SOUTHERN ASIA (BP)–I come from a strong Muslim family. When we were young my father forced us to go to the mosque and obey all the rituals. Yet I wouldn’t just pray because I had to; I would cry out with tears, “God, I want to know you. Talk to me.”
Once I was on a train, and I saw a foreigner sitting quietly. I said, “Hello, my name is Omar.” He smiled and said, “Hi, my name is Bill.” We talked until we reached his destination. He gave me his address and said, “Come visit and we’ll talk more.”
My heart was restless; I couldn’t forget about that man. The following week I visited him, and we soon became good friends.
One day I found him sitting in his living room with a dark face instead of his usual smile. He was reading the newspaper and he said, “Omar, I think we can never be friends.” He showed me a newspaper article that said Muslims can never have friendships with Christians.
I replied, “Bill, you don’t understand. We can be friends, but your faith is different.” I had been thinking that I should share Islam with him and bring him to the mosque. Now was the moment! So I said, “Bill, what you believe is wrong.”
He said, “Remember that today you have asked to talk about religion, not me.” [Restrictions in Omar’s country bar Christians from actively proselytizing.] I agreed. We went to his office and closed the door.
Bill showed me a Koran (Islam’s holy book) in my language, not Arabic. “Being a Christian, I have a Koran,” he said. “Being a Muslim, do you have a New Testament?” I said, “No, why should I? It is rejected.” He asked, “Where does your Koran say that? Can you show me a single verse?” I responded, “Well, I have heard it from the imam [Muslim worship leader].”
I had never read the Koran in my own language. Bill showed me some verses where it said we should read the previous books, not just the New Testament but the books of Moses and the prophets. I was so surprised that I grabbed the book from his hands. Why had I never heard this before?
Then he asked, “Why do you think what I believe is wrong?” I said, “Bill, you believe in Jesus. We do too, but as a prophet, not as God. How can God have a son? You shouldn’t say that; it is a grave sin. You will be burned in hell forever. Friend, I want to save you.”
Bill said, “Open your eyes. Open your heart. God is not limited, my friend. He made you and will show himself to you. Ask him.”
I went home with a storm in my heart. I was so accustomed to following a culture, a ritual. But I kept praying. Bill helped me know more from the Koran, from the Bible, from different books. Then he gave me the names of some other Muslims who had accepted Christ. They said, “Brother, we were in darkness. Now we are God’s children.”
I couldn’t eat; I couldn’t sleep. Bill saw the restlessness in my heart and said, “Omar, I think you’ve read enough books. This is the time to challenge God. Find a quiet place, close the door and kneel before him. Ask him to come to you in the name of Buddha, in the Hindu gods’ names, in Muhammad’s name and in Jesus’ name. See which name he answers.”
Late one night I thought, “This is the time.” I washed my face, came to my room and closed the door and windows. I knelt before God and put a chair in front of me, like he would come and sit there. I said, “God, all these years I have prayed to you. You know my heart. I want to know you. I need to challenge you. Talk to me. If you are the God who created me, I ask you to come to me in Buddha’s name.”
I waited. No answer. Then I said, “I ask you to come to me in the name of all those Hindu gods. If this is the way you want me to worship you, I will worship those idols.” I waited five minutes, 10 minutes. No answer.
Then I started praying in the name of Muhammad. My heart was heavy, because I always had such respect toward Muhammad, the holy, beloved prophet of God. I told God, “All these years I have been praying to you through Muhammad. The time has come now to ask you if Muhammad is the anointed one.” There were tears in my eyes. I waited, 10, 20, 30 minutes. No answer.
Then, unwillingly, I said, “If you want me to pray in Jesus’ name, if he is your real anointed one, I ask you to come and talk to me.”
Let me tell you, I didn’t have to wait 30 minutes! Right at that moment, I felt like someone walked into my room. The hair on my body stood up. I felt from my feet to my head that somebody was touching me.
I heard a voice saying, “Omar, I am Jesus, your Lord. I love you. Do you want to know anything more?” I cried, “No, my Lord. I trust you! You are my Lord from today. All these years I have been worshiping God, and he never answered. Today, you answered.”
I didn’t sleep that night. Such joy filled my heart that I had never felt before.
The next day I went to see Bill. Before I said anything, he understood. He hugged me and said, “Son, are you ready?” I said ,”Yes, I’m ready.” In his living room I made my profession of faith. I wanted to be baptized, but he asked me to wait and learn more. Later that year I was baptized.
From that day on, God has had such mercy and grace to this sinner. To this day I am serving Jesus in his ministry.
EDITORS’ NOTE: The name of the young man, a former Muslim in southern Asia, has been changed in the following article to “Omar” to protect his ministry of sharing the gospel with other Muslims in their own culture. Also, the name of a Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionary has been changed to “Bill.”
Reprinted from The Commission, journal of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.