Amid customers chattering and baristas hollering out orders, Gulnaz shared her spiritual journey. Born into a prosperous Kurdish Muslim family in Iran, she and her husband lived with her parents while continuing their university degrees.
Iran was in tumult outside. Iranians bristled under the Islam imposed on them by Arabs. Burdened under a strict interpretation of the Quran, every appeal for leniency was met with violent repression, imprisonment or death.
Gulnaz leaned forward, a burning intensity in her eyes. “You know, I read a copy of the Quran in my language, Farsi. From cover to cover. When I finished, I closed it and decided there was nothing in this book for me. It damns me to hell and consigns women to be the possessions of men. There is no hope and no love in this book.”
I leaned back in my chair and pondered this unusual honesty and the path that had led her there—the Quran itself.
WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM
Three weeks later, I gave Gulnaz a Farsi language Bible. She gasped and snatched up the Bible, looking back and forth between me and the book, running her fingers over the gold-embossed, Farsi-language title.
Because we never know if we get another chance with a person, or even if we have another day to live, I shared the way of salvation with Gulnaz. I guided her to the Gospel of John and led her through Jesus’ promises to give eternal life to whoever believed Him for it.
John 3:16 flowed off her tongue in Farsi. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
PARKING HER HEART
As she read, it was like she was coming home, parking her heart. And the universe suddenly made sense to her.
Then I asked Gulnaz, “What condition does Jesus give for gaining eternal life?”
She took her time, sliding her finger under the verse as she re-read it. She looked up at me, “Believe in Jesus.”
“Do you have eternal life?” I wanted to know if Jesus promise had persuaded her. To hear her conclusion and not tell her what to believe. I wanted her to hear herself say it.
“Yes!” she said.
We gathered up our things, left the coffee shop and found a vacant picnic table on the street. “We should pray,” I said.
I went first praying out loud, thanking God for my new sister in Christ. Tears bubbled up and spilled down Gulnaz’s cheeks. Like a child murmuring unpolished words, she started talking to her heavenly Father for the first time.
I walked home relieved. Relieved for Gulnaz that she was out of the darkness and home safe. Relieved to know God was clearly on the move, and that I had kept up with Him.
* Name changed for security.
(This article was shortened.)