|Posted on January 16, 2011 at 11:58 AM|
Part.1 : My path to Christianity and the road to becoming an Evangelist
I thought I was born Christian. I was raised in a very religious family during a time of great hardship. WW2 had not yet started and the USA was still suffering the effects of the great depression, My family and community was devoutly Roman Catholic and predominatly Lithuanian/Polish.To add to the hardship my father was drafted into the Army shortly after the USA became involved in the war. That was the last time I saw him. Although we were quite poor my mother raised us to always have faith in God and He would provide. That belief has remained a strong part of my life.
I was raised as a proper Catholic, having been Baptized a few days after birth, receiving First Communion at the age of 7 and being confirmed at the age of 12. I attended mass daily, recieved communion every Sunday and was an avid Catechism student. After my confirmation I joined CYO and like many served as an alter boy. I learned sufficient Latin to understand the Gregorian Mass which was the standard high mass on Sunday. Like many young Catholic boys my ambition was to be a Priest. At the age of 18 I joined the Knights of Columbus, shortly after I was accepted as a seminarian at.St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, CT. I lasted one semester and decided the priesthood was not for me and dropped out.
I proceeded to my second love, aviation. I applied for and was accepted for the Aviation Cadet Program of the USAF. After completing training at Lackland and Kelly Airforce Bases near San Antonio TXI was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and was officially the proud pilot of an F-86. I had a very strange military career much of what it is best I do not share. I will only say I often did not fly in military uniform and often the planes I flew did not have USA markings. In 1963 I was flying a mission that took me at very low level over Hanoi in what was then North Vietnam. I picked up small arms fire from the ground and realized blood was filling my flight suit. When I felt the pain in my leg. I felt my best option was to climb to a higher elevation and attempt to reach Da Nang. As I pulled my plane upwards I lost consciousness. Some how the plane made it out over the Gulf of Tonkin, and miraculously pancaked instead of nose diving into the Gulf. I went down amatter of yards from a US submarine that had just surfaced. I was visually seen to go down and was pulled from my plane without even getting wet. I remained in a coma for the next three months or so..Over the next year I was moved to several different hospitals the last one being in Louisiana. After being discharged from the hospital I was found to be no longer physically fit to fly and lost my commission and flying status. I did want to remain in the Air force and was permitted to re-enlist at an enlisted rank. This sent me on a 4 year journey that took me to many places. One place was Morocco and while there I enrolled in the University of Rabat to learn Arabic. Several other events in my life also took place. I became totally convinced that Catholicism was not proper Christianity. I had strong love for Jesus and sincerely felt I was spared so that I could find my place to serve Jesus. But I knew Catholicism was not the path. I began a search.
My search led me first to the Baptist Church,which I did love. but somehow it did not feel right I sensed I was on the right search, but had not reached my destination.Over the next few years I stumbled from denomination to denomination always looking. In 1968 I chanced upon a small Assembly of God church in Waskom, TX. My first meeting I felt overwhelmed by the presence of the holy spirit and by my second visit I was speaking in tongues. the feeling was beyond description, but I knew God had sent the Holy Spirit to work in me. Very soon I was Baptized in water and felt I had found my way to serve Jesus,
Because of my familiarity with the Arabic Language, some knowledge of North Africa and the mideast it was natural that one day I would become a Missionary to the region. first I established a very good reputation as a preacher and pastor, I also became quite good at evangelism in the States. Before long my dream came true and I began my evangelism in Morocco. Which was like returning home. I already had friends there and I knew that the people were very hospitable and tolerant of Christians. .
Over time I broke free from all denominational barriers and began Evangeliizng through out the Islamic Nations. leading the lost to the truth of Christianity. I felt complete and finally serving Jesus as I had always wanted to and was given the strength and means through the ever present spirit of the Holy spirit. Amen
Part.2: Christian to Agnostic
It is not a clear time line as to when I first began questioning the truth of Christianity. I deeply loved Jesus and still do. I fought the idea for a long time that Christianity was in error. It was something I did not want to consider. To me Christianity and the Bible were obvious truths and even more certain then the sun will rise in the morning.
To me Christianity was the only path and any error was the result of man and the mistakes of some denominations. The bible was true, but man often misused it. resulting in many denominations some of which had strayed far from the truth. But, in spite of this the thought that the bible might be in error was unthinkable.
Denominations were the problem, if there was any problem. I can recall an incident in Agadir, Morocco. A very charismatic preacher was holding a gigantic tent revival and a call for Muslims to come to Christ. Each night the tent was filled to capacity with anoverflowing,enthusiastic crowd. It was quite an exciting event. On the next to the last night of the revival he asked all of the crowd to return on the last night and to bring their Qur'ans. with them. The next night several hundred if not over 1,000 arrived with their Qur'ans. He asked them to stack them in a pile. They did so, he then poured kerosene over them and lit the pile the revival quickly ended as a near riot. He then discovered that what he had burned was a stack of bibles, he had been unaware that in the Darija Arabic the word Qur'an is used for any religious book. He was also unaware that Agadir is a city with a very large Arabic speaking Christian population. His entire revival was composed of Christians and not Muslims as he thought.
This gave me a very dramatic lesson in the importance of fully understanding the people you preach to. It also made me wonder how and why Jesus would call such ignorant people to spread his word..
I knew it was impossible to study each and everyone of the 30,000+ known denominations in depth to discover which was true.This led me to believe the only path was the bible based path untethered by denominational idiosyncrasies. The only way to Christ was through the Bible alone, the teaching of man only caused confusion. This necessitated a thorough study of the bible from it's origin to it's translations. The Bible had to be infallible as it was the true Word of God. As I studied the Bible more in depthand searching back through older translations including the Koine Greek. I became aware of how little the bible is composed of words from God, it is nearly all the words of man. The questions began to come. What was the basis for the particular books in the NT selected by the Council of Nicea as true and so many others were cast aside as being Gnostic? Why is it that no copies of any book in Aramaic exists or even mentioned. Aramaic was the common language of the time. Hebrew had stopped being a spoken language at about the time of Isiah and Koine Greek was used mostly by the educated and along with Latin for legal decrees..Looking deeper into the NT I can find none of the characteristics of the metaphorical thought processes consistent with Semitic people. Could it be the NT does not contain any books written by Jewish followers of Jesus? I always thought the followers of Jesus were Jews and considered themselves as pious Jews.
Another experiment took place, using the Red Letter editions of the KJV and the New Revised I wrote out only the words believed to have been exact quotes of Jesus and reading them without the comments by the alleged authors, the NT takes on a meaning much different than what is taught as Christianity. There is no concept of the Trinity nor that Jesusis the Son of God. There is no religion called Christianity. We have individual people calling themselves Christians but each following their own interpretations of what they want Christianity to be.The concept of a trinity and of god having a son were common beliefs among the ancient Greeks, Romans and Hindus. The new testament is composed of books selected by Romans and Greeks, could it be Christianity was merged with pagan beliefs? A thought I wanted to disbelieve..
Further study and more praying for guidance from the Holy spirit and many prayers for Jesus to remove all doubts from my thoughts. This was not what I wanted. I sincerely wanted to continue believing Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for my sins to be forgiven.
It was all to no avail. the more I studied the more I came to understand that the Christianity I loved was no more real than Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Christianity is simply a revised version of Greek/Roman mythology perpetrated by Greeks and Romans to revive a dieing myth.
I could no longer sincerely call myself a Christian. While I still have strong belief in God verified by the many miracles in my life I can not find any instruction as to how to worship God or How Jesus fits into the picture. I have to be honest and adopt the label of agnostic, but while I continue my search to find the true way to serve God I will simply live the life style of the Buddhist which essentially follow the principles of a Christian life but, without the worship. Contrary to popular belief True Buddhism is not a religion it is a philosophical method of living a moral life.
Part.3: My Third and Final Testimony
The third testimony is how Islam found me and I returned home to where I belong. That I have posted on the forum several times in a short synopsis.
I will share the long version with you here:
In my early years one of my interests was the study of languages. among the languages I learned was Arabic. However I studied in Morocco at the University of Rabat and learned the Darija Dialect, which unfortunately is not understood in much of the Arabic speaking world. But the written Arabic is the same world wide no matter what dialect you speak, so it was not a total loss.
I first learned of Islam to any extent while I was a Pilot in the USAF. One thing we were taught was how to say the shahadah (The Islamic Testimony of Faith) in Arabic. It was believed that if we were found by any Muslims after crashing and if we said the Shahadah we would be treated as friends. This was taught in the event we ever crashed in a Muslim Nation, Our flights often originated near the Mediterranean and we sometimes flew over the Islamic nations.
By the year 1988 I had very much given up on organized Christianity, although I still felt Christianity was the path to salvation. I no longer belonged to any church and considered myself agnostic although I called myself Buddhist. In 1989 I lost my first wife and in 1990 married my second wife. My children did not like my second wife and that became the last year I had contact with my children. My wife and I pretty much became wanderers around the world. I had sufficient personal income and savings so we could pretty much indulge our travel desires. We both also did as much evangelical work we could during this time. However, my preaching became plain simple Christianity with no denomination affiliation. It was a self paid venture with no sources for any religious pamphlets, bible etc except for my own wallet. Yet, there was always sufficient money to provide for any needed material.
In 2004 We were living in the small town of Tennessee Colony. Texas a very Red Necktown smack in the Center of the Bible Belt. I was diagnosed with lung cancerand began preparing for my final days. But my wife passed away suddenly just a few weeks after my diagnosis. I went into a very deep depression and began drinking quite heavily. In May of 2005 I realized the stupidity of my drunken binge sobered up and set forth to regain control of my life. I began with ageneral clean up of the house. During my clean up I found my old Qur'an in Arabic that I had bought while I was a student at Rabat. I had bought it as a study guide to help me learn to read Arabic.
It had been many years since I had last read anything in Arabic. I was curious as to if I could still read it. I opened it to Surah Fatiha and the first line literally jumped out at me.
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem. "In the name of Allaah, the provider, the Most merciful"
It was like the words glowed and completly filled me with an inner peace I never felt before.
I turned back to the preface and saw it was the supplication:
“Auzu Billahi Mina Al Shaytan Al Rajeem”.
(In Allaah(swt) I seek refuge from the evils of Satan)
After over 20 years of not speaking Arabic it all flowed back to me. I could not stop reading and I was not simply reading words, the feeling of each ayyat came upon me with an indescribable warmth and sense of understanding. I could not stop. I do not know how long I read I know it was for at least 48 hours and I still could not stop the feeling was so powerful and filling me with a strong sense of love and joy on the morning of what I believe was the 3rd day I finally set the Qur'an down and knew I was Muslim. I instantly said the Shahadah and knew I was now part of the Ummah. Idid not even know if there were any Muslims in Texas much less if there were any Mosques.
I realized I was hungry and there was no food in the house. The nearest store was only a mile from me so I decided to walk down to it. When I entered the store there was a stranger from out of town. He was dark skinned. Our eyes met and he smiled and said "As salaamu Alaikum Akhi" without hesitation I answered back "Wa alaikum wa reamatullahi wa baraktuhu" He then asked"How long have you been Muslim, I answered about 15 minutes.
He then asked me if I had ever been in a Mosque, I said no. He then invited me to go to the Mosque in Tyler on Friday. I accepted. I later learned his name was Aadil and he had just moved to Texasfrom Pakistan. He had gotten lost and accidentally drove into Tennessee Colony, He had stopped at the store to get directions. Aadil and I became very close friends and still are although he has since moved back to Pakistan.
Things then moved so fast it became a blur. My youngest Daughter who I had not seen for 15 years called me on the telephone. She had been contacted by the VA and had learned they were concerned about my health. She insisted I move in with her family in Austin, which I did. The biggest surprise was finding out she had accepted Islam 10 years before and was married to a fine pious Muslim man and had 2 children I had never seen. A bigger surprise was soon to come. I discovered all of my children had reverted to Islam and all of my Grandchildren were Muslim.
My cancer was in remission for a while. In January of 2006 the cancer became active again. without treatment my prognosis was 3-4 months. I elected not to receive treatment and set about making my own funeral arrangements. In May for some reason I was still alive and accidently stumbled across the forum (islamicboard.com). I joined and it became a source of purpose for me. Ramadan came and I was still alive. During Ramadan, came what I call the Beard miracle. People of my race have no facial hair or at most a few scattered whiskers(I ampredominantly Mongol) (Lithuanian Tatar-Lietuva Lipkas) I had never had to shave in my entire life. Yet on that Ramadan I grew a full, fist length, very thick beard. I still have the beard and although it has never been trimmed it is still the same length.
I am still alive and have not been back to any doctor since January 2006. I think I have lived past the 3-4 month prognosis.
Written by Abdullah Muhammad (formerly: Woodrow Fields)
Categories: Stories of Reverts, Selected Pearls
The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.
Oops, you forgot something.