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A New Book from Pastor Mani Erfan

First Question – Who Am I? I am a Child of my Father

Chapter 1 – Identity Crisis

Understanding one’s identity is by definition the answer to the question “Who am I?”

That is a fundamental question that has to be answered for every believer. Most Christians have a partial or incomplete understanding of their true identity. Some have a corrupted or false view of themselves.
Almost all behavior is rooted in the identity and the perception that a person has of him or herself. If a man perceives himself to be a winner, successful, and an achiever his behavior will be rooted and reinforced by that belief. Naturally, he will be confident, determined, optimistic, and probably more apt to take risk and more often that naught to succeed in life. Such a positive attitude and belief in one self actually overcomes physical shortcomings in many cases.

In contrast, a person who due to their past failures or experiences or physical shortcomings has a perception of themselves as a failure, non-desirable, un-attractive or weak usually is easily afraid, tepid, unsure of themselves, indecisive, and this follows a pattern of ongoing failure.
A false identity rooted in demonic lies will cause major behavioral insecurities that can result in destructive patterns of behavior that will surely destroy relationships, scuttle marriages, cause businesses and partnerships to fail, impede church and ministry growth and cause social and spiritual isolation.

One can say with absolute confidence that how a person sees themselves is critical to their pattern of behavior.

The greatest example of this in the Bible is seen in the account of the twelve Israelite spies sent to Canaan to spy on the land. Their mission was to gather information for the tribes prior to the intended crossing of the Jordan and facilitate a successful conquest of the Promised Land.
Now the Jews had experienced some of the most spectacular miracles ever seen by human eyes in history up to that time. They had just walked in the midst of the Red-Sea and seen God miraculously destroy the most powerful army of ancient times, the Pharaoh’s army in mere moments.
They had seen and lived through the 10 plagues that befell Egypt. Each plague was a supernatural miracle.

They had seen God’s provision of food and water miraculously be provided in the midst of one of the most barren deserts in the world. I know this first hand, as I have gone to the Sinai desert several times; it is truly barren, inhospitable and dry. One has to wonder how anyone could survive a week let alone 40 years in such a place, and not just one soul, but millions. There have been times that I have driven for 3-4 hours in the Sinai and I have not seen one single tree or shrub. I understand why God brought them through such a place. He wanted the Israelites to know who their God was, and He wanted them to know that they could depend on Him and trust Him. There was going to be no doubt left evidentially that their God was able to meet all their needs and fulfill all His promises to them.

But what happened is incredibly strange. The twelve spies leave the camp and spy on the land and return with an awful report. We pick up the story at Numbers 13: 31-33

“But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

I think the phrase “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes” says it all. In contrast Caleb one of the twelve spies has a complete different perception of things as he adamantly proclaims in vs 30:
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Now, Caleb must have seen the same exact thing that the rest of the spies had seen? Or did he? It is clear that this man saw himself not as a grasshopper but as a victor, a warrior and he was absolutely confident that His God was going to come to his aide. His perception and his sense of identity changed his view of the world around him. Seeing the same facts, he came to a complete different set of conclusions about himself, the outcome of the future engagement and ultimately the future of his people. Caleb’s identity was not defined or limited to himself or his tribe or his countrymen. His identity was defined by HIS GOD.

The story of the 12 spies is telling in many ways. Failure of understanding one’s identity can lead to terrible and disastrous consequences and ultimate defeat. A life destined for greatness can end up in the desert of mediocrity or worse destruction. Hell withholds nothing from its attack on believers from the moment they enter the kingdom. If we view ourselves as mere grasshoppers before the demonic giants that come against us, they we will run away from engagement, ceding Kingdom territory to the enemy, and never being brave and courageous enough to cross the river of faith and enter in the land of promise of our lives. Ultimately, heavenly destinies and the fulfillment of our Father’s hopes and dreams for our lives depend squarely on how we perceive ourselves. We are assured of this thing as the Word of the lord in Jeremiah 29:11 states:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
A wonderful destiny is in the balance, the attainment of which hinges on our understanding of our Godly identity.

Our very character and daily behavior, habits, our reaction to events in our life and our response to difficulties, our ability to remain in the faith and ultimately to endure so that we can experience true victory are based on our correct understanding of our identity.

Jesus summarized his understanding of His own identity in a simple statement: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30 NIV).

This is one of the most important recorded statements Jesus ever made and it shows how He perceived Himself. If there is one thing that I wish for the reader to grasp from this book, is this: that Jesus was not only speaking for himself but prophetically on behalf of the Church that was going to be born out of him.

By direct inference, since Jesus and the Father are one, therefore, you and the Father are one.

But before we go further let me ask this question:
Have you heard in Church this statement a lot: We need to be more Christ Like? Or, we need to become more like Jesus?

These are true statements but they are also rather incomplete. What we should be saying is that we need to become more like God Himself or better said more “God-Like”. I know the phrase does not roll out of mouth that easily and some part of us somehow feels that it might be somewhat sacrileges to even think like this, but we are made in the image of God and hence our identity cannot be defined only in the Son, but in God Himself and within the trinity that defines him.

So in order to understand our complete identity we have to understand that we have a unique identity not only in Jesus (the Son) but we also have a unique identity in the Father and a unique identity in the Holy Spirit.

So now that we know we have three distinct identities we need to ask what these identities are.

A unique depiction of these three distinct identities we have in the God-Head is found in of the most unusual creatures ever described in the bible: The Cherubim as described in the book of Ezekiel and seen again by John in the Book of Revelation:

Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. 8 Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings.

Revelation 4:6-8

Four living creatures and four distinct faces or depictions and all of them before the throne room of God. It is as if God has them before his throne as a reflection of how He sees Himself. I call these four living creatures God’s “Talking Mirrors”. They speak to Him of who He is and His eternal identity. Let’s look at these living creatures more closely.

One has the face of a lion. If there is one creature in all nature that it’s very name and appearance resonates kingship authority it is a lion. The lion then depicts the identity of God as a King.

Another has the face of an ox. An ox is made to serve and toil to meet the need of its master. Ox depicts the very nature and identity of servant-hood. Therefore the Ox depicts the identity of God as a Servant.
A third creature has the face of a man. For Christ came in the form of man and in the nature of the Son of Man. Christmas is all about the birth of a miracle human child born of the Holy Spirit who calls God Abba Father so that through his death and sacrifice all of us can call Him Father too. A man who was and is and will always be God. There the face of a man depicts the identity of God being born as a child of man.

The last and fourth one is an Eagle. Eagles are meant to soar in the heavens and they are known to have great vision and see all that is beneath them. The eagle is the creature that speaks of God’s Divinity.
So if I may be so bold to say that God sees Himself as Divine Creator of all things that took the form of a man, and chose to serve His own creation but will ultimately rule as the King of Kings.


Therefore there are three distinct identities that we share with our God in His divine trinity.

  • I am a child of my Heavenly Father and heir to His Glorious Kingdom.
  • I am a bond-servant (slave) of my master and redeemer Christ Jesus.
  • I am a king destined for greatness and called for exercising dominion through the power and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.


So a healthy and complete Christian identity can only be understood through the proper revelation and understanding of all three identities. In fact each distinct identity defines the very parameters and rules and guidelines on how we are to conduct ourselves and interact with Heaven, the Church and the world around us.

Only after truly understanding our child identity, we can then grasp the very foundations of how we ought to interact with Heaven and the Heavenly Father. We then can truly embrace the Father’s grace and apply it successfully to our daily life. We are liberated from the bondage of self righteousness once and for all.

Only after embracing our servant-slave identity, we can whole-heartedly receive and accept the Lordship of Jesus Christ over our lives and embark on washing the feet of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ with joy and gladness. We are then made free from the bondage of self gratification and the chains of self.

And only after believing that you and I are meant to be Kings and are called to exercise dominion in this world, we can understand why the Holy Spirit was given to us with such dynamic and incredible power. It is only then that we comprehend the purpose of our being sent out to this dying World as ambassadors of Heaven equipped with the power and majesty of God’s Spirit himself.

Testimony Book

Mani Erfan’s Story

Chapter I

Success Beyond My Wildest Dreams

I have always dreamed of owning my own business. The idea took root in my heart before I even reached my teenage years.

For several years after college I tried and failed at some crazy business ventures, always looking for the one that was the perfect fit. Then, in the late 1990s, I met a businessman named Jim McKimmy who was willing to launch a brand new venture with me, a catalyst company that was tied to the oil industry. (In simple terms, catalyst is a chemical compound that enhances the chemical reactions in oil refining. You will hear a lot more about it later.) I was a chemical engineer and we both had some experience with catalyst sales. We named the company UNICAT and bravely launched into the dog-eat-dog world of catalyst competition.

For two years we struggled to land orders. Something would look promising and then a more experienced competitor would swoop in and steal the contract. Or we would receive a small order that barely covered our sales expenses. Then in September of 2001, we did the most daring thing in our young history. We put together a proposal for the massive oil refinery plant in Illinois. They were scheduled to replace the catalyst in all four of their oil refining units. It was way beyond any experience we had up until then. Setting our sights on this project was a long shot to say the least!

What would their management team think of our proposal? Six weeks later, in early November 2001, the fateful phone call came. Jim had an office directly across the hall from mine; so any time we received any business updates—which were usually bad– we could communicate immediately. We were both at our desks on that morning in November when the phone call came that would change our lives.

“Mani,” spoke a vaguely familiar voice over the phone, “this is the engineering department at ConocoPhillips. We wanted to let you know that we have made our decision. The team believes that you are the best candidate for this job. We have awarded UNICAT the full contract to replace the catalyst in all four of our catalyst units!”

We had won the bid! I was stunned. Tears welled up in my eyes as I raced across the hall to Jim’s office. He had gotten up from his desk and was walking toward the door because of all the commotion I was making. “We got it, Jim! We got it!” I shouted. He looked at me with a puzzled expression until I explained, “Phillips has awarded us the contract! The entire contract –all four units! We’re finally in business!”

I was so overjoyed that I laughed, I cried. The order was five times bigger than my greatest expectations. Without a doubt, it was one of the best days in my life. Do you know what that contract was worth? $1,000,000! And it was ours!

It was an unheard of situation! A major oil company was refitting their entire plant, four catalytic units and they had just given the entire order to UNICAT, a brand new company with no real success trail. It felt like the scene from a movie, only it was real!

Business Explosion!

In a one and a half month time span from that point in mid-November to the end of December 2001, the orders began to flow into our offices. We celebrated with joy and relief every time another one crossed my desk. After ConocoPhillips came BOC Gases $250,000, BP Carson, CA $200,000, Atofina Memphis, TN $100,000. The combination of these orders alone catapulted us into the “big time” world of catalyst sales. We went quickly from a non-player in the market to a viable, competitive business entity.

It was an incredible success story especially for a brand new company. And it took the catalyst industry by surprise. We were not only a real contender in the marketplace, we were also less expensive, more innovative, and had superior customer service. People in the oil industry sat up and took notice!

Realizing the Dream

My dream was coming to pass. Years of planning, months of working day and night, days of presenting proposals…were finally paying off! We had stepped into a new business realm and our lives would never be the same. I can tell you today, nearly seventeen years and many financial successes later, the thrill of those first four contracts still fills me with excitement! In the early months of 2002, I was able to pay Jim back the half million dollars he had invested in UNICAT to get us up and running. We were on our way!

UNICAT’s Story is my life story. For more than eighteen years, it has been the professional life I have lived. It is the dream that I was “impregnated with” in my younger years, that I carried until I gave birth; that I nurtured and protected so it could survive its perilous early years. It has grown steadily to become a very successful international catalyst company respected by its competitors and the industry alike. Even now, with over $35 million in annual sales, UNICAT is experiencing a brand new season of growth–exponential growth– pushing it forward towards its ultimate destiny and purpose.

However, I must tell you that this victory didn’t happen overnight. Believe me. It was a journey. And that journey is my real story.

Why did I choose to share this story with you now? Because my story is not mine alone. I believe that my story can be a gateway to your success in the world of commerce as well. Every word that I share, no matter how personal, is written as the kindling of a fire that will be set alive in your own heart. Everyone has a story…and I know that you have one, too.

Every Story Has a Beginning

To every story there is a beginning and mine is no different. In order for this story to be completely told, we have to start this tale much earlier than the first years of UNICAT’s formation, to a time when I was still living in my birth country of Iran.

I was born in a modern household in Tehran, Iran when the country was still ruled by the Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah in Iran’s monarchy. Under the Shah, the country was far more westernized than it is today; we had western clothes, hairstyles, and especially modern, western music. My father, Iraj Erfan, was originally born in the Soviet Union, but immigrated to Iran with his family at a very young age; he became a professional soccer player and an Olympian star playing on the Iranian National Soccer Team. After my father retired from athletics, he joined the newly-created Iranian Airlines and became a very successful and sought-after pilot. My mother, Behjat Shakibi, an Iranian, was born to Kurdish parents in northern Iran. Her father was a highly educated man who taught himself to speak French and Arabic in the early 1920’s when most people in Iran didn’t even have the ability to read or write.

My childhood was an exciting travel adventure. As a pilot, my father was awarded free airline tickets for his family to travel the world. I visited the USA, the United Kingdom, China, Japan and Italy before I turned 12 years old. My parents considered themselves Muslim, but my religious upbringing was negligible. My only spiritual influence was my devout Muslim grandmother who took care of me whenever my parents traveled together. I clearly remember her praying the Muslim prayer five times a day every time I stayed with her.

My hardworking parents expected excellence from me, and I worked hard to deliver. By the time I hit my teen years, I was fluent in English, played classical piano, and trained daily to qualify for the Iranian National Youth Tennis Team. I was never a rebellious child, and even though I had no serious religious training, I was taught to be a moral person knowing right from wrong. My life goal was to be successful and to do everything I could to make my parents proud.

The Islamic Revolution

Life in Iran changed dramatically in early 1979. After a thirty-year reign, Shah Pahlavi, and his family fled the country. Pahlavi was Iran’s last Shah in a 2,500 year tradition of monarchial rule dating back to the founding of the Persian Empire. It was a cataclysmic change for the Iranian people. Some of us were affected more than others.

At the same time that the Shah fled, the Islamic spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, returned from exile in Europe to bring fundamental Islam and Sharia law to Iran. On April 1, 1979, Iran was officially declared an Islamic Republic.

The advent of the Islamic revolution changed everything in my life. My world was turned upside down. At thirteen years old, I went from a free lifestyle with little religious influence to being smothered by the Islamic faith and culture and required to follow all its teachings whether I liked them or not. We were immersed in religious fervor and baptized in stringent Islamic rules that touched every aspect of our lives. How we dressed, what we ate, what music we could listen to or movies we could watch, which people we could associate with –every detail of our lives was under a microscope.

For the first time in my life, rebellion flared up within me; I didn’t want to blindly follow all of the Islamic beliefs and regulations. I protested every step of the way. If the government wanted me to cut my hair short, I wanted to keep it long. If they forbade us to wear short pants, I would put them on and walk out the door. When all styles of music were banned by the Ayatollah Khomeini for a short time in the early 1980’s, I played my piano even louder. I was running headlong toward trouble, and, if I wasn’t careful, I would find myself locked in a prison cell somewhere deep in Iran.

The most painful part of the revolution was watching my lifelong dream to study in the United States seem to evaporate before my eyes. Nineteen seventy-nine was the same year that a group of radical Islamic students overran the US Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American citizens hostage for 444 days. The political relations between Iran and the United States, once friendly, were now shattered.

Desperate to Escape

Things came to a head for me in 1983. The US hostages had been released two years earlier, but now we were in the middle of a war with Saddam Hussein and Iraq—a war we were ill-prepared to fight. By then I was sixteen years old, a junior in high school, and desperately looking for a way to escape Iran and my mandatory conscription into the Iranian Army.

Under the Ayatollah, every able-bodied eighteen-year-old male was required to serve two years in the military. The war was raging on, and Saddam Hussein, in defiance of international law, was utilizing chemical weapons on the front lines. The Iranian army was scrambling for any strategy to win the war. Desperate to push the Iraqi army out of occupied territories, Iran’s military tactics were basically “Human-Wave” attacks, just throwing young fighters into battle by the thousands. This led to massive and devastating casualties.

Young men that I had known since early childhood were sent to the front lines and never came back, or they returned severely maimed by chemical burns and the other horrors of war. Many of them, filled with tremendous zeal for the Islamic Revolution and its fanatic leader Khomeini, went willingly to the battle lines. However, casualties were so high that 10-15,000 Iranian soldiers would die in one engagement, and there was always a shortage of able-bodied men. My prospects of surviving a two-year stint in the Iranian Armed Forces were grim.

My choices in life were frightening: either I was going to be drafted and die in the war, or I was going to be thrown into a prison cell, and end up standing in front of a firing squad for constantly acting out against the revolution.

There was a dangerous third option. I must leave Iran immediately. My parents were convinced that they could no longer protect me, but how would I escape? All young Iranian men, sixteen years and older, were forbidden to leave the country until they had their military discharge papers in hand and that was clearly not an option for me!

A Father’s Unconditional Love

Daily, I begged my parents to find a way for my escape. The most commonly used scheme for those fleeing Iran was an overland route to Turkey aided by smugglers. This choice was extremely dangerous as the smugglers traveled through treacherous mountain passages and were often caught by the Iranian border police. Any form of military engagement had deadly consequences for both the smuggler and the one being smuggled. To make matters worse, even if I made it across the border, I would be a nationless refugee in a foreign land without a legal passport in hand. I would be forced to remain in Turkey for years struggling and likely failing to gain permission to immigrate to my ultimate destination—the United States of America.

What other option was open? The dangers I faced were frightfully real. Each day my feelings of hopelessness grew.

I can still clearly remember my parents’ nightly arguments about the best way to help me. Then, in the middle of the conflict, my father devised a radical plan for my escape. His actions on my behalf that summer of 1983 were incredible feats of courage and self-sacrifice, the full expression of a father’s love for his only son without any concern for his own well-being.

Challenging the Islamic Leaders

During his years flying for “Iran Air,” my father had gained recognition as one of the most skilled pilots in the country. That made him a valuable asset to the Iranian government and the captain who was always chosen to fly influential government leaders to international conferences. It was during one of those sensitive flights in June, 1983—with my father flying the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament and other statesmen to a neighboring Arab country–that he made his courageous move.

Sitting on the runway of the Mehrabad International Airport in Tehran, the aircraft was positioned for takeoff with an armed military guard in the cockpit and the who’s who of Iranian political leadership seat belted in the plane’s cabin. Without warning, my father suddenly taxied the plane to the left. He blocked the runway, refusing to take off and demanding to speak to the most important passenger onboard, the Speaker of the Parliament, Ayatollah Rafsanjani.

Pandemonium erupted in the cockpit. The armed guard thrust his gun into the back of my father’s head demanding that he take off immediately. Without flinching, my father shouted back, “I will not fly until I speak to Ayatollah Rafsanjani.” He turned to his co-pilot, who sat paralyzed with fear, and forbade him to take any action as long as he remained the captain.

Within moments, the news reached the plane’s passengers, and there was panic as they braced for a terrorist attack. Military guards raced into the cockpit and surrounded my father with their guns cocked; still he demanded to speak to Ayatollah Rafsanjani. In this critical situation, my father should have been arrested on the spot, dragged off to Evin, Iran’s most notorious prison, and never heard from again. Thankfully, that is not what happened. (At least not then.)

In spite of protests for his safety, Ayatollah Rafsanjani walked into the cockpit to personally listen to my father’s demands. After Rafsanjani calmed the guards, the following conversation was short and to the point.

“I understand that you wish to see me, Captain?” Rafsanjani asked with steely precision. “What can I do for you?”

“Mr. Rafsanjani, I am sorry that I had to get your attention this way,” my father replied respectfully, “but I have been trying to reach you at your office for months without success, and this is my only chance to speak with you.”

“Tell me, Captain, what is so important that you would recklessly cause all of this commotion and make many of our friends nervous for their lives?”

“Mr. Rafsanjani, I have one son, and he is my only son. He is bright, very intelligent, and he has a dream of studying abroad.” My father continued passionately, “I know that many young men are risking their lives fighting for our county, but I am asking for your permission for my son to legally leave Iran to pursue his studies. You don’t know, sir, if you save his life today, one day he may save the lives of many of his countrymen.”

“Is this all you need, Captain? Was all of this about your son?”

“Yes, sir. May I have your word that you will allow him to leave? I am serving my country, and I will continue to do so as long as I am needed.”

“Yes, Captain Erfan,” was Rafsanjani’s astounding reply. “Upon our return, please come to my office, and I will have the paper work for you to get your son’s passport. I will even grant him a government scholarship to help defray the cost of his studies. Now, can we get this plane off the ground? Our friends are waiting for us.”

In moments the crisis was averted. In today’s world of terrorism, it is hard to believe that after my father’s forceful demands, the Iranian leaders still entrusted him with their safety in the air! He flew them without further incident to their destination and home again.

There was great celebration in the Erfan home with my father’s return the next day! I had permission to legally leave the country! I would not have to face the treacherous mountain paths to Turkey or the Iraqi soldiers in war. I could pursue my education and my dreams. One week later, separated from my family, I watched from the airplane window as Iran disappeared slowly from sight and I headed to my new destiny. My father’s sacrifice ultimately cost him his job, and, for a short time, his freedom, but it gave me my life and the chance for me to live out my destiny and my calling one day.

The sacrifice of a father became life to a son.

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