Interview: Author Daniel Nayeri Tells the Story of His Mother’s Conversion and Fleeing Iran

By Gospel in Life

An interview with award winning author Daniel Nayeri about his latest book.

Excerpt from Daniel Nayeri’s Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) (pgs 195-197):
My mom was a sayyed from the bloodline of the Prophet (which you know about now). In Iran if you convert from Islam to Christianity or Judaism, it’s a capital crime.

That means if they find you guilty in religious court, they kill you. But if you convert to something else, like Buddhism or something, then it’s not so bad. Probably because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sister religions, and you always have the worst fights with your sister.”

And probably nothing happens if you’re just a six year old. Except if you say, “I’m a Christian now.” in your school, chances are the Committee will hear about it and raid your house, because if you’re a Christian now, then so are your parents probably. And the Committee does stuff way worse than killing you.

When my sister walked out of her room and said she met Jesus, my mom knew all that.

And here is the part that gets hard to believe: Sima, my mom, read about him and became a Christian too. Not just a regular one, who keeps it in their pocket. She fell in love. She wanted everybody to have what she had, to be free, to realize that in other religions you have rules and codes and obligations to follow to earn good things, but all you had to do with Jesus was believe he was the one who died for you.

And she believed.

When I tell the story in Oklahoma, this is the part where the grown-ups always interrupt me. They say, “Okay, but why did she convert?”

Cause up to that point, I’ve told them about the house with the birds in the walls, all the villages my grandfather owned, all the gold, my mom’s own medical practice—all the amazing things she had that we don’t have anymore because she became a Christian.

All the money she gave up, so we’re poor now.

But I don’t have an answer for them.

How can you explain why you believe anything? So I just say what my mom says when people ask her. She looks them in the eye with the begging hope that they’ll hear her and she says, “Because it’s true.”

It’s true and it’s more valuable than seven million dollars in gold coins, and thousands of acres of Persian countryside, and ten years of education to get a medical degree, and all your family, and a home, and the best cream puffs of Jolfa, and even maybe your life.

My mom wouldn’t have made the trade otherwise. If you believe it’s true, that there is a God and He wants you to believe in Him and He sent His Son to die for you—then it has to take over your life. It has to be worth more than everything else, because heaven’s waiting on the other side.

To hear more of Daniel Nayeri’s story watch the Gospel in Life interview below.

Other Summer 2021 Articles