The Road I Travel – Tarek Mahmud

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Tarek Mahmud’s presentation at First Baptist Church Regina – March 24, Baptism – March 31, 2013.

My name is Tarek Mahmud. I was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh with a Muslim father and Christian mother. My mother was forced to convert – externally, though not in her heart – when she got married. All my father’s family are Muslim but my mother’s family are Christian. I spent a lot of time as a child with my maternal grandmother who was a very pious and knowledgeable Christian. This was the first thing which influenced me to be a Christian. Because of its academic reputation I was sent to a Roman Catholic high school. I became increasingly interested in Christianity there, though my father insisted this was just a passing phase. As I grew older I became totally Christian in mind.

I wanted to be a Christian but I was afraid to tell anyone because all of my father’s family are fundamentalist Muslims. Not all Muslims are fundamentalist of course, but in Bangladesh , many are. Dr. Mckim has told me that fundamentalism of any kind is usually not good and I agree. In 2010 I finished high school and started to go to local church. Some fundamentalist Muslims noticed and tried to stop me. They complained to my father and the local Imam. Then some fundamentalist Muslims- armed goons- threatened my father to stop my behavior. In September, 2010 they kidnapped me at gun point and threatened me if I joined any church program or promoted Christianity among my peer. My father was able to secure my release for a large ransom. For fundamentalist Muslims changing to a different faith is an unthinkable act, punishable by death. In Bangladesh there is a lot of religious persecution and most cases the police do nothing. We were afraid to go to the police for help. After a few days my father took me to Thailand for a week to let the matter cool down. A few months later he sent me to Canada to study at the University of Windsor in Ontario.

When I got to Windsor I started going to church again, even though I had promised my Dad I wouldn’t do that. But I couldn’t keep that promise. My father was furious and he ordered me to come home and remain as a Muslim. Muslims fundamentalists put pressure on him to stop my tuition and living expenses. I asked the pastor of the Baptist church in Windsor for advice. He told me not to return. He thought it would be very hard to go back and remain a Christian and he also feared for my life. So, I did not return but sought protection in here. My father got angry and stopped talking to me. He stopped sending any further money. I don’t blame him because he was under pressure. I always have faith in God and I knew that someday my father would appreciate me. After eight months my Dad at last forgave me. I moved to Regina to live with sister Ripa who has a job and want to continue my study.

I decided to become a Christian for lots of reasons. One of the most important is some of the differences between Christianity and Islam. Islam is the most work-based religion in the world. Even if a Muslim works hard to do good deeds, he can only hope that God will like him and allow him to go to paradise when he dies. But there is no guarantees. I know many Muslims are coming to Christ and the number one reason is because of eternal security. Muslims are attracted by the unconditional love and intimacy with God offered in Christianity. Many Muslims think that Christians have cheap faith, that somehow we just say “Jesus is Saviour” and we go on with our lives as if nothing happened. This is not true, because real Christian faith shows in how you live. Christianity also understand that every sin must be atoned for, either by the person himself or by Jesus on the cross. In the Koran Jesus is acknowledged but just as a prophet. He is seen as only human, not as the saviour or as God.

This is why I have asked for Baptism – to say to everyone that Jesus is my Lord and I am his follower.