Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

An Iranian Refugee’s Terrible Journey to God

Annahita Parsan shares how she survived snowy mountains, a filthy prison, and an abusive husband as God brought her to faith in Christ.

I was born in beautiful, peaceful Iran. My life was good, and it got even better when I fell in love, got married, and gave birth to my son, Daniel. Even the fact that my country was being overtaken by Islamic revolutionaries couldn’t dampen my joy. Like so many people whose lives feel perfect, I had little appetite for God. But all that was about to change.

Death came like a thief one morning soon after Daniel was born. My husband was killed in a traffic accident, and in an instant my life was robbed of joy. I was in shock. I was in denial. And for the first time in my life, my mind turned to God. I asked, What have I done to deserve this?

In time the pain dulled a little, and I remarried. But from the first night we were together, my new husband revealed himself to be a violent, abusive man. My life was once more plunged into pain and sorrow. Only this time, there was no end in sight.

I gave birth to a daughter, Roksana, but my husband’s beatings continued. And when he got in trouble with the authorities, I had no choice but to join him as he fled across the mountains into Turkey. It was a terrible journey. We weren’t equipped for the snow, and soon my fingers, mouth, and toes were black with frostbite. And when I realized that Roksana was no longer breathing, my thoughts once more returned to God. Why are you punishing me this way?

Crouched on the cold ground, my baby’s tiny body hanging limply in my arms, I was at my lowest point. I had nothing left with which to fight. I wanted to die. I had no idea that God was right there with me.

Hours later, as we sat by a fire in the custody of Turkish police, I got my first real glimpse of God. Roksana was alive. It was a miracle. Throughout the next four months that we spent locked up in a filthy Turkish prison, God was right there. He kept me safe from many dangers, and I know he was there too in the kindness of a stranger: a businessman, once imprisoned alongside us, who helped secure our release through Amnesty International.

But it wasn’t until I was far away from Turkey that God started to reveal himself more clearly. One day two men knocked on my apartment door. They wanted to talk about Jesus, but I was too scared of my husband to talk to strangers. They returned the next day and handed me a Bible. I knew I should have thrown it away, but something made me want to keep it. So I hid it where my husband couldn’t find it. The next time he beat me until my body was bruised and sore, something compelled me to give the Bible a look. It spoke to me, and I started to speak to God. If you really are there, God, please help.

Eventually, with the help of the police, I was able to leave my husband. My children and I were relocated to another city and offered emergency shelter by nuns. As I listened to them talk and sing about loving and following Jesus, something awakened within me. Could I ever learn to love and trust you too, Jesus?

Years passed before I had an answer. I was back in Iran, having returned to visit a dying relative. The authorities were suspicious as to why I had left Iran in the first place, and I knew I couldn’t tell the truth about my escape without facing a return to prison. After three months of court hearings and interviews, I stood before a judge, waiting to hear his verdict. Powerless and desperate, I turned fully to the One who had been beside me throughout it all. I promised God I would give my life to Christ if he could deliver me from this ordeal.

Right then, as I prayed, he freed me from the enemy’s grip. The judge, who saw that I was crying, had mercy on me and let me go free. The very next day, I was back in Sweden—God had rescued me and brought me safely home. From that day on, my life has been his.

Today, at my church in Sweden, I have the privilege of seeing God powerfully at work in the lives of so many Muslims. All over the world, God is appearing in dreams and visions to men and women who have previously followed Allah.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Former Bank Robber Becomes a Law Professor

Shon Hopwood grew up in a Christian home in rural Nebraska. When his high-school basketball career faded and college and the military fell through, he was left with a complete lack ...

[Read More]

When God Writes Your Life Story

Novelist Mitali Perkins was raised in a Hindu home, where her father taught his children that God was a divine spirit of love. But when her friend, Clayton, was killed in a car accident ...

[Read More]