Why did I Become A Christian?? (Mustafa Efe)

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    Why did I Become A Christian?? (Mustafa Efe)

    (its fairly a long testimony, but it absulately worths reading!)

    It was a summer morning. Like always, after having breakfast at home, I went to the newspaper office. While doing my daily work at the office, the managing editor summoned me. Thinking that it was in regard to a new job, I went to see the editor.

    I am the second child in my family of five children. My father, after completing his studies at the Advanced Islamic Institute and memorizing the Koran, went into politics. For a long period of time he was also the head of a labor union. My family, like every normal conservative family, was interested in all aspects of its children's education, particularly religious education.

    At the time, I was working in the special news service of one of the top newspapers in the country. Because of various schools that I had completed and the research I had done, the management of the newspaper thought that I would be successful in this type of position.

    The managing editor of the newspaper was young, dynamic and a person who definitely did not compromise his ideas. He was one who did everything he could do to increase the circulation of the paper.

    One day, the managing editor said to me “You know, recently our foreign diplomats have been attacked by the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA. According to what I've heard, this terrorist group is being financed by the Armenian churches in Turkey. Go to the churches, make yourself known as an Armenian, and investigate.”

    Later, after talking with the managing editor, I left the newspaper office and went home to change my clothes. I was busy making plans. How and where should I begin? At this time, I began to investigate on a surface level from the outside. First of all, I bought and read the book consisting of the Pentateuch, writings of the Prophets and New Testament that was called the Holy Bible. The Bible did not seem too strange to me because I had received a strong religious education since my childhood and I also knew the Koran. I finished reading it within a short period of time.

    I started to visit the churches that were in Istanbul. I introduced myself as a child from an Armenian family and as one who worked as a salesman. In a short time I more or less became a part of the congregations. At the same time, I was establishing a relationship with a merchant at the Grand Bazaar. However no matter how deep my investigation seemed to get, I could not find any connection with a terrorist organization.

    After a month, I went to the office and explained everything to the editor. He said to me, “You just went and wandered about idly. Don't give me that story! My informers can't be wrong. Go again, write the story and bring it to me.” Without any choice, I left the office and began anew my investigation of the churches.

    I tried to establish a closer relationship with those who attended the churches. Of course, when the priest of the church that I was going to saw that I was beginning to come regularly to the church, he said to me, “Every week on Saturdays we have a special new Catechism class. If you'd like, you can come. Not everyone who wants to attend can. This is just for Christians. It's purpose is to have them grow in their understanding of Christian beliefs and to be informed about the church.” Thinking that finally I would be able to participate in secret meetings, with great joy I immediately accepted his offer. After finding out the place and time of the meeting, I left.

    Until that weekend, while continuing my investigation, I thought of all the possible scenarios for the meetings. Finally Saturday came. The meetings were held every Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the basement of the church. I joined the meeting with much excitement. The priest introduced me to the group at the start of the meeting. During the meeting, the people prayed for me that I would have the opportunity to learn more about Jesus and his words.

    Of course, while they were praying for me like that, I was laughing inside, and at the same time, I was mocking them because I knew that the original Bible had been changed and that Jesus did not die on the cross (this is what the Koran teaches). I thought “They are fools” because I knew the truth. The Bible's original form had been changed. They were doing the unthinkable, making God out to have an equal partner. God is a single entity, one who was not born, and one who does not give birth. While thinking this the meeting came to an end. Everyone started to go, and on the way out they said to me “I will pray for you at home. We are very glad that you could join us.” A portion of the people at the meeting had been Muslims and later chose Christianity. In other words, they had changed their religion. When the priest told me that the meeting was only for Christians, it was interesting to me that there were those who were originally Muslim. I looked at them as traitors. In my opinion, they had been led astray and brainwashed. But how could this be? I had to find the answer to this question.

    Like everyone else, I left the meeting and headed home. When I arrived, I found out that the editor had called and left a message. I felt really pressured, because even though I had begun my investigation three months ago, I still had yet to find any negative things about which to write. So I sat down and wrote about the people I had talked to up until that point. I was not happy with those people who had changed their religion, or the other people who had joined the meeting. The next day, after joining the Sunday service I did the final draft of my article. On Monday morning I went to the office and saw the editor. When he saw me, he was angry and began to yell. “Don't you dare give me some story about how you haven't found anything yet.” I handed my article to the editor. He read it immediately with great interest. He said “You will continue to write such articles. I want this kind of news from you every week. Go to the accountant now and get your bonus.” I was very pleased and happy. I went right to the account and got my money. I left the office feeling as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

    Since I had begun investigating this topic, I had kept my distance from everyone and everything. My friends had called and left messages, but I had not been able to return their calls. One of my close friends began to believe in reincarnation. In fact, with the help of my friend I had prepared a series of articles on this topic. At first, it was really interesting to me. However, because of its perspectives that were contrary to the Koran, I did not continue my interest for long. Sometimes I read books about this subject.

    But I knew that I was treating my friend badly. So I called him and suggested we go out for dinner. He agreed saying “You've been really busy getting the dirt on those worthless people. Let's go out this evening and catch up on everything.” That evening we met, ate dinner, and fell into a deep conversation. Of course, we talked about his topic of Reincarnation. He was always trying to convince me of the truth of Reincarnation. After talking half the night, I left to go home. I really enjoyed the conversation and felt that this was something I had needed for a long time.

    In the morning, I began the day as usual by visiting the Christian shop owners. I would say that I was just stopping in to see them. They were living a typical life. As for me, I would sit there and wait with suspicion, thinking to myself, “I wonder if I'll learn anything today from speaking with them.” Two days later, I saw a headline in the paper called “HOOKED by the priest”. Muslims who had changed their religion were mentioned and it was written that these people could have a relationship with terrorist organizations. In the article, there was a list of a portion of the names of those who attended the special meeting on Saturdays. This news created a shock effect in the Christian community and they were very troubled. Whenever this news was talked about in the churches I visited, I rejoiced inside. However, in order for them not to suspect me, I had to act troubled on the outside.

    Saturday came once again, and as usual I joined the meeting. There was an air of sadness in the meeting. The priest struck the podium to begin the meeting, and began to talk about the news that had been published.

    He said that people's opinion of the church and those who go to church were changing, and that they were being misunderstood. He said that believers in Jesus are going through a trial. At the end of his talk, he said, “Let's pray for those people who are being misunderstood.” Everyone began to pray about this. Even I prayed in a loud voice, “Lord, please help our brothers who are being misunderstood. Give them patience and strength. Make known the truth in the hearts of people.” I had to pray, because I did not want anyone to be suspicious of me. While on the outside I appeared very distressed by the events, I was actually rejoicing on the inside. I told myself, “It's good that this happened. You left the true faith of Islam and chose western Christianity! Ha!” After going to the Sunday church service the following day, I went home, wrote my second article, and sent it to the newspaper office.

    From that time on, my investigation took on a different focus. The original topic of Armenian militants was changing to the topic of secret religious meetings. Of course, these people still could have been secretly supporting the work of the terrorist groups. Now all I needed was a good picture for my articles for them to be complete. So, during the week, I hired a newspaper photographer and gave him the time and location of the meeting. The photographer was going to come and take a picture during the meeting. I explained my plan to him several times. “You will hide your camera, then you will enter from here and it will be enough for you to take one or two shots.”

    The plan was ready. As usual, I joined the Saturday meeting just as it was starting. Because of the troubling news from the previous week, the ones who were misrepresented in the newspaper were still experiencing a lot of distress in their neighborhoods.

    The ones who joined the meeting were talking about this. They said “They are asking us all sorts of questions regarding a connection to the unlawful Armenian terrorist group ASALA. Also, why do they keep asking questions concerning our attending such a secret meeting as this? Because they do not believe our answers, they look at us badly and swear at us. I wonder, who gave information to the newspapers about this secret meeting? Because of this information, people are looking at us suspiciously.”

    In order for them not to suspect me, I immediately began to curse the journalist who wrote the article. However they said, “Be quiet, and don't curse them. Don't forget that Judas Iscariot did the same thing even to Jesus. We must praise God for this situation because Jesus says, 'It is because of your faithfulness to me that people will persecute you. Blessed are you when they say all kinds of evil against you. Rejoice, and be glad! Because your reward in heaven is great.'” They asked, “Don't you know these words of Jesus?”

    I said, “Of course I know them, but it's hypocrisy. You are under distress as a result of lies being said. That's why I cursed them.” They said, “Brother, don't curse. God knows the truth and he will explain it to them in their hearts.” I was playing my role really well. Right in the middle of the meeting, their attention was disrupted with the going off of a flash.

    Someone from far off was taking a picture! Without even having a chance to say “Hey! Stop!,” the one who took the picture fled. A few people ran after him but were not able to catch him. They gathered once again and began to pray. The prayers did not last long and we all left and went home.

    It turned out that the picture-taking event was good for me. There was no chance of them suspecting me because when the picture was taken I was with them all in the meeting. Everything was going really well. However, the way the people responded began to make me think. The idea of people treating you badly, yet rejoicing in response to this seemed like nonsense to me. In any case, these people were already fools, believing and reading a book that had been changed. In short, they were deceived.

    I finished that week's article and took it to the newspaper office on Monday morning. I found the photographer right away and congratulated him on his success. In my opinion he had done an important thing and I was able to get what I needed. The photographer said, “I was really afraid they were going to catch me.” I removed the pictures that included me.

    I went straight to the editor and we talked about the things I had investigated and the churches I had gone to. The editor said, “These are stupid people. They believe in a book that has been changed. Although Jesus never died, they believe that He did. Actually, the Koran tells the truth completely and openly, the essence of their holy book has been changed and they themselves changed it. As for Jesus, He never died and was taken immediately up to heaven. They are degenerate people who have left Islam and chosen Christianity.” The editor knew both that my father was an Islamic scholar and that I had had a good Koranic religious education from the time I was young. He knew that I agreed with him and together we laughed and laughed.

    After leaving the office, I began to walk around a little. But the things I spoke about with the editor began to gnaw at me, things such as:

    The Pentateuch, writings of the Prophets, and the New Testament's original form have been corrupted.
    Jesus never died on the cross.
    I knew that these things were accepted as being true, since the world of Islam teaches that these truths are written about in the Koran. However, what really made me think was my having said that the Koran openly and clearly wrote these things. Up until that day, I had read the Koran many times, and even had a special Koranic and Islamic education. Above all, my father was a graduate of the Advanced Islamic Institute and he said the same things. I wondered which verse in the Koran wrote openly about the Bible's essence having been changed? I kept thinking about this, but in no way could I remember, so I sat for hours and thought. This question was eating me up inside. How could it be that I could not remember, especially after an Islamic education? This was very difficult for me, but on the other hand, I was sure of my information – the Bible had been changed. No matter how many Muslims I met on the street, they would all say the same thing. After wandering around thoughtfully until the middle of the night, I went home and began to look through my books.

    As I was doing this, I was not able to look at the Koran with religious awe. I was simply trying to look objectively at the Islamic books in order to be satisfied that my ideas on this subject was true.

    After being sure of the information I had found in these books, I opened the Koran and began to read its Turkish translation. Despite all the times I had read it before, it was as if this was a new experience for me and the writings in the Koran were different. These are some of the verses I read in the Koran:

    “Proclaim what is revealed to you in the Book of your Lord. None can change His words. You shall find no refuge besides Him.” The Cave (Kehf) 27
    “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, confirming the scriptures which preceded it; for He has already revealed the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of men, and the distinction between right and wrong.” The Imrans (Al-Imran) 3

    “… for none can change the decrees of Allah …” Cattle (Al-An'am) 34

    “… None can change them …” Cattle (Al-An'am) 115

    “… the word of Allah cannot be changed …” Jonah (Yunis) 64

    “Falsehood cannot reach it from before or behind.” Revelations Well Expounded (Fussilet) 42

    “… and you shall find that they remain unchanged.” Victory (Al-Fath) 23

    “Say: 'Bring down from Allah a scripture that is a better guide than these and I will follow it, if what you say be true!'” The Story (Al Qasas) 49

    “There is guidance, and there is light, in the Torah which We have revealed. By it the prophets who surrendered themselves to Allah judged the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the divines; they gave judgement according to Allah's scriptures which had been committed to their keeping and to which they themselves were witnesses.” The Table (Al- Ma'ida) 44

    “After those prophets We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Torah, a guide and an admonition to the righteous.” The Table (Al-Ma'ide) 46

    These verses from the Koran showed that the Old and New Testament books were sound, and that in them salvation is found. They showed that the prophet Jesus upheld the Old Testament and that the New Testament, in which is found the true way, came as a confirmation of the previous holy books. And finally, that the Koran's purpose was to confirm and protect the Bible.

    “Say: 'People of the Book, you shall not be guided until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which is revealed to you from your Lord.'” The Table (Al-Ma'ide) 68
    The Koran said to obey and follow the Christian holy books. It considered those who do not obey them to be sinners.

    “Therefore let the followers of the Gospel judge in accordance with what Allah has revealed there in. Evil-doers are those that do not base their judgements on Allah's revelations.” The Table (Maide) 47
    “Believers, have faith in Allah and His apostle, in the Book He has revealed to His apostle, and in the Scriptures He formerly revealed. He that denies Allah, His angels, His Scriptures, His apostles, and the Last Day, has strayed far from the truth.” Women (Al-Nisa) 136

    The Koran clearly stated that one should follow the books contained in the Old and New Testaments and that these books were sound and trustworthy. Moreover, the Koran commanded all believers to believe in the Koran and all the books that came before it, that is, the Old and New Testament books. Here the Old and New Testaments had a clear call to Muslims.

    “On those men We bestowed the Scriptures, wisdom, and prophethood. If this generation denies these, We will entrust them to others who truly believe in them.
    Those were the men whom Allah guided. Follow then their guidance and say: 'I demand of you no recompense for this. It is an admonition to all mankind.'” Cattle (Al-An'am) 89- 90
    I was really taken aback by what I had read. Right away I looked at other verses on the subject of the Bible having been changed to see what different things would be said, but they were the same. There had to be a mistake here. The Koran actually was saying that the thought of the Old and New Testament having been changed, an idea prevalent in the Islamic world, was not true and that the opposite was true, that is that they could never be changed. If the world of Islam's teachings on this subject were true (that is, that the Bible had been corrupted), and given the fact that such a thing was always being taught in Islamic education, it must mean then that the Koran is wrong. I thought, “God forbid, I knew that this was just not possible. I wondered where this idea could have come from?” God said, “Nobody can ever change my words,” but people said, “No, it was changed.” This couldn't be possible. While many verses in the Koran say that the Christian holy books were sound and were protected by God, other verses said that these same books had been corrupted. Thus there was a clear contradiction. Verses that said it had been changed and verses that said it had not been changed were both present in the Koran. It was just not possible for God to make such a contradiction.

    For example,

    “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, confirming the scriptures which preceded it; for He has already revealed the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of men, and the distinction between right and wrong.” The Imrans (Al-Imran) 3
    “There is guidance, and there is light, in the Torah which We have revealed. By it the prophets who surrendered themselves to Allah judged the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the divines; they gave judgement according to Allah's scriptures which had been committed to their keeping and to which they themselves were witnesses.” The Table (Al- Ma'ida) 44

    “After those prophets We sent forth Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the Torah already revealed, and gave him the Gospel, in which there is guidance and light, corroborating that which was revealed before it in the Torah, a guide and an admonition to the righteous.” The Table (Al-Ma'ide) 46

    “Do you then hope that they will believe in you, when some of them have already heard the Word of Allah and knowingly perverted it, although they understood its meaning?” The Cow (Al- Baqara) 75

    “Some Jews take words out of their context and say to the Apostle: 'We hear, but disobey. May you be bereft of hearing! Ra'ina!' – thus distorting the phrase with their tongues and reviling the true faith. But if they said: 'We hear and we obey; hear us and undhurna,` it would be better and more proper for them. Allah has cursed them in their unbelief. They have no faith, except a few of them.” Women (Al-Nisa) 46

    Verses like these really grabbed one's attention.

    The Koran mentioned the fact that the Jews had tampered with the holy writings. It wrote that they had particularly done this in recent times against the Muslims. But never once had I come across any expression that said, “The Old and New Testament have been changed.”

    The verses that contradicted themselves really led to a dead end. Which one was I to believe? That it had been changed, or that it could never be changed?

    After considering these verses, another question came to mind. “Did the Koran remove and replace the authority of the Old and New Testaments?” Once again, I looked to the Koran on this subject.

    “Keep your covenant, and I will be true to Mine.” The Cow (Al-Baqara) 41
    “He has revealed to you the Book with the truth, confirming the scriptures which preceded it; for He has already revealed the Torah and the Gospel for the guidance of men, and the distinction between right and wrong.” The Imrans (Al-Imran) 3

    “This Koran could not have been composed by any but Allah. It confirms what was revealed before it and fully explains the Scriptures. It is beyond doubt from the Lord of the Creation.” Jonah (Yunis) 37

    “And to you We have revealed the Book with the truth. It confirms the Scriptures which came before it and stands as a guardian over them. Therefore give judgement among men in accordance with Allah's revelations and do not yield to their fancies or swerve from the truth that has been made known to you.” The Table (Al-Ma'ida) 48

    “Say: 'People of the Book, you shall not be guided until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and that which is revealed to you from your Lord.'” The Table (Al-Ma'ida) 68

    “Say: 'Bring down from Allah a scripture that is a better guide than these and I will follow it, if what you say be true!'” The Story (Qasas) 49

    After reading these verses, I saw that the Koran itself did not remove the authority of the Old and New Testaments that had come before it. I then began to look at the New Testament:

    “I, John, solemnly warn everyone who hears the prophetic words of this book: if anyone adds anything to them, God will add to his punishment the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes anything away from the prophetic words of this book, God will take away from him his share in the fruit of the tree of life and of the Holy City, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)
    In light of these verses, why were different things continually being said and written? Time had really flown by as I considered these things and it was almost morning. Promising myself that after sleeping a bit I would talk about these verses with some people, I went to bed. After breakfast, I gathered up the Koran and some commentaries and left the house. I decided to go to some publishing companies who published Islamic books.

    From there I got some addresses of prominent Islamic scholars. I tried to get in touch with them and that day I got an appointment to meet with one, and I also set up an appointment for the following day with another.

    I brought the topic up with the first scholar. He confirmed the verses I mentioned, but also said that the Jews and Christians had corrupted their own books. However, the other man really confused me with his ideas. In spite of the verses that said that the books had both been changed and not been changed, he just gave lots of examples from various Koranic scholars. I was not satisfied with his response.

    The verses that spoke of the Old and New Testaments being changed were enumerated in light of the other verses speaking of it not being changed as follows:

    “Do you then hope that they will believe in you, when some of them have already heard the Word of Allah and knowingly perverted it, although they understood its meaning?” The Cow (Al-Baqara) 75
    “And there are some among them who twist their tongues when quoting the Scriptures, so that you may think that what they say is from the Scriptures, whereas it is not. They say: 'This is from Allah,' whereas it is not. Thus they knowingly ascribe a falsehood to Allah.” The Imrans (Al-Imran) 78

    “Some Jews take words out of their context and say to the Apostle: 'We hear, but disobey. May you be bereft of hearing! Ra'ina!' thus distorting the phrase with their tongues and reviling the true faith. But if they said: 'We hear and obey: hear us and undhurna,' it would be better and more proper for them. Allah has cursed them in their unbelief. They have no faith, except a few of them.” Women (Al- Nisa) 46

    I could not stop thinking about these apparent contradictions. If I could not find a solution to these thoughts of mine, I thought I was just going to burst. While the Koran in one of its verses said that these books had not been changed, in another verse it said that the writings were wrong.

    “If We abrogate any verse or cause it to be forgotten We will replace it by a better one or one similar.” The Cow (Al-Baqara) 106
    “We know that they say: 'A mortal taught him.' But the man to whom they allude speaks a foreign tongue, while this is eloquent Arabic speech.” The Bee (Al-Nahl) 103

    According to these above verses, some verses from God were considered as still valid while the authority of other verses was removed, that is, no longer valid.

    “Allah confirms or abrogates what He pleases. His is the Eternal Book.” Thunder (Al-Ra'd) 39
    Thus, because the fundamental book was at God's side, he could change it as he willed.

    Sometimes God left a verse as it is, and sometimes he erased it and threw it out. Thus, God was both the author and the one who could make himself known in a way that nullified what was written. But despite these verses, Qaf in the 29th verse, said “My word cannot be changed, nor am I unjust to my servants.” Thus the exact opposite was being stated in this verse. Which one of these verses was true? I began to ask “Can the holy word be changed under the direction of God?”

    Our religion of Islam was purported to be a religion that was tolerant of the whole world. In The Disbelievers (Al-Kafirun) 6, we find the expression “To you belongs your religion, and to me Mine.”

    “We gave Jesus the son of Mary veritable signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.” The Cow (Al-Baqara) 256

    In Islam there was no force or compulsion, and in the whole Islamic world words such as “Our religion is a religion of tolerance” were used for propaganda along with the above verses. But these verses contradicted that statement:

    “Kill them wherever you find them.” The Cow (Al-Baqara) 191
    “If they desert you, seize them and put them to death wherever you find them.” Women (Al-Nisa) 89.

    These words really bothered me. How could they talk about tolerance after the two verses above? How could we say to those people who are not of our faith “You have your faith, I have mine?”

    The contradictions were increasing as I continued my search. Wherever I looked, on whatever topic, God always had two different perspectives, one positive and one negative. If God removed the authority of his word that was given before and put in it's place something new, the Koran was thus a book that could have its authority removed as well as give new authority.

    While pondering these things, I was also reading some books on Reincarnation. I felt as if I had come to an impasse. However, I knew that I could not find what I was looking for in Reincarnation. Reincarnation, that is, getting a new body or coming anew to the world, had seemed interesting to me before, but now seemed like nonsense.

    As birth only happens once, so does the judgment day. For which body, for which sins that were committed, and for which good things is a person to be judged for if they have many lives?

    At this time the newspaper office was calling me often. But I was not responding to them because my spiritual situation was more important than any news that could be written. I didn't answer the phone. If I would happen to run into somebody from the office, I would smooth over my lack of communication with them.

    Okay now, in spite of all these verses, what did the Koran say about the prophet Jesus? Did Jesus really die? Was he crucified? I was curious what the Koran had to say about this. I went home and once again became engrossed in my books.

    These were verses I came across from the Koran regarding Jesus' dying on the cross:

    “He said: 'Jesus, I am about to cause you to die and lift you up to Me. I shall take you away from the unbelievers end exalt your followers above them till the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me you shall all return and I shall judge your disputes.” The Imrans (Al-Imran 55)
    “Blessed was he on the day he was born and the day of his death; and may peace be on him when he is raised to life.” Mary (Maryam) 15

    “Those that disagreed about him were in doubt concerning his death, for what they knew about it was sheer conjecture; they were not sure that they had slain him. Allah lifted him up to His presence; He is mighty and wise. There is none among the People of the Book but will believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.” Women (Al-Nisa) 157-158

    “His (Allah) blessing is upon me wherever I (Jesus) go, and He has commanded me to be steadfast in prayer and to give alms to the poor as long as I (Jesus) shall live.” Mary (Maryam) 31

    I began to think like this: “If the prophet Jesus, without dying, had been taken immediately up into heaven, who was he giving alms to? Even if there were poor Muslims there, was it Jesus who was giving alms to them? If not, if he still was on earth and living, where and to whom was he giving alms to?” If I accept that he did not give alms, then I needed to believe that he was not on earth and that he had really died.

    I was beginning to go crazy. The longer I searched, the more new things I found and I was not able to draw any conclusions from the books that I had with me. I thought that the only thing remaining was to talk with my father. He could be very helpful to me in this. Furthermore, it was also his area of expertise. He was as knowledgeable as the other religious Islamic scholars and would definitely be of help.

    I immediately went to call him. As I began to dial I saw that it was the middle of the night. At the other end I heard my father answer very sleepily. I told him that I needed to talk with him about something important that day or the following day. He asked me what could possibly be so important, and then begrudgingly agreed to meet with me.

    I woke in the morning to the persistent ringing of the telephone. When I picked it up, it was my editor and he was fuming at the other end. He wanted me to write my final article for tomorrow's news. After eating breakfast at home, I got ready and left the house with the purpose of seeing once again some churches and some people that I knew.

    First I stopped by to see the owners of some of the shops at the Grand Bazaar and after chatting with them a bit, I went to church. The priest, as usual, had finished his morning prayers and was resting. When he saw me, he said “You must be off work today. Come, let's have some tea together.” Together we went to the church's kitchen. After talking about a variety of things, I brought up the subject of the Armenian militant groups that had made the news in recent days. I explained to him the general sentiment that these groups were being financed by the churches and that the support was coming from Turkey. I also told him I was thinking these same things myself.

    The priest said, “Such a thing is not possible. You yourself see we have difficulty just covering the basic expenses of the church. Besides, it's not our business to support the work of terrorists. And as for there being a connection between the church and the terrorist group, that is completely wrong.

    In history we see that in every religion, including Christianity, there were those people with hidden intents who tried to use religion for their own purposes. And maybe there are those who still do this. But a sincere Christian man or an established church would never get involved in such a thing as groups with destructive purposes.

    Even when Jesus died on the cross, He died saying not one mean thing to anyone. On the contrary, Jesus said 'If someone strikes your right cheek, give them your left also.' How could it be possible that we who follow Him would knowingly support such actions which are harmful to humanity? All of this is just lies.”

    While the priest was speaking, I wanted to believe what he said. However, the things that had been explained to me were very different. After talking with the priest a little more, I left. I had to prepare my last article for the newspaper and put an end to this subject.

    I returned home wondering how I was going to do this. I prepared some food and sat down to eat. Throughout the meal I tried to gather my thoughts together. After finishing, I went to my desk and finally I began to write down all the things I saw and discussed up until that point. But as I was writing, my thoughts began to take on the form of those of a fundamentalist Muslim. These people ought to be punished because they have turned from the right way. While convincing myself of this thought, I continued to write, but in my heart I began to think that I was doing an injustice.

    Up until then I had not once seen anything throughout my investigation about these people that was wrong. On the contrary, I saw that even the book I believed in (the Koran) was not able to fully condemn these people. It said that their holy book had both been changed and not been changed. It said that they had gone astray and not gone astray. My mind was completely worn out thinking of these things, so I went to bed and tried to get some sleep.

    When I awoke, it was almost afternoon. There was still a fear within me. I thought, 'What did I do?” “What am I doing?' I began to think of the things I had done wrong those past days. I told myself that if I ate something I would be able to think better. I continued to think while eating. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I was writing this article based on gossip and my own judgments. However, those judgments should not be made by me, but by those in the world of Islamics. So, I got myself together and went to my father's house that evening.

    I thought of my father while traveling to his house. He had a good Islamic education, but after much investigation on this topic, he came to a crisis in his faith. My father, who before had often read the Koran and never missed his obligatory prayers, became an atheist after this search. He said that he could not get around some of the contradictions that he had found nor could he give logical answers to them.

    I took all my notes with me to my father's house. When I arrived, my parents began to ask me why I had not called them for a long time, why did I want to talk in the middle of the night on the phone, and what was going on. After trying to answer their questions and chatting a bit, I said that I wanted to speak privately with my father. After moving into another room, I explained to my father the subjects I was investigating and my difficulties in making sense of it all. He said, “Okay, now what do you want from me? ” I told him that it would be good if he would explain these things to me. After saying this, I asked his thoughts about whether or not Jesus really had died on the cross and about the Trinity.

    My father replied, “The good and true religion says 'Don't argue, or you will fall into doubt in your faith.' As you search out these subjects, you will no doubt debate with others. But I don't want you spending too much of your time on this, for in the end you will end up just like me.”

    I pleaded with my father to help me. I said that he could explain these things to me in the best way. After much persuasion, he finally agreed to help me.

    My father said, “Yes, the verses in the Koran which speak of the Old and New Testaments are true. When we look at some of these verses, we see that the Old and New Testaments have not been changed and that the Koran has not superseded their authority.

    “But there are other verses in the Koran which support the concept of these books having been corrupted. It is said that some Jewish leaders have changed the writing of these books. But some Islamic scholars think very differently on this subject.

    “And on the topic of the Trinity, the Koran says that true believers do not make partners out of God, that is, do not commit idolatry by making other things equal to God.”

    “Be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book, except with those among them who do evil, Say: 'We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and your God is one.” The Spider (Al-Ankabut) 46
    “There are among the People of the Book some upright men who all night long recite the revelations of Allah and worship Him; who believe in Allah and the Last Day; who enjoin justice and forbid evil and vie with each other in good works. These are righteous men.” The Imrans (Al-Imran) 113-114

    “These verses show that Christians believe only in one God. Christians believe in one God, they read the book which is in their hands and worship with respect.”

    “I cannot show you a verse in the Koran which would clearly explain the three personhoods of God as it is expressed in the Christian faith. But here is one of several verses on this topic that I can show you:”

    “The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was no more than Allah's apostle and His Word which He conveyed to Mary: a spirit from Him.” Women (Al-Nisa) 171
    “In this verse we can see God's essence, God's word, and God's spirit. Let me explain this. With regard to the prophet Jesus' relationship to God's word:”

    For the Holy Spirit: “We gave Jesus the son of Mary veritable signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.” The Cow (Bakara) 253
    “The exact translation of this spirit is the Holy Spirit.

    “Now you will want to ask me questions regarding Jesus' dying on the cross. But let me first say that you should not enter too deeply into this debate or else you'll end up like me, an atheist. But after having persuaded me, I will now explain this to you.”

    “Even if the Koran says that Jesus never died on the cross and was immediately taken up to heaven, you still have to deal with this verse:

    “Those that disagreed about him were in doubt concerning his death, for what they knew about it was sheer conjecture; they were not sure that they had slain him. Allah lifted him up to His presence; He is mighty and wise. There is none among the People of the Book but will believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.” Women (Al-Nisa) 157-158
    “And we can find verses with regard to the prophet Jesus truly having died: “He said: 'Jesus, I am about to cause you to die and lift you up to Me. I shall take you away from the unbelievers end exalt your followers above them till the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me you shall all return and I shall judge your disputes.” The Imrans (Al-Imran 55)

    “Actually the Islamic scholars have varying opinions regarding Jesus being taken up into heaven. The word, “tawaffaytani” usually translated as, “the one who kills” was translated as, “to raise” by the Islamic scholor Razi. He states that this same word can also mean “to awaken.” If Razi and the other scholars are correct, the prophet Jesus was never going to die in his departure from earth.”

    “All who live on earth are doomed to die. But the face of your Lord will abide for ever, in all its majesty and glory.” The Merciful (Al-Rahman) 26
    “I spoke to them of nothing except what You bade me. I said: “Serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” I watched over them whilst living in their midst, and ever since You took me to You, You Yourself have been watching over them. You are the witness of all things.” The Table (Al-Ma'ide) 117

    “The scholars fell into disagreement on this topic and ended up in two separate groups. The first group defends their belief that God would have Jesus pass through this event, that he would not allow them to kill him. That is, by raising Jesus to his side in heaven and drawing him into his presence with the angels, he would protect Jesus by not letting them kill him.”

    “As for the other group of scholars, they say that the phrase “I am the one who will have you pass away” means “I am the one who will kill you.” They say that according to what was put forth by Ibnu Abbas, Ibnu Ishak and Ham b. Ishak, the Jews, who were Jesus' enemies, were not going to be able to kill the Messiah. God honored him by raising him up into heaven. Those scholars in this group fell into disagreement and in the end divided into three different opinions on this subject as follows:”

    Muhammed b. Ishak: At the seventh hour the prophet Jesus died. Later God brought about his resurrection and raised him up into heaven.

    Vehb: Jesus died at the third hour and later was raised up into heaven.

    Rabi b. Enes: God killed him and then raised him up into heaven.
    “There you have it son. Some Islamic scholars have fallen into disagreement on this and other subjects. This is all I have to say to you now as your father.”

    The things my father explained were enough for me, however in no way could I satisfy myself. Then my mother came and after speaking a bit with her I left. Until I arrived home and even until this day, the things I learned were in the forefront of my thoughts. After arriving home, I went straight into my work room.

    As soon as I sat down at the desk, I began to pray with reverence. “My God, I believe in your existence and your oneness. Please explain to me the situation that I find myself in these last few weeks. When people explain things to me, they only explain things with their own ideas. You can explain the truth about everything to me and can even explain your very self to me. I plead with you – show the truth to me.”

    After finishing this prayer, I felt a need to look at other books. I had finished my investigation of these subjects with the Koran, but I wondered what the Old and New Testaments had to say? I had a lot of questions in my head, but as a journalist I knew there is no mystery that cannot be investigated or uncovered. Over the months I had visited different churches in Istanbul, attended Bible Studies (Catechism classes), talked to many Christians and Priests, and spent hours after hours to read the Bible and the books about Christianity. Now was the time to sit down and make sense of all these things I had heard and studied over these months.

    With regard to the trustworthiness of the Old and New Testament I found:

    “I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered.” (Psalm 89:34)
    “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

    “If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came and the Scripture cannot be broken.” (John 10:35)

    “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18-19)

    Some verses in the Old and New Testaments that speak of the Godhead:

    “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8)
    “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

    “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

    “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)

    “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”)” (I Corinthians 8:5)

    Jesus' being crucified on the cross was the main subject of both the Old and New Testaments. And the verse that I found most striking:

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
    I remembered that the following day was Saturday, the day of the church meeting. I needed to get some sleep. I had not been able to sleep for a couple of days due to thinking about these things. However I promised myself that whatever happened, I would solve the problem that night. I understood more or less the dispute between the Koran and the Old and New Testaments. However, one thing needed to happen, I needed to come to a definite conclusion on this matter. The investigating I had done up to that point was not enough for me.

    At this point, the most important thing for me was to clearly understand in which prophet salvation was found. I began to think about each of the two prophets, both Mohammed and Jesus. Both of them were offering a way. But which way led to the real truth? I began to look once again at the Koran on this subject.

    “There is not one of you who shall not pass through the confines of Hell: such is the absolute decree of your Lord.” Mary (Maryam) 71
    And again, in another verse concerning Mohammed:

    “Implore Him to forgive your sins,” The Forgiving One (Ghafir) 55
    This verse shocked me, because I had thought that Mohammed was sinless. In this verse, I saw that I was not the only one who was sinful, but that even Mohammed needed to repent of his sins. That no matter what I did, I could not avoid going to hell.

    As for what the New Testament said about Jesus:

    “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?” (John 8:46)
    “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

    “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter 2:22)

    “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin.” (1 John 3:5)

    These verses showed that the prophet Jesus was sinless. And what did they say about me?

    “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12)
    “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23)

    At the end of it all, the truth came out, namely that I too was sinful. God created the first person and put him in His own paradise. And the one thing this person had to do was worship God. However, by disobeying the Lord's command, he ate fruit from the tree that was forbidden to him. God broke the covenant that He had made with man because the rebellion of this man became the seed of rebellion. At the first time of testing, he fell into sin. Also because Adam and Eve, the first people, fell into sin, God banished them from His paradise into the world. And on the face of the earth, the seed of man increased as well as sin. However God had also given a promise regarding salvation from sin. The penalty of people's sin was death.

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
    Jesus Christ was the only way of salvation that God had provided to take away the sins of mankind. The prophet Abraham, because of his great love for God and His word, offered his only son. And God, in order to save all people from the burden of sin, gave His one and only Son Jesus Christ over to death for our salvation, as it was made known beforehand.

    “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
    “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

    “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-5)

    “I am the way and the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

    After looking at these verses, I saw that my salvation was found only in Jesus Christ, and that I needed to accept Him with faith.

    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
    Thus the only thing I needed to do was call on Him and believe, for Jesus had said this:

    “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
    I knelt on the floor and began to pray: “My God, forgive this sinful servant. I accept you as Lord and Savior …” When I finished my prayer, I suddenly felt relieved. It was as if a large burden was lifted off of me. I had found the true God and my heart was full of joy.

    From that moment on, I had made my decision and believed in Jesus. I knew that when some people learned of this decision, they would talk about my going astray. In that case, from which of the varying interpretations of the Koran would my going astray be a result? If there were wrong interpretations being spread, why didn't someone go out and stop it?

    I thought that I needed to get some sleep because the next day I was going to go to the meeting at church. I went into the bedroom and laid down, but I was not able to sleep because of the joy that I felt inside me. In place of the tiredness that I had experienced for months came a feeling of peace and rest. While thinking of this, I fell asleep.

    When I awoke it was close to noon. I took a shower, and after eating something I got ready to go to the place of the meeting. Today was my day of celebration. I put on a suit, and after giving myself a good once-over, I began to walk to church. The time for the meeting was approaching.

    This was the first time I was going to church wearing a suit and tie. Those who saw me in this way were surprised. They said, “What's up? Are you coming from somewhere special?” I did not say anything to them, but they could see that there was a change in me.

    The meeting started and the priest began to speak at the podium. Just as he finished speaking, I raised my hand and said that I would like to say a few things. The priest said okay and called me up to the podium.

    This was not the first time I had come to the podium, because I had shared here many times from the Bible. I looked at the crowd for a few seconds and saw that they were waiting for me to share. They had no idea what I was going to say.

    I was ashamed to speak. I had misjudged these people. I knew I had to speak and explain everything to them, for they had experienced much difficulty and trouble because of me. While looking at everyone from the podium and thinking these things, the priest encouraged me to continue since everyone was waiting for me to talk.

    I began to explain everything: “As you have all supposed to be true, I am not a salesman and I did not come from a Christian Armenian family. I am a reporter. I came among you to investigate the illegal Armenian terrorist group, ASALA.

    And throughout the time of my investigation, all of you experienced much distress because of the things that I have written. For months I have been greatly effected by your attitudes and behavior towards me and others around you. And I realized that the things I felt about Christians from the community that I had grown up in since my childhood were completely wrong. For a long time I did a comparative study between the Koran and Bible. I saw just how wrong and unjust my ideas were. During my investigation, I found my true Lord and Savior. I received Jesus as my Savior and Lord and I am very happy. I want to ask your forgiveness for the way I treated you all. But without this happening, I know that I would not have found my true Savior and salvation.”

    Right after saying this, I knelt down behind the podium because I was expecting them to attack and beat me. When I saw from the side of the podium people coming toward me, I began to shake. They came, raised me up by my arms, and began to kiss and hug me! They said to me, “You are our brother and we could never be angry with you. Praise God that the Lord explained Himself to you as the Word of God. You are welcome among us. You were lost and now you're found.”

    After I spoke, everyone at the meeting came up to congratulate me. After I accepted Jesus, my life was completely changed. An extraordinary change occurred in my heart. The foundation of my behavior, thoughts and speech was changed. After believing in Jesus, my family and close friends saw changes in me in every way.

    After I accepted Jesus Christ, I thought everything would go nice and easy for me. But I was still a person living in this world. Jesus defeated Satan in his life, death, and resurrection from the dead. However, Satan continues to attack me to get me to fall into sin. When I began to explain to those around me my new found faith in Jesus, I felt really alone. Those who were around me did not approve of this. I tried to explain what happened to me, but in vain. Jesus Christ spoke of this in the gospels:

    “…and anyone who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
    “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:19)

    Everything Jesus said in the gospels was slowly happening in my life. My friends did not go out with me like before and began to separate themselves from me.

    Jesus cleansed me of all my sins with his blood that was shed on the cross. I was also being careful to not fall into sin. In such a way I had separated myself from those around me. Jesus also said:

    “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
    Truly the ones who find the right way are few and I too had entered into this small group of people.

    I realize that truth is different for everybody. There are hundreds of different claims to truth in this world.

    However within the realm of truth, there could only be one basis for truth.

    According to this, Jesus Christ is the only way, truth and life that reconciled God to man. The Word of God came to the earth with the purpose of saving His own people that He had created. He died on the cross, and with his resurrection from the dead offered new life to us.

    My prayer is that my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will bring all people to salvation in Him. May everybody find the truth as I have.

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