The Testimony and Defence of Mehdi Dibaj
Mehdi Dibaj’s Final Testament is an extraordinary document. An Iranian preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ he was arrested and spent nine years in an Iranian prison on the charge of apostasy. He was eventually tried before the Islamic courts in December 1993 where he displayed such bravery in giving this defence of the Christian message to the Ayatollahs. Due to pressure from human rights groups, Mehdi Dibaj was released the next month in January 1994. His freedom was short-lived. On June 24th he was returning from a conference to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. He never arrived for the party and on July 5th the authorities found his tortured and murdered body. The Islamic leadership in Iran could not allow such a Christian preacher to survive. They were too afraid of the consequences for the destruction of their power base.
Let us often read these words. They will put steel in our backbones. Let us often read these words to our congregations when we are speaking of God choosing us in the election of grace. In his nine solitary years in prison Mehdi Dibaj gained much comfort from the truth of God’s sovereignty. Let us often quote these words when we are preaching on the necessity God has given us of evangelizing and bearing testimony to Jesus Christ to all men without fear of the consequences. When the London Times columnist read these words he was so stirred that he printed it prominently in his column in the daily paper and millions read it. May it never go out of print. May thus we honour the memory of a very brave Christian man.
In the holy name of God who is our life and existence.
With all humility I express my gratitude to the Judge of all heaven and earth for this precious opportunity, and with brokenness I wait upon the Lord to deliver me from this court trial according to His promises. I also beg the honoured members of the court present to listen with patience to my defence and with respect for the Name of the Lord.
I am a Christian, a sinner who believes Jesus has died for my sins on the cross and who by His resurrection and victory over death, has made me righteous in the presence of the Holy God. The true God speaks about this fact in His Holy Word, the Gospel. Jesus means Saviour, ‘because He will save His people from their sins.’ Jesus paid the penalty of our sins by His own blood and gave us a new life so that we can live for the glory of God by the help of the Holy Spirit and be like a dam against corruption, be a channel of blessing and healing, and be protected by the love of God.
In response to this kindness, He has asked me to deny myself and be His fully surrendered follower, and not fear people, even if they kill my body. I have been charged with ‘Apostasy.’ The invisible God who knows our hearts has given assurance to us Christians that we are not among the apostates who will perish, but among the believers so we may save our lives. In Islamic law an apostate is one who does not believe in God, the prophets, or the resurrection of the dead. We Christians believe in all three!
They say, ‘You were a Muslim and you have become a Christian.’ No, for many years I had no religion. After searching and studying I accepted God’s call and I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to receive eternal life. People choose their religion, but a Christian is chosen by Christ. He says, ‘You have not chosen me but I have chosen you.’ From when? Before the foundation of the world. People say, ‘You were a Muslim from your birth.’ God says, ‘You were a Christian from the beginning.’ He states that He chose us thousands of years ago, even before the creation of the universe, so that through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ we may be His! A Christian means one who belongs to Jesus Christ.
The eternal God, who sees the end from the beginning and who has chosen me to belong to Him, knew from everlasting whose heart would be drawn to Him and who would be willing to sell their faith and eternity for a pot of porridge.
I would rather have the whole world against me, but know the Almighty God is with me; be called an apostate, but know I have the approval of the God of glory.
The Almighty God will raise up anyone He chooses and bring down others, accept some and reject others; send some to heaven and others to hell. Now because God does whatever He desires, who can separate us from the love of God? Or who can destroy the relationship between the Creator and the creature.
Our refuge is the mercy seat of God who is exalted from the beginning! I know in whom I have believed, and He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him to the end, until I reach the Kingdom of God, the place where the righteous shine like the sun, but where the evil-doers will receive their punishment in hell fire.
They tell me, ‘Return!’ But from the arms of my God, who can I return to? Is it right to accept what people are saying instead of obeying the Word of God? It is now 45 years that I am walking with the God of miracles, and His kindness upon me is like a shadow and I owe Him much for His fatherly love and concern.
The love of Jesus has filled all my being and I feel the warmth of His love in every part of my body. God, who is my glory and honour and protector, has put His seal of approval upon me through His unsparing blessings and miracles. The good and kind God reproves and punishes all those whom He loves. He tests them in preparation for heaven. The God of Daniel, who protected His friends in the fiery furnace, has protected me for nine years in prison and all the bad happenings have turned out for our good and gain, so much so that I am filled to overflowing with joy and thankfulness.
The God of Job has tested my faith and commitment in order to strengthen my patience and faithfulness. During those nine years He has freed me from all my responsibilities so that under the protection of His blessed Name I would spend my time in prayer and study of His Word, with heart-searching and brokenness, and grow in the knowledge of my Lord. I praise the Lord for this unique opportunity. ‘You gave me space in my confinement, my difficult hardships brought healing and your kindness revived me.’ Oh what great blessings God has in store for those who fear Him!
They object to my evangelising. But, ‘If you find a blind person near a well and keep silent then you have sinned’ [a Persian proverb]. It is our religious duty, as long as the door of God’s mercy is open, to convince evil-doers to turn from their sinful ways and find refuge in Him in order to be saved from the wrath of a Righteous God and from the coming dreadful punishment.
Jesus Christ says, ‘I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved.’ ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’ Among the prophets of God, only Jesus Christ rose from the dead and He is our living intercessor forever.
He is our Saviour and He is the Son of God. To know Him means to know eternal life. I, a useless sinner, have believed in His beloved person and all His words and miracles recorded in the Gospel, and I have committed my life into his hands. Life for me is an opportunity to serve him and death is a better opportunity to be with Christ. Therefore I am not only satisfied to be in prison for the honour of His Holy Name, but am ready to give my life for the sake of Jesus my Lord and enter His kingdom sooner, the place where the elect of God enter to everlasting life, but the wicked to eternal damnation.
May the shadow of God’s kindness and His hand of blessing and healing be upon you and remain for ever. Amen.
Your Christian prisoner.
Mehdi Dibaj (1934-1994)
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