Padina was ready to kill herself and take her seriously ill mother with her.
The Iranian woman was struggling with severe depression, the pain and shame of a failed marriage to a bigamist and caring for her mother, who was deathly ill with multiple sclerosis. Desperate for the peace and joy that eluded her in life, Padina hoped she would find them in death.
Padina grew up in Iran and was a devout Muslim. "I thought if I could do all the things Allah demanded he would answer my prayers, give me peace, and someday allow me to enter his paradise," she says.
"I hated Christians and was very happy when I found out they were being persecuted. We were always told if we killed a Christian we had a one-way ticket to heaven."
When she was 18, Padina married Navid, setting the stage for a long and rocky relationship with a man who spent more of his time overseas with his other wife than with Padina.
Padina was shattered when she discovered Navid was married to someone else and turned to her faith hoping to find comfort. "At the end of my day, I would do my prayer beads, say my five prayers and fall into bed, only to do it all over again the next day but my depression worsened," she says.
It was around this time she became friends with a Christian nurse she worked with. Padina noticed this girl seemed different and asked her about her religion.
The girl told her about her faith in Jesus Christ and Padina's interest was piqued. She began watching televised church services and read a Bible she kept hidden. She even prayed to Jesus occasionally and received answers to her prayers, but stayed loyal to Allah.
It was not until Navid asked her for a divorce that she hit rock bottom. "When he said he didn't want me anymore, I couldn't speak," Padina says. "I'd invested 10 years of my life in him. That's the night I decided to end it all."
Padina's attempt to end her life was stopped by her mother. "You can make me stop this time but I'll try again," she told her mother.
Padina was so bent on suicide she stopped watching the Christian programs, praying and reading her Bible. She convinced herself Jesus had done nothing for her and she would serve Allah this one last time by taking her own life.
This time, her mother did not try to stop her. This time, she asked Padina to kill her as well.
As Padina got the pills out, her mother tuned into an illegal Christian broadcast. A pastor was speaking about Jesus: He said: "If you're planning to kill yourself, the Lord says, 'Stop.' He has a hope and a future for you. Stop and call me right now."
Padina's mother rang the pastor and within half an hour had committed her life to Jesus Christ. She tried to give the phone to Padina who took it reluctantly, and when she spoke to the pastor it was only to say: "I'm going to kill myself and your Jesus cannot do anything for me."
"Give Jesus just one chance," the pastor pleaded. "You can always kill yourself next week."
Padina agreed, but resolved to just go through the motions. "I will pretend to invite Jesus for one week into my life," she thought. "I can embarrass Jesus and Christianity for the false religion it is. In one week, I will call this television program and kill myself live on the program. That will disgrace the God of the infidels."
However, the next morning, Padina was astonished to see her mother walking. She took her to the hospital and was told by a doctor that a miracle had occurred. "There is nothing wrong with her," the doctor said. "She has been cured. Which imam (Muslim leader) did you pray to?"
"It wasn't an imam," Padina replied. "It was Jesus Christ."
The next time Padina called the pastor, it was not to kill herself but to commit her life to Jesus. "I cried and prayed and turned away from my sins," she says. "I had a faith in Christ that could not be moved. I finally knew Jesus Christ had saved me. I could risk being happy."
Padina is now a leader in Iran's underground church. She has a zeal to tell others about Jesus. "I could sit right there and show them that I have what they want. I know the scriptures of the Koran. I've done all the things they do. I've prayed all the prayers they pray. I did it all, but found no peace from Allah or from Islam.
"I would tell them to test Jesus, to see what He will do in their lives. I would love to tell all the people of Iran about the beautiful Jesus I have seen.
"I want to give my whole life to Christ. I want to surrender everything to Him. I no longer worry about who will do what to me. God has replaced my nightmares with a vision for myself and for other people."•
Padina's story is told in the Voice of the Martyr's book, "IRAN: Desperate for God," available at www.VOMBooks.com.