Dan Baumann’s devotion to Jesus took him from California all the way to Afghanistan, where he worked at a volunteer an eye hospital.
Soon, he set his sights on neighboring Iran and in 1997, Dan took what was supposed to be a two-week trip.
It turned into a nine week nightmare as a prisoner of the Iranian Islamic regime.
“In my walk with the Lord, and in many dangerous places I’ve always seen God come through. And all of sudden the thought hit me, ‘Well, what if this is different?'”
Iran’s government falsely charged him with spying and being a missionary, which both carried death sentences.
“It was out of my hands. It was nothing I could do,” he said. “Either God would do a miracle or I would stay there.”
In his book, “Cell 58,” Dan writes of being alone in a small dark room with his only interaction being interrogated and beaten by prison guards.
Broken and afraid, Dan decided his only escape was to take his own life.
“Four times I tried to kill myself, but every time I tried I was too scared to tie the other end,” he remembers.
In his final, failed attempt, Dan had a vision that broke the despair.
“And I remember lying down on the ground. In that moment, all of the sudden, the room fills with this glorious light. And I turn around to see what was going on, and there is Jesus…and it was at that lowest point that He met me.”
The turnaround provided hope, an ability to keep going, and strength to forgive and even befriend the guard who regularly beat him.
It also gave him the courage to boldly proclaim his faith in front of his accusers and an Iranian judge.
“And for about 20 minutes I just preached the Gospel,” he recalls. “And I told everyone in that courtroom. And I told everyone who could hear me all about who Jesus is. All about how much he loved them. All of the sudden, I realized something: ‘I am free. I am free. So what if they kill me? My life is bought by the blood of Jesus. My home is in heaven, and no one can take that away.'”
“In the midst of death itself, God gave me the grace to stand up and speak the truth and in doing so it brought freedom in my heart knowing that this isn’t it. There is more, and I’m going home one day. And no one can take that away.”
After nine weeks, the head judge announced Dan’s release and today his unshakable faith and commitment to God extends to the next generation as he trains, equips, and encourages young people to serve in missions.