(THIRTY-year-old Peter Akbar has done Master of Divinity in Theological Studies and Master of Theology in Christian Apologetics. He is currently doing Doctor of Theology in Apologetics. He quit his job with a multinational company to do the Lord’s work. He can be reached at peterakbar [at] gmail [dot] com Editor.)
By PETER AKBAR
“I was found by those who did not seek Me; I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.” Romans 10:20.
I was born as the sixth child to my parents Mohammed Khaja Mohinuddin and Navanbee. I have three elder sisters and two brothers. Our family was very religious and particular in following the traditions and beliefs of Islam. My father was an engine driver who was then working for South Central Railways. While my father was an active member of a mosque in our neighborhood my mother was a teacher of Koran. My parents, who were passionate about its traditions, rituals, beliefs and teachings, brought us up in the same fear and faith of Islam.
Our family’s tryst with the Living God Jesus Christ started one day when my eldest brother Musthafa was walking down the road when suddenly he heard a voice calling him by his name:
“Musthafa, Musthafa, look at Me. I am the Lord your God.” Although he looked around, he could not find anyone. Strangely, the voice came a second time. At that instance, Musthafa recognized that it was coming from above. However, he was unsure of whose voice it was. While he stood there on the road brooding about it, he was surrounded by a power that seemed to him like some electric power. It led him to a tent meeting where a man was preaching about Jesus Christ. As soon as he stepped inside the tent, the voice came again: “The One who spoke to you on the way is the same One this man is preaching about.”
Musthafa realized that the voice that spoke to him was of Jesus Christ. Right there, he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. He was convicted of his sins. For the next seven days, he continued to see the power of Jesus Christ manifest around him. Musthafa was now a changed man. He quit reading the Quran and going to the mosque to offer namaz. Soon enough, my parents found out about his faith in Jesus. Naturally, our family was upset about Musthafa’s new faith. Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. The Quran says He is one of the many prophets. As Muslims we also did not believe in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which is central to the Christian faith. Muslims believe that Allah took Jesus up into the heavens just before crucifixion. While Christians and Jews believe that it was Jesus Christ who was crucified, Muslims believe that Jews crucified someone else whose face was changed by Allah into the likeness of Jesus.
Angry arguments and heated discussions were the order of the day when our family confronted Musthafa about his faith in Jesus. However, my parents noticed that whenever he prayed in the Name of Jesus healings were taking place. People who were blind and lame and afflicted with cancerous tumors were healed when he prayed for them in the Name of Jesus. One day, one of my aunts came home. She was suffering from constant flow of blood. As this had become chronic, she was very weak and tired. She came to my mother expecting her to consult a good doctor. However, my mother asked Musthafa to pray for her. He laid his hands on her and began to pray when suddenly she fell down on the floor and a voice within her screamed out saying ‘“I will not leave her, I will not leave her!’ To cut a long story short, the evil spirit in my aunt was chased out by Musthafa in Jesus’ Name. She was also miraculously healed of her blood flow problem. She found new strength in her body. There was no pain or flow of blood now. She was full of joy and we could see a great glow of happiness on her face.
Later, I started reasoning within myself about this incident. Why did the evil spirit leave when the Name of Jesus was invoked? What is there in Jesus Christ that even evil spirits obey to His Name? Why not the name of Mohammed? What power or authority does the Name of Jesus have? I then decided to read the Bible to know more about Jesus. As I was reading, I came across Mark 16:16-18 where in the 17th verse Jesus Christ said, “These signs will accompany those who have believed; in My Name they will cast out demons…” That verse almost knocked me down. It opened my spiritual eyes.
I knew those words were spoken by Jesus Christ approximately 2,000 years ago. However what amazed me was that the Word of Jesus is true and still alive and working! I realized there is life in His words. According to the Scripture, when my brother commanded the evil spirit to leave in the Name of Jesus, it simply left. In Islam, I was taught that even if Jesus was given the Gospel, it was only for that time and for those people. If that was true, how come the words of Jesus Christ are working now? Through that incident, I understood that the words of Jesus Christ are not just for that time and for those people but for all the people for all generations till the end.
I told myself: “If this Word of Jesus Christ has proved itself to be true, then all the words of Jesus Christ in the Bible, whatever He said about Himself and who He is, must be true.”
As I continued reading the Bible, every doubt and misconception I had about Jesus Christ started clearing. Every unanswered question I had about Jesus was answered. I realized all that the Muslim theologians had taught me till that time about Jesus and Christianity was wrong. For the first time ever, I was introduced to God as a loving Father through the words of Jesus Christ. Here was a God to whom I could go closer and speak to Him personally. For the first time ever, the emptiness that was in my spirit was filled with God’s love and His presence. I understood the plan and purpose of God that was manifest through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to take away the sins of the world. I also understood the judgment that awaits the world as we see in the words of Jesus Christ mentioned in John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”
I understood that salvation is a free gift to all humankind through Jesus Christ from God, which man cannot achieve it by his good works.
On December 24 in 1998, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and took baptism. Since then the call of God and the strong passionate urge in me to preach His Gospel and His Word of Truth to the dying world has been burning like fire in my heart.
Soon, I joined my brother Musthafa in preaching the Gospel. The news of our conversion spread all over the town. It was embarrassing for my parents who were devout Muslims. But as days passed, all my family members accepted the Gospel and came to Jesus Christ miraculously as the Lord opened their hearts. My mother confronted God saying “If what my sons are preaching is the Truth, I want to know about it.” As she prayed she saw Jesus Christ in a vision. His body was wounded and blood was flowing from his body. By the power of His grace, my mother accepted Jesus as her Savior. As she was afraid of our father, she continued to be a secret believer. A few days later, my father who was driving a train stopped it and got down from the engine cabin to check on something. When he climbed back into the train, he felt something bite him on his leg. That day, he came home with a swollen leg. The doctor diagnosed it elephantiasis and said it was incurable. Although he was distraught about this, we took the opportunity to share about Jesus Christ and how He is capable of healing him. He said if Jesus healed him, he would accept Him as Lord and Savior. We gave him a bottle of oil prayerfully and told him that the oil represented the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross for the redemption of the whole world. He applied it in faith and after two days all the peels fell off from his leg. Praise God for he was healed too! Our father was amazed at this miracle and he accepted Jesus Christ and took baptism. Likewise, everyone in our families, my sisters, their husbands and their children came to Jesus. My second brother Mehboob was quite critical of our faith also was touched by the love of Jesus. Musthafa and Mehboob are pastors now. Musthafa lives in Kazipet in Andhra Pradesh where, he pastors a church.
We have been excommunicated by Muslims. All our relatives and friends forsake us because of our faith. There have been death threats to us. However, we have not looked back. Our sufferings in Christ pale before the love of our Lord.