CBN.com In 1978, Azar came to the United States for an education. She planned to return to her native Iran, but political upheaval in that nation denied that. So Azar, a Muslim, remained in America, and worked very hard to be successful.
"When you have to make it in another country, you also focus on needing to be somebody. I wanted to do the best and not just settle for anything," she says.
Azar worked as hard to be a good Muslim, as she did to be a financial planner. She believed her good deeds would earn her a place in heaven. But after years of ceremonial washing and prayers five times a day, she grew tired of the routine.
"All of a sudden, I realized I was standing there covered and I didn’t know what I was saying. Was I talking to God? I felt like this couldn't be it. This can’t be what God wants from me."
For 21 years, Azar had little to do with her Islamic faith. Then some Iranian friends invited her to a meeting.
"Honestly, I’d never heard of Iranians who were Muslims and then Christians. I said, 'What?' "
Still, Azar was intrigued and agreed to meet these people.
"For the first time, I saw Iranians who were Muslims and had become Christians. They were singing to God and worshipping. I thought that it was so interesting that they were so free."
But more than that, Azar was dissatisfied with her life. Even though she had all the trappings of success, something was missing.
"I was working six or seven days a week. I was so driven. What was the purpose?"
Azar thought about the Christian meeting she attended. Soon, she went to another to find out more. There she listened intently to what was being said.
One Christian at the meeting said, "Who here knows that they’re going to heaven?"
"Well, as a Muslim you don’t know if you go to heaven or not, because God is going to review your past, and it depends on how much good you’ve done. He decides. I wouldn’t know. So few people raised their hands and I thought, 'How do you know?' "
What Azar heard was the salvation message of the cross. She didn’t understand and wanted an explanation.
"After the meeting, I went to him and said, 'What do you mean Jesus died for me? I wasn’t there. I die for my own sins.' "
Again and again, she begged God to show her the truth.
"One day out of the blue, I turned the TV on. And I didn’t even know why The 700 Club was on. It wasn’t one of those things I watched everyday. And as soon as I turned it on, Gordon’s face was right on the screen. It had covered the whole screen and he said, 'Some of you are so confused, you don’t know who the real God is.' "
As Gordon prayed, Azar listened intently.
Gordon prayed, "Lord God, I don’t know you. I don’t know if you’re real. But Lord, if you are real, I ask you to show me."
"And then I thought, 'Wow, I didn’t know if I turned the TV off, but I didn’t hear anything after that. Because it was what I was looking for, I was asking why?' "
As the days passed, Azar focused her thoughts on God. Again, the Iranian Christians invited her to meet with them. They encouraged her to read the Bible, and Azar began to experience God in a new way.
"There was something about this Christianity. I didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit, I never opened the Bible, and I didn’t know anything. But it felt so strong. There was something different about me," she remembers.
The next day, Azar went to church. She couldn’t wait to get there. This time she came face to face with the truth.
"As I was talking to God, I said, 'I have no reason to change. I was Muslim, You were good to me, and I have no reason to change. But if You have any reason, You show me a sign.' "
"I saw a person right in front of me, and his face was right where my face was. I could see his whole body. Gradually he opened his eyes, and they were like two little suns. They got brighter and brighter and started shining on my face."
She recognized that the person she saw was Jesus and prayed to accept Him as her Lord and Savior.
"I felt a way I’d never felt before. I felt like tons of weight was off my shoulders. I was so light and so happy. It was so unusual, so different," she says.
Through her faith in Jesus Christ, Azar has found purpose in life. Since then, she’s been involved in her church and serves in a South Florida jail ministry. Today, she glows as she speaks. She knows the truth that set her free.
"It’s just incredible, it’s incredible. Before, I tried to do it on my own. I tried so hard to please God, to be good, and didn’t know that I’d go to heaven. But now it’s Him. Jesus came down for me, and He’s changing me everyday."
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