I was five years old when my father was arrested the first time.
It was raining when the police came to our house. We had a very small heater in the middle of the room and my father told me to watch out for the heater and to tell my mother what had happened to him when she returned home. He was in jail for 60 days and then he was released and returned home for a short time. What a delight to have my father home again. It was different then. There was no internet or cell phones. Now, whatever happens the whole world can know in a day, but back then it was not like that. We didn’t know where he was, how he was doing, or if he was even dead or alive. We just prayed and hoped we would see him again.When I was six years old, my father was arrested a second time.
It was a very dark time for me as a young girl, having my father away for so long. People said that he must have committed a serious crime to be in Evin for so long because no one believed that someone could be arrested for their Christian beliefs. People would stare at us, humiliate and insult us. One of my biggest dreams and wishes was that my father would pick me up from school like the other children’s fathers did. I asked God, why me? Why was my father taken to jail?
My mother would go to the courtyard to speak with different Mullahs (they are the religious men in charge of the courts), but they often demand very bad and shameful things from women in exchange for their help, for information. It was very difficult for her to go. She is better, but she still suffers from the consequences of these difficult conditions and is spiritually damaged. She lives in Germany now.
None of our Christian family could contact us and we had no income. My father’s job used to provide many things and he even had money to donate to churches, but now we had nothing. I knew that if he was at home we would have a better life. I was angry with God, with my circumstances, for a long time. Eventually, I reconciled with God and I developed a very close and intimate relationship with Him. I wanted to know what my father saw in the Lord that allowed him to leave everything behind and follow the Lord the way he had. I learned that my true father is my heavenly Father. I learned to look at those circumstances from an eternal perspective.
I was sixteen years old when my father finally returned home from prison. He rarely spoke of his time away, but we know he spent 3 years in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison. He was held in several different prisons over those years. On the rare moments when we did convince my father to speak of his time in prison, he would only joke that prison was like a hotel because everything is free – free gas, electricity, water, food. He never said bad things about his time in prison. Near Evin prison, there is a hotel by the same name, and he would say he that had just been in the hotel.
When my father returned home, I thought our family’s dark days were done, finished. Being in jail is one thing, living with the consequences of being in jail is quite different. The government monitored who he spoke with, where he went, everything.
After four or five months at home, my father decided to travel the 50km from our home to Tehran to participate in a Christian service. He had many good friends there he had not seen since he had been in jail and he wanted to reassure them and encourage them. He planned to be gone for a week or ten days, but he promised to be home for my birthday.
My father never came home.
After some days, the authorities called our family to say they had found a body, a man killed in a knife attack, to please come and identify the body. My brother went and affirmed it was our father. He had been murdered on my birthday.
His murder led me to doubt God again. How could he have been killed on my birthday? I was angry with God. I asked many questions. I told God, “If you wanted to take him to heaven, why did you let him be released from prison?” I had so much hope for a future together. We could put those dark days behind us, but that’s not how it turned out.
I think he was 63 or 64 years old when he was murdered.Make sure to read next week for Part 3: A Faith-Filled Father’s LegacyMiss Part 1? Read Leaving Everything Behind To Follow Jesus here.