Witness Statements

Iman Shahvari

Iman Shahvari

For a summary of Iman’s story, you can read our feature article here.

Background and conversion

1. My name is Ali Shahvari, known by the name Iman, and I was born in Tehran in 1968. In 1996, I met my wife, Azam, who lived in our neighbourhood, and we married. We have three children: Amir Hussein, Ferzaneh, and Yeganeh.

2. I grew up in a traditional and religious Muslim family. I loved God and had a special devotion to the “Ahl al-Bayt” [Muhammad’s family]. Twice I volunteered at school to go to the front-line during the Iran-Iraq war. My other two brothers were also on the front-line as fighters. One of my brothers was shot and wounded, and my other brother was martyred in 1986. I was exempted from military service because I was part of a martyr’s family.

3. I was an athlete and a wrestler, but I got very depressed after my brother was martyred. At a friend’s gathering, one of my friends offered me drugs. After that I started taking drugs and became an addict. For 20 years I took all kinds of drugs. I was physically weak, to the point that I became incapacitated. In an attempt to break my addiction, I exercised, went to NA [Narcotics Anonymous] meetings, turned to Islamic rituals – my mother recited Islamic prayers for me – but none of these things freed me from my addiction.

4. Then one day, 21 July 2006, I went to the roof of my home and raised my hands to the sky and said: “God, where are you? Why don’t you hear mine and my mother’s prayers? None of the things I did to free myself from drug addiction have worked. Come and save me from this situation!” After two hours, my hands got tired, I was discouraged and disappointed. I said to myself, “Either God doesn’t exist, or I am so sinful that God will have nothing to do with me.” I went back to the living room, turned on the TV and started searching for music on satellite channels. While changing the channels, I came across a Persian-language channel, where the speaker was saying: “Whoever asked God to save him, God wants to save you.” I was very surprised. The channel was called “Nejat [Salvation] TV”. Hearing this sentence confirmed to me the fact that God had heard my prayer and wanted to do something for my freedom. In that programme, a man told the story of his life, and how he used to use drugs in the past but that Jesus Christ the Lord saved him. I was very upset they were calling Jesus “Lord” and complained: “How crazy and lost are these people that in the 21st century a person named Jesus is known and introduced as God!” But then I said to myself: “If these infidels can do something for my recovery from my addiction, I’ll pray with them!” Then the person who had been freed from addiction said: “You have two choices: either you can continue on your current path, or you can accept Jesus as your Saviour.” I told myself: “I don’t want to go on in the way I have been. I’ve reached a dead end and I’m tired. It’s now 2 o’clock in the morning, there’s no-one watching; I’ll try this thing and if Christ frees me from my addiction, I’ll speak about this freedom to the whole world. But if I remain in my current situation, I’ll contact the Christian channels and demand they take responsibility for their lies!”

5. The pastor speaking on the TV said: “Anyone who wants to be saved should kneel down and pray with me. The more you open your heart to God, the more you will enjoy God’s presence and blessings.” I said: “God, I repent from my mistakes. If I knew Jesus as a prophet to this day, I’ll accept him as God from now on.” Then a strange voice inside me said: “It’s finished.” I didn’t know until later that this sentence was a verse from the Bible.

6. After I was healed, I wanted to tell everyone: “Jesus is Lord! Believe and be saved!” But because of my history of drug addiction, everyone I talked to about Jesus Christ not only didn’t agree to convert, but they also made fun of me. They thought I was crazy and delusional because I’d used different kinds of drugs. I was very disappointed. No-one believed the true story that happened to me.

7. After I became a Christian, I changed my name from Ali to Iman [which means “faith”], and everyone has called me by that name since then.


8. When I became a Christian, I decided to hand over everything I owned to my wife, such as my house and my car, because I knew there would be suffering ahead in this path that I had chosen. My wife [a Muslim at the time] also knew that I would never return to Islam, and that I was eager to do Christian activities.

9. I contacted the Christian TV Network, “Mohabat [Love]”, and spoke with pastors Rev Hormoz Shariat and Rev Kamil Navai. I told them about my conversion and said I would like to know more about Christianity. I gave them my mobile number and asked them to connect me to a house-church. Then someone in Tehran called me, and so I was connected to a house-church.

10. I had a great passion for evangelism and delivering the gospel message to people. That’s why I started to work as a driver, so that I could talk to more people about Christianity. Each time we had a house-church meeting, I would name 20 new people I had talked to about Christianity, so that the other Christians would pray for them. I also regularly asked the house-church leader for Bibles and copies of the “Jesus film” so I could give them to the people I evangelised to.

11. I also voluntarily drove house-church leaders to meetings in my own car, without receiving any money for my expenses. They taught, and I talked to church members about different experiences I’d had with God, such as being freed from addiction. In these meetings, I learned a lot from the leaders. Several times they entrusted me with the teaching portion of the service, and church members said my teaching was easy to understand. For this reason, after doing some training courses, I started leading different house-churches on my own in 2007, and I was baptised in 2008.

12. During 2007 and 2008, I was in charge of house-church groups in Tehran, Karaj, Zahedan, Zabol, Garmsar, Semnan and Qom. There was only one family present at each house-church meeting, and we weren’t allowed to put two families who didn’t know each other in the same group, due to security concerns. Every Thursday I would drive to Garmsar to visit different Christian families and hold weekly house-church meetings. Then I would drive to Semnan and do the same thing. I was in Garmsar and Semnan for 48 hours every week, and returned to Tehran on Saturdays early in the morning because my wife was a teacher and I had to take her to work.

Arrest in Semnan

13. One Friday in September 2009, at 1pm, I was worshipping with the couple I was visiting, as well as another family member, when someone rang the doorbell. As soon as the door was opened, four male officers and two female officers entered the house, carrying weapons and walkie-talkies. They didn’t show us any warrant but still searched the whole house.

14. They confiscated my MP3 player, on which I had saved all my sermons, as well as my laptop and Bible, and all our mobile phones and Christian CDs. Then they blindfolded all of us and, in separate cars, with our heads held down, they took us to the intelligence office.


15. I was taken to a very dirty solitary-confinement cell. The officers told me: “You’ll be detained for 10 days.” Because I had become a Christian, all my relatives and friends considered me an infidel and my household “impure”, so I was worried no-one would take care of my family, and said to God: “I give my wife and children to you. I don’t want to worry about my family’s situation during the interrogations.”

16. Every second day I was taken for questioning. I was interrogated almost 10 times in all. The interrogator asked me questions like: “How did you become a Christian? What organisation do you belong to? Who teaches you, or supports you?” And so on. They wanted to accuse me of collaborating with “major foreign networks acting against Iran’s security”.

17. I told them: “I was an addict and didn’t believe in Christianity. But I was prayed for during a Christian TV programme, and I was freed from addiction. That’s why I became a Christian and talked to a lot of people about what happened to me. If you receive healing from Imam Reza [a descendent of Muhammad], you’ll share it with everyone! I also tell you, Jesus Christ is the Saviour, Healer, and Redeemer. I encourage you also to accept this. As long as I live, I’ll talk about Christ and Christianity wherever I go. Now you call it evangelism, but I know one thing: I was dead in addiction, and Christ raised me up. I watch Christian TV programmes and they teach me. The family that you arrested together with me in Semnan has also been freed from addiction by God. We are the rescued addicts whom you arrested while praying and worshipping!”


18. After 10 to 12 days, they allowed me to call my wife, who told me: “One of our relatives, whose child is the same age as ours, takes our daughter to school by car every day.” I thanked God for providing the best support to my family. I had been taking her to school on a motorbike, but now she was getting to travel there in a car! My brother also came to the prison to visit, and brought me some toiletries, but the officers wouldn’t let me have them. They wanted to pressure me through the dirty environment of the prison to return to Islam.

Temporary release

19. I was detained in solitary confinement for 22 days, then in the general ward of Semnan Prison for eight days. In the general ward, I prayed: “God help me in this place every morning, noon and night so that I can talk to the prisoners about Christianity.” In those 30 days I talked to 23 people about Christianity and they all became Christians! Three of them were facing the death sentence. After 30 days’ detention, I was released on bail of 100 million tomans [approx. $30,000], which was deposited in the form of a property deed by one of our relatives.

20. It was our house-church network’s practice to email a report about the service to the group’s leaders every night, so 12 days after my release from prison I sent a report to the senior church leaders about what had happened. Because 23 of the prisoners had become Christians, and I was convinced that God had taken me to prison for this service, I also wrote at the end of the email that I was ready to continue my Christian activities. They decided that I shouldn’t go to the cities of Semnan and Garmsar but that I could continue to teach in other cities.


21. On 18 February 2010, the Semnan Revolutionary Court officially charged me and a member of the family I had visited with “forming a propaganda group for the benefit of Christianity, with the intention of disrupting the security of the country”, “evangelising and spreading Christianity”, and “disrupting the Islamic beliefs of young people”, and under Article 500 of the Islamic Penal Code we were sentenced to one-year’s imprisonment, suspended for five years, and I was banned from entering the province of Semnan for five years. We also had to pay a fine of 5 million tomans [around $1,500], but the judge said we would receive 3 million tomans back at the end of the five years if we didn’t “reoffend”. However, because I was arrested again I never received anything back.

22. During the hearing, the judge said: “You were in a ‘team house’ [a place where opposition groups meet] with other members of the group, and when the agents arrived, the two women present didn’t observe Islamic decency and didn’t wear hijab!” I responded that proper hijab was the covering of a person’s heart and eyes.

23. The judge said: “I’ll ask you three questions. If the answers are acceptable, you’ll be acquitted, and if not, I’ll issue a death sentence. It doesn’t matter at all to me that you are from a martyr’s family!” I prayed and asked God for wisdom. “First question,” the judge said. “What is the Quran?” I answered: “The word of Allah.” “Second question: who is Muhammad?” I said: “The Messenger of Allah.” “Third question: who is Ali?” I said: “The first Imam of the Shiites.” I just prayed he wouldn’t ask me what I thought about Allah, but he didn’t ask any other questions, and because I had no criminal record I was only warned that propaganda about Christianity in Iran was a crime. “You aren’t allowed to talk about Christianity with anyone!” he said. Then he added: “You don’t have the right to enter the province of Semnan for five years, and if you come to this province in these five years, you’ll be sentenced to one to five years in prison.” The judge also warned the family I had visited that they weren’t allowed to contact me at all, and that they would be sentenced to imprisonment if they let me into their home. But we are still in touch via Facebook.

Appeal court

24. The appeal hearing took place at Branch 4 of the Appeal Court of Semnan Province, under Judge Mohammad-Hossein Salami and court counsellor Hadi Abbasnejad, and the judge acquitted us, ruling there was no evidence we had acted with “malicious intent to disrupt national security”. The appeal court’s verdict was issued on 7 February 2011.

Arrest in Zahedan

25. But before this, I had also been arrested in Zahedan, on 27 June 2010, during a house-church meeting with another family who had also become free from their drug addiction. The mother of the family, her two sons and her young daughter, as well as one of their friends, were there when at 11 o’clock in the morning, the doorbell rang. One of them opened the door and about seven or eight male agents aggressively entered the house, carrying walkie-talkies and weapons. They created a terrifying atmosphere by shouting loudly and in a sharp tone. Everyone in the family was scared, and the mother of the family cried. I told her: “Don’t be afraid; they are here because of me.” Each of us was blindfolded and taken away in a separate car.


26. At the prison they took off my clothes and gave me prison clothes, then took me, blindfolded, to the Haj Davood detention centre and placed me in solitary confinement. The Haj Davood torture centre in Zahedan is famous: prisoners are taken there to be tortured and to confess. It is outside the prison, and under the control of the Ministry of Intelligence. I don’t know its exact location, but it was about 40 minutes away.

27. On my first day there, they gave me an information form to fill out, and I wrote, when asked about my wife’s religion, that she was a Muslim but that I wished her to become a Christian and do Christian activities together with me. The agents didn’t believe what I had written. For this reason the intelligence agents twice went to the school where my wife worked, and investigated whether she was a Muslim or a Christian.

28. One of the interrogators also called my wife three days after my arrest. At first, he spoke in a harsh tone with her, but after realising that she really was a Muslim, his tone softened and he said: “Why don’t you take care of your husband? Do you know where he goes and what he does?” My wife replied: “He has chosen his own path and I can’t bring him back from the path he has chosen.” The interrogator said: “You have to get divorced! Your marriage is haram [forbidden]!” My wife answered: “We have three children. I can’t get divorced.” They also called my family and summoned my brother, who told them: “Ali was on the front-line during the war and is mentally ill. Please release him.”

29. During the second interrogation, the interrogators had found out from my record that I had been arrested once before in Semnan. They said: “You didn’t learn your lesson after your first arrest! You are a Christian evangelist; your goal and mission is to preach about Christianity! After you were released from Semnan Prison, we followed you like a shadow!” But four months after my release from Semnan Prison, I had attended a Christian conference, and the Ministry of Intelligence was unaware of it, so I knew they were lying about following me.

30. People think the Ministry of Intelligence knows everything about our lives, but they don’t; they only pay spies and informants to spy and report information to them. They asked me to cooperate with them too, and said: “You have been enslaved by Western ideas! You should be ashamed of yourself for acting this way in front of your wife and children! We can provide jobs for you, but you must stop doing these things!” By making these promises, they wanted to bring me back to Islam.

Solitary confinement

31. The first solitary cell they placed me in was very dark, warm, and full of insects. For 24 hours a day, there was a noise in the cell like that of a helicopter, putting pressure on my nerves and psyche. I wasn’t allowed to remove my blindfold in the cell; there was a CCTV camera and if I ever took off my blindfold an officer would come and beat me with a stick. There was a shower, but even when washing my face I was only allowed to raise my blindfold a little so I couldn’t see the ceiling, the wall and the camera. I was taken in for questioning once a week. They wanted to bring me back to Islam through threats and psychological torture. They said: “We know that you are determined in your choice, but we aren’t in a hurry; we have many ways and techniques to bring you back!” I was kept in this cell for about a month.

32. One day, at 3pm, I was taken to another solitary cell that was cooler and cleaner. At 6pm, they threw food into the cell. I was very cold and said: “Please can you increase the temperature of the AC in here? “Sure,” the officer said, but then he decreased it even more, so the cell became even colder. I felt frozen until the morning, when I told the officer: “You mistakenly decreased the temperature last night, and I was freezing from the cold!” “I’m sorry,” he said, and decreased it even more. I realised at that moment that I was in a torture cell. 

33. Then I exercised for about half an hour to warm up, but I became out of breath, so I prayed to God and asked Him for help. I knew that although my physical strength had weakened, I wouldn’t ever deny Him in any way, and I started to praise God in the cell and exercised with the strength He had given me, Once I even felt so hot that I was able to unbutton my clothes for about four hours. When I was taken for interrogation, I saw that the interrogator had a cold, because he was sitting under the AC, which was blowing warm air. He asked me: “Do you still want to resist, and not return to Islam?” He continued: “If you’re telling the truth, ask Jesus to show me a miracle!” I replied: “Is there a bigger miracle than the fact that you caught a cold while sitting under that heater, while I’m in full health even though I’ve been in that cold torture cell?”

34. I was in that second cell for 36 days, and during that time I was interrogated three times and taken about five times to get some fresh air in a yard which had iron bars all around the sides and above. Whenever they took me there I would happily roll up my trousers and the sleeves of my shirt, and say: “God, flood my body with the scorching Zahedan sun, so that I can endure the cold of the cell!” Later, in the public prison, I met a man who said: “I was kept in a cold torture cell for six days and had to falsely admit that I bombed the Imam Ali Mosque [a Shia holy site in Iraq] to get me out of there!” When he heard I had been in that cell for 36 days, he was very surprised, and said: “It’s impossible you came out of there alive!”


35. On the first and second day of my interrogations, when the interrogator spoke to me aggressively, I answered him: “You are disrespecting me, even though I’m being quiet and writing down the answers to your questions.” But there was another interrogator, who was from Tabriz, who had a great knowledge of the Bible and Christianity, and had interrogated many Christian converts. Once, on a Friday, this interrogator said, with his Tabrizi accent: “You don’t want to answer the questions?” Then he punched and kicked every part of my body while my hands were tied to the chair behind my back. I fell to the floor, with the chair, and broke my tooth.

36. The severity of this beating was unusual, and it seemed like he was upset about something else. I thought maybe that it was because it was a Friday and that he had had to come to this place on his day off. So I said: “Forgive me for taking away your day off from you, and that on this Friday you have had to come here.” He said: “Are you making fun of me?” I said: “No, I act according to the Word, which tells us ‘Bless your enemies’.” 

37. I said: “My friends and I are addicts who survived drug addiction. We gather together to worship and pray for the freedom of other addicts. The government doesn’t have a problem with what we are doing, so why are you bothering us?” He replied: “You’re lying! You’re a preacher of Christianity, and you want to overthrow this regime – that is your plan!” Then he lifted up my blindfold and showed me a video of one of our house-church meetings on his tablet.

38. About a month before my arrest, a young boy from a house-church group in Zahedan had talked to his father about Christianity, and his father had said: “I won’t come to the meeting, but ask my questions to the person in charge, and film the answers for me so I can listen to them.” I didn’t know that the young boy was filming me, but it turned out his father was a spy who worked for the Ministry of Intelligence and received relatively good pay, and that he’d sent the film to the intelligence service.

39. Once, the imam of the Zahedan Friday prayers came to visit me in prison. He asked the officers to take off my blindfold. During the four months I was detained, I always wore a blindfold, and that meeting was the first time I spoke without one. The imam intended to convert me to Islam by persuading me, but I explained my reasons for becoming a Christian and didn’t accept his invitation to return to Islam.

40. After more than two months in solitary confinement, I was thrown into a dark cell alongside prisoners who had mental problems. The prisoners in there didn’t blindfold themselves, nor eat their food. Their arms and legs were bound, because they had attacked the officers. These prisoners had been tortured mentally and brought to the brink of insanity. I was in this cell for about a month. There was one young, dishevelled prisoner in there, with a hairy face, who had his hands and feet bound. The first night I talked to him for two hours about Christianity. Then I prayed for him and asked for God to bring him comfort, strength and healing, and he started crying. A week later, officers were surprised by his calmness. I asked them to cut his hair and beard, and unbind his hands and feet. His face changed a lot when he had had his hair cut, and I didn’t recognise him when he returned to the cell. The officer said: “We’ll loosen his hands and feet, as you ask, but if something bad happens to you, we won’t take responsibility.”

41. Later, one of the people in charge of the MOIS [Ministry of Intelligence] Prison, who was from Tehran, was told that I was talking to other prisoners about Christianity. They also relayed all the conversations I had had with that young man in my cell. The head of the prison said: “You are from a martyr’s family; what harm do you want to do to yourself, your spouse and your children? Why don’t you watch your tongue! Why do you brainwash the other prisoners and those outside?” I replied: “God wants me to share the message of truth with these prisoners, and you!”

42. The fourth cell I was taken to was for prisoners who were to be executed. The officers bound these prisoners’ arms and legs to prevent them from committing suicide. I wasn’t worried about my wife and children; I knew God would protect them. And in one way I was glad they wanted to execute me, because I would go to my Lord. But at the same time, I repented in the presence of God with tears and said: “God, forgive me if I wasn’t a good Christian!” In those days, I saw more than 100 prisoners taken away to be executed.

43. “We have other ways to make you talk!” one interrogator threatened me one day. “We’ll tear your beautiful wife and children to pieces!” I said: “I have given my life to Christ, as well as those of my wife and my children, and all that I have, and I won’t turn away from my faith.” The interrogator from Tabriz, hearing my words, said: “This is one of those Christians who has remained so sure of his faith!” Then he continued: “You are poison to Iran! You are making a mistake staying in Iran and causing trouble for the Iranian people! If you stay in Iran, we’ll kill you secretly. It’s better for you to leave Iran after your release, and go to a Christian country!” 

44. I was in detention after this second arrest for a total of about four months, and the interrogators discovered I wouldn’t return to Islam despite any torture, threats or pressure.

Zahedan Central Prison

45. After four months in that place, I was taken to Zahedan Central Prison, where for five days I was placed in a cell within a ward that had 230 prisoners, despite having a capacity of only 120. The sleeping area was so cramped and small that I had to sleep on my side. The interrogators there knew I had been addicted to drugs in the past, and thought that even though I’d endured torture in the MOIS detention centre, I would definitely succumb if offered drugs again.

46. This was when they truly began to torture me, by transferring me to a particular cell – cell number five, in Ward 5, which was very different from the other wards. In my cell there were 12 beds, and just 11 of us. The other prisoners used the extra bed as a kitchen cupboard, and stored fruit there, which had been brought to them in a wheelbarrow. But then I found out that this cell was actually a drug-dealing centre for the whole prison, and that this was the reason why the prisoners received extra things. There were 2,200 prisoners in the prison, and I was the only one who didn’t smoke cigarettes and do drugs.

47. The prisoners in my ward were packing all kinds of different drugs, which I also used to take. “I know you’re tired. Take some of these drugs,” said one of the other prisoners. I said: “I used all these drugs for 20 years, but when I became a Christian, I stopped.” All my fellow prisoners laughed and said: “Prisoners have come here who didn’t even smoke, but after four or five months they began using drugs, alcohol, and so on – let alone you who have a history of being a drug addict!”

48. One of the interrogators there, whose brother had also been martyred on the front-line, asked me: “How can you have used drugs for 20 years and still be able to resist the urge to use drugs in this prison?” I told him: “I attended classes to quit and participated in many addiction treatments, but none of them helped me. I also performed many Islamic prayers and made many promises to Allah, but my prayers weren’t answered. Only Jesus Christ healed me of my addiction and sickness.”


49. From the first day I became a Christian, I told my wife that if one day I was taken to prison, she and our children shouldn’t visit me, because the prison environment wasn’t suitable for them. In prison, I witnessed many crimes against other prisoners and their families, such as rape and other immoral acts. That’s why I talked with my family on the prison phone, instead of asking them to visit. But my brother, my nephew, and my sister’s son-in-law came to visit me from time to time.

50. One day my sister called and said: “One of the intelligence agents called our father and said: ‘One of your sons has been martyred and another of your sons has become an infidel!’ And he had a stroke when they said this!” I asked for leave to visit my father, but the head of the prison said: “You’re more harmful to society than addicts! You’re an infidel, and you should thank us you’re still alive!” Even my brother had asked for me to be given a short leave so I could visit my father, but the officers had told him: “Your brother Iman has no rights! It’s better for you to pray for him to return to Islam!” Shortly afterwards, my father died.

51. During my detention, none of my family members visited my wife or children. Even at my father’s funeral, they had to go by bus because no-one wanted to take them in their cars. Everyone ignored them during the mourning ceremony and behaved inappropriately and coldly. After my father died, my brothers and sisters divided the inheritance among themselves and told me: “You’re an infidel: this inheritance doesn’t belong to you!”


52. After five months of being in Zahedan Central Prison, on 3 February 2011 I was sent from prison to the court, but I wasn’t allowed to have a lawyer. Judge Mehran Bameri was the head of the 2nd Branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Zahedan. He said insultingly: “Why don’t you stay quiet, instead of going from town to town like a crow and talking about Christianity everywhere you go!” I replied: “I have a question for you: if your child was paralysed and Imam Reza healed him, wouldn’t you talk about this healing with others?” He answered: “Yes, I would.” I said: “I was addicted to drugs, I was depressed, I had back pain, but Jesus Christ healed me and set me free, so I talk to people about this healing.”

53. But the judge sentenced me under Article 513 of the Islamic Penal Code to one year in prison on charges of “insulting the sacred”, “acting against national security”, and “evangelical activity with the aim of attracting others and promoting deviant thoughts”. After the court hearing my brother came to the prison to visit me. The interrogators told him: “Because Iman is from the family of a martyr and suffered from the impact of the war himself, this time he is sentenced to imprisonment, but next time we’ll issue a death sentence for him.”

54. Because I had already served about eight months – that is, two-thirds of the sentence – and just one-third was left, I didn’t appeal against the sentence. After the verdict was finalised, the property deed which we had submitted for bail in the other court case was released. During the year I was detained, my wife and children didn’t have any financial problems. My wife had a salary from the Ministry of Education, and I leased the garage of our house so she could receive the rent.

After release

55. After I was released from Zahedan Central Prison, I emailed a report to the church leaders about my one year in prison. I explained in the email that thousands of people had heard about Jesus Christ and that I was no longer allowed to enter Zahedan or [nearby] Zabol County, but that I was ready to be sent to other cities for church activities. But they answered: “Until further notice, you shouldn’t do any church activities, telephone calls or church-member visits. You’ve been away from your family for a year, so now you have to serve your wife and children. Now is the time for you to rest with your family.”

56. But although I wasn’t involved in any church activities, I was called at home from an unknown number once a month in the middle of the night, and the caller would say: “We’re following you like a shadow! Watch out!” These calls continued for around a year, and I told my leaders about it.

57. I was very upset that I couldn’t do any Christian activities. Of course I talked secretly to people in Tehran about Christianity, but I wasn’t allowed to attend meetings. Then the leaders told me: “It’s better for you to emigrate to Germany. We have a church there, where you can be active.” So on 22 June 2012, I left Iran for Turkey. I went alone so my family wouldn’t be in trouble if I was banned from leaving and arrested.

58. Then, after a few months in Turkey, my family joined me, and we applied for asylum. We were officially recognised as refugees in May 2014. In 2019, my wife converted to Christianity, but even before her conversion she supported me in all my work with house-churches in Iran. She even often reminded me about upcoming meetings. Now she and our children are also active members of our church here in Turkey, and most of my other relatives have also become Christians.