The Written Defense of the Rev. Mehdi Dibaj Delivered to the Sari Court of Justice – Sari, Iran December 3, 1993
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 honored members of the court who are present to listen with patience to my defense and with respect for the Name of the Lord.
I am a Christian. As a sinner I believe Jesus has died for my sins on the cross and 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 (Injil). Jesus means Savior "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 to fear people even if they kill my body, but rather rely on the creator of life who has crowned me with the crown of mercy and compassion. He is the great protector of His beloved ones as well as their great reward.
I have been charged with "apostasy!" The invisible God who knows our hearts has given assurance to us, as Christians, that we are not among the apostates who will perish but among the believers who will have eternal life. In Islamic Law (Sharia’), 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." This is not so. For many years I had no religion. After searching and studying I accepted God’s call and 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." Since when did He choose me? He chose me 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 the beginning those whose heart would be drawn to Him and also those 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 that the Almighty God is with me. I would rather be called an apostate, but know that I have the approval of the God of glory, because man looks at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart. For Him who is God for all eternity nothing is impossible. All power in heaven and on earth is in His hands.
The Almighty God will raise up anyone He chooses and bring down others, accept some and reject others, send some to heaven and other 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 or defeat a life that is faithful to his Lord? The faithful will be safe and secure under the shadow of the Almighty! 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 the fire of hell.
They tell me, "Return!" But to whom can I return from the arms of my God? 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 honor and protector, has put his seal of approval upon me through His unsparing blessings and miracles.
This test of faith is a clear example. 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 increase my patience and faithfulness. During these 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 a searching heart and with brokenness, and grow in the knowledge of my Lord. I praise the lord for this unique opportunity. God gave me space in my confinement, brought healing in my difficult hardships and His kindness revived me. Oh what great blessings God has in store for those who fear Him!
They object to my evangelizing. But if one finds a blind person who is about to fall in a well and keeps silent then one has sinned. 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 the 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 for ever.
He is our Savior and He is the (spiritual) Son of God. To know Him means to know eternal life. I, a useless sinner, have believed in this 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 honor 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 everlasting life. But the wicked enter into eternal damnation.
May the shadow of God’s kindness and His hand of blessing and healing be and remain upon you for ever. Amen. With Respect,
Your Christian prisoner,
Rev. Mehdi Dibaj who was born into a Muslim family became a Christian 45 Years ago. On December 21, 1993 an Islamic court in the city of Sari condemned him to die. The conviction was based on the charge of apostasy, i.e. that Rev. Dibaj had abandoned Islam and embraced Christianity. Once the news of Rev. Dibaj’s death sentence reached the rest of the world, the reaction was one of disbelief followed by prayer and action. One of the persons who worked very hard to overturn Rev. Dibaj’s sentence was Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr. Bishop Haik, an Armenian pastor, shared the news of Rev. Dibaj’s death sentence as well as other violations of religious freedom of Christians in Iran with the world. Due to the world’s reaction, Rev. Dibaj was released on January 16, 1994.
Five months after the release from prison, Rev. Mehdi Dibadj was abducted mysteriously and suffered martyrdom in June, 1994.
Bishop Haik disappeared from the streets of Tehran on January 19, 1994. The authorities reported his death to his family on January 30. Haik was a man of God who believed in the God-given right of a person to believe according to his conscience. He loved the people of Iran whether Christian or Muslim. For their religious freedom, he gave his life.
Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr did not believe in succumbing to government pressure and chose instead to "tell the world" about the plight of Iranian Christians. He said: "If we go to jail or die for our faith, we want the whole Christian world to know what is happening to their brothers and sisters."
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