In the autumn, Jaleh, a quiet, rather sullen woman, arrived at an Elam conference. Nobody knew that when she was fourteen she had been raped as a punishment for joining a school protest; that when she told the authorities they had whipped her for immorality; that her father had then repeatedly abused her; as did other relatives. Nobody knew shame had driven Jaleh to the streets to work as a prostitute, nor of all the babies aborted from her womb. All that was known was that she had recently become a Christian through a house church and had a husband who was scornful towards her new faith. At the end of the conference, apart from one leader, this woman’s past was still private. But what everyone knew, just from her face, was that she had had an encounter with Jesus Christ. Here Jaleh tells her story:
A few months after I became a Christian I went to a conference just for women. Their stories encouraged me, but I started to worry about why He never spoke to me, or came into my dreams. I decided they were better than me. I was not worthy enough for Him to get near to me. Until now my past was a complete secret, but I decided to share with one of the ladies leading the conference. I told her everything and then asked for a glimpse of Jesus in my dream. The lady did not promise a dream, but kept on reassuring me of God’s love for me. For the next few nights I slept, expecting to see Jesus. He did not come. I thought that it was because of my past. I was not good enough. A painful darkness grew inside me, and even during even during this conference, I thought of running away and going back to prostitution.
Again I went to the leader and asked for prayer to dream about Jesus. She was happy to pray, but was firm about the dream. “You cannot box God in. It is up to Him how He reveals Himself to you.” We prayed and prayed and I got bored. I really wanted her to finish so I could go to bed and maybe dream of Jesus. But as we prayed, I softened. I began to feel God’s presence and His presence was thicker and thicker, until I could not stand up any more. I was frightened with a Holy fear. I kept screaming:” I am frightened! Do something! He is awesome…help me. I am frightened!” But I could not come out of His presence. The lady told me not to be frightened and to enjoy His presence. Oh, I was so full of praise! His presence was wonderful. I wanted to stay there for ever and praise Him. I could not find words for the adoration I felt. A jumble of songs came out! It was as if my whole being was rejoicing and dancing before Him. I could not see His face but He was there looking at me.
He said, “Were you about to give up? Did you know that I am your friend? I love you! I love you! I have always loved you. You are mine!” His hands were so strong. He held my hands and it was as if we were dancing together. I felt that my body was light and lifted to Him. I was free from any burden of guilt and shame; I was light as a feather. I was so full of joy that I remember I started laughing uncontrollably. I felt that Jesus was laughing with me. I was swirling and laughing and praising. I felt that the sky was opening and that a shiny light came down surrounding me. When I went home after the conference, my husband could not believe the changes in me. I told him about my encounter with Jesus. He asked me to pray for him. He started coming to church with me and now he has become a Christian. I was a prostitute but as He told me in my vision, I am His; I belong to Him for ever; and nothing can take this away from me.
MODERN DAY MAGDALENE
Jaleh’s story doesn’t stop with her salvation. Like Mary Magdalene in the Bible, her life, and her family’s life has been truly transformed by the grace and love of Jesus Christ. She, with her husband (who is now clean of drugs), are now committed members of a house church where they are growing as Christians. Life for them is hard, Jaleh’s husband works as a market trader in a notorious part of town where drug dealers and prostitutes congregate. This presents much opportunity to evangelize but also temptations from the past are never far away. They feel called to life in full-time ministry so are praying that if it is God’s will that they will have an opportunity to study.