The stories of Muslim women who have escaped the war-torn Middle East and ISIS caliphate can only be likened to Hollywood’s most graphic horror films. After enduring second-class status, surviving domestic abuse and escaping Iran only to suffer in a Turkish prison, Annahita Parsan has staked her claim in Sweden, converted to Christianity and now shepherds other to Jesus.
The mother of two had virtually no personal or religious freedom under Iran’s hard-line Muslim regime. But now in Sweden, she has embraced the Gospel of Jesus Christ and emerged as a prominent person of faith. Her spiritual, emotional and geographic journey read like the trials of Job.
She risked her very life by making the pilgrimage away from religious and gender oppression to the European country. Many would be grateful for a new life in a free society and live out their days quietly. Not so with Parsan. She continues to put her self in harm’s way by reaching out to disenfranchised Muslims and leading them to the peaceful and loving teachings of Jesus.
She has even published a memoir called “Stranger No More: A Muslim Refugee Story of Harrowing Escape, Miraculous Rescue and the Quiet Call of Jesus.”
“My life is completely different since coming to Jesus,” the 47-year-old reportedly said.
Raised in the Isfahan region of Iran, she was married off at 16 years old. She brought her first child into the world soon after Ayatollah Khomeini seized power following Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979. At 18, her husband was tragically killed and the authoritarian Islamic state forced her to hand her young son over to her deceased husband’s father under Iranian law. She stood her ground, regaining custody and later remarrying in hopes of a loving relationship.
“After two years, I decided to marry again. His situation was like mine. His wife had died,” Parsan said. “But soon, he began beating my son very badly. I was pregnant again, and it was impossible for me to divorce.”
As the Iran-Iraq war broke out, her violent husband forced her and her two children to trek across the mountains into Turkey during winter. As illegal immigrants, Turkish authorities imprisoned the entire family. After being released into Istanbul, it took nine months to garner enough money to travel to Denmark. In Scandinavia, the roots of Parsan’s spiritual rebirth took hold.
“In about the first or second month there, a woman came to the door to speak about God. But it was not in my interest,” Parsan recalled. “I was so angry. I was so unhappy. But she came back the next day with a small Bible, so this time I asked Jesus to help me.”
She hid the Bible from her husband.
Unfortunately, after a brutal assault by her spouse during Christmas, she tried to commit suicide. As she miraculously recovered from the sleeping pill overdose, her spiritual awakening became complete.
“I was too scared to go home, and the police came to the hospital to talk to me. Many people were helping me find a safe place to live, and I knew it was Jesus,” she reportedly said. “And soon, the police called to tell me that they had uncovered a plot in which my abusive husband had planned to kidnap the children back to Iran. After that, we moved to Sweden, and the policeman told me that I have an angel on my shoulder.”
Two years later, she was baptized and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She recalls experiencing a sense of calm, a piece of mind she had never enjoyed before. In 2006, she escaped a terrifying car wreck and recognized God had spared her for a higher calling. After years of intensive Bible study, she became an ordained minister in 2012 and began bringing Muslims into the Christian faith.
Once a second-class female in a hard-line Muslim nation, married off, beaten and imprisoned, Parsan leads a pair of Swedish congregations. To her credit, she has helped more than 1,500 souls take Jesus Christ into their hearts. Many are Farsi-speaking Middle East refugees who must keep their conversion and baptism secret for fear of violence or death from radical Islamists. And, Parsan lives with their same dangers every day because of her ministry.
“I have other threats from my own distant family members,” she reportedly said. “I hope people out there who have lost their faith, will maybe hear my story and be inspired to come back.”
~ 1776 Christian