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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Muslim Men Transformed by the Gospel

Candles flickered in the otherwise dark room as we waited for the baptism service to begin. Each man had a story to tell of freedom gained from fundamentalist Islam. Geem[i] told about a dream he had. There was a large pond and Geem was trapped in the middle of it, unable to swim to shore. A man dressed in white and riding a white horse galloped up, reached out, grabbed Geem’s hand, and pulled him to safety.

“Why did you rescue me?” Geem asked the man.

The rider in white replied, “I wanted to save you and I’ve saved you.”

But who was the rider? Geem pressed the man to reveal his identity. Finally, the rider announced that he was Jesus Christ.

Bea was a burly man with a thick black and gray beard. He was a high school teacher and told about living through the civil war and his growing disgust at the atrocities committed by Muslims against fellow Muslims. “Thievery, adultery, stealing, corruption—this was taking place all around me,” Bea said. He determined to make a comparative study of other religions and in the process learned about Jesus. But he didn’t understand the significance of the Prophet Isa (Jesus) until Alef visited his village and gave him some books that opened up the truths of the gospel.

When Qaf met his first Christian, he was a boy living in a refugee camp. Apparently, his English teacher was a missionary, and Qaf was so impressed by him that he invited the teacher to become a Muslim. The teacher smiled at the student and said, “You are too young and I can’t talk with you now. But I will pray for you that you will read more and make a good choice.” In Peshawar, Qaf discovered a church with a small library that allowed him to read about Christianity. But the more he came to understand the Christian faith, the more curious he became about his own religion. For several months he studied and faithfully practiced Islam. Gradually he grew restless and returned to the church reading room where he met a teacher who could answer his questions and help him understand the Christian faith. “I now disciple others,” he announced proudly, “and eighteen people have come to know the Lord.”

But there was also a sad element to his report. His father-in-law had conspired with Qaf’s father to take away his wife and three children. His family was being forced to live with his wife’s father until Qaf returned to Islam. “I haven’t seen them now for the last two months,” he said.

Then there was Sheen, a short, sinewy man who wore a black shalwar kameez. His testimony was simple yet elegant: “There is a way of peace and that’s the way of Jesus.” Sheen knew the mountain passes like we know the streets in our neighborhood, and for years he transported guns on mule trains via treacherous trails from Pakistan to the mujahideen in the Jalalabad area. With loads of opium, he retraced his route back into Pakistan. Now he smuggled a very different sort of contraband—Christian books and Bibles. Avoiding border stations and checkpoints, he spent up to two weeks transporting each load of precious cargo. When I asked if he carried a gun, Sheen gave me a curious look. Of course, he carried guns—a Kalashnikov and a pistol. I could imagine him wearing a bandoleer across his black shirt, with his machine gun slung over a shoulder, as he led his mules and kept alert for a possible ambush that might endanger his mission.

Though he couldn’t read what he smuggled—like more than half of all Afghans, he was illiterate—he had spent seven months in prison after he was caught with a load of New Testaments. He didn’t understand why the authorities would be upset with him. What did they prefer—for him to transport good books or guns and drugs? “There is a dignity and respect of human life in the Christian faith,” he said. “That has brought great consolation and peace to me. In this faith, I am not ignored or neglected, but God is interested in me.”

 

[i] Names changed. Geem, Bea, Qaf, and Sheen are letters 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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