|Picture: A teenager in Iran (not Mehdi)
The unusual thoughts continued, urging him to find out more. One day, out of curiosity, he took a bus to a church in a different part of the city. When he asked the pastor if he could inquire about Christianity, the man firmly replied “No!” Later Mehdi discovered the government had forbidden church members to answer Muslims’ questions about faith.
‘Find out about Christianity and learn how they think about God’
He tried to visit other churches, but got the same response. He was ready to give up when the Lord spoke to him once more: “Go and find out about Christianity and learn how these people think about God.” Mehdi wondered if he had too much alcohol to drink that evening. He tossed and turned that night, unable to sleep, conflicted by his seemingly futile search.
Then he remembered a friend who worked for a security force investigating illegal ‘underground’ activities, including ‘underground’ Christianity and illegal evangelism. Mehdi thought this might be his last chance, but he would also be taking a huge risk. “I decided to bring up the issue playfully,” which paid off. His friend gave him the address of a church that he knew was open to Muslims.
With anticipation building in his heart, the following Sunday he went to the address his friend gave him. When he got close, he could hear a service going on. A man came out and asked: “Do you want to come in?” Mehdi took a deep breath and said: “Yes!”
“The feeling I had when I entered the church was something I’ve never felt before,” Mehdi recalls. “It felt so peaceful.” He sat down in a pew, feeling overwhelmed with emotion.
‘A place in which your spirit is totally at peace with your Creator’
After the service a man came up to him and asked: “You’re here for the first time, right?’ “Yes,” Mehdi replied. “Can I ask you some questions about God?” “Not here,” he said hesitantly, “but please come to my home.”
Mehdi went to the man’s home and peppered him with questions. The answers seemed strange, but in a good way. The man talked about heaven as a place in God’s absolute presence, a place in which your spirit is totally at peace with your Creator. “I hadn’t heard about the Christian idea of heaven before, but somehow his words made complete sense to me,” Mehdi said.
“He also told me that God isn’t a far-away person but someone who created the earth and put us as humans in the center. He made us in his image. He even gave us a piece of his very own Spirit. With the Christian God I was welcome the way I was. God was like a loving Father. This was a big difference from Allah, who would punish me for any small thing.”