Secret believers passionate about sharing the gospel

On a recent trip to Pakistan we met converts to Christianity who after dramatic encounters with God are trying to live out their new-found faith in a hostile environment. Here two of them share their inspiring stories…

 

R126 Pakistan Secret Believers
‘Shezhad’ with his wife, ‘Noor’, has left everything behind to follow Christ.

 

‘Shezhad’* was a passionate Islamic preacher when he had a dream in which Jesus appeared to him as he stood beside a fast-flowing river. While another man was encouraging him to jump into the water, Jesus approached and put a hand on his shoulder and told him, ‘follow Me’.

As he walked with Jesus he saw the nail scars in His hands. Shezhad recounts how Jesus then led him to a beautiful building filled with people wearing white clothes and told him: ‘You can sit here now that you are saved.’

We met Shezhad in the tiny flat he shares with his wife, ‘Noor’*. Despite having very little – the couple have no furniture and are forced to sleep on the floor – they served us tea while we enjoyed a time of fellowship together.

Shezhad told us how he had been adopted at birth and was brought up under the strict teachings of Islam, becoming an avid scholar. As a young man he became a passionate preacher for about eight years, seeking to live in a radical but peaceful way. At the same time, he felt an emptiness inside.

When a Christian friend who lived abroad shared the gospel with him he initially had rejected it and refused to speak about it again but, as time passed, Shezhad decided to look at the Bible online. As he read the Gospel of Luke he found himself transfixed by the beautiful words and the love he found within it.

Confused and questioning, Shezhad prayed for guidance for many weeks and it was during this time that God spoke to him in the dream. It was now clear to Shezhad that Jesus was the only way to God but when he tried to enter a church he was not allowed because he was still outwardly a Muslim. Even though the pastor agreed to speak to him, sadly the church, perhaps fearing he was  an imposter, did not welcome him. It was an experience that was to be repeated at three more churches, which left Shezhad feeling hurt and disappointed.

However, despite these rejections, his faith in Jesus increased and became strong. He watched videos online trying to learn more about the faith and how to grow as a believer and eventually made contact with a pastor who accepted and mentored him over the telephone. They spoke for one to two hours almost every day and as well as encouraging Shezhad in his faith the pastor introduced him to a Christian woman who would eventually become his wife!

The couple are now part of a church but life remains difficult for them. When Shezhad became a Christian he left everything behind including his family. He now has very little contact with them; he knows that if they were to find out about his conversion, there would be serious consequences.

As well as the lack of contact with relatives, it is also difficult for him to make enough money to look after himself and his wife, which at times has made them anxious and depressed.

Thankfully one of our partners in Pakistan has been able to help the couple with their financial needs as well as to grow in their faith. Their heart’s desire is to share the gospel and Shezhad hopes that at some point he will be able to study at Bible college and be involved in full-time evangelism.

 

ROOM FILLED WITH LIGHT

Another former religious leader we met was ‘Andrew’*. Such was the security surrounding our visit to him that we had to wait until dark before entering his home – a single room in poor repair that he shares with his wife and two adult daughters.

Despite the challenges they face, Andrew, a former cleric in a mosque for many years, is grateful to the Lord for saving him.

When his daughter was 14 she became unwell and for the next three years he would take her to the doctor but without any improvement in her health. At the same time, as part of his role as a cleric he would visit the brick kilns to pray for the business with the owners. At one factory, he met a Christian who offered to pray for his daughter’s healing. Initially he declined, but the man was persistent and said he would keep interceding for the girl until Andrew agreed to let him pray with her.

Eventually the family agreed and as they gathered together with Andrew’s daughter the man raised his hands and began to cry out with tears for her healing.

Andrew was amazed and challenged by the man’s passionate prayers so he decided to join in and found himself praying in a different language.

As he did so, the room was filled with a light that fell on the girl. As it did so, she was healed, and, as he explained, his heart was changed.

‘The cleric has become a magician’

For his own safety Andrew continued his work in the mosque for more than a year even after getting baptised but it became nothing more than a performance. Inwardly he knew he had become a follower of Christ.

He feared that if he was found out he would be killed so instead of directly preaching about Jesus he put words about Him on the gate at his home. Because of this he was called into a meeting by the religious leaders but was able to answer all their questions.

On one occasion a group of three or four young people visited his home with a hammer to remove the inscription from the gate but as they tried one of them accidentally hit one of the others with the hammer, which resulted in all of them falling on top of each other. It was said, ‘The cleric has become a magician.’

Eventually, however, the local community became wise to his conversion and attacked his home, smashing up everything they could find. Andrew, however, managed to escape thanks to a group of Christians in another area who had heard what had happened and sent a car to rescue him.

Andrew continues to be largely a secret believer so that he is able to share the gospel with those who would ordinarily reject him, and as a former cleric he is well-equipped for the work. He said: ‘Jesus brought me from the mosque. It was all His work. And now He is using me to extend His kingdom.’

*Names changed to protect identities.

 


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