One of my tasks is to prepare Iranians who have converted to Christianity for their asylum court hearing. In that interview, the judge will try to assess whether Jesus Christ is at the center of the applicant’s life. If he or she is not able to demonstrate an authentic Christian faith, extradition to Iran is likely and prison or perhaps even execution for having left Islam will await them. Last week an Iranian parishioner and I went over some of the questions: “What is your favorite Bible verse?”, “What is your Baptism verse?”… “Samuel” answered all the questions well. Then I asked him, “Back home in Iran, who knows that you have converted to Christianity?” Silence. I looked up from my notes. Samuel’s eyes were starting to well up. “Some of my friends do….and so does my father…” “How did he react when you converted?” I asked. “My father is a very devout Muslim. He disowned me. I have not told him my address because he and my brother-in-law would come here… to kill me.” “Wow, I am so sorry to hear that…” We sat there in silence. Tears were rolling down his face. After a while, I placed my hand on his shoulder. “You know, over time the Holy Spirit conforms us to the image of Christ [Romans 8:29]. Do you know what image best typifies our Lord?” I pointed to a crucifix hanging on the wall. “You and I are being conformed to that very same image. And that can hurt. But at the same time, Jesus knows exactly how you feel because He experienced something similar in his own family. The Bible says, “For not even his brothers believed in him” (John 7:5). I left our meeting worrying that the “Theology of the Cross,” as it is called, might have been too much for him. But a few hours Samuel sent me a text message: “For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in“ (see image). Samuel got it: while being conformed to the image of Christ may be painful, at the end of the day, Jesus Christ always walks alongside us. And He will always take us in.