OUR STORIES

The Patient Unfolding
of Grace

Johnny and Janice Kazeminezhad

In a world of instant answers and high speed information, it is difficult to comprehend the patient unfolding of God’s grace. It is equally perplexing for a hurried society to imagine the Creator of the universe taking years, even decades, to cultivate one human soul, patiently drawing that soul to Christ. But indeed, God is a patient Father, and Johnny Kaz is that one soul.

As a teenager, Johnny came to America with his family, but after one year in the States, he was anxious to return to Iran and all things familiar. Iran, however, was engulfed in turmoil; therefore, his parents insisted he remain in America, settle down, and build a life. Reluctantly, he agreed.

Mississippi became his new home and eventually he met and married a work associate, Janice. The couple understood they had vastly different backgrounds, especially in the area of religion. Johnny was Muslim; Janice was Christian. Over the years they respected one another’s differences. Even after their three children were born, Johnny had no qualms with Janice attending church and taking the children with her. He even occasionally attended Morrison Heights Baptist Church with his family, but he had no interest in his wife’s God, her church, or her Jesus.

The Lord, however, was patiently working.

Janice quietly lived her Christian faith in their home. Johnny recalls Janice reading her Bible and occasionally reading passages aloud to him—not as a bully stick, but as a tender means of conversation. He especially liked hearing Psalm 23. He thought it was a beautiful poem. One evening, while watching the nightly news, he saw the Scripture reference, Psalm23, scrawled on a building in Iraq, put there by a US soldier as the army invaded hostile territory. Johnny perked up. “Hey, I know that psalm!”

Johnny was convinced he could manage his own life. When difficulties came, he turned to Islam, the religion of his Iranian family. Islam, however, held no answers and no peace in the trials of life. He recalled the preaching of Pastor Greg at Morrison Heights Baptist Church, but the spiritual blinders were firmly in place. Johnny’s resistant heart seemed resolute. But God….the patient Father, was working.

Johnny remembers well the day the spiritual blinders came off. Decades after leaving his home in Iran, without fanfare or spectacle, the pieces of the gospel simply came together. He understood he was a sinner in need of a Savior. The decades of cultivation finally bore fruit. Johnny Kaz met Jesus and life has never been the same.

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