28 Mar Invited to Eternity
By Ramesh Wolf
My parents fell in love and were married in Iran. Like many Iranians, they were culturally Muslim but did not practice all the tenets of the faith. They loved America and my father went to university in Los Angeles. After their wedding in Iran, in 1978 they traveled to America for their honeymoon. While here, they were told not to return to Iran because a war had broken out, the Islamic Revolution. A honeymoon in the USA became a lifetime.
Six years later, we were living in Arizona where my father worked as a civil engineer. My childhood was incredibly happy, full of backyard adventures, Brownie-troop activities, and parents who deeply loved each other.
One day, our neighbor invited my mom to church. The neighbor wasn’t turned off by my mom being a Muslim, but simply extended the invitation. My mom attended the church and loved it. The church then asked my mom to be a Sunday school teacher and she was happy to step into that role, even though she was not yet a Christian!
As she shared this illustration, her eyes were opened to the God she’d been searching for her whole life.
On a particular Sunday, she was teaching the kids the bridge illustration where there are two cliffs, one side is you, the other side is God, and in between is a chasm that represents our sin and how that separates us from Him.
She explained to the kids that the only way to reach God across this chasm is via a bridge—the cross of Jesus Christ—by placing your faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of your sins. As she shared this illustration, her eyes were opened to the God she’d been searching for her whole life. She realized its truth and put her own trust in Jesus Christ.
Mom began attending church regularly, brought my sister, brother, and me, and eventually invited my dad to join us. He put away his Muslim prayer beads and gladly began attending church with us. I even remember how he held my hand during the services as we listened to the preacher.
God knew how badly my Mom would need her new faith when my dad and brother were killed by a drunk driver six months later.
When I lost my dad and brother, I also lost my childhood innocence. I believed in that God I’d heard about at church, and in heaven and hell, but I didn’t know the God of grace and forgiveness my mom had met. I believed Him to be a cosmic judge, looming over me and tallying up everything I did. At seven years old, I now believed my own death was imminent and unpredictable. My life goal became to be perfect, with the hopes that I’d be good enough for God to accept me into heaven so I could see my father and brother again.
This God didn’t stand over me like a cosmic judge. It was quite the opposite. The God of the Bible also suffered like our family had
This pursuit to save myself through being good was challenging. I never felt like I was succeeding, and after the accident I became a very sad, melancholy child. When I was fourteen, I met a young Iranian girl who was my age, named Jasmine (now Jasmine Smith who attends Northshore). She invited me to an Iranian church that was comprised mainly of Iranian families from a Muslim background like mine.
I was intrigued, because I had never met any other Iranian Christians before. I started attending their youth group and was taught from the book of Luke in the Bible. In God’s word I met and fell in love with Jesus. This God didn’t stand over me like a cosmic judge. It was quite the opposite. The God of the Bible also suffered like our family had. Except, He did it voluntarily. He chose to die on the cross and pay the price for all the sins I was trying so hard to be good enough to overcome. Because Jesus is God and perfect, He could do that. I also met a God who wanted to be more than my Savior, He wanted to be my Father. In the Bible, I read Psalm 68:5, that God is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.”
So, I decided to walk across that bridge from the illustration my mom had shared with those children years before. I needed to be saved from the pursuit of self-salvation. I was never going to be good enough to save myself; I needed a savior for my sin. I also needed to be saved from the fear of death. The Bible says Christ’s righteousness and holiness become ours if we believe in Him. Instead of fearing death, I can look forward to the day when God will welcome me to His side. Finally, I needed to be saved from fatherlessness.
So now, twenty-five years into my relationship with Christ, I’ve walked through other moments of pain aside from that accident. And I’ve walked with those who have suffered greater tragedies than mine. There isn’t a bow we can use to neatly tie up the pain in our stories, but we can take comfort in that we have a Savior who suffered much more than we did.
God in the flesh, Jesus Christ, traveled eternal lengths to meet us in our grieving and loss. And then on the cross He willingly bore the eternal weight of every single sin and burden you and I carry. And there’s our hope. Not that the pain will be completely erased in this life, but that it will be in the next, with Him in heaven. If we place our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, we will be saved from all of it, forever.
I’m grateful a neighbor invited my mom to church many years ago and that my friend Jasmine invited me to church too. God used them to introduce us to an eternity with a loving Savior and Father.
You can make a significant difference in someone’s life by inviting them to our Easter service. Visit our Easter site, download a shareable, and post it on your Facebook or Instagram profile.
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