At the recent Staff Appreciation lunch for our church I was seated next to a lovely woman who cares for children in the preschool program and learned she is a recent immigrant from Iran. I intended to write about her, but got diverted onto other things these last few weeks.
Concern about the young Iranian pastor who has been sentenced to death because he will not renounce his faith prompted me to write this post because my new friend's story gives background to the situation.
I'll call her Maryam. She and her family are Christian Iranians, like the young pastor. They have never been Muslims. Maryam told me her extended family fled Iran about 7 years ago because of religious persecution. It became so intense that they feared for their lives. I asked her how she got out of the country and she said that part wasn't difficult, but it was difficult to get a visa to leave that part of the world.
Maryam and family made their way to Abu Dhabi where they were able to get permission to come to the USA and Canada on the grounds of religious persecution. Her sister and mother and some other family members are in Canada. She and her husband and three children came to Houston because they had a relative already living here.
We talked about her children and how well they are doing in school here. She observed that her oldest daughter had a bit more difficulty adapting to English and the new enviornment but that her youngest child, a son, "didn't remember much about living in Iran" and was thoroughly Americanized.
Maryam's English is excellent, but not quite fluent. She paused frequently to compose what she was going to say and spoke with a distinct but charming accent. Her family attends a large Baptist church in Houston and she said she loves working at our church in a Christian setting.
I've thought a lot about Maryam since meeting her and especially with the tragic situation surrounding her young fellow countryman in the news. The White House and Speaker John Boehner have called on Iran to spare his life. Let's join Maryam in praying for him.