"I realize what darkness I used to live in, and I didn’t know it at the time."
Rampant poverty and unemployment were taking a devastating toll on Omar and Jayda's lives in Iran. Violence, joblessness, and instability made it hard to enjoy life at all, or simply be productive members of society.
As a couple, they started talking about what life could look like outside of Iran. The US wasn't taking in many new immigrants, Canada was too far away, but Europe looked promising. After two years of planning, enough was enough - the couple decided to take out loans from a local bank and try to cross into Greece, the European Union's eastern gateway.
They only just made it past the Greek border when the smugglers they trusted turned on them, robbing Omar and Jayda and forcing them at knife's edge to
spend a full week as hostages. Under the threat of being sent back to Turkey unless they paid up even more, Omar and Jayda connected with Jayda’s mom,
who wired cash in exchange for their release. Now free but without money, they couch-hopped throughout Athens between often dangerous homes - drugs,
alcohol, and violence were a common sight.
They finally wound up in a group house where two single girls invited the couple to attend an international church service on Sunday. At church, they met old friends who then invited them to attend an Iranian service, with teaching and singing in Farsi. Skeptical but tempted by the promise of a home-cooked dinner afterward, Omar agreed to check out the church.
As soon as they arrived at the Iranian service the following Sunday, they felt an indescribable peace ... their minds were opened to the Gospel. However, the idea of becoming a Christian was incredibly challenging because it would be difficult to break away from Islam; it would mean turning away from family who had supported them through the pain and tears of their capture. Omar had even served in a mosque for ten years back at home, and felt a strong tie to the social security found in Islam, but didn't stop going to the church who had also been welcoming in trying times. As he read books recommended by the pastor, he started to see and understand the difference between the works-based judgment found in Islam and the love and servanthood spoken about in Christianity.
Then something flipped. After almost three months, Jesus came personally into both of their lives; they came to faith in Christ and asked to be baptized. Omar said that during his baptism, while submerged, he felt strongly that Jesus was in his life, and that when he came back out of the water he felt born again.
Now Omar and Jayda are elated about their decision to follow Christ, even despite the very real threat of disownment from their families. They have forgiven
those who took all of their money and mistreated them, and they have experienced the freedom that comes in forgiving others.
Omar and Jayda hope to move to Germany and find another Iranian church where they can continue serving. They have seen the blessing found in having a relationship with Jesus, and they see the night and day difference between what the Koran and the Bible teach. Omar says, “Now I realize what darkness I used to live in, and I didn’t know it at the time. Jesus touched my heart to believe the truth. But people Iran still live in darkness and don’t know how dark it is."
Moved by Omar and Jada's story? Please pray for the many immigrants throughout Greece, Germany, and all of Europe who need the real hope of Jesus to enter their lives in a powerful way through His Church. We'd love for you to join us in the way you feel most led, so contact us if God is pressing something on your heart.
*names have been changed for safety and security purposes