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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Meet a Secret Believer

It was early in 2002, shortly after coalition forces drove the Taliban from power in Kabul. Fighting still raged in the region and we heard American bombers fly overhead to targets in the nearby Tora Bora Mountains where al Qaeda leaders were hiding. We traveled to a meeting in an SUV through a narrow, winding mountain pass that was rarely more than a lane-and-a-half wide.

But our travels were easy compared to those of the men and women we met. Several of them had walked all night or endured hours crammed with twenty others into a van that might comfortably seat twelve. They came from Jalalabad and Kunar and Kandahar—rugged areas where the Taliban ruled.

On our arrival the men approached us one by one and welcomed us with huge smiles and handshakes, often followed by big hugs. We could smell the sweat on them and knew many hadn’t bathed in days. All but two of them had a beard and all wore the traditional shalwar kameez—baggy, one-size-fits-all pants and knee-length shirts, usually brown or tan. One old man was wrapped in a rough, brown woolen cloak. Crouched in a dark corner were two women, both completely covered in burkas. Our host didn’t introduce them but said they were wives of two of the men.

The reason for our secret gathering was to witness the baptism of 12 men and two women. They had waited more than two years for this day and we were told many more wanted to be baptized. This was no small matter. Baptism meant they were totally committed to Jesus and there was no returning to Islam.

Blankets covered the windows to prevent unwanted observation. Apart from a little sunlight leaking at the edges of the window coverings, candles provided the only light. As I looked at the men around me, I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the CIA suddenly barged into this house. Judging by appearances, all of these men would probably have been carted off to cells in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but only because soldiers look at outward appearances. God looks at hearts and He allowed us to get a glimpse of what He saw. For the next few hours, we were transported into a world few have experienced, and in the process, we became convinced that there is a genuine Christian solution to the scourge of terrorism.

Naturally, we needed an interpreter to translate into English, so it took a while to learn their stories. The first man to speak was Alef.[1] Until he became a refugee, Alef was a farmer. He survived the war with the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but the subsequent civil war drove him and others south to the refugee camps surrounding Peshawar. At the time of the invasion of coalition forces in 2001, some three million Afghans lived in northern Pakistan, on the edge of the tribal territories. Alef lived there for nine years. Many like him learned about Jesus in those camps.

Alef was a student of literature and loved to listen to news on the radio. One day he found a new channel and heard an announcer speak about Jesus Christ being like a shepherd. He contacted the people who produced the program and acquired some Christian literature in Pashto. “I read about the miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ,” he told us proudly. “He raised the dead. He gave sight to the blind. He walked on water. When I looked at the miracles, I said, ‘There is no man who can do these things.’ These are divine characteristics.”

Naturally, he wanted to tell those closest to him about the transformation. Like all the Pashtun men in the room, Alef had been a devout Muslim, but he insists he had no choice. “Unless you have a choice, you can’t choose. Then I was given the other option, and I chose the right one.” Now Alef was spreading the word. Proudly he took out a piece of paper. On it were sixty names. “These are the people I am discipling,” he said.

 

[1] This is not his real name. “Alef” is the first letter of the Pashtu alphabet.

Used with Permission.  Copyright: © 2007 and 2017 by Open Doors International. Adapted from Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ by Brother Andrew and Al Janssen.

 

 

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