Muslim-born Iranians Visit Israel to Bless Jewish State
Written by Anav Silverman/TPS on November 13, 2015
It wasn’t the typical group of tourists visiting Israel this week. Afshin Javid, an Iranian Muslim who converted to Christianity over 20 years ago, led a group of mostly Iranians ex-Muslims to tour the Holy Land. Based out of Canada, the USA and Germany, the Iranian Christian converts bless the existence of the state of Israel and fervently believe that the Jewish people must return to their homeland.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had such a large of group of former Muslim Iranians visit Israel like this. There are 37 participants on this trip,” Javid told Tazpit Press Service in an interview.
“We are here to bless the land and the Jewish people,” said Javid, who with his group donated a $20,000 check for aliyah to Israel during their trip.
In Iran, Javid told TPS that he had been a member of the Basij volunteer militia, established by the Islamic Revolution’s leader Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to deal with internal security, law enforcement and moral policing. Javid left the Islamic Republic in 1987 and travelled into Malaysia to spread the word of Islam, where he eventually became a Christian.
“I grew up with the belief that I had to carry out vengeance for Allah. I burnt Israeli flags and hated Jews. But then my mindset changed from killing for God to loving for God,” Javid told TPS.
Javid today lives with his family in Vancouver, British Columbia where he leads a bilingual Farsi-English speaking church. “How can we assume things about Israel just based on watching CNN and BBC?” he asks. “How is it that all these Muslims believe these lies against Israel?”
“On my first visit to Israel a few years ago, I discovered so much diversity and thousands of years of heritage in the country,” Javid recounts.
“God doesn’t want us to hate or kill, but to love,” says Javid, who notes that Iran has one of the fastest growing Christian populations in the world.
“I want to be a carrier for the message of hope. The Iranian government has stood against Israel but they don’t represent the Iranian people, nor the 2,600 years of friendship amongst our people since the days of King Cyrus.”
For Ali Feizi, also a Muslim-born Iranian who converted to Christianity, this was his first trip to Israel.
“It’s been an awesome experience to be here,” Feizi told TPS. “Just coming here has been overwhelming; Israel is so different from what the media makes it out to be.”
Feizi, today a pastor of a church in Vancouver, is originally from Tehran. He told TPS that he had aspired to join the Hezbollah at a young age and explained that his Muslim family was concerned about his radical views and his education, and sent him to Germany. “Even though my family was Muslim, they didn’t believe in the cause of the Iranian government. But my training at school taught me that I had to bring honor to Allah.”
Feizi eventually moved to Canada and converted to Christianity in 2001 following the September 11th terror attacks. “Until then I was a believing Muslim, but when 9/11 took place, I didn’t want to worship a god that destroys humanity. So that started my journey,” he stated. “I didn’t see those attacks just against Jews or Christians, but against humanity.”
“I believe that Israel is a sovereign nation and that every Christian in this world must stand up for a united Jerusalem.”
“I am here to make a stand alongside my other Persian friends to say that we as Iranians are standing for Israel as a nation and will defend her,” said Feizi.