Horror stories of Christians under persecution aren’t hard to come by. But let this, the written defence of Rev Mehdi Dibaj delivered to an Iranian court in 1993, challenge you to stand firm in the faith
With all humility I express my gratitude to the Judge of all heaven and earth for this precious opportunity, and with brokenness I wait upon the Lord to deliver me from this court trial according to his promises. I also beg the honoured members of the court who are present to listen with patience to my defence and with respect for the name of the Lord.
I am a Christian. As a sinner I believe Jesus has died for my sins on the cross and by his resurrection and victory over death, has made me righteous in the presence of the Holy God. The true God speaks about this fact in his Holy Word, the Bible.
Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by his own blood and gave us a new life, so that we can live for the glory of God by the help of the Holy Spirit and be like a dam against corruption, be a channel of blessing and healing, and be protected by the love of God.
In response to this kindness, he has asked me to deny myself and be his fully surrendered follower, and not to fear people, even if they kill my body, but rather to rely on the Creator of life who has crowned me with a crown of mercy and compassion.
I have been charged with ‘apostasy’. The invisible God who knows our hearts has given assurance to us, as Christians, that we are not among the apostates, who will perish, but among the believers who will have eternal life.
In Islamic Law, an apostate is one who does not believe in God, the prophets or the resurrection of the dead, We Christians believe in all three!
They say, “You were a Muslim and you have become a Christian.” This is not so. For many years I had no religion. After searching and studying, I accepted God’s call and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to receive eternal life.
People choose their religion, but a Christian is chosen by Christ. He says, “You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.” (John 15:16). The eternal God who sees the end from the beginning and who has chosen me to belong to him, knew from the beginning those whose hearts would be drawn to him and also those who would be willing to sell their faith and eternity for a pot of porridge.
I would rather have the whole world against me, but know that the Almighty God is with me. I would rather be called an apostate, but know that I have the approval of the God of glory, because man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. For him who is God for all eternity, nothing is impossible. All power in heaven and on earth is in his hands.
The Almighty God will raise up anyone he chooses and bring down others; accept some and reject others; send some to heaven and others to hell. Now, because God does whatever he desires, who can separate us from the love of God? Or who can destroy the relationship between the Creator and the creature or defeat a life that is faithful to his Lord?
The love of Jesus has filled all my being and I feel the warmth of his love in every part of my body. God, who is my glory and honour and protector, has put his seal of approval upon me through his unsparing blessings and miracles.
This test of faith is a clear example. The good and kind God reproves and punishes all those whom he loves. He tests them in preparation for heaven. The God of Daniel, who protected his friends in the fiery furnace, has protected me for nine years in prison. All the bad happenings have turned out for our good and gain, so much so that I am filled to overflowing with joy and thankfulness.
The God of Job has tested my faith and commitment in order to increase my patience and faithfulness. During these nine years he has freed me from all my responsibilities so that under the protection of his blessed name, I would spend my time in prayer and study of his Word, with a searching heart and with brokenness, and grow in the knowledge of my Lord. I praise the Lord for this unique opportunity. God gave me space in my confinement, brought healing in my difficult hardships and his kindness revived me. Oh what great blessings God has in store for those who fear him!
They object to my evangelising. But if one finds a blind person who is about to fall into a well and keeps silent then one has sinned. It is our religious duty, as long as the door of God’s mercy is open, to convince evildoers to turn from their sinful ways and find refuge in him in order to be saved from the wrath of the Righteous God and from the coming dreadful punishment.
To know Jesus means to know eternal life. I, a useless sinner, have believed in this beloved person and all his words and miracles recorded in the Gospels, and I have committed my life into his hands.
Life, for me, is an opportunity to serve him, and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ. Therefore, I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honour of his holy name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus, my Lord, and enter his kingdom sooner, the place where the elect of God enter everlasting life, but the wicked enter into eternal damnation.
May the shadow of God’s kindness and his hand of blessing and healing be and remain upon you for ever. Amen.
With respect, Your Christian prisoner, Mehdi Dibaj
Rev Mehdi Dibaj was born into a Muslim family and became a Christian. On December 21, 1993, an Islamic court condemned him to death for being guilty of apostasy. Due to global outrage, Reverend Dibaj was released on January 16, 1994. Five months later, he was abducted and martyred.