I drove 15 hours one-way this week to baptize Shohreh. This is the mission frontier, and I was the nearest Adventist pastor.
I enjoyed taking some time to teach her, filling the gaps in her knowledge of the Adventist message, but I added only a sprinkling of sugar to the sweet story of salvation God has been baking into her life over the past year.
Shohreh is an Iranian beauty with big eyes and a graceful manner. She says, eyes brimming with delight, “I found love—true love—in Jesus. I want to be baptized because He has turned my world upside down.”
Before meeting Christ, Shohreh moved to India to work for an Iranian travel agency and escape Islamic oppression. Little did she know that her salvation story began four years earlier when God redeemed an Iranian engineer named Mehran who had gone to India to enroll in a graduate program. A fellow student invited Mehran to a nearby Adventist church on the campus of Spicer College. Mehran says about the experience, “It was like nothing I had ever experienced before. The community was amazing. I wanted to go again and again. I studied and was baptized.” He became a strong believer and got involved in the local Indian church.
At the conclusion of his studies, Mehran moved back to Iran, a strange world where a simple check mark on a job interview sheet indicating his religion as Christian could get him thrown into prison or killed. He began witnessing secretly to friends about his living Christ, but spies intent on rooting out Christians made his life very difficult.
Meanwhile, a friend introduced him to Shohreh on Facebook. The friendship sprang to life. Letters flew back and forth between Iran and India, and finally Mehran flew to India to meet her. It was love at first sight.
But Shohreh was shocked to find a Bible among Mehran’s things. “If I were to marry this man, he might be my husband one month and executed as a Christian traitor the next. What should I do?” She was frightened, but still deeply in love. “I couldn’t resist. I saw him and his Adventist friend tell of God and the love they had found. I had to follow this love to its end.”
So, five months ago, Shohreh and Mehran married. Within weeks of their wedding, they fled Iran and settled in Turkey. For more than five months, Mehran has been teaching Shohreh the message.
Yesterday in an ice-cold mountain lake, I baptized Shohreh and five others. It was a thrilling moment for her and for me. It is a high honor to be on location while God unfolds the mystery of His salvation before the people of the Middle East.
Driving the long road home, I had plenty of time to reflect on the happy weekend. As I neared home, a message from Shohreh popped up on my cell phone: “Amen, Lord bless you and your family for such a wonderful Sabbath, which made my life amazing. Hope this happiness and joy never end.” Yes, Lord, I pray this for Shohreh, too.