I have vivid memories of being 4 years old, in my house in Tehran waiting for my dad to come home from getting groceries. I stood at the door and saw him running down the street, avoiding intensifying riots right there in our neighborhood. The decision was made for my mom and me to leave the heart of it and go stay with my grandparents in London for two weeks.
Meanwhile, my mom began experiencing leg pains, numbness and an occasional loss of balance. Shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
Two weeks were extended to two years as it was decided we would not go back. At some point during those two years, my dad joined us after getting on the last flight before the borders in Iran were closed to anyone, incoming or outgoing. Meanwhile, hostages were in the midst of their 444 days locked in the American Embassy in Iran.
My aunt, who lived in California suggested we come to Los Angeles, to get my mom away from the cold, damp London air that exacerbated her symptoms. The U.S. immigration policy at the time allowed her to help us get green cards. We were “vetted” – whatever that process was at the time. We did our due diligence and were welcomed through the borders of Los Angeles International Airport. My dad got a job, I went to school and my mom was able to begin receiving care from a neurologist and eventually through government aid for all the medical assistance she required. I lost my British accent and began to blend into my environment.
Several years after I was welcomed to the US, I was awakened to the welcoming community of Christ. He who began to reveal Himself to me as He did to my mother and her siblings in an American missionary school in Tehran, became a full indwelling part of my life. Once again, I was welcomed in.
Now, I live in a paradoxical space of being naturalized, born again and still afraid. That same spirit that wrecked the country I fled as a little girl, continues to wreak havoc on the same region and haunts the waters between us. The same spirit of terror lures unsuspecting young people with a God-given desire to belong. Some raised here like me, and some even born here inside our borders to martyr themselves to their cause, drive planes into buildings and shoot innocent people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino. The same spirit of terror that strikes fear in me when I wonder, what will happen next?
Today I went to the grocery store and a woman walked in at the same time with her head covered. I smiled and said, I’m glad you’re here. She said thank you, God bless you.
He already has.