“Muslims – we think of them as some crazy people that drop bombs and blow themselves up and that's just what the world thinks of them .... But my goal is to help people understand that Muslims are anything but that," says former Hezbollah soldier Afshin Javid on Youtube.
Afshin was a fervent Muslim who joined the militant terrorist group as a young teen but came to realize that the path he was on was the wrong one.
"My grandfather was a Muslim leader," Afshin admits, "and my father was part of the movement of the Revolution of the Islamic Republic in Iran. I was the one that was most devout.
"I didn't think that just praying and fasting was enough so I joined Hezbollah. I served in that army for three years."
Never before had Afshin questioned what he believed in ... until he was arrested and jailed in Malaysia for carrying illegal passports.
"[In prison] I would just mediate on the verses of the Koran," Afshin recalls, "But once, as I was doing that, I felt a fear filling my heart. I could literally feel the presence of a spirit. This spirit immediately made me feel like my life was in danger. So I started to rebuke it in the name of Allah and I cried out in my own native language and said, 'God, help me!'
"The moment I said that ... I heard a voice which replied, 'In the Name of Jesus'. The words that came out of my mouth next, sounded, without thinking, 'Jesus, if you are true – show me yourself.' Before I was finished with the sentence that spirit had run away.
"That is, basically, how my story began. It is not my story of conversion but the beginning of my confusion."
This confusion came about because although Jesus is considered as a holy prophet in Islam, He is not someone Muslims pray to or call upon.
In the weeks that followed, Afshin's confusion grew.
"I had lots of questions in my head," he admits, "How could Jesus help me? How could Jesus' Name have chased the spirit away? So I asked, and prayed, and fasted that He would show me what way He would like me to follow Him.
"Two weeks passed and I had no answer," he says, "and when I didn't get any answer or get any signs, I was really upset. In our mind, we [Muslims] are different, we are very passionate people, we pour our hearts out, and we would give our lives up for someone we love.
"And because I had given up everything and I had not heard an answer, it made me very angry.
"So in rage, I yelled at God and said, 'You do not exist'."
As a Muslim, denouncing Allah is an unforgivable sin.
"Suddenly I felt the whole room fill with the holy presence of God," Afshin continues soberly, "It is as if time has stopped! You know things about God without Him ever saying anything to you. The first thing I knew about Him was His Holiness. I knew that I was unholy. I knew I had sins in my life and He was just and He must judge me. Because of His justice, I deserved death – in spite of all the good things I've done in my life. All this was going simultaneously through my heart when, right at that moment, I felt a touch on my left shoulder.
"I heard a voice that said, 'I forgive you.' I did not understand how that could be possible! So I replied, 'Who are you that forgives me?' And the voice answered, 'I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' I'd never heard those words before so I asked, 'What is Your Name?' He told me, 'Jesus Christ, the Living God.'
"I fell onto the floor and just wept."
After this, Afshin eagerly shared with his fellow prisoners what had happened to him. Some mocked, others followed him to faith.
But Afshin knew that he needed more than his story so he prayed earnestly for a Bible. The answer came through a fellow prisoner.
"He reached from his bag and handed me a book," Afshin relates, "I looked at it. There was nothing written on the cover but I knew it was what I'd asked for. I ran back to my room, thanked God, and kissed it. But when I opened it, it was in a language I couldn't read. So I thought, 'Well – thank You for the Bible, but You've sent me the wrong language – I cannot read this.'"
Afshin says that he felt the Lord speaking to him, telling him to read.
"As I looked upon the page, the words came alive and I could read and understand."
The Bible was written in English, a language he did not know then but one he preaches in today.
Afshin has never shied away from sharing the Gospel, although, on a few occasions, it has nearly cost him his life.
"I pray and God answers," he proclaims, "My heart is for Muslims. My ministry is more than just sharing my story, it is encouraging others to share theirs.
"We need to share our personal stories about meeting Jesus! If a Muslim person is in your life, it is because they need to hear your story. They should look at your life and say, 'I want the same relationship with God as you have'."
Afshin has also written a book called, Easy as Drinking Water. It is a Persian saying which he says pertains to the forgiveness he felt from Jesus that day in his jail cell. He says that there are so many others out there that are thirsty for that kind of forgiveness and hope.
"[They] are crying out because they are thirsty! They are thirsty for life! And Jesus is the Living Water. [Christians] are the bearers, out of us shall pour out the Living Water. But if we are afraid of them, we won't go close enough. Should I be the rock in their desert and should Jesus flow out of me, their thirst will be satisfied."•