Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Jesus Freaks: 'Asif' of Pakistan, How Could I Not Have an Interest in this Prophet?

This is not 'Asif.' A Christian was beaten by police men.
Pakistan, 2001

“Asif” was carefree as he sped his motorcycle down the street of his Pakistani town. He enjoyed being noticed by the young women as he sped by. In the traditional Muslim culture of Pakistan, overt glances would have been very inappropriate, but still Asif could tell when he had been seen. He was young, and he felt powerful as he drove past, relishing the murmur of the motorcycle’s engine in his ears and the feel of the tires gripping the road. He smiled to himself and twisted the accelerator to give the bike a quick burst of speed.
            Suddenly where the beautiful sky had been he saw only dirt, and where his motorcycle had raced along beneath him, it now felt like it was flying over his head. For the next few seconds all was clouds of dust and spinning. The next thing he knew he was lying on his back with his motorcycle next to him on the ground, its engine coughing and then dying. He heard the echo of the squealing tires as the car that hit him sped away. He had never ever seen it.
            Then he noticed the splitting pain shooting up his leg. When he looked at it, he could tell from the way his foot lay off to the wrong side that it was broken. He tried to stay calm, but panic was gripping his heart and he wanted to scream.
            Before he lost his composure, though, he felt a reassuring hand upon him. A woman had come out of the crowd of passers-by and knelt beside him, laying her hand on his leg. He was calmed for the moment and surprised as she began to pray.
            Through the pain, Asif heard the name of Jesus in her prayer. Despite his immediate thankfulness that someone had stopped to help, a wave of anger came over him at the mention of that name. How can this woman pray to Jesus, a mere prophet? Doesn’t she know that I am a Muslim, a follower of Mohammed, the greatest prophet? Why isn’t she praying to Allah?
            Yet Asif was suddenly distracted from his anger by an energy he felt running through his body as she prayed. It was different from anything he had ever felt before. His anger began to fade as his leg straightened itself and the bone came back into place. Eventually he sat up and carefully examined his leg. It was completely whole.
            As he stood, he noticed that there was no more pain either. He picked up his bike and walked it home.
            Sometime later, the same woman brought him a Bible. He never saw her again after that.
            Hungry to know more about this prophet who had healed his leg, he began to read the Bible, especially the New Testament and the miracles of Jesus. Asif’s question weighted heavier: If Jesus was truly only one of many prophets, how could he perform such amazing works? As Asif lay on his bed, he wondered, Who is Jesus? I know many prophets have come to earth, but none has had the power of Jesus.
            Asif was so perplexed by how a minor prophet such as Jesus could heal him two thousand years after His death that he took his questions to the mulvi (religious leader) at his mosque.
            “Why are you talking about Jesus?” the mulvi sneered. “Do you have an interest in him?”
            “How could I not have an interest?” Asif responded incredulously. “He healed me.”
            The mulvi and others at the mosque took Asif and locked him in a room. They forced poison down his throat thinking that if he died before fully accepting Christ, he would still make it to Paradise. They left him there overnight for the poison to do its work. Asif felt sick and thought he was dying. He vomited repeatedly and threw up blood.
            However, around midnight Asif found himself still barely alive and lying in the dust, caked with his own blood and vomit. The room was dark and he didn’t have the strength to get up. He didn’t know what else to do, so he prayed. He called out to Jesus and told Him he wanted to see Him before he died.
            Before he knew what had happened, a bright light had filled the dusty room. Asif suddenly felt a little better and forced himself up to see what was causing the light. Before him stood Jesus. It was at that moment that Asif surrendered the rest of his life to the Lord, saying, “God, this life is for you; as long as I am on earth, I will work for you.”
            Sometime before dawn, Asif managed to escape and made his way home.
            When he tried to tell his parents of his experience the next morning, they were not impressed. “You are a Muslim,” his parents told him. “If you accept Jesus, you must leave this house.”
            So Asif had no choice. He took his Bible and left. He went to a larger city where he met a pastor at a Christian bookstore. The pastor disciple Asif and later baptized him. From the first moments of his newfound faith, Asif felt a strong desire to share who Jesus was and what He had done for him with those around him, regardless of their religious backgrounds. Because of this, his troubles with the police and city leaders began almost immediately.
            “A landlord [city leader] came to me and said, ‘Where are you going? And why are you preaching this “gospel”? These are Muslim people. Why are they accepting Jesus?’
            Seeing that Asif was undeterred, this landlord and some other Muslims took him and beat him with heavy sugarcane stalks. They stomped on his leg and broke it again. As they pounded his body, they shouted, “You dog! You low-class scum! Why did you come here and make our people Christians?” They ordered Asif to leave the city immediately.
            Despite their further threats, he refused.
            As they were beating him, he prayed for them, “Please, God, change their minds and their hearts.” Then he cried out to God to help him and give him strength.
            Many weeks later, after Asif had recovered from his injuries, the landlords and the police closed down a meeting where Asif was sharing about Jesus again. Asif was taken to the police station, where he was severely beaten.
            When Asif was asked how he could endure this and not be discouraged, he quoted Philippians 1:29 (NAS), “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake.”
            Asif continues to evangelize whenever and wherever he has the opportunity.
[Taken from Jesus Freaks: Revolutionaries (2002) by dc Talk. Title mine]

The cost of serving Jesus Christ is your life.
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