Picture: Pastor Paul in one of his demolished churches.
Pastor Paul’s testimony (upon request of many): bibles4mideast.com
I was born as the fourth child of a retired Principal of a higher Secondary School as well as an Islamic scholar and the president of the Jama’ath (parish of the mosque) committee. My family is an ancient, prominent and orthodox Muslim in South Asia.
More than 4000 Muslim families inhabiting in our area and some Hindus at suburbs. No Christians at all. There was not even a single Christian in the schools where I studied.
Our mosque is around thousand years old. My ancestors spread the religion of Islam in that place and established the mosque. My grandfather is the founder of present mosque. My ancestral home is very close to the mosque. The land revenue and the auxiliary records of the mosque were kept in my father’s name well into my boyhood. My ancestors were entitled to Muslim priesthood by heredity. They had the designation as “Labba” with their names to indicate the priesthood.
In these circumstances, I was brought up with great regard and love for Islamic teachings and its practices and of my family. I did my religious education before I started regular schooling. No bad habits existed in the way of our family life. I even wrote and published a book about the Qur’an.
My college education was held at a Christian institution. The vast majority of my college classmates were Christians. I was the only Muslim in the class. I had difficulty to mingle with my classmates in the beginning. But gradually I became close and intimate with them.
Actually it led me to evil associations and wretched habits. I started smoking, began to use drugs and alcohol, done streaking, being known as rowdy in the city. Damaging reports and ugly pictures concerning me began to appear in the newspapers. As a result my parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones were greatly disturbed. It seemed I may have to discontinue my education.
By this time I became addicted on drugs and alcohol. My body began to shiver and I became very tense if I did not use drugs at the habitual times. I was on the watch-list of the Police. My parents cut off the money which they were giving me regularly. I had lots of friends, ready for any adventure, when I had money in my pocket. As a matter of fact my earlier friends became my sworn enemies in my period of trial. I lost my peace of mind.
It was at this juncture that some missionary students gathered courage to talk to me. They claimed that Jesus is the Son of God, who was crucified for mankind. He rose from the dead and He is the King of Peace. They further claimed that if one believes in Him and confesses all sins he will become a new person. I could not even imagine that Prophet Isa (Jesus) is the son of God or that he was crucified and rose from the dead. I in turn exhorted them to reach heaven by believing in Islam which is the true religion. I had heated arguments with them on many occasions. They could only find fault with my wretched life, but could not prevail over my arguments or prove my ideas wrong.
But without losing heart, one day they brought some gospel tracts. Those were based on the Bible which I considered forbidden, for it is abrogated. Hence I went into a rage. The thought that the advice that I had given them earlier regarding Islam, had made no impact on them increased my rage. I tore the tracts into pieces. With despicable words I threw the pieces into their faces and I gave warning that I would destroy them if they continued misleading others.
It was a serious matter that the students of priesthood in cassocks were publicly insulted and persecuted, especially in the compound of a Christian institution. It looked almost certain that I would be expelled from the college. I could also expect troubles from any direction.
The next day I went to the college armed with weapons, intending to cause violent incidents. When I entered the class, the missionary students ran to me and embraced me with love and joy. They surprised me by expressing regret for having caused mental distress on me. If the college was run by my religion and I was in the place of a missionary, surely I would not have let one free. In fact, I was touched by their love, kindness and gentle nature. The Holy Spirit, which reminds us about sin, righteousness and judgment, began to work upon me.
That night I found a piece of paper in a text book in my room. On it was written, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners, for whom I am the foremost” (1Tim 1:15). On the reverse side of the paper was written, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). I did not know those were the verses from the Bible. But I was overcome with thoughts.
All the sins, the excessions and violations that I had committed since childhood began to appear before me as if on a screen. I recognized all my iniquities, big and small. Each one of them transformed into a blister on my body. The blisters burst open and became sores. The flesh and bones, from where pus began to flow out, became very hot and began to melt. Worms were competing to get at the marrow of the bones. The pain was unbearable. The stench could not be described. I was being pulled into a bottomless pit. There was nobody to save me. I cried out, “God, save me”.
Then a man, holy, white and bright, descended from heaven and touched me. I understood it was Jesus. For a moment I closed my eyes with a heavenly joy, for His touch cooled my body and mind. When I opened my eyes all the blisters and sores had disappeared from my body. I am purified as if washed with a perfumed ointment. But Jesus, who came in bright and spotless, was now infected with blisters and sores. Pus and discharges were flowing out of them. Worms and maggots were roaming freely on his body. It was like an abominable, foul smelling creature.
Yes! “Surely he has borne our grieves and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:4-5).
Christ had taken on himself all my afflictions. I should have been condemned to death for all my sins. But I saw Christ taking on all my sins and being crucified in my place for my sake.
Earlier I never believed that Christ was crucified. I used to ask how our sins would be washed away by his death, even if he was crucified. But now I was convinced how and for what Christ died.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
I saw Jesus breaking the tomb and rising up from the dead. He was more glorious and resplendent in resurrection than he descended from the clouds. I fell at his feet crying, “My Lord and my God”.
I do not know whether this experience which occurred to me in my own house in an area where there are no Christians, is a dream, or a revelation or a vision. I was not at all believing such kind of matters. But this experience transformed me into a Christian. It enabled me to throw away the old man and made me to become a new man. I received joy and peace, the like of which I never knew before.
I shared my conversion of mind and joy at the same night to my parents. Although they listened me, but tried to dissuade me saying this was only a trick played by Iblis (Satan). But I was convinced that the loving God has saved me through His only Son and that I would inherit eternal life.
I was baptized in water as soon as I accepted Him as my personal Savior. Lord baptized me with the Holy Spirit and granted me gifts of the Spirit too.
But mine was by no means an easy path. Some of the community I formerly belonged to felt that my accepting Jesus Christ was an act of betrayal and they tried to take revenge. Once someone sprinkled sulfuric acid on my body.
One day I was narrating my Christian experiences to some of my friends near the mosque. Suddenly one of my cousin brothers stabbed me with a knife. My lower jaw was split. Everybody thought that I may die. But God saved me and made me a witness again at that place. He was making arrangements to kill me in another way and had a plan to convert it into a suicide. For the same he was busily making a noose at the top of a tree. But a whirl wind blew and he fell with the branch of the tree. He was near to death. Instinctively I wished for his death. But Jesus ordered me to love and nurse him as He had loved me when I was His enemy. At my initiative he was taken to the hospital and was in plaster for more than six months. When he recovered, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.
The Jama’ath (mosque) authorities chained me, shaved my head, locked me in an underground cellar when yet another person became a Christian. When I tried to escape acid was sprayed on me. I was beaten up several times and even lost a few teeth. I considered these experiences as lucky tips in the name of Jesus and as a symbol of my spiritual fervor.
The Lord visited a few more people who caused trouble on me. Most of them have been led to believe in Jesus.
I have two sons and one daughter. A terrorist group had sent a wing under a commander to destroy my entire family. He managed to make my children consume poison, and all of the three of them were in the hospital in a critical stage. My daughter, though, remained in coma for nearly 30 days. Her recovery was just like someone being raised from the dead. The commander, who wanted to kill us was shaken to see the power of our Lord in action. He too became a follower of Jesus Christ and dedicated himself to work for Him as a missionary and winning many souls unto His fold.
I and one of my assistant pastors were severely beaten in a village by a mob and they burned down our prayer hall. God alone has saved me. Recently our Lord has enabled me to overcome a murder attempt. By making an accident somebody tried to kill me and I have undergone the treatment. While I was in the hospital my wife and children also faced a murder attempt at home and God saved them miraculously.
I must mention that my parents, my brothers and sisters were all devout Muslims. Most of the seniors are Hajis (man who did pilgrimage to Mecca is called Haji) and Hajjummas (woman who did pilgrimage to Mecca is called Hajjumma). Having let Jesus Christ into my life, I was ex-communicated and for quite some time was not allowed to have any contacts with my parents and the extended family. I and my wife felt sad about it and brought this matter to the Lord in prayers. Gradually, I began to re-establish links with my people through letters and telephone calls. Finally, a day came when they had accepted the fact that I worship Jesus Christ, visited my place and stayed with us and their grandchildren. I spoke to them about the love of God. They left, and we had maintained good contacts since then.
Later I was told that just two days before his death, my father accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior because he had had a vision of Jesus with the marks left by the nails and His hands and feet. My mother too became a believer shortly before her death.
My deep burden is reaching gospel to the unreached, especially to the world of Islam and winning them unto the salvation of Jesus Christ at any cost. “Bibles for Mideast” (http://bibles4mideast.com) spreading the Word of God in Asia, Africa and Middle East by God’s grace because of the prayers of many.
Read following stories.
ANS News story: http://across.co.nz/PersecutionHard.html