It wasn’t what I expected.
The flood of Moslem refugees across Europe was constantly in the news two or three years ago, and most books I’ve recently seen about refugees have been about those escaping from Syria.
I thought this would be the same, but instead the story dates back to the late 1970s, early 80s and the Iranian Revolution.
Annahita Parsan’s abusive husband Asghar found himself on the wrong side of the new Islamic government in Iran after the Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah of Iran. Together they escaped Iran via Turkey, where they were imprisoned and brutally treated. Eventually they were freed and allowed to move on to Denmark as refugees.
Despite the potential for a new life, Asghar’s violence against his wife increased in frequency and intensity and there seemed to be no escape for her.
But a seed was sown when visitors to her door gave Annahita a bible in Farsi.
Ever since I had been given the Farsi Bible, I had picked it up and prayed from time to time. The worse Asghar’s attacks had gotten, the more I had prayed. I found that it helped, much like drinking a glass of cool water took away the dryness in my mouth on a hot night.
She started to become aware of ideas about God that were different to what she had “learned in a mosque”.
There it was all about fear and rules and the difficulty of earning a route to paradise. I had never thought of God being interested in helping me, let alone being with me all the time. I liked the idea. It gave me courage.
In time that courage helped her to take steps towards freedom for herself and her children. Freedom from the violence of her husband and towards the freedom of a new life of faith.
Annahita Parsan now works within churches in Sweden, ministering to former Muslim refugees.
From 2008 – some aspects of the story are dated, but most is still relevant.
See also: undergound church in Iran