By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
GHANA, WEST AFRICA (ANS) — Two young Muslims left the savannah of West Africa to study Islam in Mecca, their educational expenses paid by the largesse of the Saudi government. But after they returned home a dreadful automobile accident altered their lives in a way that had enduring consequences.
“They were recipients of a scholarship scheme hatched by oil-rich Saudi Arabia,” says Pastor Yusif, a national missionary active in West Africa. Pastor Yusif notes that many young men in this region of Ghana participate in the Saudi educational program, with hundreds waiting their turn.
The two cousins—Rafiq and Razak, excelled at their studies in Mecca and returned as budding Islamic scholars. “Troops of friends and family went to the airport to meet them,” Pastor Yusif recalls. “For weeks well-wishers thronged their home to greet them.”
Their return was during the harmattan season, when dry dusty winds blow off the Sahara desert creating a thick fog, making many irritable and wreaking havoc with airline flights. A feast held for the men was a welcome interruption from the dust storms. “There was plenty to eat all day long,” Pastor Yusif remembers. Loud speakers blared Koranic recitations into the air during the banquet.
“They were highly respected young men who did their best to teach the tenets of Islam,” Pastor Yusif says. “They were admired for their zeal and scholarship.”
A short time later, the men were invited to teach at schools and mosques in surrounding villages, where they impressed Ghanaians with their ability to speak Arabic, which they described as a “heavenly language.”
One evening Rafiz and Razak accepted an invitation to speak at a nearby village. As they traveled down a dirt road through the savannah they got caught in a dust storm, lost control of their car, and careened off the road into a ravine. Their vehicle was badly mangled and Rafiq died on arrival at a regional hospital. Razak lingered in a coma for two days.
Then something unusual happened. “While Razak was in a coma, his cousin appeared to him in a dream and warned: ‘Razak, I don’t like where I am. I am shocked and lost. There is no way I can go near God Almighty. I am millions of miles away from Him. My deeds could not do me any good. But it is too late for me. Please find a Bible. Find Anabi Issah (Jesus)!’
When Razak regained consciousness, his first request was to see his cousin. The nurses withheld the truth from him, fearing the added stress might delay his recovery. Inwardly, he began to suspect the worst—Rafiq was dead. After several weeks convalescing, Razak was finally discharged from the hospital. Before his release, he learned of his cousin’s sad demise.
Razak had a second powerful dream a few days after he left. The dream came to him just before dawn, when the muezzin makes his plaintive and melodious cry inviting faithful Muslims to their first obligatory prayer of the morning.
In Razak’s second dream his departed cousin gave the same warning: ‘Find a Bible and find Jesus.’
Razak woke up in a cold sweat. How in the world could he find Jesus and become a Christian? He feared that if he became a Christian, he would be “skinned alive” by his uncle, the chief imam of a large mosque. Razak also knew that if he became a Christian he would be ostracized by his family and friends.
He wrestled with the teachings of Islam driven into him during his studies in Mecca: ‘Jesus did not die on the crossJesus is not the Son of GodGod does not exist in three persons.’ His instructors told him the Koran pronounces curses on whoever believes in these “heresies.”
A few months later, Razak went to Friday noon prayers at the mosque, but Rafiq’s message continued to unsettle him: ‘Find a Bible; Find Jesus.’ After he returned from the mosque he couldn’t take it any longer. He remembered a Christian acquaintance from school named Peter and decided to track him down.
A few days later he found his schoolmate and borrowed a Bible. He began to devour the pages, finding particular inspiration in Matthew chapters 5-7, John 3:16, and Ephesians 2. He wondered how God could hate sin and love sinners at the same time. But after much soul-searching, reflection and prayer he gave his life to Jesus. “He accepted the grace of God through Christ for the forgiveness of sins,” says Pastor Yusif.
Peter, his Christian friend, continued to pray with Razak for weeks. Razak still made his obligatory visits to the mosque, but once inside he recited long passages he memorized from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Finally, he couldn’t continue as a secret Christian. He confessed his new faith openly to his friends and family. He told them he would no longer go to the mosque.
They were upset, angry, and stunned. Razak’s uncle met with him and began to pressure Razak to change his mind. Lucrative incentives to recant were dangled like shiny jewels before his eyes. But Razak refused to renounce his newfound faith in Jesus.
A few days later, Razak learned his uncle and some others from the mosque were plotting to poison him. A friend came under cover of darkness to warn a price tag was placed on Razak’s head.
After many tears were shed, Razak left his family home and traveled several hundred miles to ‘Oniza,’ a safer town for him to live, where he continues to share his faith with others.
“Pray that Razak would grow in his faith in Christ and lead many to Him,” Pastor Yusif says. “Pray for the Lord’s protection as he is still being hunted, and pray the Lord would use him mightily in Kingdom work.”
Mark Ellis is a Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service. He is also an associate pastor in Laguna Beach, CA. Contact Ellis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Republished with permission from www.assistnews.net – ASSIST News Service (ANS) – PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA