"One Crumpled Tract"
I CAME TO KNOW THE LORD through a simple crumpled piece of paper. It was a gospel tract.
For some time in my life I had been very upset. feeling the weight of sin and guilt. I could not find employment, and I decided life was not worth living. One day I went to the railroad station with the intention of throwing myself in front of a passing train.
I am a Muslim, one of many in the Asian country where I live. I started talking to Allah. “I am in such a predicament. Would you please help me? If you don’t help me, I’m going to jump in front of a train and kill myself.”
I thought about my parents and realized that if I committed suicide, I would not see them again. I was very confused. While I was trying to sort it out in my mind, the train passed. Here I had wanted to throw myself in its path, but I was too distracted to hear it coming! The speeding train stirred up the usual debris as it went by me - dirt, gravel, bits of waste. scraps of paper. A wadded-up piece of paper rolled to a stop at my feet; it looked like paper that had been used by a vendor on the train to wrap peanuts for a customer.
Sitting there thinking, I ignored the paper for a time. But then for some reason I picked it up and smoothed it out. My eyes focused upon it, and I read the words, “Good News,” What news could be good, I wondered?
I read further. It said that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Prince of Peace. A simple message followed. As I read the paper, I began to feel a little peace coming to me. I read it again and again. Darkness came, so I moved under a light and continued reading that piece of paper, each time feeling more peaceful inside.
I thought. Who is this Jesus? As a Muslim I had always been taught to hate the Name of Jesus. But then I didn’t know before that He offered peace!
I stayed until ten that night reading that same piece of paper. The peace continued to come to me, and I began weeping. I was not even aware of the crowds of people coming and going around me.
Finally I went home and ate some food, but I went on reading that same message throughout the night. I didn’t know how to pray to the Christian’s God, but I began talking to Him as a person. saying, “You claim to give peace. and I don’t know anything about it. But I would like to have the peace You offer.” After that I had a very good sleep.
For the next six months I read the same message over and over again. I had nothing else to help me. Then I got the idea that a Christian church would have the Book that the paper talked about. so I found a church. Near the altar was a Bible. After reading some of it. I didn’t want to leave it. Every day I walked six mlles to the church so I could read the Bible for a couple of hours.
One day the pastor of the church told me that an evangelistic meeting was going on in a certain place. The meeting was conducted by an Assemblies of God church, and I decided to attend. When I heard the message given by the speaker, I was fully convinced in my heart of the truth being spoken and I surrendered myself to Jesus Christ. I became acquainted with the pastor in charge of evangelism, and he let me buy a Bible. How excited I was to have one of my very own!
I continued to attend the meetings. When my parents realized how involved I was, they became very upset and angry. The Muslims from my community began to discuss what they should do about my becoming a Christian. They called my parents to a special meeting in the mosque and told them that their son had been unfaithful to his religion. My mother talked with me, asking me to keep quiet about what I was doing because people were not liking what they heard. But I had so much joy I wanted to tell everyone!
I borrowed Christian books and read them. One day the people in my community came to me, gathered my books, and burned them. They threatened my parents that if they didn’t drive me away, they would be in trouble. When my parents came under this pressure, they gave me an ultimatum: I would have to leave my new religion or leave them.
My family believed that I had become mentally unbalanced. They felt that, if they sent me away for awhile, I would become “normal” again. Before I left, my parents gathered some of the Muslim religious leaders, who performed one last religious ceremony in an attempt to change me. It did not work!
My parents sent me away to an island off the coast of my country. What they didn’t know was I had locked my Bible away in a little box, and I took it with me. They believed that some months spent in seclusion would restore my mental health. Actually it gave me an unlimited time and freedom to study the Bible! All by myself, reading God’s Word, I could feel Jesus Christ so close.
I read in the Bible about water baptism and I felt I must be baptized. When at last I returned to the big city, I looked up an address that had been given me at the evangelistic meeting. It was a large Assemblies of God church. I met with one of the pastors and arranged to be baptized.
Being a Muslim and very family-oriented, I could not resist getting in touch with my family again. They warned me that if I took Christian baptism, they would beat me and never let me enter their home again. But I determined to follow the Lord and I was baptized.
Sometime later I went to visit my parents. I found a Muslim religious leader in my house who asked me why I had left my religion to go to the Christians. I told him I followed Jesus because He had given me joy and peace. I explained that Muhammad had spread his religion by using force, but that Jesus Christ uses love, and I had experienced that love.
The Muslim leader and my family became so annoyed that they took their shoes off and began to beat me. In my culture, using a shoe for this purpose is a most degrading thing. Then they threw me out of the house and locked the door.
For the next three years I had no home. I slept on train platforms, sometimes staying with a friend, going from place to place trying to find employment and a place to live. Through a series of people I met a man in charge of a Christian outreach program who kindly employed me. I have worked there ever since.
One day I went to a hospital to visit a patient. There I met a man whom I had known from childhood. Before I was converted, I had belonged to a secret Communist group that petformed various acts of crime, and this man was the leader of the group. Naturally he had become very angry when I became a Christian, not only because we both belonged to the same group, but also because he was a fellow Muslim.
When we saw each other at the hospital, I didn’t know what to do except smile.
This only made him excited and angry. I went to him, put my arm on him, and started talking. I asked him why he was so angry and what I had done to hurt him. He pushed me against the wall and answered, “I’m going to murder you for what you have done.”
But I said, “Before you murder me, won’t you listen to what I have to tell you?”
He didn’t want to listen, but I silently asked the Lord to help me speak to him. As we walked outside to an open space, he got a little calmer and asked what I had to say. I knew he was thinking that if he got me outside, he could kill me. During all this time I was praying to the Lord, asking Him for strength.
I began explaining why I had become a Christian, telling the story of what I had experienced. I told him that if he would accept Christ, he would have the same peace in his life that I had discovered.
For the first time my friend began to listen. I offered to pray for him, and he kept quiet. He would not tell me his home address, but we arranged to meet again.
After two days we met again. I had many gospel tracts to give him, and again I shared my testimony. When I asked if I could pray for him to receive Christ, he laughed; but then he gave me permission to pray. I urged him to read the tracts to find out what God could do for him. We set a date to meet again.
At the next meeting my former leader told me that when he had left the last time, he had ridden home in a crowded bus. While on the bus he read the tracts, and the truth began hitting him “like a hammer.” He had become convinced of the truth of the message, and now he wanted to know what he should do. I told him to just surrender his life to Christ and receive Him into his heart. We walked to the end of the park and prayed together. With tears in his eyes he said, “I am feeling that someone is touching me.” He asked me to go to church with me, and we attended the next service together. I loaned him my Bible, which he smuggled into his house to read. Eventually he was baptized in water. Now the hunter was the hunted one!
He too had to change employment. He could not safely return to his community. Someone in the church arranged a job for him, and he is now a staff member involved in evangelizing others! Though the party people have enticed him with more money and a better job, he cannot go back. He has indeed found the peace of God, and his past life holds no attraction. Previously he had been such a terror, it showed on his countenance. He now has a beautiful smlle, as peaceful as that of a little child.
We are both members of the local church and working for Jesus. It was all because of a crumpled piece of paper, spewed out by a speeding train that was supposed to end my life. Instead it brought peace - the Prince of Peace.
(the tract is produced and distributed by Evangelical Tract Distributors (www.evangelicaltract.com))