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I Couldn’t Call God ‘Father’

An Iranian woman’s journey of faith

In Islam there are 99 names for Allah. Not one of them is “Father.”

I am from a family of six children. My father never showed us love. Whenever I heard of people speak about the love and support of their fathers, I had no idea what they meant.

My father was an angry man. He abused us, especially my mother, emotionally and physically. She was beaten several times to within an inch of her life. Yet she put up with this in order to protect us children.

I also remember the day when my father tried to kill my brother, forcing him to run away barefooted into the street.

When I was old enough, l left Iran so that I could be free of my father and have a better life. I ended up in the UK.

I always had a negative view of men. I questioned why God had given men such power. I tried to be strong, yet I was depressed and tired of life.

One day, alone in my room, I spoke for the first time to the God of creation. I had given up on my religion, which had always made me feel weak and afraid.

I prayed to the God I did not know, yet whose presence I sensed in a real way. I wanted to die, but I didn’t want to commit suicide, as it would bring shame on my mother. So I asked God to kill me. But he didn’t kill me.

He gave me life. Let me tell you how.

Finding Joy

A week later, I met with an Iranian lady. When I started to share my heart with her, she told me that she had no religion—but that her daughter had become a Christian and had changed. She asked if I wanted to go to her daughter’s church. The work of God is amazing: he used a nonbeliever to witness to me.

The work of God is amazing: he used a nonbeliever to witness to me.

So I went to the church for the first time, and it was strange. The people had names like Mohammad and Zahra, which are Muslim names. I didn’t know that Muslims could become Christians.

And the men there were different. It seemed they didn’t have unclean eyes.

They were worshiping with joy, in my mother tongue, Persian. I had always wondered why I must speak to God in Arabic, a language I didn’t know. Why didn’t he accept my mother tongue?

At the end of the sermon, the preacher called everyone to trust Jesus the King.

From that day onward, I had a new faith and a new joy.

Learning to See God as Father

But there was a great challenge awaiting me. I had to accept God as my Father. In my mind, “Father” was not a word of honor toward the God I had come to know. “Mother” would have felt like a much better word.

But God wanted to reveal himself to me. And he did so with complete patience and gentleness.

As I studied the Bible, I saw the grace and love of the Father. As I prayed, I felt the attention of the Father. As I worshiped, I felt the embrace of the Father.

He healed my past, my present, and my future. He has transformed me. He even enabled me to truly forgive my earthly father.

I used to hate the word “Father,” but today I worship God the Father with great love and passion. I worship Jesus Christ as Lord, the One who has saved my soul. And I love to walk in the Spirit, who is always with me.

My Family Restored

I was the first in my family to become a Christian. When I shared the gospel with my mother, she said that at her age of 60 she could not change.

But over time God’s sovereign love wooed and won her heart, and today she worships Jesus.

I shared Jesus with my nephew. Today he worships Jesus.

When my sister-in-law had a problem, I prayed for her and shared a Bible verse. Today she worships Jesus.

My sister saw the change in my life. Today she worships Jesus.

One of my brothers was an atheist. But today he worships Jesus.

I saw 11 people come to Christ. But my father did not.

He had left my mother for a woman my age. It inflicted a lot of pain on the family, and for a long time nobody spoke with him. But God put it on my heart to call and talk with him.

One day on the phone, my father told me he had cancer. His young wife had left him. My mother, who had grown in faith, bravely decided to go and care for him on his deathbed.

Three days before my father died, I called and spoke to him one last time. It was difficult, but the Lord put it in my heart to share the gospel once more. I told him about the dying thief next to Jesus on the cross. “Like the thief,” I told him, “you can still be forgiven.”

My mother was there, and held his hand as he smiled and asked Jesus to forgive and redeem him.

Helping Other Women

Muslims do not know God as father. But praise God, he has been working in Iran. And many, many people like me are meeting the Father in heaven.

Today I have the privilege of being part of Elam Ministries’s women’s team, and I’ve had the chance to teach numerous women just like me. I never knew my story would affect so many other lives. I’ve had the chance to tell hundreds of Iranian women what the Father has done in my life. I speak of the Father’s authority, the Father’s attention, the Father’s generosity, the Father’s faithfulness, and the Father’s love.

Recently, after sharing my story at a conference for women from Iran, a lady named Haleh approached me in tears. Her father was just like mine. Unsurprisingly, Haleh couldn’t see God as Father. But after much conversation and prayer, she was finally able to call on God as her Father. It was so moving to see. The following day Haleh sang a new song to God about his Fatherhood, and like a little girl she danced before her Daddy.