, she rejected her daughter's dream as being "meaningless words". However, after long discussions with Christian groups and evangelists she started to speak of Christianity herself.
Reza was doubtful about becoming a Christian at first. But after a year and a half, all his doubts were removed. He said that once he saw Jesus in his dream. "Our life was changed since I saw Jesus in my dream".
Mr. Reza A. launched a Christian evangelical association about two years ago. When they first started, there were only two people gathering in their worship home-meetings. But now, there is no room to sit in the place they have rented for their meetings. It created a desperate need for a more spacious place to hold their worship services.
Today, this Iranian Christian association has more than 50 official members in addition to children. Twenty others attend services as guests and study the Bible. When they have finished their Bible study series, they will also receive official membership.
Mr. Reza estimates, "There are 400 to 500 Iranian Christians in Austria. Ninety percent of them are coming from an Islamic background." Iranian Christian associations are not only based in Vienna, but there are other associations in Linz, Salzburg and Graz as well. You can also see an increasing number of Muslim people in Auatria converting to Catholicism.
-"Awakening of a Nation"
Fifteen percent of those baptized in the Austrian state of Oberösterreich last year, were Iranian. It is to the extent that Theodor Schwaiger, of the Evangelical Community Alliance in Austria brings up the idea of the "awakening of a nation". He says, "you cannot precisely say how many Iranians have converted to Christianity, whether inside or outside Iran. And that is because in most of the cases they have to hide their faith. However, the number of Iranian Christians may be numbered in the millions and is increasing."
Reza says, "Many Christians were martyred in Iran twenty years ago and today even more people are being imprisoned for their faith in Christ". However, Reza believes, these bloodsheds and imprisonments make people more and more aware and causes spiritual awakening.
According to Islamic Sharia laws, leaving Islam is punishable by death and is considered apostasy. Although the Austrian constitution respects religious freedom, Christians may face troubles for their faith even in this free country.