By Mark Ellis —
Hedieh Mirahmadi’s parents emigrated from Iran to the U.S. in their quest for freedom and economic opportunity. Hedieh grew up surrounded by the affluence of West L.A., but she felt discontented.
“It never was fulfilling. I felt – I actually felt really guilty about having what the world would describe as just about everything, and yet being sad. And I always wondered what was that space in my heart that made me feel empty,” she told CBN.
While at UCLA, her father pushed her to embrace her Islamic faith and a boyfriend took her to a local mosque.
“It was somewhat of an extreme mosque,” she said. “And they had all these principles about politics and what it would be like to turn America into a Muslim nation and-and very, very anti-Semitic. And I thought to myself, ‘Oh, this is terrible. I don’t want anything to do with this. If this is religion, I want nothing to do with it.’”
Turned off by Muslim extremism, she explored a different branch of Islam called Sufism. “It’s a mystical practice in Islam which is all about love and harmony and finding a personal relationship with God, and I thought, ‘Okay, this is perfect. This is where I could find peace and where I can find that relationship with God.”
After she graduated from law school, Hedieh began working with the FBI combating terrorism.
“It was a natural fit for me to be in Islam and in these communities and studying them and working against extremism at the same time. I really felt that I was contributing to my country and to my faith,” she noted.
Hedieh married and had a daughter. For years she had attempted a strict adherence to Islamic law. “It was this never-ending attempt to control your fleshly desires, your behavior in an effort to draw closer to God. You’re always afraid of what He’s going to do to judge you, and it’s not about love at all. You were constantly praying to a god that didn’t answer you.”
Her frustrations mounted because Islam could offer no assurance of salvation.
“What they were telling me is the most important goal I had in my life, I didn’t know if I was ever going to achieve, and that weighed on me extremely heavy,” Hedieh told CBN. “And as I grew older, and as my daughter grew older; this heaviness was intolerable.”
One day Hedieh did something bold and unexpected. She took off her head covering, which shocked the imams.
“They told me I was going to hang from my hair for an eternity in hellfire because I took my head cover off. So despite the uncertainty of not being promised salvation, because I had done this one thing to decrease my external religiosity, they said I was going to spend an eternity in hellfire, and that was unacceptable. And I left Islam. I felt really, really lost. It was devastating. It was – it was devastating. I felt that I had no bearings underneath me,” she said.
But through it all, God was wooing her heart. She happened to see a video of a Christian pastor who talked about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus.
His words penetrated her heart and she felt compelled to pray. She fell to her knees with her head on the ground, a prayer posture she learned in Islam.
She cried out to God: “Can you please reveal yourself to me because I am so utterly confused on who you are.”
Then something remarkable happened. “I audibly heard the voice of Christ and He said, ‘Hedieh, it’s Me.’ And it was a – it was extraordinary. To this day I could tell you as if it happened yesterday. I knew from that moment on I would never be the same.”
She began to devour the Scripture and continued watching the pastor online. “The Bible came alive as the Quran never did. I could hear God speak to me and I knew He was speaking directly to me because He was using the Quran as an example of why the Quran was not correct and why His Word in the Bible was true. I got to a point where I was like, ‘I have to accept that Jesus is Lord. I have to accept that He has saved me.’
As she prayed one day, she felt the Lord say to her, Daughter, you don’t have to be afraid anymore.
Hedieh was soon baptized at the church she had watched online. She says she now has a relationship with God she never thought possible.
“And I catch myself all the time when I’m – when I’m struggling, where He’s like, ‘Daughter, just walk with me.’ And it’s just His way of telling me, ‘Don’t be afraid. I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you goodness, to give you a life filled with love and with joy, and don’t be afraid.’”
She shares her testimony in hopes of touching others. “I wonder – at times I ask Him why I had to experience certain things. He’s used all of my past in order to do it and it wouldn’t have been possible 25 years ago. It wouldn’t have been possible with that girl in Beverly Hills to do what He’s calling me to do now. And so I am forever at His feet.”
“He’s been with me the whole time.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here