God’s General : NPI Feature Testimony
We are delighted to share the testimony of one of our National Pioneers who now trains and leads a team of pioneering successors from his former guerrilla base on a large island in Southeast Asia. Our National Pioneers Initiative (NPI) has been active in Southeast Asia for nearly 7 years with an aim to trigger movements to Christ through indigenous evangelism and discipleship sustained by sacrificial succession. Rafi’s* NPI story is one that inspires, challenges, and glorifies our almighty God at every plot twist. We hope you are encouraged as you read about how God pursued this former Guerrilla General who has now dedicated his life to teaching others about the Gospel.
Coming to Know Christ
When I first came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, two miracles occurred. The first miracle was that, despite being a pious Muslim, I could not find the eternal truth I was searching for in the Quran. I began to question its authenticity when I read that the Quran was passed down by God through the prophet Muhammad when Muhammad visited heaven and took the scriptures to the Al-Aqsa mosque. However, at that time, there was no Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem because it had not yet been built. These doubts led me to pray for an entire year that the Lord would send people to me or that he would guide me to find someone who could give me an answer.
Then one day my guerrilla base came under attack by the national army’s special forces. It was a unit sent specifically to wipe us out. We were surrounded and many of my men were shot and killed. I was cornered and the special forces army commander appeared above me with his weapon raised ready to shoot me. Miraculously, I stood up and shouted “Hallelujah”! Suddenly the army commander embraced me, saying: “We are the same.” I did not know what he meant by that, and all the surrounding soldiers stood there dumbfounded as well.
Immediately we ordered a cease fire and laid down our weapons. The commander implored me to leave the jungle and go with him to our island’s largest city. When we arrived, the commander told me that he was a Christian and I explained to him that I had been praying to meet one. He introduced me to two faithful evangelists who taught me how to be a Christian and I soon began my journey with my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Learning to Love God and Man
After being discipled by the two evangelists, I wanted to study the Bible even more. However, one of my former Quranic students, who knew of my recent decision to follow Christ, became enraged with me. “How could you, my Islamic teacher, become a pagan, heretic Christian? If it is because you need money, why didn’t you ask me? I can give you a job or pay you to become a Muslim again,” he said. Then he threatened to harm me. He was the wealthiest and most successful man in my area, owning hotels and plantations. I did not respond to his threats nor his bribes. Being a guerrilla general at the time, he knew that I could have killed him myself or ordered my soldiers to kill him if he gave me too much trouble. This was another miracle.
After I came to know Christ, my emotions and actions radically changed. Before Jesus, I could not control my anger. If anybody threatened me, I would not hesitate in shooting them or cutting their throats. I enjoyed it and took pride in it. I had killed dozens of enemy soldiers. This time however, I spoke to my former student kindly, saying that my decision to follow Jesus was final because Christ is the eternal truth.
As a result, my former student tried to turn the whole town against me. But miraculously, the people did not believe him and instead they trusted me. Praise God! He heard my pleas because I believed that the Lord would protect me and my family. Interestingly, this powerful man who hated and persecuted me eventually went bankrupt and then suffered a serious stroke.
The Lord’s Protection from Disaster
The two evangelists mentoring me then encouraged me to go to the largest city on the island, away from my region, to be discipled together with other believers. When I left, I only had my bus fare to get to the city. When I was a general, I was wealthy and had many businesses. Because these operations conflicted with what I read in the Bible, I left all of it behind even though it meant financial difficulty for my family and me.
Despite this, I always prayed for provision and had faith that the Lord would meet all our needs. In faith I left on a cheap mini bus to the city many hours away. Halfway through the trip a large truck struck our mini bus right where I was sitting, twisting the front around to meet the back of the vehicle. Five passengers were killed and five more were critically injured. Only one passenger was left unscathed. Me.
Even with the dead and injured lying on top of me, I felt no pain. Those who were still alive were amazed to hear me asking them to please get off me! But five minutes before the accident I felt as though someone was lovingly embracing my chest with his left arm and my back with his right arm, so that even when I was knocked over, I did not feel a thing. When I emerged from the wreck, I was amazed to see so many victims, yet I remained completely unharmed. Standing there looking at the devastation, I decided to return to my region and not to continue to the city. But then a man got out of another vehicle and asked me what had happened. I told him and he asked, “Where were you planning to go?” I explained I was originally heading to the city but that I had changed my mind after the accident. The man replied, “God has miraculously protected you on your journey so far, so you must continue.”
Then the Lord reminded me that I was going to the city for fellowship and discipleship; so, without even a cent in my pocket, I hailed a bus and explained my situation to the driver. Amazingly, the driver took me aboard and did not ask for payment. When I sat down I realised that I had shards of glass from the accident in my pockets as well as some stuck in my hand and head. But when I pulled out the glass, I felt no pain. I went on my way rejoicing in the miracle of being saved from disaster or death in the accident and being helped by the bus driver.
Salvation for my Family and Community
After returning from the city, I obeyed God’s command to preach the Gospel to those who had not accepted Christ as their Saviour. First, I started evangelising my own family, but I soon learned it was more difficult to share the Gospel with those closest to you. Slowly they began to understand and follow the teachings of Christ. When this happened, I became overjoyed and asked them why they wanted to be Christians. I was shocked by their answer. They wanted to become Christians because they had seen a total transformation in my life. Before, I did not really love my wife, I never gave ground in a disagreement, and I cared little for my children, not even touching or spending time with them. Now I was loving towards my wife and I spent time playing with my children. Seeing this change, they went from avoiding me to wanting to spend time with me. I learned that, as a Christian, sometimes we are unaware of these life changes, but those around us see these changes first-hand. This is how the Lord transforms our old lives into a new life in Christ.
The Lord’s Way of Five Loaves and Two Fish
Now I am compelled to share the Good News with my community, especially my previous militant colleagues and their affiliated Islamic schools. To date, I have baptised and discipled more than 50 former militants who are now pioneering in areas that remain guerrilla strongholds. I am so enthused and blessed by this ministry that many times, after two weeks of visiting these pioneers, I choose to stay on longer instead of returning home because there are more people being evangelised and baptised.
Once, arriving home late at night, I was shocked to see that all the cassava planted in our garden had been pulled up! Not wanting to wake my family, I waited till the next morning and asked them why it had all been uprooted. They explained to me that there was nothing left to eat and no money to buy food so they had pulled the cassava up, only to find that the crops were too young. When I was alone again, I cried out to the Lord and asked for His blessings and His blessings alone. After praying, I went outside to look again at the destroyed cassava. Then, I noticed some paper scraps on the ground under the corner of my fence. As I got closer I realised that it was money! I went and asked the neighbours if they had lost any cash but they said, “No, the money is not ours.” I cried before the Lord, thankful once again for His blessings and provision for my family.
Read more by Paul Rattray