Believers Like Tina – Persecuted for their Faith
“Your visit was a really special day in our life, thank you for all your kindness and love that you gave us. We could not sleep. Also say thanks for all the people who did help us behind the scenes. This is our destiny and meant to happen. This is the work of Jesus Christ.”
HURRICANE by Marc Andre
Tina and Makan Arya shared their feelings and emotions, while two Open Doors (OD) colleagues (Gary and Michelle) visited them in their new environment outside Iran.
Makan (31), Tina (28) and their daughter Odzhan (5) escaped Iran a few weeks ago, and they were willing to share their story more in detail. Gary, from OD says: “When we arrived at their new place, Makan and his daughter Odzhan ran into us. ‘We are happy,’ he said over and over again. They feel safe, being away from all the pressure and stress in Iran. We took a Farsi Bible and Christian lecture with us and all the letters people wrote to them. It was hard to get this mail into Iran, because of security issues. Tina and Makan were so happy to see so many people caring for them! As she started to open the mail, the first card said: Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. As Tina read this, her eyes started to tear. ‘This is the scripture I hold on to,’ she said. ‘God is speaking to me. I know Jesus is near all the time.’”
Their little daughter Odzhan was so happy to see all the paintings and letters children made for her. She couldn’t wait to open them all.
Michelle continues: “After a while we took off and spent time together to talk, to pray, to encourage. We were walking along the water when suddenly Tina stopped. She was not able to walk any further. I asked her: ‘What is wrong?’ She showed me her knees. They were full of scars and her knee was not functioning anymore since the tortures back in June 2008. The police humiliated her badly. We sat down near the shoreline. Tina shared that her parents told her they never want to see her again and that she is no longer their daughter. Again, her eyes were filled with tears when she told me this.”
Gary adds: “Both are coming from a strong religious Muslim background, but firstly Tina came to know Jesus as her Saviour. A friend gave Tina a Bible. At first she didn’t want to accept it, since she was a Muslim and Muslims believe the Bible to be ‘haram,’ corrupted and so impure. But she accepted the Bible and started reading it. Then Jesus appeared to her in a dream and He told her to go to a certain church. When she went there, she found that the church was closed for several days.
“Yet, a woman appeared. She said that God told her to go to the church, although she did not know why. When she met Tina there, she knew. For security reasons, churches in Iran are quite reluctant to involve themselves with Muslim who now claim that they follow Jesus. They talked and the woman helped Tina find a place where she could meet other believers for fellowship. Tina accepted Jesus.”
Within three months of accepting Christ as their saviour, Tina Rad and her husband, Makan Arya, were arrested in June 2008, held in custody and then physically and mentally tortured for four days.
Kept in an unknown jail, they were badly bruised from the beatings. Tina Rad was so ill because of the abuse that she could no longer walk. The Iranian authorities also forced them to leave their four-year-old daughter Odzhan Arya at home, unattended, and threatened to put her in an institution.
Both were told that they killed their spouse and that they would never see their daughter again. Tina was also told that if she continued attending a house church and holding Bible studies, she could be imprisoned for a very long time. An officer also told Tina that authorities could conduct a drug case against them, and then they would be punished as drug smugglers. Tina and her husband were released on bail of US$50,000 and they were forced to sign a statement that they would not go back to their house church, and that they would have no further contact with other Iranian Christians.
Shortly after their release, they went to the hospital. The police once again raided their house. Someone informed them and they were able to escape just in time. With their daughter Odzhan they went to a secret place and hid themselves for almost one year. Tina and her daughter stayed inside the whole time as Makan was working. This caused them a lot of stress.
They tried to escape because their life was no longer safe and the pressure on the family was too big. The escape was successful and during the whole trip God protected them. This is the first time for them to be outside Iran. The trip was very stressful. When they arrived, Odzhan was not able to sleep or eat for three days.
Coming into another country, in a refugee camp with many people of all kinds of cultures, was firstly overwhelming. But now they are very happy and they see God’s hand in all of this. Even on their door there are Bible scriptures painted by a former asylum seeker. They are attending a local church.
Michelle ends: “Tina and Makan would like to stay where they are right now, but they are in the middle of a refugee and asylum process, and they do not know yet what the outcome of the procedure will be. When it is positive, they can stay, but when it is negative, they probably have to return to Iran. They are so afraid for that, because then they most probably will be killed. Please continue to pray for them, especially for a quick and positive outcome of the asylum procedure.”