8 years in Malaysia!
Yes! It is difficult to believe, but 8 years ago on this day, I left Iran and came to Malaysia.
8 years ago, I made one of the most important decisions of my life. After encountering Christ through reading of the Sermon on the Mount (surprisingly published in an Iranian newspaper) as a teenager which turned my worldview and life upside down, I ended up living double lives for nearly 12 years, pretending to believe in something which I did not.
Having to hide my love for Christ from my father, my family, my friends, my colleagues for so many years was not easy.
Not being able to practice my faith… Being discouraged from professing my faith by the only Christian I knew (who told me I should read the Bible in the privacy of my home and refrain from putting myself at risk)
Not being able even to attend a church service…. I was barred from entering a church to attend the service by the guard and when he let me in after the service had finished, I was told by a lady that I could not read my English Bible there as only Bibles in Armenian language were allowed… (my only experience of attending a church)
Not being able to take it any longer, I left my family, my job, my friends, basically everything…knowing I could never go back…
Words fail to express the joy I experienced when I attended a church service for the very first time! (I attended 4 different Christmas services in my first year and when people asked me for the reason, I told them “Do you know how many Christmases I missed back there?!)
Life in these 8 years have been like a roller-coaster ride, full of adventures, full of joy and sorrow, weddings and funerals…
There have been very hard times:
Losing my dad and grandmother within 4 months, not being able to even attend their funeral, not being able to see my family and friends for 8 years, losing my best friend, pastor and mentor Danaraj Samuel, not being able to have a job…
There have been very joyous occasions:
Celebrating my friends’ birthdays and weddings, cheering alongside my friends when the opposition party won the elections (believe it or not, I did not sleep till 3:00 a.m the night the election results were being announced, refreshing the results web page every 10 seconds!) participating in two pun competitions
There have been very blessed times:
Being able to do things I would not have imagined myself doing (God giving me the opportunity to teach apologetics and preach His word in churches and camps in many parts of Malaysia)
My friends have often asked me if I have any regrets about the decision I made 8 years ago.
My response has always been: Life has indeed been tough but how can I ever regret my decision? I now have the freedom to attend a gospel-centered church with faithful servant-hearted pastors who have gone out of their way to support and encourage me, I have kind, loving, and selfless brothers and sisters in Christ who are not just like my family. They ARE my family. ️
But most importantly, I have a Heavenly Father who in His love and grace reached out to me, a wretched undeserving sinner, taking my heart of stone and replacing it with a heart of flesh, opening my eyes to see His Amazing Grace in how He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ to come in human flesh, living a life I should have lived (which I could not have ever done) and paying the penalty for my sins, bearing the Father’s holy wrath (which I deserved) and dying on the cross, fully satisfying the demands of justice so that I can be forgiven and be called His child….
Yes life has been tough, there are longings that will never be satisfied in this world, the pain and suffering have seemed unbearable on many occasions but I have a Saviour who knows my pain, He knows what it means to be lonely, He knows what it is like to be betrayed and abandoned by those closest to you, He knows it because He experienced those things Himself. He did not merely suffer alongside me, He has suffered for my sake…
I do not know how long I will be in this country, or if I would ever leave here. I do not know what future would be like. God has humbled me, a person who always planned ahead, by putting me in a situation where I have not been able to make a single decision about my future for the past 8 years! He has taught me to live day by day because his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning…
When I look back, I realise that He is the One who has sustained me all this time by His grace, He is the One who has blessed me with brothers and sisters who have been a great source of encouragement. He is the One who has blessed me with some close friends who stood by me and walked with me during some of the darkest months of my life. (You know who you are!). So regardless of what lies ahead, I know that as I eagerly wait for the day He, the ever-faithful God, would call me home, I would fail, I would fall, I would mourn, but I would still be able to say “It is well with my soul…”
Re-posted from Facebook