One of the things I love most about Adventist-laymen’s Services and Industries (ASi) conventions is the opportunity to meet people who love the Lord and are actively involved in sharing Christ in their little sphere–or beyond. They are some of the most intriguing , lively, and compelling people you will meet!
During the first day of the recent ASi convention held in Orlando, Florida, I was privileged to meet Darius.* I overheard him saying that he had been a Muslim before the Lord led him to Christ and to the Adventist message, and I pressed in to hear more of his story.
I explained that, as a past ASi programming director, I might be able to share his story with the speaking schedule coordinators for next year’s convention. Providentially, the Lord opened the door for him and his brother to share their story at this year’s convention. I say “for him and his brother”—not just any brother, however! They are twins.
Darius and Shahbaz grew up in a wealthy Muslim home in Iran. Their family moved to New England for a time to secure education at a private school for some of the older children. After only one year the family returned to Iran, where the twins enrolled in a Seventh-day Adventist school.
From the time he was very young, Shahbaz hungered for God. When he was 7, he watched a film about Jesus, and this spoke deeply to his soul. It was his first encounter with Jesus, and he wondered why this good and kind man would come and die for this world.
From that time forward he was intrigued by the thought of Jesus and drawn to understand more. Once the family returned to Iran, his mother enrolled him and Darius in the Adventist school north of Tehran where he had a second encounter with Jesus in the chapel. God spoke to his heart, as He so often does with young people.
When turmoil broke out in Iran, the family returned to the United States, where they joined the older children who had remained there for their education. After moving to California, Shahbaz had a third encounter with Jesus, during which he cried out to Allah for an urgent answer to prayer, with no response. When he felt convicted to pray to Jesus, his prayer was quickly answered! He wondered why Jesus answered his prayer while Allah did not.
A fourth encounter occurred one morning as Shahbaz attempted to relieve a guilty conscience by praying for a long while to Allah and asking for forgiveness—but to no avail. He even beat his body to appease for his sins, but Allah never answered. In desperation he fell to the floor and threw aside all the “right” prayers and performances and poured out his heart to God.
It was at that moment that the Holy Spirit came close and filled the room with the presence of Jesus. As Shahbaz prayed, he was filled with incredible peace, love, mercy, and a sense of forgiveness. He knew that he had at last met the Saviour, the only one who could ease a guilty conscience and bring relief to a sin-stricken soul!
After that time Shahbaz began a search for the true church. In a dream God drew near and showed him the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He showed him the Sabbath, the Bible, and the Spirit of Prophecy, although he knew nothing of Ellen White and her gift.
Initially Darius was against his brother’s conversion. He and the rest of his siblings were angry and began to persecute Shahbaz for leaving the Muslim faith.
While talking with Darius at ASi, I was fascinated to learn what happened to change his mind and cause him to stop the persecution. God gave Darius and the other family members a dream—in fact, the same dream—that revealed to the entire family that Shahbaz was on the right path and that they were the ones who were wrong.
One Sabbath morning Shahbaz awoke Darius and invited him to go to church with him, but Darius had no interest in going. In fact, he was upset! He immediately fell back asleep, only to encounter a vivid dream in which he saw Jesus lovingly reprimanding him for not accepting his brother’s invitation.
Through God’s miraculous leading, Darius joined Shahbaz on his journey to Christianity, and today they are both faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Shahbaz is now an ordained Seventh-day Adventist minister. They were led by God to become involved in evangelistic ministry and Bible work, and together they founded Advent Lighthouse Ministries.
As Darius shared his story with me, I was excited to learn that over time, other relatives and friends have also responded to the Holy Spirit as these dear brothers faithfully witness for the Saviour. In fact, many of them have become followers of Jesus Christ, including a group of 17 who were baptized in a bathtub!
The Holy Spirit is giving many Muslim people visions and dreams to lead them to Christ. It made me realize that God is actively in pursuit, calling and preparing people of all faiths for His soon coming. Are we taking our message as seriously as other truth seekers around the globe?
If you have ever doubted God or His Word, or if you are a Seventh-day Adventist sitting in the pew wondering if you are where you need to be, let this story eradicate all your doubts and fears and affirm that indeed you are at the right place at the right time and in the right church!
My heartfelt appeal is that each one of us will stay in step with the Lord so that no one is left behind. God is clearly on the move! He wants you right there beside Him as He marches on. He wants no one left behind.
Editor’s Note: More on their story can be found in the book Two Sacrifices, One Destiny, from Remnant Publications.
* All names have been changed for anonymity.