Stories of 2018: The long journey from Tehran
IT’S A LONG way from Tehran to Narrabundah.
At age 17, while still in high school in Iran, Steve* began to become interested in Jesus, mainly through reading the Bible and other books about the Christian faith.
At the time he was a devout Muslim, well-schooled in all its teachings.
He knew that if his interest in Jesus was found out, his life could be in danger.
He says he had an experience of seeing Jesus and hearing his name called and that his interest in Christianity deepened over the years.
Many years later because of his work, he was tried and convicted of not supporting the Muslim regime.
He was sentenced to 5 years’ hard labour and placed in the infamous Tehran prison, Evin.
Many of those sent to Evin are not seen again.
By God’s grace, Steve, was granted an appeal, and released after lodging his house as surety for bail. The appeal was to be held in eight days.
He was able to arrange air tickets out of Iran, and transport by boat from Indonesia to Australia.
He fled knowing that he would be incarcerated with little chance of living to the end of his sentence, and that his house was forfeit to the regime.
After three days and two nights in a small boat, he and 66 other refugees arrived at Christmas Island around Christmas 2013.
All this time, he continued to study Christianity in secret.
After living in Christmas Island, Darwin, and Adelaide, he arrived in Canberra in January 2015 and was
given accommodation by the Christian Brothers.
Two years later was taken in by a family connected to St Benedict’s Narrabundah.
He asked to be taken to Church, and after a little period, announced that he wanted to become Catholic.
“I can feel God is there, and there is much happiness and joy,” he said of the Mass.
His host family is taking him through the instruction leading to his Baptism.
Every lesson is a challenge in communication as he comes to terms with his new language.
Many of the concepts in the Christian faith are very different from what he grew up with as a Muslim, but with patience and perseverance, his love for and understanding of the Catholic faith is growing.
He is looking forward to his upcoming Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter, and his future life as a Catholic.