Into the Deep Podcast (transcript): A Testimony of Faith (Hedieh Mirahmadi)

09/07/2021 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Jeff King talks with Hedieh Mirahmadi, a former Muslim turned Christian who spent her professional career working with the FBI and the U.S. government, and in the private sector, to defeat Islamic terrorism. After leaving Islam and experience a radical personal encounter with Christ a few years after, her life was completely transformed. She started Resurrect Ministry for people anywhere in the world to develop a personal relationship with the Lord. Hedieh shares her captivating testimony, as well as provides insight from her expertise on the current and evolving situation in Afghanistan.

Listen to more episodes here.

One thing that I pray about a lot is that we’re going to have thousands of Afghans come to the United States. And one thing that I repeatedly tell people is please witness to them. Any opportunity you have to share the Gospel, do not be afraid or intimidated by the fact that they say they’re Muslims, because they’re more hungry than you could possibly imagine. Many of them are displaced by the evil of the Taliban and of religion, and promising salvation and telling them about the love of Christ is a huge gift.

– Hedieh Mirahmadi 

Transcript:

Jeff King: Welcome back to In the Deep today. We’re going to have a fascinating conversation with Hedieh Mirahmadi, who used to work in counter terror work against [inaudible]. She was a former devout Muslim for 20 years before she came to Christ. So, we’re just going to have a wide range of conversation about Islam, about Christianity, about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and just kind of range all over the place. But Hedieh, thank you so much for being on the show.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Oh, thank you for having me. It’s such a pleasure.

Jeff King: Hedieh, first of all, thanks so much for being on the show. Let’s just start with, just talk to me about growing up and early life. Tell me about your journey.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Sure. My parents came from Iran in the mid-’60s to finish medical school. My father finished medical school in the United States, and we relocated to Beverly Hills, California. That’s where I grew up. That’s where I went to school. But my parents came to live the American dream. We were not religious at all, so I was raised entirely secular. I was actually raised as a very patriotic American. My parents were very, very happy to be in the United States. Still are. And so it was a really beautiful experience growing up, until the hostage crisis hit, and the Iranians had took over the U.S. Embassy and taken American hostages. Then there was a bunch of bullying that happened, of course, and the kids were pretty mean to me about it. And it was actually when I was first confronted with having an identity outside of being just an American.

But other than that, there was a lot of debauchery. Growing up in Beverly Hills was a real fast and furious lifestyle. But it was I think eventually what led to the whole part that made me long for a relationship with God.

Jeff King: Yeah. And so, talk about that. So if you’re searching for God, and where do you go? I mean, you’re trying to figure out there’s a God out there somewhere. Where did you-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: Where did you search?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Well, so I was in college by this time, and my parents basically, and mostly my father, said, “You know what? You can look all you want.” And you know, I explored Buddhism and Judaism, but never Christianity. Because in Beverly Hills, I literally had not a single Christian friend growing up, so the only choice was either Judaism or some New Age philosophy or Islam. And so my father told me, “Listen, you’re always going to be identified as a Muslim, so you might as well get used to it, and go where it’s a natural fit.” Even though he wasn’t religious at all.

And it made sense to me at the time. I started to date this young man that was Muslim, and he took me to his mosque, and this group was… Oh, it was so strange for me, because it was very anti-American, it was very anti-Semitic, and I thought to myself, “Well, this is a religion I just want no part of it, because this is not spiritually uplifting at all.” And in that exploration, I met what’s known as the Sufis, which is a mystical branch of Islam.

And they basically said, “Oh, the problem is you first encountered the extremists. There’s this struggle for the soul of Islam happening even here in the United States, and you’ve basically just walked into the middle of it.”

And that concept was not only fascinating to me, it was infuriating that there were these extremist groups that were external to the United States, and they were affecting what was happening to Americans and people that were turning to Islam, like myself. And I started to investigate like where does the extremism come from, what countries is it originating from? And at the time, by this time I had finished law school, so I was already trained as a lawyer. I started to, based on the community I was a part of… I was up north, and interestingly enough, I encounter the mosque where Bin Laden is fundraising for the war in Bosnia.

And the Afghan civil war. And at the time, I end up meeting some FBI agents that were also investigating this in the mid-’90s. There was literally three guys from across America that were interested in terrorism in the mid-’90s.

And we happened to run into each other. That’s when my career started, actually. I started to do consulting for them, and it just took off from there. And of course, 9/11 hit. I had moved to D.C. already by that point, and I’d already built a solid reputation in the field. And so. my kind of, my spiritual relationship in the Sufis actually went tandem with my career, because the Sufis spiritually and politically were fighting the extremists, and that’s what I was doing professionally as a federal contractor.

Jeff King: Yeah, definitely. And I would assume you’re not a deep student of Islam at the time?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Well, when I first entered I wasn’t, but I have a degree in Islamic jurisprudence at this point.

And when I first started, I did not. And so I just read as much as I can get my hands on, because I couldn’t understand what the doctrinal differences were between the two faiths, between the two sects, and what… It took me a while to figure out that though the seeds of the differences are theological and centuries old, the current manifestation of it is very much a political phenomenon.

Jeff King: Interesting. Okay. Well, so but as a Sufi… Okay, so you were studying widely, and looking at it almost from the outside in, too. But as a Sufi, are you wondering what’s going on with the fundamentalists? Did you just go with the line that, hey, these guys had corrupted Islam, and did your view change over time as you would read the hadiths? Or what was going on there?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Interesting question. So, when you looked at the two groups, the fundamentals are the Salafists. You know that term, of whether you call them Wahhabis or Salafis? As opposed to the Sufis. It was clear the Salafis were doing something violent and dangerous.

And so, but increasingly what concerned me is that here I am as an American, and I am extremely devout. The Sufis were also very conservative. And I felt like in my attempt to get closer to God, and to increase my religiosity, I didn’t feel any increase in spirituality. In other words, I kept doing and doing and doing, and I didn’t feel I had reached salvation or some intimacy with God where I felt like He was speaking to me, because we had no concept of that.

Jeff King: Yeah. There’s a flaw.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: So, [crosstalk]… Yeah. It just, exactly. I just felt like I was doing and doing all of this law, and I wasn’t achieving anything that I could feel or experience, or that made it worth that I keep going.

And then I thought to myself as my daughter was getting older, when she was younger, it was easier. And as she got older and she wanted to wear certain clothes, and she wanted to go to certain schools, I was like, “Wow. What am I subjecting her to?” And it was increasingly difficult for me to rationalize. And then I get to the FBI. I was at Headquarters. Now I get to the FBI meeting, that I was actually officially in the building and I was developing this national counter terrorism program, and I decided to take my head cover off. And it was literally at that point that the religion unraveled.

Because everybody told me, “You’re going to hang from your hair for an eternity in hellfire, and God would never forgive you.” And I said, “For a piece of fabric?” I mean-

Jeff King: And this is from the Sufis, though?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: This is from the Sufis.

Jeff King: Wow. Interesting.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes. Yeah. So, there is this dogmatism, conservativeism. I mean, they’re not trying to conquer America, but there is this religiosity that is very suffocating. I don’t know. Is the best way to describe it.

Jeff King: Yeah, yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: There’s just no joy in it.

Jeff King: Yeah, it’s law.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: People who are devout, who are sincerely seeking God and trying to obey as best they know. And yet without the relationship it’s all law, and it’s just futility in the end. It’s just sort of frustrating, because you knew at some level that there was more. You were trying to find this person, this personality that is God, and you can’t get to it through just dry obedience, doing things.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Exactly.

Jeff King: Yeah. And at the same time, so you never really came into that position where you’re looking at the violence that’s in the Quran or the Hadith, and saying, “Now, wait a minute.” Because the Sufis were moderate, and they swore it off. So that was never really part of it, and causing you a division. Because I know I’ve talked to some people who were former radicals, and they were on a journey. They said, “You know, I realized the deeper I went into Islam, the more violent I was becoming. I was becoming a worse human being.” There’s a struggle for them. And I think that probably all the deep fundamentalists go through, and they either say, “Well, this is the will of Allah. This is Allah,” and they don’t question, but some question and say, “Well, wait a minute.” But that wasn’t really part of your story. It was more-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: No.

Jeff King: Yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yeah, no. I was very fortunate. I had very good teachers who spread the doctrine around the world, basically, reforming Islam and talking about whether it’s the apostacy laws or the crime and punishment laws, that they just weren’t useful in modern society, and that the Hadith had demonstrated an ability to evolve in modern times, and that that’s not something that’s applicable in modern time. So, I was very fortunate to be part of something that validated what I was feeling emotionally and professionally. It was the rigidity of the religion with no reward, with no promise of salvation, that I got fed up with.

Jeff King: Yeah. Yeah. Got it. And then this turning on you, when like you said, for a simple piece of fabric.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: For not wearing a simple piece of fabric, the fangs come out, and you’re being threatened with hellfire. You’re like, “Now, wait a minute.” It seems so much overreach for such a simple thing.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Exactly.

Jeff King: Yeah, and basically propels you out of the tribe, so to speak.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: So, and anything else about your conversion now? Because that’s leaving Islam and-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: I haven’t met Jesus yet when I leave Islam.

Jeff King: Yeah. Yeah. So what happens here?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yeah. So, I just feel that… We have a military term for it called an X fill, which is where you’re just basically being parachuted out of a location because of danger.

Jeff King: You’re being pulled out. Yeah. Yup.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: You’re just being pulled out. And so, that’s what I felt God was doing to me at the time.

Jeff King: Right.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: So, I hadn’t met the Lord Jesus Christ. It was just like, “You’ve got to get out of here.” I literally moved across country. Sold my house, left my job. And when I arrived in Southern California I said to myself, “Okay. Well, this is great.” But suddenly it was this flood of just behavior that I thought had gone away after 22 years as an [inaudible] Muslim, it all came rushing back to me, like I was a college kid. I felt a keen sense of kind of being lost. And I saw this tweet from a lady that had posted about her pastor who had helped her with these emotional problems that she was going through. And so I clicked on the link, and I was watching this YouTube video, and I was mesmerized. I was mesmerized by his offer of healing and grace and redemption from the Lord, and I just, I couldn’t stop watching.

I was binge watching this pastor that I had never met before, never heard of before, and my daughter can hear it blaring from my bedroom, and she’s like, “What is that? What are you watching?” And it was just one of those nights in my room. I had my head on the floor, praying like a Muslim, and crying to God that I was confused, and that I didn’t know who He was, and I didn’t understand who Jesus was, and that would He just reveal Himself to me. And it was in that prayer that I audibly heard the voice of Christ say, “Hedieh, it’s me.” And that was the beginning of my outward journey, so to speak, with the Lord.

Jeff King: Yeah, that’s wonderful. So, what happens then? I’m sure all around you, your Muslim family just embraces your conversion, I’m sure? Let’s talk about that.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Oh, yeah. No. Well, after I hear His voice and I cry for joy, then I stood up and panic. Yeah. Then it’s just like, “Oh, no. Now what do I do?” Because if I-

Jeff King: You know what this means, what’s going to happen in your life.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Exactly. And not only that, but I was like, “Oh my goodness. I’m going to be a polytheist? I’m going to worship multiple gods? That’s so weird.”

It was really interesting, because my soul knew it with certainty, and my flesh was fighting with what my spirit knew. You know? And I started to read the Bible. I was actually in therapy at the time, and I was talking it through with the therapist, who happened to be this lovely Catholic lady. So, at first she says to me, “Well, you don’t have to accept Jesus. You don’t have to become a Christian for Him to help you.” And I said, “Oh, no. That doesn’t sound right at all.” And so, it was just through prayer that eventually I just felt this peace, and the Lord just basically consoled me and said, you know, “Daughter, you don’t have to be afraid anymore.”

And then I went out and I got baptized at the church in North Carolina. I had never set foot in a church to worship before the day I got baptized, so that was just an extraordinary experience. And then for the most part, my parents, I had had a really difficult road. My career was very, very difficult. You know, I’d been shot at. I survived a civil war. It was really, really a difficult life, and so they were just happy I found peace.

Jeff King: Okay. Yeah, because they weren’t fundamentals.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: But other family members, how did they react?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Some of them, they’re not speaking to me anymore.

Jeff King: Yeah?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yeah. I mean, I’ve gotten some nasty emails from acquaintances, but it is… Yeah. The entire social network is gone. Everybody that was part of my social circle, like as we were raising my daughter, those people are all gone. It’s as if I died.

Jeff King: Yeah. Yeah, and it’s a hard thing, I think, to get across to Americans. It points to why evangelism to Muslims is so difficult. And because Islam is more than a religion, it’s everything… It’s everything from an economic system to cultural ties to everything. And if you were anywhere on the spectrum of beyond moderate, you’re going to get cut off, and you’re going to lose everything. And on the one hand, it really forces a very tough choice on people as they become believers, but it’s a very high cost. And some of that, though, is beautiful, because their faith is really laid out, and the cost is really weighed out, and it produces something beautiful in a believer. But very costly in terms of your cultural loss and your family loss, and just being tossed aside. Yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes. And that’s I think why the Lord led me to create the ministry. My ministry is called Resurrect Ministry, and the idea is to give people a chance, wherever they are in the world, to develop a personal relationship with the Lord. So, they don’t have to walk into a church. They don’t have to have any Christian friends. They don’t even have to tell anybody. If it threatens their life or they’re worried about the public display of their faith, they can have a relationship and achieve salvation directly with the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, I feel very committed and passionate about providing that opportunity.

Jeff King: That’s so great. And you know, it’s so much part of… Especially the Arab Muslim experience. You know, [inaudible]. Oh my gosh. Because Muslim, they’re not walking into churches.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: No.

Jeff King: So when I talk to people, the background, it’s usually it’s the dreams and vision towards satellite TV, and they’re secretly consuming Christian content and being awakened and being hungry. Because they’ve just been doing law, you know?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: They’ve just been doing law. They haven’t been doing relationship. They can’t find God. You can’t, unless you get the Holy Spirit, which comes through Christ.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yeah.

Jeff King: The spirit of Christ. So, it’s so cool that you’re doing that. Love that work. So-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Thank you.

Jeff King: Yeah. I want to kind of backtrack and talk about kind of delving back into your counter terror work and what you’re doing around the world, and kind of jumping into Afghanistan. So, it’s of course a very timely topic. Talk about what do you think? Just given your background in counter terrorism, what do you think is going on with the Taliban right now? Now, the Americans have left. Talk to us. What’s happening with that?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Sure. First of all, it is extremely annoying for people like me to watch the TV and see this hair splitting between ISIS-K and Al-Qaeda-

Jeff King: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: … and the PKK, and this group. It’s just like, ugh. What are you people talking about?

Jeff King: Yes.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Because it’s a distinction without a difference. So, the Taliban. The way I’m thinking they’re going to splinter off is very similar to what happened in Iran, is you create this ruling class of mullahs, you know, and they’re going to have the face of being the political party. And then they’re going to have like the Al-Quds force, right?

Or Hezbollah, where it goes out and commits terrorism, and then the mullahs raise their hand and be like, “Oh. We don’t have anything to do with that. We don’t know how that happened.” So there has to be some, again, camouflage distinction between the ruling class and the people that are committing the terrorism. But again, it’s a distinction without a difference, and so I just think they’re going to start to set up these false curtains between these different arms of what’s going to be happening there.

But what I’m most afraid of is what they’re going to do to Americans, Westerners, or Christians that are left behind. It’s a very frightening thing to think about. Because remember, this is not just ISIS that takes over in Syria. These are angry people that… Consider some of them, we had had in prison for 20 years. Some of them we borderline tortured, if I could say so. And their families have been killed, their lives have been destroyed, and this is their opportunity to exact revenge. And I pray every night that that does not happen, but that’s my biggest concern in the short term.

Jeff King: Yeah, and that’s of course our work. We’re the boots on the ground. In fact, we were working beforehand, because we knew this was coming. And probably like most, we were a little surprised at how quickly it untangled. But we already knew this was where it’s going. And so, just to help people understand. So, a Muslim in Afghanistan, they’re almost 100% converts. So if you’re a convert from Islam, that means in the Taliban’s eyes or in fundamentalist Islam’s eyes, you’re an apostate, and that means you have a death sentence.

You’re given a quick choice to turn back and if you don’t turn back, you are to be killed. That comes from Muhammad. That comes from the holy books. That’s to be obeyed. Whether you like it or not, that’s the deal.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: And it’s usually part of the penal code of most Islamic countries.

Jeff King: Yeah, it is of course definitely going to be there.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: And so, within Afghanistan, within the church, there is a couple tiers. Because there are those that were open, and they said, “You know, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m going to live free and I’m going to be open.” They’re living loud and proud. And so, those people of course are in a class of themselves, because they’re known as Christians. And then there’s many more, thousands and thousands more, that were underground and less known. But then what happened when the Taliban was going door to door and finding out who’s going to mosque and who’s not? You know. And then if there’s another class, it’s the workers. The professional church workers, the pastors, et cetera, and they’re probably a more dangerous spot.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: Yeah, and we’d been working on getting people out, and it’s a success. And of course we were working the airport route, and then that all blew up with [crosstalk].

Hedieh Mirahmadi: If you’ve been involved in that work, I’m just curious. Why are we not using the neighboring countries? I keep asking people, and I don’t get a straight answer. We have good relationships with Uzbekistan. Turkmenistan is not necessarily a big ally of the United States, but it still should be an opportunity. Are you familiar with any efforts to get out through these other neighboring countries?

Jeff King: Well, part of the problem is which countries are presently will accept. And then you just think about who they’re opening the door to in their mind, and thinking about security.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Oh, okay.

Jeff King: Right? So, there is a country that is accepting people, and there is… I’m trying to think what to say. I mean, there is the usual thing that happens in a situation like this, when a whole bunch of people need to move, and what actually happens. So, whether countries are accepting people or not, you could imagine what’s going on.

I think it’s obvious what the solution is. So on the one hand, that would take months, if not years, of political work. You know, getting them to open the borders. But in the meantime, no one’s going to wait around for that. So you can imagine what’s happening, so that’s what we’re doing.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Goodness.

Jeff King: Yeah. So, one argument is… And I think probably you’ve already explained this, but I want you to maybe be more explicit. You know, one argument is the Taliban is more of a nationalist movement. Well, but they are radical. They are fundamentalists. They are radical Islam. Now they’re armed to the teeth. We’ve given them an army.

So, one argument has been, “Oh, but they’re a nationalist movement,” but I think that was their goal. Now that they’ve achieved that, do they stay at home, or are they going to export their radicalism?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Well, part of the doctrine of radical Islam is expansionist.

Jeff King: Yes.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: So by doctrine, they’re not going to contain themselves. If they have the ability to expand. I don’t think they ever imagined… It’s a nationalist movement because they needed to gain control. I think once you accomplish that goal, there’s no reason they wouldn’t expand. And again, I tell people all the time that this is the problem with our U.S. diplomatic core.

It’s because they don’t respect religion for themselves, they do not understand other people’s religion, and they don’t bother to understand it, and they think it’s insignificant, because they say, “Well, they’re going to strategize because they want a seat at the table.” No. They strategize because they’re looking for a way to subdue and kill you, and how long it takes for them to get there.

Jeff King: Yeah, and it seems so obvious that that is the way it will go. But I think we’ve been lulled to sleep with so many of these voices, and that, you know, “Look. They’re just a nationalist movement.” But what you’re saying is, look, Islam means submission, and just like Jesus called us to go unto all the Earth, and in a certain way subdue it, but that’s never the word. It’s to bring His message, and it’s not forced on people. If they don’t want it, we don’t force people. But that’s quite different in Islam. It’s submission, and it’s forceful submission. That’s what they learn from Muhammad. So, it’s submission by the sword. First of all, if you come peacefully, great, but if not, the sword is fine. But our job is to bring the whole world under submission to Islam.

So if they’re fundamentalists, how do they stay at home? That’s pretty much- I’m speaking I think what you’re trying to say, and tell me if that’s accurate.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Absolutely. Because you could say that are Afghans going to export it? It becomes like analogous to the Christian. No, the average Christian maybe doesn’t evangelize, but the leaders of the community are told to evangelize. So the more faithful you are to the doctrine, you’ve got to do what you’re supposed to do. So, the Taliban as a government has to advocate the expansion of Islam. I mean it’s fundamental to their beliefs. So, it’s the same. Saying that they’re not interested in that… And I can’t believe that they would ever publicly say that, because again, it violates their doctrine to say that they wouldn’t be interested in expanding the role of Islam into the West or anywhere else.

Jeff King: Yeah, because that would be saying, “I’m not a true Muslim.”

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Exactly.

Jeff King: “I’m not a serious Muslim.”

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Exactly.

Jeff King: And they’re never going to do that. Right. So, in terms of splitting. You talked about one angle, where there’s going to be divisions. It’s all strategies, really.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right.

Jeff King: But just, you know, with… You’re the student of the Taliban, so I’m assuming there’s lots of different leaders or groups, and the enemy of the enemy is my friend, so we’ll band together. But then when there’s all this gold to grab and all this power to grab, you’re going to see the knives come out internally. Do you know much on the internal makeup and how things would split that way, or if they will?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Well, there is an internal tension between ISIS, the doctrine of ISIS and Taliban and Al-Qaeda. So, if you’re familiar with those arguments, ISIS believes that it’s creating the califate that the savior will return to, that the [inaudible] will come to. And Al-Qaeda and Taliban’s traditional rigid Suni doctrine says they’re waiting for the Messiah to come. So, they can’t create the caliphate, they can’t recreate the caliphate until the Messiah comes.

So there’s an internal tension in the doctrine, so there’s always going to be a tension between ISIS and the Taliban over these doctrinal issues. Now, is there going to be an eventual reconciliation between ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban, that says that Afghanistan becomes the official caliphate? I can’t imagine they could do that, but that’s a perfect storm of crazy for the rest of the world. That if they actually have control… Because remember, they tried to gain control of Syria, but they didn’t have control of Syria. You know, Assad has control of Syria. They had controlled parts of it, and never actually were able to set up their state. But now, with control of Afghanistan, what does that mean for all of these radical ideologues that are looking for a force and a place where they could reconstitute? And with all of our weapons.

It is beyond crazy. Because in Iraq we saw a similar thing. I have to tell you that in the Middle East, people thought that America purposely created ISIS, because again, we left trucks and tanks and artillery in Iraq that was used to create ISIS. And so, just the thought that we did this all over again in Afghanistan. And it seems like, from what I’m understanding, to an even greater degree, and after what we witnessed in ISIS and what we saw happen in the United States. Because I’ll tell you, towards the end of my career in D.C., I was focused almost entirely on homegrown Zion extremists. Like homegrown terrorists, so they were Americans that were turning to ISIS. I had interviewed them around the country. I had done internal investigations with the FBI about turning them from guardian cases into full blown investigations, and deciding the level of their religiosity. And it was literally one of the most fascinating things I had ever seen.

That how do you take a kid from the middle of Oklahoma, and turn him into an Islamic terrorist?

And so now, with the rise of the Taliban, I’m really concerned about what their capabilities, and what that recruitment will look like in Western nations.

Jeff King: It’s fascinating. Talk about, if you will… I don’t know if you have any thoughts on this. When you look at Erdogan and the rise of Erdogan, and his view of his own place in history and his dream to rebuild the caliphate, and his desire for influence and to build a superpower around their Ottoman Empire reborn, what is he looking at? When he sees the Taliban, and now that we’ve been defeated and thrown out, what is he doing, and what’s his play with Afghanistan?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Interesting question. I haven’t thought much about Erdogan since this, but I know, again doctrinally, he has somewhat of a competing view with ISIS, in the sense that he does believe he holds the seat of the Ottoman Empire, and he can recreate it. And I don’t think he’d look at the Afghans as a threat, to tell you the truth. I think he’s a little too arrogant.

Jeff King: No, I’m not thinking of that. No.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Right? That he’s-

Jeff King: No, no, no. Yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: But he would feel empowered or emboldened by the decrease in American might. I think the whole world will look at the way this administration has reduced our global dominance, to a point where our allies are afraid, and our enemies are emboldened.

Jeff King: Yeah. Yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: And so, I could see Erdogan using this as an opportunity to grab power for himself as well.

Jeff King: Yeah. And I would say, you know, few could argue the need to pull out. I mean, look at the Brits. Look at the Russians. I mean, it’s the lesson of history. You cannot dominate Afghanistan. So, few would argue that look, after 20 years and a couple trillion dollars, this isn’t working. But the way it was mismanaged is… And that’s not a political statement. It’s just like mind boggling that we’ve given these extreme radicals an army like they never could have imagined, weapons like they never could have imagined. It’s just insane.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: And I mean there’s countries, whether Japan or Germany, South Korea, we maintain a security force in many nations-

Jeff King: Yeah. That’s right.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: … for a variety of purposes. So, there’s no reason we couldn’t have kept Bagram with 1,000, 1,500 soldiers for our national security interests. And so, the rationale that we had to make sure that everybody was gone is just false.

Jeff King: That’s right. And look at Cuba.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: It’s just false because… Yeah, exactly.

Jeff King: Yeah. Oh my gosh. Well, these are interesting times. I’ll say that.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: So, what does the church needs to hear in regards to radical Islam, in regards to Afghanistan? What would your message be for the church?

Hedieh Mirahmadi: One thing that I pray about a lot is that we’re going to have thousands of Afghans come to the United States. And one thing that I repeatedly tell people is please witness to them. Any opportunity you have to share the Gospel, do not be afraid or intimidated by the fact that they say they’re Muslims, because they’re more hungry than you could possibly imagine. Many of them are displaced by the evil of the Taliban and of religion, and promising salvation and telling them about the love of Christ is a huge gift. You have to create the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work. You don’t do the work. You just create the opportunity for it to work. So I really, really want to encourage your listeners and people to just share the Gospel. And it doesn’t mean you have to force them, because that’s not what this is about. You could share by asking them to tell their religious experience or their faith journey, and then you in response get the opportunity to share your faith journey.

Jeff King: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well said.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: And not be intimidated by the fact that somebody’s Muslim, or, “Oh, they’re going to be very offended by me talking about Jesus.” It’s not true. Actually, I don’t ever remember my Muslim friends ever being offended by a Christian. Because remember, there’s an inherent respect for Jesus in the Quran, so the mention of Jesus, it’s not like a Hindu God, that you’re suddenly going to be off-putting. Muslims love Jesus. Though as the Lord Jesus Christ it’s a different… They have a false understanding of who He really is, but that beginning conversation is not offensive, and I really encourage people to have the boldness and the belief that the Gospel is the solution to their lives and their struggles, and to share the Gospel.

Jeff King: Yeah. So well said. And you think about the culture they’re coming from, and what community and relationship means, and how isolated they are. And in Western culture we’re so isolated to begin with, but just the hospitality alone of reaching out and forming a relationship is just a huge basis to bring them to faith, because they’re loved and touched by somebody, and it would mean so much. Immigrant life is so lonely and so frightening, and they’re on a really tough journey. So-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Absolutely. I recount the story in my last Christian Coast article of a dear friend of mine who told me her story of being an Iraqi refugee in Germany, and the horrible conditions, the way they lived. What she was describing was so heartbreaking. And she said the neighborhood church asked her, like they invited them to the neighborhood church, but they didn’t have an Arab translator. So even though she was a devout Muslim, they hired her to translate, so they could have an open house for the Iraqis. It took six months, but she eventually was saved, and it was the open hearted nature of that pastor who said… When she said, “But you know I’m a Muslim,” and he says, “I don’t mind. Do you mind?” And she’s like, “Well, no. If you don’t mind, I don’t mind.” And so, she was literally reading the Bible and preaching the Gospel to a bunch of other Muslims, so not only was she saved, but a whole bunch of other people from the camp were saved.

Jeff King: Yeah.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: And that was just the courage and wisdom and openheartedness of this pastor that said, “You know what? I’m just going to invite them, and let the Lord do what He does.”

Jeff King: Yeah. What a beautiful story. I don’t want to end on a downer note, but something. We’re calling out to people to say reach out, share the Gospel, and unfortunately, you just think of the state of the church today. How many churches train people in evangelism? I just think of the quagmire we find ourselves in culturally, and in terms of religion, even. I’m like, if we would only wake up and share the Gospel. The dead are all around us looking for life, and yet the church is asleep, and we’re not sharing our faith. So, but hopefully it happens as Afghans come over, but we need to do it all the time. It’s really the answer. We need to revive, and we need to bring people to faith, and to say-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Amen.

Jeff King: And to say to people, “We have the answer.” If you don’t, then you’re not really a believer, if you don’t think you have the answer. Because the dead are all around you, and they’re looking for life, and you were placed there for a reason, and it wasn’t to make money or to promote your social media channel or whatever other crazy idea we have about life in the West. So, anyways. Sorry. It’s a little bit of a tangent, but I just keep feeling it. So-

Hedieh Mirahmadi: No. But I mean, I hope your listeners are encouraged. My husband describes it as he was walking around as a Christian for 20 years, and literally met God two years ago.

So, the Lord is calling His elect, and He’s knocking on people’s doors and saying, “Get up. Let’s go.” He’s literally-

Jeff King: “Can I come in?”

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes. And even Christians, people who have spent decades calling themselves a Christian, are meeting the Lord Jesus Christ in miraculous ways.

Jeff King: Yes.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: So, I’m hoping that people will hear the call and go out and call others.

Jeff King: Yeah, and it really starts with us to call for personal revival.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: That we are broken, that we can’t live life on our own. We’d love to do it. We cannot. And we must be transformed. Whether we know the Lord or not, we need a fresh revival ourselves, and to call out for a country… Not for the political. Not for, “I want a political this, or I want to live as a Christian, to live as… ” We don’t want religion. We want people to honor God. We want people to find life. And that has to be our burning passion.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes, to have a relationship with the Lord.

Jeff King: Yes.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: You know? To achieve salvation. God wanted that no one would perish, so we have to have that same burning that no one would perish.

Jeff King: Yes. A political win is in no means a revival.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: None.

Jeff King: It just so pales in comparison. We just have to have revival. We have to call out to the Lord. That’s part of our job, for us to be personally renewed and to call out for a revival or renewal, and for a fresh meeting of His spirit to fall on our country.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Yes.

Jeff King: Hedieh, it’s been such a pleasure to talk to you, and I’ve so enjoyed it.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: Oh, thank you. For me, too.

Jeff King: All righty. Well, God bless you, and thank you for the time.

Hedieh Mirahmadi: God bless you. Thank you so much.

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