“Perhaps many people will ask, ‘How is it possible for an Afghan man to become a Christian?’” queries Soroush*, an Afghan man who was once bent on violence and vengeance. Now a pastor, Soroush shared his journey of faith on SAT-7’s live Persian language programme Signal, in hope that God would use his story to touch the lives and hearts of viewers facing enormous challenges in Afghanistan and Iran today.
“I grew up in Afghanistan during the civil war [1996-2001], and come from a Muslim background,” Soroush explained. “As I got older, I always had God on my mind, I prayed five times a day and read the Quran. I wanted to know God and I wanted to know the truth, but I never found peace and tranquillity.
“Eventually I decided to join the army in Afghanistan,” Soroush added. “I wanted to fight Daesh, the Taliban, or anyone really. To be honest, I didn’t know whom I wanted to fight or whom I would be fighting. But it didn’t work out. God didn’t want me to kill anyone.
“I was still reading the Quran, and prayed five times a day, asking God for help. I often went to sleep at night in tears, asking God for peace.”
On the path for vengeance
“Then I lost my sister,” Soroush recalled. “She was killed tragically when she was set on fire, and this completely broke me. I wanted to find the person responsible for her murder, and I wanted to kill them.”
“Vengeance runs in the blood of Afghans,” Soroush explained. “We are driven to get justice by any means. My only sister was taken away from me, so I wanted to avenge her, even if it meant I would lose my life in the process. Life was full of trouble, and thoughts of revenge were always on my mind.”
An alternative path through Christ
Soroush moved to a nearby country where his torment followed him. But his struggles weren’t unnoticed: “During some of my most difficult days, a very dear friend approached me when he saw me weeping and mourning. ‘Soroush ,’ he said, ‘I can’t do anything for you except for one thing. I have a Gospel which I can give to you. Read it. Really read it.’”
“I took the Bible but left it sitting in a corner for two weeks as I went back to work and continued crying day and night.
“Finally, I decided to open the Gospel and began to read. Words and sentences began to jump out at me, like ‘Forgive, that you may be forgiven,’ and ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son for you.’ These verses touched my heart.
“I was able to contact a pastor and speak to him. He listened to my troubles, and I told him, ‘I want to understand what I read about forgiving that I might be forgiven. The Bible said I should forgive my enemies too. What is that all about?’
“The pastor said to me, ‘Do you know that while you were a sinner, He gave His life for you so that you would have life?’ This left me speechless, and I decided to join the church, where I saw people worshipping God freely and with no go-between. I sensed peace as I listened to the messages and finally began to smile and laugh.
“When I realised I was smiling, I asked the pastor a simple question. ‘Can I become one of you?’
“‘You just need to put your faith in the name of Jesus, pray for salvation, and give your heart to Christ, and you will find His peace in you. The Spirit of the Lord will live in you,’ the pastor said.
“Then and there I prayed, and I was smiling all the way home. That was the first night that I had peace as I went to sleep. The next day I woke up with a sense of wellbeing and joyfully called my family.”
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In this clip from Signal, Soroush sends a message of prayer and solidarity for fellow Afghans after an earthquake on 22 June 2022 hit a southeastern province, killing more than 1,000 people and injuring over 6,000. His face is blurred for security.
A life transformed
“I told my family that I forgave the person who killed my sister. They asked me ‘How?’, and I told them about Jesus and how He has said that we must forgive our enemies who harm us.
“No one could believe what I was saying. The Soroush they knew, who was bent on vengeance and revenge, was transformed to such a degree that even I was surprised.
“The peace of the Lord poured into my spirit and put out the fire that had been burning inside me, and I was filled with peace. I could no longer dwell on vengeance. Sorrow and grief had no place in me – they disappeared and became distant memories.
“When I became a Christian, many who were dear to me shunned me, but my thoughts were ‘Even if the whole world shuns me, I will not be upset, for I have found something of far greater value. I have come to know the truth and have seen what Jesus did in my life.’”
Called to serve Afghans
“I received a lot of teaching and loved worshipping the Lord. Every service felt like a wedding celebration, and I was filled with enthusiasm.
“One day, the pastor asked me if I had a vision to serve the people of Afghanistan, and I responded ‘Of course! I have been saved and I would like to help save others.’
“I decided to go into ministry, and I thank God that I am serving now. My hope is that the transformation that has come about in me and the peace that I have been given by the grace of Jesus Christ can be extended to the people of Afghanistan.
“The current situation in Afghanistan is very difficult,” Soroush told Signal. “Our message to the people of Afghanistan is that Afghan Christians are standing with you and praying that the Lord will give you comfort and peace. We know these are difficult days and you have lost your loved ones, and we want to stand with you and pray for you.”
*Name changed for security