Notes from Prison

1. Arrest

1. Arrest

This is the first in a series of 12 articles by Mojtaba Hosseini, an Iranian convert to Christianity who spent more than three years in prison in the southern city of Shiraz for being part of a house-church. In this first Note from Prison, Mojtaba talks about his conversion, joining a house-church, and his first arrest.


It was the winter of 2005 and I was 18 years old when God released me from many prisons – prisons that weren’t locked by any human being but from which I had felt there was no escape. 

He loosed the chains in me of guilt, anger, negativity, hatred, bitterness, emptiness, confusion, as well as some ugly habits. Above all, he took away my fear of death.

Just at the right time, when life had lost all its meaning and I was absolutely hopeless; in the midst of all my personal problems and heavy burdens in my family, which I was unable to carry, he brought me new life, real joy and inner peace. 

This happened when I heard his good news. I realised that my main problem was being separated from my creator, and that all the mess in my life was a consequence of this fact. And this was truly good news to me, that Jesus Christ had bridged the gap, by sacrificing his life on the Cross, to restore my relationship with my great and kind creator. 

In the depths of my guilt and shame, I found a sweet and indescribable forgiveness that liberated my soul. His hope and strength filled my heart and soul, and I became like a new person. My soul was flying high like a bird in the air, as if nothing could take away its freedom and love for its saviour. 

But what I didn’t realise was that this bird was being hunted and that its life was in danger.

From the first day of my conversion, I had a great desire in my heart to read the Bible. I was growing in my understanding of the Bible every day, and there were so many changes in my life. I soon realised that not only did I have the desire to meet with other believers, but I also had this new burden upon me to share my faith – and this new life – with others. 

After a little while I got to know a number of other Christians in my area, and it wasn’t long before we were meeting together regularly in our homes. We had such beautiful times together, worshipping the Lord with songs, sharing the Word of God, and encouraging each other with testimonies of what God had done in our lives.

Our congregation was growing and we were becoming more serious about our faith every day, and God’s love was with us.

The bell rings

After almost a year of meeting regularly together, in May 2007, at around 8am, I was making breakfast when the bell rang.

I was surprised that anyone would be calling that early, but I opened the door to find a group of around 10 plainclothes officers, equipped with handcuffs and guns.

“According to the judge of Branch 3 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Shiraz, we have the right to search your home,” said the commander of the group.

I was really shocked and scared, but managed to muster up the courage to ask: “Can I see the court order?”

In response, the officer slammed into my chest, pushing me backwards, and said: “You will see your sentence in time!”

I quickly ran inside and called my father, who was at work. But an officer grabbed the phone from my hand, hit me in the face, and told me to sit down and stay still.

My mother, sisters and brother were in their rooms. Some of them were still asleep, but the agents woke them up and forced all of us to gather in the hallway.

We were all very shocked and frightened. We knew we had committed no crime, but we were being treated like dangerous criminals. We felt very insecure. Home is where you feel safe, so when your home can be so easily invaded, where else can you find security?

The officers began to search the house, collecting anything they could find related to Christianity, as well as all our computers and other electronic devices.

My mother and sisters were crying as we were interrogated about our beliefs and Christian activities. The atmosphere in the house was very heavy and tense, and there was chaos in my heart. I was praying for God’s protection and, at that moment, my father returned home.

Blindfolded and taken away

After completing their search and noting down all the items they were confiscating, they put handcuffs on me, my brother, father and one of my sisters – all who had given their hearts to Christ.

Then they blindfolded me and pushed my head down all the way. 

I was extremely confused about what was happening. I kept thinking: “What crime have I committed that they are being so violent with me?”

I was 20 years old by then, and in my entire life not one member of my family had ever had problems even with a neighbour, let alone the police. 

About half an hour later we arrived somewhere – though, as I was blindfolded, I didn’t know where – and they sat me down on a chair.

I was left sitting there all day, and a thousand thoughts came into my head. I was constantly praying and had different emotions – at one moment worry and fear; then the next, courage and strength.

I gave all these emotions to God, chose to trust in His love, and found refuge in Him. I may have been in prison, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the freedom I had in Christ. It was as if the sweetness of that freedom became even clearer as a result of the bitterness of my imprisonment.

Quoting the contents of this article in part is permitted. However, no part of it may be used for any fundraising appeal, or for any publication where donations are requested.