Raised to hate, rescued by love

Born in Afghanistan but raised in Iran, Felix* learned hate from an early age.

His particular ethnic group was despised by the Taliban for not being the “right kind” of Muslim. His immigrant status set Felix apart from his neighbors, and he saw they hated him simply for his ethnicity. Because he was treated with such disdain, Felix quickly followed suit, harboring bitterness and hate in his heart toward his neighbors.

Later, as Felix spent time in prison, he channeled all of his hate toward those he blamed for his imprisonment. When released, he put a plan in motion to kill those he deemed responsible. His mother recognized his unhealthy emotions, and before he could carry out this horrible deed, she and other family members arranged for him to emigrate to Europe.

Felix’s hatred traveled with him, burdening him like a heavy backpack. He was so consumed with hatred that his body became physically sick and he was emotionally unstable and depressed. Doctors prescribed medications, but nothing could appease the root cause—the hatred and bitterness in his heart.

A friend told him that he could find peace at a Christian church. Desperate, Felix visited a Persian fellowship. As a devout Muslim, Felix believed in his heart that the teachings he heard in the meeting were false, but the peace he felt being there among Christians and hearing stories about Jesus kept pulling him back to the meetings.

Each week Felix would return and sit among the group, motionless and unable to make eye contact with anyone. He rarely spoke, and when he did, his voice was barely above a whisper. Still sick and emotionally wrecked, he finally unburdened his heart to one of the men in the group.

Felix learned that unless he put all of this hatred at the foot of the cross of Jesus, he would never experience full peace. That day he was ready to surrender. Felix trusted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. He repented of his hatred. It was as if that backpack full of hate and bitterness fell off of him and he stood up straight for the first time, free of his burden.

Today Felix is thriving in his walk with Jesus. He is a joy to spend time with and serves others faithfully.

When his church could no longer meet together in the spring due to COVID-19, Felix approached an IMB representative, asking if he could help start an online Bible study for his friends. Delighted, the representative and Felix formed a group. In a miracle only God can orchestrate, Felix now leads a weekly Bible study for Persians, the people he once vowed to harm.

Please pray for Felix, that he will continue to grow in his faith, transformed by the Holy Spirit. Ask God to use him to bless and strengthen the Persian church in his community

*Name changed for security