Liturgy, the Church, a Muslim convert

Another testimony. This man was a sheikh (elder) in Egpyt and he had decided to engage in debate with Christians to show them the fault of their ways, as the Qur'an recommends. This ended up taking him to an Anglican church which is where we start:

Mansour was amazed at the peace and dedication and attention of the congregation. He was impressed by the depth and the spirituality of the prayers, hymns and the reading and study of the Bible. Mansour, like most Muslims thought that Christians were spending their time praying to and idolizing icons and statues of Jesus and the Apostles which he believed is paganism.

After the service, a date and time for a meeting was agreed upon. They met and the discussion proceeded to subjects like the oneness of God and the Trinity.

He spent the time in futile arguments with no end in sight. After the discussion he felt the superiority of Islam over Christianity. The Christian priest told him that we all seek God and suggested that in his prayer [he] seek the truth. Sheikh Mansour felt offended and answered: "Do you think I doubt my faith? I pray five times a day to Allah because I seek him and believe in him and his Islam".

When he went home the Holy Spirit moved him and he decided to give the advice of the priest a try. He spent a great deal of anguish and turmoil trying to explore the truth and was never sure if he lost his faith or is getting closer to the truth. He had to justify it to himself that all the religions are equal and it is up to man to choose since they all lead to the truth. He started frequenting the Anglican Church more often and was listening one day to a preacher, who came from Alexandria to Sohag. He was very moved by the Bible verses:

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 Corinthians 1:9

Whoso offers praise glorifies me: and to him that orders his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God. Psalms 50:23


He spent the nights reading the Bible and alternating between doubt and belief. He would lock himself in his room day and night. He looked pale and disoriented. His family and friends were worried and thought that he may have a mental disease. I was the only one who was allowed to see him and he begged me not to disclose what I see.

One day he came out from his room. He was his true self, happy, confident and you can see the peace on his face. He found the truth the way and the life. He discovered the sinful nature of man and the salvation through Christ the Lord. He found out that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

He started to frequent the Christians more often and his library became filled with Christian books.

His Muslim friends did not know how to approach him in this regard since a man with such knowledge of Islam and respect of the community can not possibly have Christian tendencies. They tried to persuade him to stay away from his Christian friends. He succeeded in eluding them. He only went visiting his Christian friends at night and hiding his face. This did not help since they finally accused him of being a Kafir (non believer).

Finally, he thought that he had to face his accusers. He went to the Anglican Church and asked to be baptized. The Anglican Church was afraid of the reaction of the Islamic community in Sohag and procrastinated. He decided to approach the Catholic priest asking for Baptism. The priest replied that he is willing to baptize him and got in touch with the Catholic authorities in Cairo in that respect. The reply came from Cairo asking him to travel there. We saw him suddenly leaving the Muslim school with one of his partners and left all his belongings to go to Cairo.

He joined the Catholic Church in Cairo close to the end of 1894 and was baptized. He chose the name Michael.


May I note that the role of the church as a community was central ot his conversion? He was not challenged by intellectual debate or apologetics, but by one priest who said that we should ask for the truth when we pray, and when he say Christian men and women, no doubt much like me and you, worshiping God in the liturgy. (It obviously wasn't 'dead ritual,' it must have bee living ritual...)

God didn't make evangelism to be the work of an individual. He made it to be the work of the people. Hmm, that's an interesting phrase--work of the people. Now that I think of it, there is Greek word we use that means exactly that: work of the people.

Liturgy. Work of the People.

Comments

Rob said…
God. How terrifying for him to become Catholic in a Muslim land. Alleluia.
Abu Daoud said…
I'm sure many Muslims would come to Holy Mother Church, but as Saint Paul says, "If we do not preach, how will they hear? And if they do not hear, how will the believe?"

Perhaps God is calling you, Rob, to this mission field?
Abu Daoud said…
Sorry Rob, but here is a later section from the same testimony:

In August 1895 he went with a delegation to Rome to meet the Pope Leo XIII, wearing his Islamic attire. The Pope asked him to approach and blessed him and prayed that Jesus would strengthen his belief. The Pope also gave him some souvenirs and pictures to take home.

This visit impressed all who saw or heard of him in Rome. Newsmen flocked over to the hotel where he was staying and even followed him and took pictures of him on the way to the Vatican.

When he returned from Rome he looked for more studies in Christianity. When he couldn't find what he was looking for in Catholicism he went back to the Anglican faith in December 1897.

He said: "I learned so much from the character of the Christian prophets that drew me even closer to Jesus to know through the Bible that he is the only redeemer for the world."
Rob said…
-Perhaps God is calling you, Rob, to this mission field?-

No thanks, I already did a stint of that for two years as a younger man. With kid #4 on the way I'm trying to make some money now.
Abu Daoud,

Thank you for sharing this story. My perception from the U.S. is that too many Catholic missionaries focus only on people's corporeal needs. Too many neglect spiritual needs. I am a convert from the Baptist faith however. For them it is the opposite. The put the spiritual first, but they take care of both. I wish that Catholics would take a cue from Baptists on this issue.
Rob said…
-Too many neglect spiritual needs.-

Indeed, that is exactly the kind of "mission" I was at. Unfortunately.
Abu Daoud said…
Rob and Cody: let's be part of the change. There is absolutely no reason that a Catholic cannot have a ministry of proclamation and preaching. There are so many examples from church history that I won't even start.

Weren't the Benedictines founded with the purpose of preaching? And the rule of Francis says that brothers should be sent to the Muslims (Saracens).

I will get some info on RC missions to the Muslims and post it. If you find some info please e-mail me and let me know:
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Press release from Finland 20.9.2007 to muslims

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Suomalaisille täysi suoja muslimi- ja neekeririkollisia vastaan.

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