It all started in late 1980’s when I was detained by the Iranian police for no reason. They thought that I had some connections with Kurdish political parties that were opposing the Islamic Republic. I did not have any connection with any political party or anything of that sort. Months went by without them even letting my family know where I was. Finally, the day came when I was brought into court. The Judge asked me three questions that were asked of many people:
- What is your name? -- I said Zana.
- What is your ethnicity? -- I said I am a Kurd.
- What is your religion? -- I said that I am a Sunni Muslim.
I was taken out of the court, thrown back into my cell and I was beaten all night. Next morning, they put me on a bus headed back to Mahabad, my city in Kurdistan. On the bus, I was sitting next to a man. He opened his bag and took out a sandwich which was wrapped in newspaper. I was very hungry since I had not eaten regular food in almost six months. I did not want to look at his food but I just couldn't stand the smell of the kabobs. He turned around and asked me if I would like one. Without hesitating as we usually do in Iranian culture, I asked for one. Instead of one, he gave me two out of the three that he had with him. I asked for his name and he said that his name was Yacub. I had never heard that name before. So I asked, "What kind of name is this?" He said "Hebrew". "Ahh, so you are a Jew?" I asked back. "No, I am a Christian", he said. I had heard a lot of negative things about Christians in the Quran so I did not want to get into a conversation about Christianity. But something inside me made me wonder why he believed in it (Christianity)? I asked if he believed that Jesus was the son of God. The answer was yes. How could God have a wife? How could God have sex? He started explaining that to say that God had sex with Mary is the greatest sin. But rather Jesus is the son of God in a spiritual way and not like the way we are born. And we never say that God ever had a wife, we believe in a holy God. I wanted to stop the conversation and begin a different subject. I could not think of any other subject, so I asked him why he was going to Kurdistan. He said that a friend needed some help with something. I asked for his name he said Zana. That was my name. But I thought it was a different person. He opened his bag and very quietly gave me a Bible. He put it in my bag. He knew that if someone saw him with that book it could cost him his life. I asked what it was. He told me that I would find out later.
We got to Mahabad and I got off the Bus before he did. I got my bag and was waiting outside for Yacub (Jacob) to come off, but the bus was empty and he still had not come out. I went to the driver and asked him where the man sitting next to me had gone? To my astonishment and confusion he said, "There was no man sitting next to you." Was I crazy or what? I said maybe I was dreaming. But I still had the taste of the sandwich in my mouth. I still had the book in my bag. What was Yacub? Who was he? Why didn't he go to his friend's house? Then I remembered that the friend's name was Zana and only then realized he meant me. I went home and found my mom in the house crying. She was so surprised and happy to see me. I asked what had happened since I had been gone. I found out that soldiers were looking for me and that she was raped by a Jaush (Kurdish for "traitor"). When I heard that, I felt like somebody was hitting me in the back with sticks. I went to my room and wept like a baby. I could not believe that this really had happened.
That night when I asked for my older brother Hasan at dinner, they all started crying. They told me that he was hanged. I felt like the food was going through my back. I could not eat. I got up and went to my room for some more weeping. I felt like the whole world was on my shoulders and I felt like I was carrying the rocks. I had nothing to do, so I took out the book and started reading. After reading the first chapters of the book of Genesis, I went to read the Injil. I started reading the book of Matthew. I was surprised. I had never seen anything like this. I stopped at chapter ten and just went to bed. I still could hear my Mom and sister crying downstairs. The neighbors came to cheer them up and talk to them. Next morning life was normal, so I went and visited my brother's grave. Life became normal again until one night in my dream Yacub appeared and told me that I must leave my country. I knew something was up so I went and hid at a friend's house. I did not want to leave the country; I loved it.
Sometime after, I sneaked back to my house at night and discovered that soldiers had been in my house and they were looking for me. Now this time, it was my sister that was raped by the soldiers for no reason. My brother who was executed had some ties to the Kurdish political parties. But what had I done wrong, or what had my sister done wrong? Is this what they call an Islamic Republic? All I could think of was suicide. But I would now leave so many people behind. If it was not for my family I would have killed myself. I knew that Yacub was telling me something. But what? Help me Yacub; what do you want me to do? I went to my room and packed whatever I could because I was going to leave the country. I took the Bible with me and headed for the mountains crossing the boarders into Iraq. I stopped in the middle of nowhere for a rest. I took out my book and read in it. When I came to Matthew 11:28 "Come to me all who are heavy laden and weary and I will give you rest," I was shocked and did not know what to think because the book kind of read my mind. It had what my heart longed for. I found what I was looking for. I found what met my personal needs. Right there in the middle of the night I gave my life to Jesus Christ. I couldn't believe the changes that were happening inside of me. I felt a kind of peace that could not be expressed by words. I was relieved. I could feel all of the weight that I felt on my shoulders coming off. I now understood God and what he was like. It was a good thing that I did not commit suicide. The Lord had a plan for me. I now knew who Yacub was -- an angel. It was very hard to believe. I myself found it hard to believe. But an angel would be the best answer.
I now forgave all of those that done wrong to me. Instead of cursing, I prayed for the salvation of the people who had beaten me in prison. I am grateful for having such a wonderful experience. My sincere prayer is that God Almighty will show you the truth. I am willing to help you find the truth. I can be reached at the following address: Masihim@yahoo.com