Dan Baumann spent time in his twenties as a Christian missionary in Muslim countries. It was then and would still be today a very dangerous undertaking. In January of 1997 he and a fellow missionary began a two-week visit to Iran. While they were there they came to love the country and its people. All was fine until they prepared to leave Iran and return to the United States.
After turning in their travel documents to be stamped, they were detained at the border exit. They were told there was a problem with their papers. The two men were separated and put in separate rooms where they were beaten and interrogated for the next six hours. Then they were dressed in prison clothes, blindfolded and put in separate cells. Dan and his friend were imprisoned in Iran!
There was nothing they could do. They would have to rely on God to perform a miracle to rescue them from their situation.
In his isolated cell it was hard for Dan to sense any feeling of God. All he could do was trust the Lord and know that He was true no matter how Dan felt or what his captors did to him. His cell had only one dim light in a corner, and it was on twenty-four hours a day. It was wintertime and the heater in the cell did not work well. He only left the cell when he was taken each day into a dark interrogation room with blood-stained floors. There he was beaten, slapped, punched and kicked. It was a terrifying experience.
There came a time when Dan doubted he could go on, and he resolved to end his life. He tried four times to drown himself in a small sink in the cell, but each time he was too afraid to carry it through. He was completely broken in spirit and felt great shame.
One day, all of a sudden ..., the cell was filled with a bright light, and there was Jesus saying to him, “Dan, I love you, and I promise to carry you through this time.”1 From that moment on Dan never had those doubting thoughts again.
His encounter with Jesus challenged his attitude towards his interrogator. He was able to see him as God saw and loved him. At the next interrogation, Dan found himself telling the interrogator that if they were going to continue to meet, they should become friends and call one another by name.
At first the interrogator refused, but then Dan stuck out his hand. The man froze and after a few minutes began to visibly shake. Slowly, he extended his hand to Dan and tears started rolling down his cheeks. He looked at Dan, told Dan his name and said he would also like to be his friend. There is no heart that is too hard for Jesus to soften. He had taught Dan to love his enemy.
Later Dan overheard some of the guards talking about him and his friend, how they were Christians and followers of Jesus. The guards had seen how Dan had a reason to live and a reason to die, and they wanted that, too. They wanted to know Jesus and learn about His ways. Dan now knew why he had been put in the prison.
Dan was placed under two death sentences, one as a missionary and one as a spy. When it was his time to appear in court before the judge, along with cameras and hundreds of people, he was asked why he had come to Iran.
Dan felt the power of the Lord surge in him. He looked directly at the judge and said, “I came to Iran to tell you about Jesus Christ.” He said it again and again, and then for the next twenty minutes preached the Gospel and told the people in the courtroom how God loved them. Dan knew he was free no matter what happened to him on earth—he had a home in Heaven with Jesus. No one could take that away from him. Dan was imprisoned for nine weeks in Iran, and then released by the country’s highest court. He received the miracle he had hoped for.
Today Dan serves with Youth With a Mission at the YWAM training center in Kona, Hawaii, where he disciples to young people. He also travels around the world and in the States teaching, challenging and encouraging youth to learn about and to love Jesus. He has written three books, Imprisoned in Iran—Love’s Victory Over Fear, A Beautiful Way, and A Fresh Look at Fear, recently published in January, 2015.
For further information, please see ywam.org and danbaumann.com.