Tuesday 30 October 2012
Born into a Pakistani Muslim family, Pastor Siddique Paul struggled from childhood with a secret.
Born Mohammad Siddique, the son of a mosque leader, Siddique was drawn to the Bible as a young boy and a young adult, but kept coming back to the Islamic faith in which he was raised.
But when his wife fell sick in 1997, Siddique had an encounter with the Christian faith that had an ongoing impact. The doctor caring for his wife refused to let Siddique pay for her medicine, saying he’d prefer if Siddique and his wife would visit him once she was well.
“I was inspired by his kindness and love because the medicine was costly,” says Siddique. So he asked for the doctor’s name. Siddique recalls, “In our Urdu language the doctor’s name means ‘servant of Messiah’. I got shocked and thought, ‘he is a Christian’. After that I really showed my heart.”
He begged the doctor to introduce him to a Christian family who were acting on the teaching from the Bible. Siddique enjoyed the Christian family and asked them many questions. The family humbly told Siddique that they were laymen, not scholars, but said to him, “Our love is here, if you want to come and visit us again, our house will always be open to you and we will say welcome in Christ’s love.”
Siddique attended church with the family. During the service, he issued a challenge to Jesus regarding his three year old daughter who was very ill. He said to Jesus, “You are not here, but if you exist, if your blood has power, if you heal my daughter before I reach home, I will try to think about you. Not believe – just think.”
Returning home to a house silent of screaming and crying, Siddique discovered his daughter had begun to sleep peacefully the very hour he issued his challenge to Jesus. “Tears came into my eyes and I tried to hide my face from my wife because she was a Muslim.”
This miracle began to melt Siddique’s heart towards Christianity. From that point, despite what he had been told about the Bible and Christianity’s corruption, he knew: “there is something good in Christianity. How else could my daughter get healed in a short time? The doctors weren’t able to heal her.”
Visiting the church again, Siddique decided to begin a comparative study from the Koran and the Bible. He prayed very neutrally as he began: “O God and master of this universe, please show me your right path, the right way, the truth.” Having prayed this prayer, Siddique was confronted one day with a vision of God’s glory, while reading the book of Jeremiah.
“I became totally helpless. I put my head on the chair and started to think about it. When after a few seconds I opened my eyes, I saw a circle of glorious light in my room, I shook my head, but still the light was there–huge like the sun at the dawn time–and that light started to move towards me. I couldn’t bear the power and glory of that light. For the very first time I started to cry, I said, ‘Stop it God, stop it God, otherwise I will die’.”
When he went to the pastor of the church, the pastor prayed for him and compared Siddique’s experience to that of the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. He read Acts Chapter 9 to Siddique. “He prayed very prophetically for me and said that he believed one day I would preach the gospel of the living Lord.”
Siddique continued spending much time with his comparative study, and in 1998, without informing his wife, his family, or his work, he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptised. Siddique changed his name from Mohammad Siddique to Siddique Paul.
Although Siddique went on to join a Bible college and share his story with small groups of people in churches, he did not tell his wife about his conversion. When, in August 1999 God laid a burden on his heart to tell Fozia, Siddique finally obeyed. Her response was exactly what he feared. She considered him unholy, demanded a divorce, and informed both his family and hers of his conversion.
Siddique stood firm against the barrage of opposition from his dearly loved family that followed. His father suffered a heart attack with the news, and died after three months. His brother demanded, and his mother pleaded, that he return to Islam. Siddique told them, “I have eternal life, I can’t leave Jesus. This is a matter of my salvation and life and faith.”
When his mother-in-law hired an Islamic scholar to convince him to return, Siddique put the Bible and the Koran on the table and offered to ask any of the man’s questions. “I just prayed in my heart that the Holy Spirit help me. After six long debates he admitted he couldn’t talk to me more from the Koran and the Bible.”
Siddique’s conversations with the Islamic scholar touched the heart of his wife Fozia. After a few months, she said that she would listen to Siddique’s research– but added that she wouldn’t become a Christian. Yet Fozia accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in early 2000.
“Fozia was much more excited than me,” said Siddique. “She said, ‘If we have eternal life and the truth why are you feeling fear to share your faith and this gospel with other Muslim people?’”
In February Siddique published a booklet with his comparative study from the Koran and the Bible, looking at Isa in the Koran and the Jesus Christ of the Bible. The booklet grew in popularity, with many Islamic papers printing stories about Siddique.
In June 2000, Siddique’s employer, the Pakistan Airforce, arrested and imprisoned him to face a district court marshal. They accused Siddique of burning the Koran, violating his oath in the name of Allah to the Airforce, and claimed that, as a uniformed Airforce man, he had no permission to write his booklet.
Siddique cried out to God in his small, dark prison room. “I was weeping and crying. I heard the voice of my living Lord and God directly in the jail: ‘They cannot harm you, because I have broken the teeth in their mouth already’. My Lord took a stand for me; he favoured me and spoke to me.”
“When I went with handcuffs and security to court, I prayed and believed in God to save me. A wonderful miracle took place in my life.” The judge’s sentence: no dismissal from service; no reduction in rank. But a further 62 days of detention.
In the months that followed Siddique’s release, he and Fozia prayed constantly to be used by God. From 2001 to 2003, all eleven members of Fozia’s family accepted the Lord Jesus and were baptised.
However, when the Pakistani Airforce intelligence heard Siddique was sharing Christianity, he was ordered again to report to an airbase court.
“My wife is a lady of faith. She encouraged me a lot. She said, ‘You have to explain your faith fully. Don’t worry about us – tell them the full truth’.”
Siddique went through the official enquiry, leaving nothing out about how he was converted, what he was currently doing, and what he planned do. When asked on whose authority he did these things, he replied: “Jesus”. He gave a written statement to the court, including details about his comparative study of the Koran and the Bible. “They were very angry. They said I could be killed. But again, God opened a wonderful door.”
In 2004 Siddique Paul was accepted as the first official and legal convert to Christianity in Pakistan. He was given official documents from the Pakistani Airforce in which ‘Islam’ was removed and replaced with the word ‘Christianity’; they even included his wife and children, and gave him a copy of the documents.
Documents in hand, Siddique was posted again to Karachi and given the choice to live secretly as a Christian or be dismissed with no pension from the Airforce, for whom he had worked for 14 years. He took the dismissal. “We prayed a lot. We said, ‘We have no benefit, but we have our precious faith and we have you’. Jesus is more precious than anything. So we prayed and said we are going to preach your gospel at any cost.”
Pastor Siddique Paul and Fozia began a church ministry called Gate for the Nations. From 2004-2007 eighteen more people accepted Jesus Christ, and in their native city Lahore, through their church ministry, up to 63 more people have accepted Christ.
Currently in Australia, Pastor Siddique Paul and Fozia have a passion to share Jesus Christ with Muslim people, and to share their story of how God “has purchased them before birth by his precious blood” and “brought them from darkness into his marvellous light.”