Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Nook: Stranger No More - A Muslim Refugee's Story of Harrowing Escape, Miraculous Rescue, and the Quiet Call of Jesus

I recently had a chance to read the amazing true story of Annahita Parsan’s fight against extreme oppression and how she became a Christian Pastor baptizing fellow Muslim refugees in Sweden. Stranger No More: A Muslim Refugee’s Story of Harrowing Escape, Miraculous Rescue, and the Quiet Call of Jesus details how Ms. Parsan fled Iran across the mountains into Turkey and spent months in the terrifying Agri prison before an astonishing release and life-changing flight to Europe, where she and her two children found freedom, hope, and the inexplicable love of Jesus. Her journey took her to Sweden, where she's now the leader of two congregations and has baptized hundreds of former Muslims. Every day she's reminded that saying yes to God is worth the risk.

It was a hard book to read. She came from an extremely oppressive culture, where abuse was the norm and she had no escape. Her original life conditions and her journey were very challenging, to say the least, and her open and honest memoir is eye-opening and shocking.

I had a chance to interview her to learn more. 

What started your conversion to Christianity?
It’s a long story, one that involves pain and grief, including four months locked up in a Turkish jail and years and years of abuse at the hands of my husband. But somehow, within all the struggles, Jesus was there. I didn’t know it at the time, but even in my darkest moments, He was right beside me, pointing the way home. 
It was only after I was facing a second period of imprisonment – this time in Iran – that I cried out to Jesus in the sure knowledge that He was my only hope. A few days later I knelt in a church in Sweden and gave my life to God.

Why was Iran such a dangerous place for you?
The first time I fled Iran I was in danger because of my husband. He had made some comments about the regime and they wanted to capture him. Though I had done nothing wrong, I knew that if I stayed I’d end up imprisoned at least, and likely hung by my neck from a crane in the market.
Today I preach the gospel on satellite TV, and combined with my work with former Muslim believers in Sweden and across Europe, it’s not safe for me to go back to Iran.  I hated having to leave my homeland because of my husband’s actions, but these days I count it a privilege to live in exile for the sake of telling others about Jesus. 

Although many Muslims may not be in as much danger as you were, what difficulties can they face if they're converting to Christianity?

Almost every single Muslim who converts to Christianity faces danger. Islam does not take kindly to those who become infidels. Christian converts also face the difficulty of losing both their cultural and family identities, which is made even harder if they’re refugees. It’s a massive sacrifice to turn your back on Islam, but millions are doing so. In the last two decades more Muslims have converted to Christianity than in the previous fourteen centuries combined. 

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