EDITOR’S NOTE: A Muslim-background church planter recounts the suffering he has endured for Christ in South Asia.
SOUTH ASIA (BP)–I went to visit a Muslim friend who was working at a Christian hospital. He invited me to come visit, because I provided him money every month for his studies. In the hospital, I met some Christian nurses. I asked them about Christianity. They invited me to the chapel for a prayer meeting. I attended the meeting and felt good about it. They gave me a Bible and I started reading it.
I read Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” This verse made me start to think.
Later, I was chatting on the computer and met a Canadian Christian lady online. When I talked to her, I lied about who I was. I told her that I was poor. She sent me many devotions and Bible passages. She advised me to read the Koran and she would ask me some questions.
I started reading the Koran in my heart language. I had a lot of questions. I remembered the verse in the Bible and I thought that if God created man in His own image, why couldn’t God come to the earth in the image of a human being? This question made me prefer Christianity, and I left Islam. I was sin-sick. I was wrong, so I cried to Him about my bad life. My life was changed, and I accepted God — the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I needed help learning the Bible. Sometimes I could not understand the English Bible. The Christian lady told me to go to church, so I went to a church. I told the pastor that I needed help to study the Bible. He told me to come back later and he would help me.
After that, he told my cousins that I wanted to convert to Christianity. It was very bad. They said to him, “It’s OK. Thanks for the information, and we will not beat you because you told us this.”
My family is famous in my country. Our family is very rich and powerful, so no Christians would accept me. They thought that my family would burn their homes and kill them.
When my cousins found out about me, they were very angry. They told my family and said that they would kill me. They sent some people to kill me. I was able to fight and keep them from beating me, but then I saw that they had weapons and they fired on me, so I ran away.
Two hours later, my sister warned me that our cousins were coming to kill me. She said I had to go. I took some clothes and left. I went to the church and prayed that God would save my life.
Later, my family called me and told me they wanted to meet with me. I met my family at a hotel. My father said that all of our relatives and my cousins wanted to kill me. He said that he had told my cousins that they should take time to think things over. My dad decided to rent a house for me and said he would provide for everything but that I must think about it and leave Christianity. They settled me in the rental house and my dad provided for everything.
While I was there, I connected with a Christian man. I told him everything. He said his pastor would help me. When I met with the pastor, he invited me to come to his church. He asked me for my Canadian friend’s e-mail address so that he could get in contact with her. But he was not a good person; he was greedy. He only wanted money from her, and when he didn’t get it, he told me that I couldn’t come back to the church.
While this was going on, my dad had people watching me, though I did not know it. They told my dad what I had been doing. They told him that I had been going to church and learning about the Bible. They said, “He is strong in the Christian faith, and he will not leave Christianity.”
My father came, beat me with a stick and kicked me out of the house. He said, “I’m not your father. I won’t help you anymore.”
So I stepped out on faith in God. I trusted that my God would provide for me. I went to my Christian friend’s home. He encouraged me and told me that I could stay with him, but I knew he was a very poor person. I called the pastor, but he wouldn’t help me because he was afraid.
I contacted my Muslim friend at the Christian hospital. He told me that he would leave his job at the hospital he was working at to move to the city I was in and try to get a job at the hospital there.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’m coming. I’ll arrange everything for you.”
My friend came and got a job. He also got a room in the hostel at the hospital. He looked after me and always provided me security and food.
Every day I would pray in my room at the hostel. I never went out during the day. Once when I was outside at night, someone saw me and told my cousins where I was. Early in the morning when I was sleeping, my cousins came into my room and ordered me to get up and come with them.
I started praying in my heart. We went outside to a park and they talked with me. They said, “We will give you one month to think things over. You must leave Christianity or we will kill you.” After we talked for a long time, they left me at the hostel. I thanked my God who had saved my life from my enemy. Praise the Lord!
I contacted my Canadian friend and told her the whole story. She said, “You must connect with truthful Christian people.”
I contacted a Catholic person that I knew. He told me that he would talk to the father and the bishop for me. When I met these people, they would not accept me, because they were afraid.
On Easter night, I went with my Catholic friend to his church. All of the Christian brothers knew who I was. Some people came, hit me on the back and told me to get out of the church.
My friend said, “He is our Christian brother.” But they did not listen. They beat me and threw me out of the church. My friend took me to his home and encouraged me. I was crying. I was telling God I didn’t want to live anymore in this world. This world is cruel.
I received an e-mail from a pastor in another area. He told me he wanted to help me. He gave me an address and told me that he would meet me there. I didn’t have any money and had to go back to my friend at the hospital to borrow some. When I got there, my cousins found me. They had weapons with them. They told me to get in their car calmly or they would kill me. I got in, and they took me to their private jail. They told me that I had to leave Christianity or they would kill me. When I refused, they beat me.
They left me in a dark room for 10 days, but they provided me with food. After 10 days, again they asked me to leave Christianity, and I wouldn’t. Then they did not give me food for three days. After three days, they again came and asked me to leave Christianity. When I did not agree again, they punched me and kicked me. They gave me food but did not let me sleep for two days. When I still wouldn’t leave Christ, they put a rope around my feet, hung me upside down, and beat me. I prayed and asked God to make me strong to fight against evil. I was so weak.
One day, they put me out in the sun for the whole day. They put a chain around my hands and feet and left me there. I was crying, praying and remembering that my Lord Jesus was also beaten, and I thought about how they beat my Lord Jesus Christ much more than this. This is a very little punishment compared to the beating of my Lord.
I was thirsty, and I was saying again and again, “Please, give me water.” But they did not give me water. At last, after noon, they put urine in my face and told me to drink it. I said, “You’re insulting the image of God. God forgive you.”
After another hour, they untied me, put me in the shade of some trees and put cold water on my body. I couldn’t see anything. After three days, I could stand again, but I was very weak.
They started to beat me again. They tortured me for more than a month before they decided that I would never leave Christianity and they decided to kill me.
In our landowner law system, the landowners are the judge and the justice. The government cannot interfere and doesn’t come to the private jails of the landowners. Our cultural punishment for killing a person takes a whole day. They cut his body into pieces throughout the day.
They told me I only had one more day to decide. I said, “You can’t kill me. My Lord is with me and He will save me.”
That evening as I was praying, a light appeared in my dark room. I heard Jesus say to me, “I love you. Today is your day of freedom. Go outside. You are free. Tell the whole world the words of God. Share your testimony.”
The chains on my arms and the shackles on my feet were opened. I walked out and all five of the locked doors opened. When I got to the city, I called my Muslim friend, and he came and looked after me.
After that, I called the pastor that I was supposed to meet. I told him that I was coming. When I got to the city, he met me. I was very weak after the journey and I was tired. For three days, I didn’t even know where I was.
I began working in that city. I went to many Muslim shrines and won people to Christ. My two sisters, my nephew and two other men accepted the Lord Jesus Christ. Some men there persecuted me, and I left the city. I went to another city, worked there for God and got a job.
I have worked in many cities. God has given me many new brothers and sisters, and I train and disciple them. We are making new church groups. I thank God for using us. Without Him, we are nothing.
*Name changed for security reasons. Nisar is a Muslim-background church planter in South Asia.