Editor's note: This story has recently been updated to include more current details and developments.
“Most times, God shows you some way to have a new beginning. . . . Look at nature; nature teaches us a great lesson. It shows us the power and the will of God. The time when flowers or other plants start to bloom in spring; the time when wind helps the little seeds of these plants to travel to far places: this is the will of God that this wind and rain and thunder [help] these seeds to grow elsewhere. You may see these flowers inside your garden, or [they] may have grown and have roots around a hard rock, or you may even see [a] flower at the highest point on a mountain. This shows God has [a plan] for each individual. In this way, God chose me for this path.” —Mina Tazehabadi
Mina Kh. Gharouninejad Tazehabadi first learned about Jesus Christ at 12 years old. Living in the heart of an Islamic country with a devout Muslim family, Mina was intrigued by The Song of Bernadette, a movie that details the life of Saint Bernadette and the 18 visions she had of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Little did Mina know this curiosity would lead her and her family on a journey that would take them half a world away as they risked persecution, prison, death, and disownment from their family and home country to convert from their Muslim faith to Mormonism.
Learning of Christ from the Quran
Twelve-year-old Mina's desire to learn more about Jesus Christ intensified as she read the Quran, which talks of "Jesus, the Son of Mary" and His suffering. Mina yearned to know more.
"Unfortunately, because of the beginning of the revolution in Iran [in 1978], many of my sweet wishes got far away from me," Mina shares in her memoirs, which her daughter Tara has translated into English.
Life suddenly changed for Mina—in small and in drastic ways. Suddenly, new barriers appeared between the Christians and Muslims in her city.
When war started between Iran and Iraq in 1980, Mina writes, "In that time I saw the crying of Armenian-Iranian mothers (who were Christians) who had lost their sons in war or who had their sons taken captive, but these mothers did not have permission to enter into the schools or the mosques to help."
By the war's end in 1988, controversy over the wearing of veils and rules regarding where women could work, who women could speak with, and even the length of their hair and nails became stricter. But that didn't stop Mina.
After hearing more about the Bible from one of her friends, Mina decided to visit a Christian church near her house. But because of new laws prohibiting Christians from preaching their religion, the security guards turned Mina away.
"So I had to wait for a chance to be able to find and visit a church and learn more about the Bible," Mina recalls. "I wanted to have and read a Farsi Bible, but unfortunately I didn't find any chances."
Finding a Hope in Christ
In 1989, a small miracle came into Mina's life when she started working as a physician's assistant for a German-Iranian couple.
"They had four daughters," Mina writes in her memoir, "but one of their daughters was sick and had a problem in her bones. But they were so patient and they had strong faith. They were always saying that Jesus Christ would heal their daughter."
Mina worked and learned from the couple for a little less than two years before they were deported and moved to Germany.
But Mina didn't have to wait long before a new miracle walked into her life, increasing her draw to Christianity.
"After a while, I met my husband, who was living near our house," she writes. "When I would talk about religion with him, he had the same ideas as I . . . and it made me happy. It was like God had given me a second step—a new chance."
On October 1, 1991, Iraj and Mina Tazehabadi started their new life together. Challenges quickly set in. Because of the dangers and persecutions they might face, the two kept their religious ideas a secret from their families and began scraping enough money together to start a family of their own.
Photo courtesy of Nikki Vickers Photography.
On March 25, 1994, the Tazehabadis welcomed their first child—a baby daughter they named Tina, meaning "flower." For a time, the family's new life together improved. "Our life was going well. My daughter was getting older and we had found a better house to rent, but it was like God didn't want us to live in peace. He was always shaking us, like we had to stay awake," Mina writes.
Iraj started his own clothing business, but as they prepared to welcome their second daughter into their family, competition from Chinese manufacturers ran many clothing businesses into the ground, including Iraj's.
On April 20, 1998, Tara (which means "star" in Persian) was born. Two years later, Mina started taking writing courses at the Screenwriting Academy at the Ministry of Culture and earned her license in writing and later in radio hosting. In the meantime, Iraj began learning a second trade as a chef.