Escape from Iran
By Sue Hartman
Jacqueline was only 11 years old when the family gardener secreted her and her mother and brother into hiding while their house was looted and burnt to the ground during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. At the same time, her father was arrested for being a Christian.
Six months they worried about Jacqueline’s father who had been sentenced to death. Then, in the dark of night, a man wrapped in a bloody sheet was deposited at their home. The man was naked and bleeding from deep wounds nearly covering his entire body. The man was Jacqueline’s father. He survived the night and for the next 8 years until kidney damage from the torture ultimately took his life.
After the death of Jacqueline’s father, her family continued to suffer harassment from the Iranian police. Her brother was arrested and tortured several times.
Jacqueline later married a Muslim man and their differences took a toll on the marriage. Jacqueline’s mother and her husband did not get along at all. Her mother often pleaded with her to leave the marriage while her husband complained about the way Christianity was portrayed by his mother-in-law. After three years of struggle, Jacqueline found herself in a church needing an answer from God. She needed to know if God wanted her to listen to her mother and leave the marriage or stay with her husband. So she asked God for a sign. If He gave her a son like His Son, then she would stay with her husband. She didn’t know she was already pregnant at the time of her prayer and that her son would be born with Autism.
When Abtin, Jacqueline’s son, wasn’t speaking like the other children, they sought answers from a doctor in Mission Viejo. While here, in the states, a Muslim friend insisted they visit a Persian/Christian church. Inside this church were words painted on the wall that shocked and haunted Jacqueline for months. The words were, “Jesus is God”. This was shocking to her because in Iran, the Christian leaders were not allowed to say Jesus is God, they are only allowed to refer to Jesus as a man and prophet.
Once back in Iran, after a troubled night’s sleep and a bad dream, a ringing phone woke Jacqueline. It was her cousin saying God had prompted him to call her and explain the meaning of the words on the church and to lead her to surrender her life to Christ. She said a heavy weight fell from her shoulders that night.
Born a rebel without fear, Jacqueline did next what seemed natural to her. She gave Bibles to her friends and started a Bible study. But, this was Iran and she was soon arrested. All the accumulated horrors from her past caused Jacqueline to face the reality of the very real danger she was in. In addition, Abtin’s kindergarten teacher was treating him very badly due to his status of half-Christian.
It was time to leave Iran for good. So in the spring of 2011, Jacqueline and her son settled in Irvine, and began attending Coast Hills by invitation of her asylum attorney. It just so happened that at the same time a Sunday School class for children with special needs started up. Abtin began to trive at Coast Hills as well as in his new elementary school. Jacqueline says she looks into the eyes of his teacher and sees her exhaustion but mostly love for her son. She says, ‘You Americans have love’.
Jacqueline asks, “How is my son like Jesus? Her answer is, “I am saved because of my son and I am now safe in America because of my son”. Her husband and mother actually live together now and care for each other in Iran while waiting for permission to visit. She says she knows that she needs nothing but Jesus and she gladly gives up everything to follow Him. She has complete trust that He will provide for her and Abtin.