My name is Ziba. I was born in 1975 in Iran into a Muslim family.
They never practiced Islam, but as the country is a religious one, I lived with what Islam offers through society and school.
I was always bothered by the huge segregation between men and women and how I was a second class citizen in the eyes of Islam. I’ve never been a religious person but always remembered my mum saying "Be with God and live as a king, be without God and live as whatever.” This saying always touched me and I believed in a god, but not the god of Islam or any other faith.
When I was 13 I fell in love with my uncle’s friend. He was the most handsome boy in our town but a lot older than me so I never confessed my love to him. I was a high school student and he was going through his second year of Medicine. After I graduated from high school my family decided to send me to the UK to carry on with my study. I was hoping that this handsome prince of my dreams would come forward and propose and that we would start a beautiful life together. But, he didn’t. So I left for the UK, heartbroken.
I came to England after finishing high school in 1995 and soon after that my mum and sisters joined me. My mum became friends with an Iranian christian lady who introduced her to an Iranian church. Amazingly, after a year my mum became a christian and was baptised. I used to go to church with her but I just could't understand why God would want to become a man and die on a cross for me.
I struggled with two things. The first was the problem of sin; as far as I was concerned I didn’t do anything bad enough to need saving from my sin. Secondly, I couldn’t understand how I could be so precious to God that He would die for me. I couldn't fathom why God would do that for me! Surely He must be too busy with lots of other holy people to waste His time on me!
After three years of living in the UK, out of nowhere the man I'd loved for so long suddenly proposed to me and within one month we were married.
For a short time, life couldn't have been better, but sadly I had dreamed of living a life with this man for so long that I had lost touch with the reality of marriage. Nobody ever told me how hard it was and how upsetting it can be. Life with him turned out to be bitterly disappointing and after seven long years of being married to the man that I worshipped, I decided to get a divorce.
Our daughter, Tara, was only a year old and my life was in complete darkness. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. My mum, who was going to another Iranian church by this time suggested to me to go with her to church, so I did. This time I was not a 19 year old girl who was full of life and laughter. I was broken, mentally and physically. I saw myself as a complete failure. I had wasted most of my life dreaming of something which didn’t exist. It had been a mirage all along.
I had completed the divorce forms and my husband and I agreed to all terms and conditions. I was to send the forms on a Monday. The Sunday before, I went to church. That day I heard in the sermon that “God is close to you. He sees you. He is with you. Standing by the door of your heart knocking. If you open He will enter…”
As I was hearing these words I started crying very quietly and in my heart I said to Him: "If you do exist and if you are really who these people say you are, surely you can see me and my life. Neither I, nor my husband, and definitely not my daughter, deserve this life. Do something. Show yourself to me!” This was my conversation with God.
That night I had a dream that the angel Gabriel came to me and whispered in my ear “Give yourself two months”. He repeated this sentence three times and then disappeared.
I woke up confused and shocked. I couldn't understand my dream, so immediately I rang my mum and told her about it. She suggested I talk to her pastor. At first I refused because I was desperate to hand in my divorce papers that morning, but my mum convinced me to talk to him. So, I went to see him and told him everything.
To my amazement he told me “I think you should get a divorce. There is nothing more you can do for this life.” I was in absolute shock. How could a man of God suggest such a thing! But then he went on saying “This is the suggestion that anyone who heard your story would give you. But I know the power of God and I have seen the work of God in my life and the life of so many others. Give yourself the two months that was told to you in your dream. You have lived this life for seven years, do you think you can carry on for two more months? Do you put your trust in God?”
I was completely lost and broken and without direction so I decided to listen to him. I delayed sending the papers for another two months. At the pastor’s suggestion, I planned a prayer list for those two months and I started praying at 9pm each night for different things.
However, during those two months everything went from bad to worse.
I couldn't wait for the last day to be over so I could go and hand in my papers to the court. The last Sunday I went to church the pastor asked me if there had been any change. My response was ‘no’ as always. I told him that I couldn’t wait for tomorrow. He gently tapped my shoulder and said “The two months is not over until midnight.” What was he talking about?!
If God didn't do anything to fix my marriage in the past two months, how could He do something in a few hours before midnight?!
At this point in our marriage it had been six months since my husband and I had spoken. He's a very proud man and I thought there was no way he would ever be the one to reach out to me.
The very last night after I put my daughter to bed, my mind was reeling. My marriage was over. God didn't listen to me. Had He ever existed in the first place? What was going to happen to my daughter? What am I going to do with my future?
Suddenly, in the midst of all this mess in my head, at exactly 9pm I heard a knock on my bedroom door! I couldn't believe it. It was my husband! He wanted to speak to me for the first time in six months. I asked him to wait for me downstairs.
It was at that amazing moment on the 14th December 2007 at 9pm that I saw God changing my life.
I could literally FEEL His amazing and calming presence in my room. I kneeled on the floor, crying with joy and shame.
He had revealed Himself to me and I was experiencing Him with all of my senses. I was ashamed that it had taken this for me to meet Him and that I hadn't met Him all those years ago when I was going with my mum to church, but none of it mattered anymore. God was there.
I went downstairs and my husband asked me what my plan was and why he hadn’t received the divorce papers to sign. I told him everything that had happened.
I told him that I didn’t want a divorce, but that if he wanted to live with me he should accept my new life with Jesus. I told him that his life and our daughter’s life will be blessed because in that moment I had complete faith in God. To my amazement he said ‘yes’ and from that day to now we have been blessed and blessed and blessed. I had asked God to save me and use me for His glory and on the 1st July 2007 I was baptised with seven members of my family.
God has done amazing work in our lives. I love my husband even more now than when I was a little 13 year old girl. God grew some amazing qualities in both of us over the years. As a result I am more loving, caring, passionate and patient (I still need more work in this department!).
Please pray for my husband’s salvation. He is an amazing man and I would love to share my faith with him in this life and for an eternity in the presence of God. Also, please pray for our daughter to have a relationship with God.
God bless you.