I remember I was small child and my sweet mom and teaching me “Shema Yisrael”. I went to a Jewish school in Tehran – learning Hebrew, English, Farsi. They talked more about faith and what it is to know who this God is, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I remember every night praying the Shema and then just openly talking to God. In our family, things were going wrong. My parents were out of sorts, fighting with each other. I had a tremendous ear ache and I remember my grandmother telling my dad “You need to bring the lamb, a sheep. And have the rabbi come and say Bracha (a blessing) and sacrifice the lamb. We gathered around and we laid hands on the sheep. The rabbi prayed in Hebrew. And I’ll always distinctively remember that was for our wounds, for our sins. The minute that he slaughtered the lamb, something amazing happened. My ear-ache wake went away.
It was a big prestige thing in Iran for the kids to come to America and I was fortunate enough that I was able to come here. I went to an American school – just a whole new world. I felt like I could do anything I wanted to do – my parents weren’t looking over my shoulder and I didn’t have to be accountable to anybody. I still remember that there’s a ten commandments that said somewhere in there “do not commit adultery” and things like this. But I thought to myself, maybe that’s really for the old people.
I’m a software developer by trade. In collaboration with some friends on the side, we started working on the business project. Some of the business contacts that we have were people of faith. I love the strength of their faith and the way they talked about this man Jesus, it’s as if he was God himself and that was really offensive to me. And one thing that challenged me is that they knew my Jewish Bible better than I did. You know having heard all these debates in my head and friends, and obviously reading articles, books, archaeology and so on and so forth, well Moses did this and Jesus did this and Muhammad did this. You know what? I really need to go to the source. I’m gonna go read the Jewish Bible. One thing I had realized is as I was reading the Torah, it was amazing to me that when the Jewish people went through what they witnessed with God opening the sea, and went through and they saw these unusual happenings, that Moses himself says “You were all witnesses. You saw these things. Your children haven’t seen him but you saw, just remember this.” Yet they forgot about it and for 40 years we just spun around the desert over and over and over and I thought to myself “Is it possible that last time it was 40 years, now it’s 2000 years? They’ve been spinning around this world, chasing their own tails and trying to figure out what’s up.” And sure enough, as I start reading this passage Isaiah 53 and it starts talking about how this man died for our sins and he was bruised, and through his stripes we are healed. It talked about how like a lamb, he was taken to sacrifice, like a lamb, like that same sheep dad brought to our yard.
One thing that occurred to me as I talked to the rabbi and the rabbi said “How could God become a human being?” and it occurred to me “If God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who’s that powerful God who opened the sea, if he could do that, who am I to say that he wanted to show up in the form of a human being on earth, who am I to stop him? I kept telling myself “You know what? He is the Messiah. He’s not a Gentile. He’s Jewish.” It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Once I read that passage, it was like “Okay, basically it sealed the deal. He’s the Messiah and I believed it.”
I never wanted to hurt my family so I stayed silent. Then a short while ago, something happened that turned me upside down again. My own son was driving back from his internship program – a long distance. That night we were waiting for him at home. Nine o’clock is when we were expecting him. We get a knock on the door to police – its the police, our local police. He said “Your son has been taken, has been flown to a hospital.” We went down not knowing what to expect. Because as far as they knew, there there was brain injury. But I do remember it’s praying to God and asking him “God you have to give him back to us, whole.” Each hour, we saw an improvement to the point that by the third or fourth day, God brought this child back to us. What that did reminded me of a story about a young girl – 12 year old – whom the family and friends thought she was dead. And this man who ran a synagogue chased down, found this teacher who was known in the region north of Israel at the time and begged him “Come and heal my daughter.” And this man went down to this other man’s house and raised the little girl back to life. The man whose daughter was healed could not shut up anymore. I love my family but I can’t shut up about who this Jesus is anymore. This Jesus healed my son, brought him back to life. He was good, gracious to watch over my son when I couldn’t and I didn’t know. I feel like that man, his daughter was healed. I can’t shut up anymore. I have to tell the story.