MARIO JOSEPH: While I was working in a Muslim moscheet as an Imam, as a parish priest, once I preached in my parish that Jesus Christ is not God. For me God was only Allah, and I believed Allah never got married, so no sons for Allah. So I preached there that Jesus is not God. Then somebody asked me, “Who is Jesus?” from the crowd. Maybe a Muslim but somebody asked me “Who is Jesus?” I was preaching, He is not God, but the question was, “Who is He?” To know who He is, I read the entire Koran once again: 114 chapters, 6666 in the Koran. When I read it, the name of the Prophet Mohammed, I found in Koran 4 places, but the name of Jesus I found in 25 places. There itself, I was a little confused. Why does the Koran give more preference to Jesus?
And the second thing: I could not see any women’s name in Koran: the Prophet Mohammad’s mother’s name, or wife’s name or children’s name, no. In the Koran, there is only one woman’s name found: Mariam, the mother of Jesus. No other woman’s name. And in the holy Koran chapter 3, the name of the chapter is “Family of Mariam,” and the holy Koran chapter 19, the name of the chapter itself is “Mariam.” One chapter is “Mariam.”
So I was very curious to know “Why does the Koran say all these things?” About Mariam, the Holy Koran chapter 3 verses 34 onwards says that Mary was born without original sin, she never committed any sin in her life, she was ever virgin. Koran chapter 50 verse 23 says that she went to Heaven with her physical body. Even the Assumption is written in the holy Koran.
And then about Jesus, when I read chapter 3 verses 45 to 55 verses, there are 10 points which the Koran makes about Jesus. The first thing the Koran says, (phrase in Arabic) the Arabic word which means “Word of God,” and the second thing, (phrase in Arabic) which means “Spirit of God.” And the third is (phrase in Arabic) which means “Jesus Christ.”
So Koran gives the name for Jesus: Word of God, Spirit of God, Jesus Christ. And then Koran says that Jesus spoke when He was very small, like 2 days after His birth. He began to speak. Koran says that Jesus created a live bird with mud. He took some mud, formed a bird; when he breathed into it, it became a live bird. So I think that he can give life. He gave life to mud, clay. And then Koran says that Jesus cured a man born blind and a man with leprosy, etc. Curiously, the Koran says that Jesus gives life to dead people.
Jesus went to Heaven; He is still alive and He will come again. When I saw all these things in the Koran, my thinking what the Koran says about Mohammad. You know, according to the Koran, Prophet Mohammad is not the word of God, not the Spirit of God, never spoke when he was 2 days old, never created any bird or mud, never cured any sick people, never raised any dead people. He himself died, and according to Islam he is not alive and he will not come back. So there is a lot of difference between these two prophets. I didn’t call Jesus, God, you know. My idea was, “He’s a prophet, but he is a prophet greater than Mohammad.” So one day I went to my teacher, the one who taught me 10 years in Arabic College, and I asked him, “Teacher, how did God create the universe?” Then he said, “God created the universe through the word.” THROUGH THE WORD.
Then my question: “Word” is Creator or creation? Must clear it. My question: whether the Word of God is Creator or creation. Koran says Jesus is Word of God. If my teacher says that the Word of God is Creator, which means Jesus is Creator, then the Muslims must become Christian. Suppose if he says the Word is creation, he will be trapped. You know why, He said everything is created through the Word. Suppose if he said the Word is creation, then how did God create the Word? So he cannot say that the Word is Creator, so he was quite angry he pushed me out of his room and said, “Word is not the Creator nor the creation, you get out of here,” he said.
CRISTINA CASADO: “If you see things so clearly then why don’t all Muslims convert to Christianity?” They say that the word is creation. They try to prove…they say the word is not the creator, not the creation, but not God. Not God. Not the Creator, not the creation, so not God and not creation also. So they don’t equal with God, that’s all their problem. So when he said that I told my teacher, “Word is not the creator, not the creation”, that is why Christians say the Word is the Son of God.
Then he told me if there is a son for God, I must show him the wife of God. Without wife, no chance of having son. Then I showed a portion from the Koran. Koran says that God can see without eyes, God can talk without tongue, God can hear without ears. It is written in the Koran. I said if that is the case, He can have a child without wife.
So there we had a big argument, and you know at the end what I did? I took my Koran, put it on my chest, and I said, “Allah, tell me what to do, because your Koran says Jesus is still alive, and Mohammad is no more. You tell me whom should I accept.” After my prayer I opened the Koran, I didn’t ask anyone, I asked only my Allah. When I opened Koran, I saw chapter 10 verse 94. You know what Koran says? (quoting the Koran in Arabic) “If you have any doubt in this Koran which I give to you, GO AND READ THE BIBLE, or ask the people, those who read the Bible.” The truth is already revealing that.
So if you ask me who made me Christian, it’s not any fathers; it’s not any sisters; it’s not any bishops; it’s not any cardinals; it’s not even the Pope; but the Holy Koran converted me to Christianity.
So after seeing this, I decided to study the Bible and I went to a retreat center called the Divine Retreat Center that is in India. We have 7 languages retreats; lots of people are coming there every week. You know every week Monday to Friday, there is a residential retreat and a lot of Hindus, Muslims and Christians and different denominations from all over the world people come there. So I went there to do my Bible studies. That’s how I had a relationship with Christianity or with the Catholic Church.
CRISTINA CASADO MODERATOR: Okay, and that is when you decided to become Christian? Immediately after coming it was not. I attended a retreat first, and I was not very happy. I was less than nineteen, not yet. I finished my studies and I was working in an Arabic college, sorry, I was working in a Mushid, so I was less than 19. And then while I was doing my Bible studies, there are a lot of points which touched me from the Bible. The first day, Father read John chapter 1 verse 1 onwards: “In the beginning, there was the word, the Word was with God, the Word was God, and the word became flesh.”
So my holy Koran says Jesus is the Word of God, now the Holy Bible says Jesus is the Word of God. So I found that both are very similar and I was happy to know that I need Koran and I need Bible, both. You know, I was in a mood like, one day I become Christian, one day Muslim, one day Christian, you know? I need both.
While I was thinking like that, again one more word I heard was John chapter 1 verse 12. Such a lovely word for me because it’s written in Bible that if anyone accepted Jesus, Jesus will give them power to become children of God. You know all the verses of the Koran, Allah calls the human beings slaves, and Allah is master. Master cannot love the slave, slave cannot love the master. I don’t like to be called by someone a slave. Koran says you are my slave. But when I heard John chapter 1 verse 12 it says, if you believe in Jesus, Jesus will give you “power to become children of God.” So immediately I said I need Jesus because I want to be a child of God. There I began to call my God, “Daddy.”
Until then I never knew that I could call God “Daddy.” You know, Jesus taught the prayer in Aramaic language: (phrase in Aramaic) “Our God who art in Heaven.” “Abbun” he called. In Arabic language, Abbum means “Our dad.” And if you ask me, I cannot express my joy whenever I call my dad; you knowwhenever I call God “Dad”. And whenever I think that the Creator of the universe is my dad, I have a kind of joy which I cannot express. It’s beyond my …an experience I cannot explain. Only you can understand by experience. So I really love to call my God, dad. There I decided to accept Jesus.
CRISTINA CASADO: So that is when you made the decision to become a Christian?
CRISTINA CASADO: And did you tell your family?
No, no, no. That was while I stayed in the Divine (Retreat Center), and so many other points touched my life and I decided to become Christian. But by this time I was missing in my home. So my parents thought I would be in my moscheet,and the moscheet people thought I would be in my house. So when the both communicated, they understood I am not in moscheet, not at home. So they searched for me everywhere.
They gave out the news in many newspapers and the television, etc. Finally they found me in a Catholic retreat center. And when finally my dad came there, it was horrible because he beat me very badly, and I was bleeding from my nose and I was unconscious, and then he took me home. I don’t know how he took me, but somehow he took me home because I was unconscious.
When I came in conscious, I was in a small room, without any clothes, I was completely naked and my hands and legs were chained very tightly, and I could not even speak because there was chili powder in my mouth, nose, eyes, and you know, wherever the wound was there on my skin, they had placed some chili there also, to burn me.
And they had done so much because it is written in the Koran in 18 places to fight with the non-believers. And it is written in some places to kill the one who rejects Islam. So my dad is obeying the law of the Koran. So he wants to do something. And within a few days they did not give me food or water, and I was dried up, and when my lip broke and I was trying to lick a little blood to wet my throat, then my brother came and passed urine in my mouth, you know. They said that’s the punishment for you to believe in Christ.
And after so many days, like, without food or water, my stomach became wrung and my body became weak, and I became like a new born. Finally, I lost even my memory power. I can’t even think, because I had no food, no water. So, like a dead man.
And I don’t know how many days, more than 20 days I was there in the room, and one day my dad came to the room and he removed my chain and I was not awake. And he choked my throat very deep, to know if there was life in my body. So when he choked me very deep, I couldn’t breathe. So when I opened my eyes, I could see a big knife in his hand. So my dad “It’s your last moment. No hope.” He said, “If you need Allah, I will allow you to live. If you need Jesus, I will kill you.” I know that, you know, when I was in the womb itself, all said I would die, but they loved me so much and they prayed and they got life for me. And now they want to kill me. So, I don’t know and I know my dad well; he will kill me.
So when I know that it’s my last moment of death, I thought anyway Jesus died, but He came back. If I believe in Jesus, and die, I too may get my life, you know. A kind of joy, it is better to die in Jesus. When I decided, suddenly a light fell on my forehead, you know like a moon light. Something fell on me and there was a kind of electric shock, something passed throughout my veins. I was so energized, you know, from somewhere, energy flowing through my body. And I couldn’t control myself; there was so much energy in my bones.
I pulled my dad’s hand down, and I cried out “JESUS!” When I cried out, my dad fell on the ground. When he fell with the knife which he was holding there was a big wound on his chest and there was bleeding, and some kind of foam was coming from his mouth and he was screaming. And all were shocked: my brothers and mom, my sisters. They didn’t know what was happening. So they thought my dad was already dead, so they took my dad out and ran to hospital.
When they were running to the hospital, they forgot to lock my room from outside. And I had energy which I cannot tell you because I was only like a new born, no food, so many days, more than 20 days. New born, but with a lot of energy. So I just came out and put on my dad’s clothes and ran to taxi stand to get a taxi straight away to get out. On the way, the taxi man, he was a Christian, so he bought for me some candy, juice, and everything, and he knows my struggle and he took me to Potta. And he contacts me even now. He’s a very good friend of mine, the taxi driver. So I went and came to Potta again. That day really I understood my Jesus is alive, even now. When I called him for my need, He saved me, which means He is present here, even when I am talking toyou.
So that is my life. Everywhere I know that He is present because now after my conversion 18 years. I never thought that the Muslims would allow me to live 18 years. And I have even preached in the Middle East, where the Arabs came but nothing happened. So, which means that my Jesus is alive and He is protecting me.
CRISTINA CASADO: Mario, is your wife in danger; are people still trying to kill you?
Yes, even after this experience, so many times they’ve tried to kill me. And in the end, my parents, you know they did a mock funeral ceremony. You know what it is? It’s like an “out—Casting”, keeping you out. You know what they did? They made my statue and buried it in a grave and they wrote my birthdate and death date. They wrote my original birthday, but the death date, the day when I became a Christian, when I took the Baptism. So that is my death date for them and they buried me.