Christians must love Muslims, says former Muslim turned Pastor Afshin Ziafat

Pastor Afshin Ziafat with his wife Meredith(Twitter/Afshin Ziafat)

Providence Church's Afshin Ziafat, a former Muslim who is now a Christian pastor, is stressing the importance of Christians spreading love especially to Muslims, even if society dictates otherwise.

"Racial reconciliation is not just a good idea because racial equality is a politically correct idea, but it's because the message of the Gospel is at stake. The name of Jesus is at stake. And so the Gospel tells us that it's by grace alone that we can be restored to God," Ziafat said during the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's Leadership Summit.

Ziafat shared his own personal journey towards faith, saying that meeting God would not have been possible had it not been for a "Christian lady" who showed him some kindness.

The pastor was born in Houston, but when he was only two years old, his family moved to Iran. However, after the Iranian Revolution hit Iran four years later, they were forced to move back to America.

"It was not easy in 1979 to be from Iran living in America," he shared. "We had rocks thrown at our window in Houston because people knew our family was from Iran. In high school, kids threatened to beat up my brother and I; my parents' car's tyres were slashed."

But not everybody treated them with hostility. Ziafat recalled a "Christian lady" - an English tutor - who was unlike the others. She was kind to Ziafat, and even gave him his first Bible, promising that one day they would read the book together.

Ten years after that encounter, Ziafat became a Christian. "Had any other American given me that New Testament, I would have thrown it away. Because I didn't trust them. You want to win a Muslim for Christ? I believe you have to earn the right to be heard. And she did it by the way she was loving me," Ziafat said.

He encouraged everyone to be just like the "Christian lady" who changed his life. When everyone else was showing hate to the people of Iran, she went against the norm and opened her heart to him.

"I am so thankful for this one Christian, when for everyone else it was totally right and natural to hate people from Iran, she went against what's natural and did the Gospel move," he said.