Part 1 of 2
If there’s one more story, aside from God’s love story to His people, which I love to share, it is my own story. My story of enlightenment – my conversion. The Lord has been so good and faithful to me that He never gave up on this soul.
Let me give you a brief background about my family. My mother is 6th among 10 siblings of not so wealthy Chinese clan and all of them were rooted in Mindanao. My father, on the other hand, is a native from Negros Occidental. He’s the youngest among three siblings and had moved to Mindanao to look for greener pasture. To cut the story short, my parents met and later get married.
I am the first fruit of their love.
I grew up with different religious belief. My father being a Roman Catholic while my mother as an evangelical Christian, I often witnessed them quarrelling on matters involving faith. I embraced Catholic practices but there were so many questions on my mind that I kept on looking for answers. I think the answers only became clear when I started reading the Bible at age 10.
During my teenage years, I’ve heard people preaching about Islam. They said that Christianity is false, that Jesus is not God, blah blah blah…And yes I’ve proven their claims. They made me believe what they believe! All those years I kept my faith in the Muslim God and in Muhammad, the prophet. It was only on my college days that I revealed I was a Muslim. I spent my undergraduate studies in Mindanao State University – a university where I met a lot of Muslims and Balik-islams.
On my first year in the university, God allowed me to stay in a cottage managed by Christians. There, I learned the basics of faith, salvation, and discipleship, among others. We were required to attend their activities – Bible studies, worship services, etc. But, there were also times that I made some excuses to spare the activity.
When second semester came, I decided to move out and lived independently. I looked for a placed where I can go home anytime, sleep anytime I want and go wherever I want to go. That was the life that I wanted to have. That was also the time that I met some Balik-islams. I’ve observed their way of life. I’ve studied books on comparative religion written by Muslims and I was convinced then that Islam was indeed the true religion. Islam, being a way of life, taught me the do’s and don’ts and encouraged me that it was the religion that I’ve been looking for.
February 12, 1999. That was Friday and I decided to join the Friday Prayer. I thought I was only an observer on the worship that they regularly conduct. I was surprised when the Imam called and ordered me to stand in front of hundreds of other worshippers. He told me to say the Shahadah – the declaration that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet. Once these two sentences are said by heart, one will become a Muslim. It is a declaration of faith.
I repeated the same sentences for five times because I had difficulty in pronouncing Arabic words. After that oath, I imagined how the heaven rejoiced for my conversion to Islam.
Everyone eventually found out about my decision. My parents and Christian friends discouraged me to join that religion. After four months, I stopped joining with my Muslim brothers in their activities. But I already developed a strong faith then. I prayed secretly and I’ve gone to the point of wanting to die for Allah to advance Muslim faith.
Afraid of losing support from my parents, I lived my life as if I was a Christian. I became one of the leaders of Joshua Movement. I led cell groups and minister to other people. I even shared the gospel.
On special occasions, like birthdays, I would secretly go to a mosque and pray. Included in my prayer is the freedom to practice Islam. This has been my lifestyle for many years, even when I transferred here in Manila. I was outwardly a Christian but inwardly a Muslim.
The Lord is so gracious because He’s always bringing Christian friends wherever I went. During my CPA Review in 2003, I met a lot of new Christian friends in CPAR. There was a scene in my life that I couldn’t forget. One time, I escaped our Friday Fellowship in CPAR ( CPA Review School of the Philippines ) to look for the Golden Mosque in Quiapo and join the Friday Prayer. I was asking God that time to show me the mosque. Since it was the first time that I went to Quiapo all alone, I asked God to show me where the mosque is located.
I want to worship You
“I just want to worship You. If You are the true God that I should worship, show yourself. Show me where the mosque is.” These are the words that I silently uttered. I found no mosque. Frustrated, I went back to the Review school. When this scene flashes back on my mind, I can’t help myself but cry because I realized God’s moving in this episode of my life.
God also allowed me to find the mosque that I had been looking for. When I found it, I was filled with joy! But the feeling was not the same when I was inside the mosque. I did not feel the presence of God every time I bowed and almost kissed the floor. It was as if I was bowing for nothing. Doubts began to fill my mind and my heart. I had so many questions that need to be answered.
The greatest question was:
“Am I worshipping the true God? ”
I think God has put those doubts for me to seek Him.
Bitin?! Abangan ang Part 2.