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Christian pastor who rediscovered his own faith helps bring others to God

ICC Note

The story of Pastor Tom Mayvaian indicates the persecution that Iranian Christians face. He was stabbed in the eye when he was 16 due to his Christian faith. Mayvaian and his family forgave his attacker.

07/31/2010 Iran (The most of his adult life, Tom Mayvaian felt distant from God.

The 57-year-old Waterloo man was born and raised Christian in the predominantly Muslim country of Iran . He was often ridiculed for not practising the religion of the majority. When he was 16, he was stabbed in the eye by a boy at school, apparently being targeted because he was Christian and exempted from the daily Qur’an class.

His faith continued to wane, even though Mayvaian believes that deep within him, his faith was always present. He was the son of a Presbyterian pastor and had faithfully attended Sunday service and prayers as a child.

Today, Mayvaian, a pastor, helps bring God to others.

A few years ago, he started a Farsi bible study which meets weekly at the Waterloo North Presbyterian Church on Northfield Drive West.

The group, made up of about eight to 12 people, sings Persian Christian hymns and reads passages from the bible. Discussion is held in Farsi, the main language of Iran .

Most participants didn’t want their names used for publication because they fear they will be ridiculed by the Muslim community for turning their backs on the faith most were born into.

Fazeli felt that the Muslim faith was imposed on her. She said she felt drawn to Christianity because of Jesus Christ and how he loved and forgave his enemies. Her father also became Christian, but her mother remains Muslim.

“I believe God’s word is eternal. The more I learn from the Bible, the more I can live my life this way,’’ said Fazeli, 50.

Mayvaian said his greatest struggle is his vision. He’s had multiple surgeries but continues to see double from his left eye and can barely see when in dark places.

“It’s a daily reminder,’’ said Mayvaian, who came to Canada with his wife and two sons in 1989.

Mayvaian said living in a Muslim country made it difficult for religious minority groups such as Christians. He recalls during the holy month of Ramadan when he was 14 years old and he was walking along the street chewing a gum. An elderly man slapped him and asked him if he wasn’t embarrassed to chew gum during the fast.

“If you’re Muslim, you’re good, if not you’re the enemy in Iran ,’’ he said.

After he was stabbed, Mayvaian gave up his avid interest in tennis player and lost his hope of being an aircraft captain.

Mayvaian recalls how his parents forgave the boy and his family when they came to their home, pleading for forgiveness so the boy wouldn’t go to jail.

Now, Mayvaian said he prays for his attacker.

“I followed my parents lead (to forgive). It was within me,’’ he said.

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