Why I renounce Islam and choose Christ


By Reza Kahlili

The radical mullahs who rule Iran want me dead, first for betraying my country as a member of the Revolutionary Guards who spied for the CIA, and now for renouncing the religion that allows them to cling to their tyranny.

Modern-day Iran has been dominated by Islam since the Muslim conquest of Persia in the seventh century. When I was born, during the reign of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, there was freedom of religion, but, like the vast majority of people, I was raised a Muslim. Though many Iranians did not practice the religion, they were respectful of its belief, and it was through my grandmother that I learned about Islam and how I could find my way to God in becoming a pure human being.

Islam has been passed from one generation to another, each believing that it represented a God who loved and promoted respect, justice and enlightenment. I grew up believing in a loving God, always relying on Him to help me choose the right path in life. When the Islamic Revolution took place in 1979, sending the shah into exile, I returned home from the United States, where I had just finished my education. I wanted to help my country progress, hopeful that there would be full democracy. I believed that Ayatollah Khomeini would be true to his promise of freedom for all.

A childhood friend talked me into joining the Revolutionary Guards because of the knowledge and expertise in computers I had learned in the United States. But only months later I was shocked to witness the most heinous crimes taking place under the banner of Islam.

The mullahs forced Iranians to adhere to a strict Islamic dress code and subjected them to amputation as the punishment for stealing, lashing for drinking, stoning for adultery. Boys and girls seeking the freedoms promised to them were rounded up and taken to Evin prison. Many were raped, tortured and executed, among them my best friend and his siblings. Teenage girls were raped prior to execution because in Islam a virgin can go to heaven, and the “men of God” wanted to deny them that reward. Others were slowly lowered in tanks of acid so they would die painfully.

Khomeini and the clerics announced themselves as representatives of Allah on earth and declared anyone opposing them to be a “Moharb,” an enemy of God. The punishment was execution. Tens of thousands were executed.

With that horror unfolding, I chose to return to the United States and collaborate with the CIA, hoping to help overthrow an evil regime that had hijacked my country in the name of Allah. I returned to Iran after CIA training, and my espionage career began. During all those ensuing years as I witnessed unimaginable crimes committed by the clerics, I believed they misrepresented Islam. What God could demand such cruelty?

As I learned more about the Quran and what Muhammad prescribed, I concluded that Islam as now practiced in Iran is no true religion, that the Allah of the criminal ayatollahs is not the real God. Their religion turned against every principle of humanity. They instituted a cruel set of laws that represent intolerance, savagery and injustice, representative of an evil mind, not a loving God.

So I renounced Islam and began the quest to find the real God, the one who had blessed me so often in very dangerous times as a CIA spy. In that journey through a few Christian friends, I came to learn about Jesus. I found myself deeply moved by the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. His words spread through my soul as seeds sprout and grow, opening my eyes and my heart to the real love of our Lord. It was then that I knew beyond doubt that the Bible was the true Word of God. That Jesus was the One I had always been looking for.

Jesus came to me when I needed guidance. He came to me at a time when my faith in man and religion was totally shaken. His words and His love became the guiding light to set me free from sin and hopelessness. I found myself knowing there is goodness and kindness and that it comes from within us – that it is only through His love that we will find peace and eternal life.

Islam preaches (Quran, 5:33): “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement.”

Our Lord, Christ says (Luke 6:37-38): “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give and it will be given to you.” And in Luke 6:32-36: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful as your Father is merciful.”

After a long journey, I have finally found my God. I feel at home now. And as I continue my fight against the evil in Iran, I know in my heart that the Lord will guide me in that fight because He loves the people of Iran even more than I do. The Iranian people are desperate for their freedom, and Jesus says, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (John 8:31-32).”

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for an ex-CIA spy who requires anonymity for safety reasons. He is a senior fellow with EMPact America and the author of “A Time to Betray,” a book about his double life as a CIA agent in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. “A Time to Betray” was the winner of the 2010 National Best Book Award, and the 2011 International Best Book Award.



40 Comments so far ↓

  1. Athesia says:

    God bless your soul, Reza. The Lord Jesus reigns!!

  2. PupNDan says:

    Surely the end draws near as we view those calling on HIM in the last days! Rejoicing to have a new brother in CHRIST.

  3. Greg Kuehn says:

    Praying for you and your family! Soon we will see Him together and rejoice in His grace. He’s coming!

  4. HisBeloved says:

    Welcome to the family!!!

  5. Reza Kahlili says:

    Thank you all for your support and God Bless.

  6. Linda says:

    That is a beautifully written article. This scripture,
    Luke 6:37-38 was like a balm on my heart. We often only read the first part but the entire section is so beautiful and gets to the heart of what makes a Christ based life so different from other religions.
    God Bless you for sharing your amazing journey with the world and all the work you do to get this message out.

  7. NL says:

    Thank you so much for writing this book. I am passing this on to an Iranian Christian and others who will be encouraged.

  8. Sally says:

    My heart overflows with praise to God after reading your testimony. His Spirit is moving in the lives of Muslims all over the world. Let’s all keep praying fervently that even the radical Muslims will discover that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6)
    I rejoice with you, dear brother in Christ!

  9. Pat Junker says:

    I was greatly blessed by reading your book and have shared it with another. I am thrilled to know that you have trusted Christ as your Saviour. I am much in prayer for the Muslim people who live here in Michigan and trust the Lord will work in the hearts of many here. Pat Junker

  10. Reza Kahlili says:

    Thank you all and thank you for reading my book. Your support and messages of friendship has touched me deeply.Please pray for the Iranians so they can experience freedom from the evil in Iran. God Bless.

  11. soundofbattle says:

    Reza, our prayers are with you. How we thank God for your testimony of faith in our Lord and for your life. May God protect you and continue to use you for His honor and glory.

    Radical love for a needy people…

  12. Life on a mission says:

    Praise the Lord brother! May the love of Christ overflow you and your life. What an awesome testimony of how awesome, caring, and long-suffering our Lord is. He’s been patiently waiting for you! Awesome-awesome-awesome! Welcome!

  13. Chadbourne Zitek says:

    Praise YHWH! It’s wonderful that you have found salvation in the blood of our passover lamb, Yeshua ha’Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah). I can’t wait to get to meet you in the Kingdom. :)

  14. Reza, I am very happy to hear this wonderful news. I am an American, raised in Brazil since 7 years old. I read your book recently and was greatly blessed and impacted by it as I was by Joel Rosenberg’s books before. We have a Christian magazine and we just published an issue on this whole situation in the world, centering on Iran. May God bless you and your family richly!

  15. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Harold, thank you for sharing your story. Please share the link to your magazine so we can read the articles. I love to come to Brazil one day, I hear it is beautiful.
    God Bless you and your family.

  16. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Chadbourne, thank you for your kind comment.soundofbattle, I appreciate your prayers, it is much needed.Life on a mission, thank you and it is truly awesome and I appreciate you sharing your feelings here.
    God Bless you all.

  17. Heidi says:

    Dear Reza, Today I finished “A Time to Betray”and found it to be well written and captivating! As I walked and prayed this afternoon, I asked the Lord to bring you and you family to faith in Jesus Christ. Imagine my joy when I turned on my computer moments later and got an e-mail from Joel saying that the Lord had answered my prayer before I prayed it. Praise His Name!

  18. Diane says:

    I am in the middle of your book. Thanks for being brave enough to tell the truth. It’s hard to imagine all the atrocities you have been through to help save the Iranian people and now because of your faith in Jesus Christ. May God Bless you and your family and keep you safe.

  19. Beth A. Glock Seng says:

    Dear Reza, My husband and I read your book together as we were traveling, and just finished it last week. We were touched by your honest prayers to God, even as one who had not found Jesus Christ yet. When we finished your book, our only response was to bow and pray for you that you and your family would find truth in Jesus. We are full of joy to hear what you wrote. The true God is an awesome God who loves to answer our prayers!

  20. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Heidi, thank you for sharing that and thank you for reading my book and what a timing for you to see Joel’s email.

    Dear Diane, I appreciate the fact that you are reading A Time to Betray, I hope that you like it.

    Dear Beth, I am so happy that you both have read it and liked it and thank you for sharing your joy.

    I thank all of you for your friendship, kindness and for your prayers. I am touched by your love and I hope some day soon we can share this love and the truth with all the people of Iran.

    God bless

  21. Frank says:

    Reza: You are indeed a courageous and brave man and your decision to believe in and follow Jesus is the most courageous of all! You will never regret that decision, especially in the world to come. My wife and I are praying and will continue to pray for your safety, peace and well being. Your testimony will influence untold numbers of people and you will see the results of that in Heaven!

  22. stephanie says:

    What courage and devotion. I cant wait to read your book. Keep spreading your story and what Christ did. Cant wait to meet in heaven one day!!

  23. april says:

    Dear Reza, My husband and I have just finished reading your book. It was very well written and captivated me…could not put it down. I personally want to thank you for what you did and the sacrifices you made for justice in your country. I was also touched by your prayers to God which came from such a sincere place in your heart. Obviously, those prayers are what brought you to the place you are now..a believer in Jesus Christ. You are an inspiration to me and I am praying for you and your family. Your book has inspired me to pray for those that are persecuted around the world. book! Thank you for your sacrifice to do the right thing in a dangerous world. God Bless You and Your Family

  24. Janet Leimenstoll says:

    Hallelujah & thank You Jesus! I read your book and was fascinated, but was so sad that at the end you hadn’t found Jesus through all you had experienced. You had to be so close after facing and fighting against all that evil, and so I was praying for you to find The Answer. Praise God for His grace & mercy, and may He use you in mighty ways!

  25. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Stephanie,
    Thank you so much for your kind comment.I truly appreciate it.

    Dear april,
    You are very kind and I appreciate your heartfelt comment and I am glad you enjoyed the read. I hope some day soon we can celebrate the defeat of the evil in Iran and share our joy with all Iranians who are desperate for their freedom.

    Dear Janet,
    I appreciate your feedback and your prayers which is much needed at these difficult times. In the end love will overcome hate and the righteous will prevail.

    God bless you all. Your support has given me the needed energy to carry on.

  26. Al Boesenberg says:

    Dear Brother Reza: Hallelujah, and Glory to our Father. I just finished the book yesterday, and today I read of your commitment. It doesn’t get any better than that. God is Almighty and Awesome! But please, Please tell us about Somaya, Omid and Kelly with Arya, Moheb Khan, and finally Rasool so that we know how to pray for them. Are they all in the Family of faith in Christ. Somaya wanted three children. May the Lord give you many spiritual children in addition to Omid. May you enjoy great fruitfulness in your service for the King of Kings. May He keep Somaya in remission, even as He has kept my wife Betty in remission for 8 years. Blessings abundant to you Brother.


  27. praying brother says:

    My other email acct got hijacked, but this one shouldn’t. Please know that we will ask others to pray for you here in Brazil. There is an awakening starting to happen here too. Your life and story are a part of that and it is thrilling to see our Lord at work in so many unique ways.

    The books and other materials need to be in Portuguese, as this country is becoming strategic for reaching our world.

    May God protect your heart, body and mind as you allow Him to reach out through you.

  28. Al Boesenberg says:

    Dear Brother Reza:

    Praise be to the Lord for His great salvation. Please tell us if Somaya, Omid and Kelly with Arya, Moheb Khan, and finally Big Guy Rasool are with you in the fold, so that we know how to pray for you all.

    Maranatha! Your brother in Christ-Al Boesenberg

  29. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Frank,
    I thank you for your kind and gracious comment and for you and your wife’s prayers. I hope we see a free Iran soon.

    Dear Al,
    Thank you for reading my book and thank you for your comment and concern about my family. Everyone is well, thank the Lord and Arya is a joy to watch. We are lucky in that we get to see him often. As for the Big guy, I cannot talk about due to the special circumstances but I do pray for him every night. I see that both of our wives share the pain of going through the recovery process but we are very lucky to have them and I pray that both you and your wife and us here grow old together.

    Dear praying brother,
    Thanks again for your kindness and some good news is that we are working with a publisher in Brazil so a possibility that it might also get published there.

    God Bless.

  30. chris parker says:

    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
    Heb 11:6

    Amen and God bless

  31. Kimberly says:

    Dear Reza, Your book arrived in the mail on Friday just as my family and I left for a trip over Labor Day Weekend. I could not put it down and finished when I got home last night. Throughout the whole book I kept thinking, “Wow, God really protected this man. The Lord must have a big plan and purpose for him.” Also, your convictions and the way you were able to see through the deception that was all around you when others could not, I also felt were from the Lord. I was surprised to see at the end of the book that you never mentioned becoming a Christian and so I started praying for you. Today I found your blog and found the wonderful news! God is so good! And in His goodness He will continue to heal the hurts, trauma and bad memories from everything you have experienced. Time does not heal all wounds, but God does. And that is something to praise God about! Rejoice and may the Lord richly bless you!

  32. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Kimberly,

    I thank you for your gracious comment and for your prayers. I am glad that you liked the book. I hope some day soon, we can all celebrate the freedom of Iranians and the defeat of this evil in Iran. I know that many in Iran will be ready to receive Jesus as now they know the truth about Islam. God bless you and your family. Please keep us in your prayers.

  33. Chela says:

    Dear Reza,

    I just finished reading your book last week and could hardly put it down. Thank you so much for sharing your heart for the people of your country and for all the years of risks you took on their behalf. I know it must have been grievous beyond words for you to keep your secret life hidden from your family all those years, but I know that God will reward you for doing what was right, because as you shared, He loves the people of your home country and desires their freedom even more. I must say, that while I was reading your book I was longing more than anything for you and your family to know Christ, the Giver of everlasting peace and freedom, so I was thrilled to read your declaration of faith in Him on your blog! I have added you and your family to my regular prayer list and will continue to pray for safety, encouragement, and wisdom. I also pray that the rest of your family, relatives, and more countrymen will come to know the peace and joy that is found in Christ alone. Thank you so much for letting Him do great things through you!

  34. Reza Kahlili says:

    Dear Chela,

    Thank you so much for your kind and heartfelt comment. I am glad you liked the read. I also thank you for the feedback. My family & I appreciate your prayers and we too pray for the day that all my countrymen will see the light. People of Iran are ready and they deserve freedom from this evil. May we witness that freedom soon. God bless you and your family.

    • Chela says:

      Thanks for your kind reply, Reza.I also wanted to share a link with you to a great book written specifically for sharing the good news of Christ with Muslim people who are searching for the truth.


      The name of the book is “All that the Prophets Have Spoken.”

      Hope you find it an encouragement.

      God’s blessings to you and your family.

  35. Yusrah says:

    I am Muslim and I live in South Africa. Here we follow different laws according to government so we have our freedom to do what we feel… It is only our strong faith in our religious beliefs that is keeping us on the path of doing good, and being kind to people of every race and religion we come across. As a Muslim… I too believe in Jesus…because in the Quran God says we should. Jesus name is mentioned more that 100 times in the Quran, that is way more than Muhammed’s (peace be upon him And whenever his name) name is mentioned in the Quraan. Muhammad also tells us about the teachings and lessons of Jesus… And in the Quran, Jesus warned us that a messenger will come after him who we should also follow… And that messenger was Muhammad. Whenever the name of Jesus is mentioned I say “peace and blessing of God be upon him” because God commands us to do so. To all the fellow human beings who believes in a higher power… I wish you health and happiness and love always.#Peace

  36. Lena C says:

    The Lord Jesus reigns! He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. There is no other.

    Praise Him that another has understood that the Lord Jesus is right: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. John 14:6.

    Oh Muslim, do you have a way to cleanse your sins before Almighty God? Our sin is too great to pay it ourselves.

    Find a Bible and read about the claims of Jesus. Also, in Genesis. Abraham offered his son and was held back; it is a picture of what is needed.

  37. Sandra says:

    Count it all joy, brother!

  38. Grace B.Dumangeng says:

    I can not express how i feel. i just believe in my heart that Jesus will touch more people like you,Open the eyes of your tribe to see Jesus of Nazareth as the only way, and the true lover of every soul.your story is just one of the great stories i ever heard how Christ is moving and capturing the heart of people specially the muslim world. we love you and we rejoice with you.Adonai Bless you

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