I grew up in an Islamic religious family in Iran. I was doing all of the things I was supposed to do as a Muslim until four years ago, praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, weeping and crying on Moharam ("Unclean Month" that commemorates the death of an Islamic leader). But four years ago, when I was still in Iran, I heard a little bit about the Bible. I heard that Jesus died one time for my sins and I don't have to play a game, I can worship God with all of my heart, it doesn't matter how. Anything from the heart, God accepts.
I was a chef in a 15-story hotel in Tehran for seven years, but while I was getting divorced, I lost my job.
I found a new job working for a mosque, making tea and watching the shoes of the faithful who entered the mosque barefoot. Normally, I caught a bus to go home, but on that day I started walking home instead. I was close to Tehran University, when suddenly a large crowd of people spilled off the campus and into the street. The students had been striking, but the school kicked them out off campus so the police could arrest them. I didn't know what was going on. The police arrested about 500 students, and I was in the middle of it. They separated us from the women, put us in a prison and kept us in the dark; we didn't even know which part of Iran we were in. All they gave us to eat was bread.
A policeman came in, laughed at us, and asked, "Which do you prefer, to have your head broken or your fingernails pulled out?" Then one by one, the guards would come and take someone to another room to be beaten and tortured. Some of the people taken into that room never left it alive. Others ended up in the hospital. Others simply disappeared. I prayed in my own language (not Arabic, like Muslims are supposed to do), and I called out to God, asking, "What's my fault? Why should this happen to me?" On the 20th day of my imprisonment, while I was praying, they called me into that room.
I knew I was going to die. I could hear women screaming from another room. I was interrogated, asked what I had been doing there near the University. They would ask me a question and then hit me. They discovered that I was simply a normal worker, and they knew that I didn't know anything. I knew that the university had security cameras all around its campus and that there had to be photographic evidence that showed my trip home. But they kept asking to see if they could find anything else out. They were waiting for me to say one word. They tortured me like this for seven hours. The only way I knew it was that long was because the sun shone through a tiny window; at the beginning it has straight up above, noon, but when they finally finished it was completely dark.
The interrogator couldn't find anything out from me, so he picked up a board. As he swung it toward me, it hit the light bulb that lit the room and then my head. As the light bulb exploded, I blacked out. I didn't know what happened after he hit me.
They moved me to the hospital. When I finally woke up, I found out which hospital I was in and that I had been out for 15 days. I was not allowed to contact any friends, and no one could visit me. After 20 days in the hospital, I found out a way to contact my parents. They came to visit me and told me that during the month I was gone, they had been searching everywhere. The authorities let my parents come because, by then, they realized that I was not with any group, I had just been passing by. Even though we tried, we couldn't go to the judge for justice for what had happened to me because the judge is part of the government. Nothing became of it. We paid a lawyer a lot of money, but he couldn't do anything. The only thing the lawyer did was get my name off the list of members of the particular party in trouble so that I could get a passport. To this day, I still don't know what the students were striking about. Through all of this, I still loved God, even though He let this happen.
Nine months later, I left for Turkey. I didn't have any money left after paying the lawyer, and I wanted to find a better job with better pay, so I left Iran. I have a 9-year-old son. I left him with my parents. When I moved to Turkey, I saw a lot of bad places, and I prayed, "God help me and protect me. Don't bring me there." And from that time, God kept me pure. Whenever I asked him to do something for me, he would do it.
When I moved to Turkey, I met a person whose name was Amir. Amir invited me to go to church with him. I had heard something about Christianity in Iran, so I was curious to see the inside of a church. One Sunday, we went to the church. When I went into the church, I saw that they were singing and dancing while they were worshiping. I had to take a step back and say to myself, "Oh, God will curse me," because I wanted to worship with song. (In Islam, music is considered worldly, never to be used in connection with God.) But I loved that kind of worship, and something didn't let me leave.
When I came back from the church, to my home, my roommates found out that I had been inside the church. Before that, I had been cooking for the 15 people living together with me in one house. I was a cook. After they found out I was in a church, I still cooked for them, but they wouldn't let me sit and eat with them. They would just call for me to clean up afterward. All of my roommates were strict Muslims. I continued to cook for them for seven months but never ate with them after that first visit to the church.
I was tired of their behavior, so I decided to leave Turkey and come to Greece. I had been in Turkey for almost 3 years. I arrived in Greece on June 21, 2001. It was on my second day in Greece that I met a boy whose name is Pejman. He brought me to Helping Hands where I met Brother Nader. Nader showed me the baptism class because I was interested in getting baptized, so I attended the class. The teacher was a man named Joel. I was in the class for two months, and then one day I woke up and felt I had received something in my spirit. So I decided to get baptized. From that day Helping Hands has helped me a lot to grow. I thank Brother Scott, Brother Nader, and Brother Themis.
My hope is to bring my son to join me and live under the power of God, no matter where, except in Iran. I want to be a servant. The only thing I can do is cook, so I want to cook for God. In Greece, America, anywhere, it doesn't matter.
If one person in America reads this, maybe they can help me and my son. Thank you.
"G" still has a hole in his skull from being beaten in the head; he suffers from intense, periodic headaches. Despite this, "G" regularly volunteers for Helping Hands and cooks a meal for the Persian Christian Fellowship every Sunday at the Athens Refugee Center.