Hope in the darkness.
Masud grew up in a strict Muslim home in a remote part of Bangladesh. Not only was his family strict, but his father was also an Imam.
Masud grew up with full knowledge of the Quran and considered himself to be a radical Muslim. As he grew, however, he began to wonder about the Jesus he read about in the Quran and asked his father many questions: “Who is Jesus? Is the Quran true? Is the Bible true? The Quran says we must study all the books that came before the Torah. Why don’t we study these?
The Quran says we must study the teaching of Jesus because he was more than a prophet. Why don’t we?”
These questions made his father, the Holy Religious Leader, very angry and he would beat Masud and say: “Stop asking questions. You must not question Islam.”
One day, Masud was sitting with friends when a Christian pastor came and shared the Gospel, using the Quran as a tool to point them to Issa (Jesus). Masud was moved in his spirit and recognized that the Gospel was the truth. He asked the pastor to teach him more, which he did.
Masud said he believed the pastor’s words and wanted to be a follower of Jesus, but what must he do next? The pastor said, “You must take baptism. It is a sign on the outside of what Allah (God) has done in your heart.”
“Oh, I know of a pond where I can take baptism. Let us go,” Masud said. When Masud and the pastor arrived at the pond, the pastor led Masud through the “sinner’s prayer” and Masud declared Issa (Jesus) as his savior, more than a prophet, and God. He was then baptized and began to travel with the pastor to evangelize. Little did he know that the declaration he made with his lips, and the outward sign of baptism would result in great Christian persecution.
Beatings and Family Rejection
Soon, the Muslims in this village became very angry at the pastor for sharing the Gospel, and at Masud for forsaking Islam. A gang of radical Muslims dragged the pastor to Masud’s house, tied him to a chair and savagely beat him.
Then they asked Masud if he believed the same as the pastor. When he responded “yes,” they said, “But your father is an Imam! This is wrong!” and proceeded to beat Masud too. However, the Christian persecution did not end there. When they left, Masud went to the police and filed a report, which asked for the police to protect him from these violent men.
Masud’s father was friends with the very powerful police, so they told his father, “Your son has asked for protection from Muslims because he is now a Christian.”
The police then met Masud’s father at the house. Instead of protecting Masud, however, the police proceeded to beat him while his father watched. Sadly, this form of Christian persecution is not uncommon, as authorities who are meant to protect people from violence instead stand by passively, or inflict it themselves in the name of Islam. The police found Masud’s wife and told her, “Your husband is no longer a Muslim and you cannot be with him. We will find you a new husband.” Masud’s wife refused and instead pledged to stay with her husband. It was not long after this that she became a believer herself.
To Know God and Make Him Known
In the wake of this Christian persecution Masud was not deterred from his newfound faith. Instead, he realized that suffering for Christ was worth the price. He also realized that he would not be able to learn more about God unless someone taught Him, which was difficult to do in a village where he was the only Christian.
He went back to the pastor and said, “I must leave. I want more training in how to know God and to know the Bible more. How can I get this training?” The Pastor told Masud about a Christian discipleship program led by believers in the Capitol. A poor man, he prayed and asked God for the money to take the bus ride this very far distance. In a quick answer to his prayers he received the money, and he and his wife took only what they could fit into a few bags. They left their home and families for the big city to learn more about the Lord for whom Masud had suffered Christian persecution.
The discipleship program was held in a secretive location, away from prying eyes who might be enraged at former Muslims gathering to learn about Jesus. Masud and his wife learned many things about God: How to hear His voice, how to pray, how to know the difference between religion (going through ritual) and actually having a relationship with God.
When they were done with this program they decided to become underground pastors. Now they help run this program and disciple other former Muslims who have professed Issa as God. Masud also shares the Gospel by running a small website where he chats with Muslims who want to know more about Jesus. He presents a question from the Quran, which leads to discussions about faith, the Bible and the Lord. He uses the teachings of the Quran, which Muslims accept, to point them to Jesus and the Bible. In this way many are coming to know the Lord.
Masud went from the devout Muslim son of an Imam to a believer in Jesus to a man who suffered Christian persecution. The Lord truly changed his life and Masud devoted it back to the Lord. Please pray for Masud and his wife as they live and work for the Gospel in a country where as a religious minority they face danger and Christian persecution for their devotion to Jesus. — International Christian Concern