I was born in Uganda (42 years ago), into an Ismaili Muslim faith lead by the Agakhan. When Pam (my wife) and I got together, she was not following any faith, so she joined mine.
For me this was the beginning of the end, the more she was learning about my faith the more I was learning from her about my faith and what it really involved. In Ismailism as in all Muslim Faiths, most prayers are in Arabic, she HAD to learn it all and pass certain tests before she was even allowed into the prayer hall. The more I was questioning my beliefs as I had never learnt things that Pam HAD to learn, the more I felt we were idol worshipping.
We were one of a very few who had the chance to have our wedding blessed by the Agakhan himself, in front of tens of thousands of people at Earls court in 1994. After that we felt we had to get more involved in the Ismaili faith, but I was still confused within myself.
At the time of my direct search, I held a high position in the Ismaili faith at the Manchester Jamat Khana (Agakhan Centre).
To cut a very long story short, I found myself asking God directly to show me the right path, or confirm the path I was on. I never thought God would really reply, of course, but what a shock was in store for me. I must clarify that I wasn't looking for a change of faith or anything like that, I just wanted to know that the path I was on did lead to God. During one of my Far-Eastern trips I just kept bumping into Christians, "born again Christians" I didn't even know the true meaning of 'born again' at the time. It had never been explained to me by anyone.
Lots of strange things happened to me at the time, which I now understand was God's way of answering that prayer and preparing me for what was to come.
On returning from one of the trips, I found myself asking God more often to show me the true path, and unexpectedly ending by saying "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit".
One morning I got my answer in a way that would leave no doubts whatsoever. The True God's path, God's direct path, "I am the way and the only way to the Father". (John 14:6). I had never read this before, nor had I understood the Bible at the time.
I had my baptism of the spirit there and then by WELCOMING GOD into my life. I remember, even then I did not know that a lot of people have had that experience and that anyone can have it, WOW. How can anyone ever want to live without this precious GIFT from GOD. I wish someone had told me about it sooner and I am going to make sure that anyone who meets me knows what I have and that they can have it too, if they want it. Forgiveness of sin, Eternal Life and God's Peace can be yours by welcoming GOD into your life; that's all it takes. (Besides having Body and Soul, you then have the HOLY SPIRIT within you, Amen).
Religion and GOD don't go very well together, that is my understanding now. No fears, as fear goes out when LIGHT comes into you, no rituals, no special blessings just for the fortunate few, no confusions, no routines that even you don't understand, just fellowship in GOD for ALL. (God himself says that without Him all our self-righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6).
A lot has happened since. It has changed our lives completely, including Pam following me in God's path. She didn't know I was still searching. Once when I told her that we idolise, she took a book out to show me that it must be the way to do it, (after all I did lead her into the religion) but we laugh about it now. We have God in our house, in our work, in our daily lives and we have fellowship in him and pray directly to the LORD.
We have a new family in the body of Christ (the Church). We have the Pastor and his wife who we see as lost friends, found. We now know what awaits us from here on, "The Kingdom of Heaven" through Jesus Christ. Finding the right church wasn't easy, We did not know that all churches are not the same. At one I had to tell the preacher to find God!!! But we are now at the best possible fellowship we could wish for.
We are now cleansed and saved by the blood of Jesus, I have also had my baptism of water and we are growing in GOD daily and loving every minute of it. I do go a little strong on some people who we care for, as we can see that they need to make life easy, by simply welcoming God into their lives. But then not everyone welcomed the very SON of GOD at one time, did they? We have helped some people and told many about our journey, (at the time of writing) it has only been nine months and a lot has happened in that short time. Our lives have changed completely, our children's lives have improved beyond imagination, our children pray to the LORD in ways even we ourselves had never thought possible.
To answer many questions that most people fear and ask us about are, how our families and friends took it, have we had threats etc. For our part we say "When The SON Sets You Free, You Are Free Indeed." But we have lost some friends, we have lesser contact with some relatives, we have also been stopped from things like doing a healing prayer for a terminally ill relative by other relatives some very close ones. But we see it as their loss and no-one is above the All Mighty. But a lot of them are coming round now and wanting to know more about GOD from us.
When some of them meet us, some can't even look us in the eye, but as they see the Light, the calmness, the peace and all that goes with having the Holy Spirit within you.
They recognise something has really happened. We soon put them at ease and explain the part of GOD in us, our journey. Many have accepted the LORD or rejected, because the choice is up to the individual. A lot want to accept the LORD but have fear about what others will say or do, I would refer them to my earlier comment and explain that fear goes, when Light comes into you. As I am sure our pastor would preach from God's word, "be a Free Eagle, not a captive chicken, nor a caged eagle".
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