“I was imam and member of a fundamentalist Islamic group. I had only one wish: and that was that I would kill at least one Christian. Later on, as I read in the Koran over the life of Jesus, I was deeply touched. Three years later I excepted Jesus as my personal Savior”
Israt finally experienced the peace in his heart which he had been longing for, for so long.
But in contrast with the newfound internal peace, a raging storm broke loose in his life.
The fundamental Muslims from his old mosque went after him and attacked him.
Israt showed with tears in his eyes the scars all over his body. “They beat me and tried to kill me. Slashing my flesh with knives and trying to sever the tendons in my heals.” “It is only by the grace of God that I’m still alive today.”
All this didn’t stop Israt from continuing to serve the Lord wholeheartedly.
He studied theology, becoming a pastor in a local Baptist church. Again he experience a longing deep within his heart. “I longed to reach out to Muslims, telling them about Jesus, and started a Bible study for Muslims. God used me to bring many Muslims to Jesus.”
Two years ago Israt baptized another imam. After which the terrorization began again.
He decided to move to a different district in order to continue his work there.
But even there the fundamental Muslims knew where to find him. “A few months ago an imam came to my home when I wasn’t there, demanding my wife to remove the cross from our wall and telling her that I could no longer work in that region”.
A few weeks later, at the end of May 2016, things went wrong.
Israt was returning from a gathering where he had met and encouraged newly converted Christians. Suddenly he was hit hard on the back of his neck, falling on the ground he saw two men standing with large weapons over him. After that he passed out later to hear that the two men had left him laying on the train tracks. As the train approached, others pulled his unconscious body from the rails, taking him home. Israt laid in the hospital for two days, but the doctors could not help him. He was sent home, where a slow recovery was waiting for him. The police refused to take any action. Het told his story, but they did not even make a report.
“Every day I saw a group of fanatic Muslims standing across the street from my home. When my church members heard that I had been attacked some of them started praying for me but others wanted to take revenge. I told them that Jesus taught us something different. This is hard to accept and they went away angry. I can only say that I’m thankful to still be alive”.
All of the members in Israt’s church are converted Muslims.
The church he pastors is part of a larger body of churches made up of 26 churches spread around the region. Coming together in homes.
These churches as well as the church Israt pastors, strive to take on a diaconate role in society.
“we had two schools set up to receive children living in poverty and working in the fields. During their lunch break, they could come have a healthy lunch and education free of charge. Sadly enough this project could not continue due to a shortage of funds”.
Israt doesn’t get discouraged by all the things he has been through. He continues to hope for new possibilities in which to make his dreams reality. “I had to stop having the church services in my home. It was too dangerous, also for my wife and daughter. But I will not give up. My dream is to have a church, a Bible Center and a school built in this region. It is so important that people learn about Jesus, allowing them to honestly compare the Christian faith with Islam. I would also like to provide a shelter for people who have been persecuted, abused and broken because of their faith.”
3XM is working as an international missions organization in Bangladesh. Israt’s story encourages us to go on with the proclamation of the Gospel and the message of love and forgiveness, as we continue to bring the gospel into the homes of many.
Bangladesh is officially a secular state where freedom of religion is existent.
However, in the last year’s the violence initiated by radical Muslim groups is rising.
Their strive is to see the Sharia law implemented by the nations governments.
The government is officially against extremism, but in reality often bow to the requests or demands of the radical Muslims groups. Policeman and judges are also often intimidated.
The different fundamental groups work with what they call ‘dead lists’ and they have already killed over 50 people. Their victims do not come from one specific group, but include Christians, free thinkers, Hindus and foreigner. Individuals whom they have labeled as unbelievers and traders.
Believers in Bangladesh are confronted with the reality of persecution more and more. But even so, regardless of the current persecution, the number of Christians in Bangladesh continues to rise!