Afghanistan’s Most Brilliant Mind and “Apostle” of the Nation.
April 9th, 2014
(Spiritual “New Birth”day Blog)
This is a true story as told by J. Christy Wilson, Jr. He and his precious wife Betty, loved the Afghan people so much that in 1951, they left the comforts of America and spent the next 22 years daily working and modeling the love of Jesus as Christians in a place often hostile to any faith than Islam. Many real “Christ followers” have died willingly as martyr’s of real love, a love that laid don their lives, even to help those who are enemies. J. Christy’s book, “More to be Desired than Gold” is endorsed by Billy Graham, Ivan Chow, and Dr. Ralph Winter, yet today, it was endorsed on my heart after a friend contacted me, and I heard about the book, “Fahim speaks” by Fahim Fazil, and this story came to mind, and I began to weep and say in my heart, “Has any of the people of Afghanistan heard this story? Would anyone ever dare to make a movie about such a precious man?”
Have the leaders of Afghanistan heard? Perhaps, the new President once he is elected? I have not written any blog since before I went to Asia on a long trip and now that I am back, I know I must write and send this now. More and more the Afghan people need to know the truth about the Quran and the Bible, and as the world of isolation and ignorance is exposed to the Light of true seekers, great changes are coming on the whole earth to bring great glory to God! J. Chrisy and Betty prayed for God to raise up a modern Apostle Paul from their people. Little did they dream the Lord would answer in the person of a young blind Afghan boy. Our prayer is that God is today raising up His new Apostles in every Islamic Nation and beyond, and may God use this blog and future movies to bring Him great honor because of their love and deep passion for God and for His truth. Here is the story of one Afghan who “Followed his dream, never gave up, and made it happen to honor God the most”.
He Counted the Cost for Christ
“During 1964, a youngster whom we will call Paul enrolled in the NOOR Institute for the Blind in Kabul when he was fourteen years of age. Paul and his sister were both born with infantile glaucoma. At birth he could see, but was blind when he was a boy of five. His blindness had come from a religious custom formerly practiced in Afghanistan which often led to first cousins marrying.
Because women were heavily veiled, a couple were not allowed to see each other until after the wedding ceremony had been performed. Then a mirror would be placed before them and the bride’s veil would be lifted and they would see each other for the first time.
Many did not want to take the chance. Instead they married first cousins, since they had seen each other in their homes because their mothers and fathers were brothers and sisters. But this often resulted in mental and physical handicaps.
Even with this handicap, Paul was probably the most brilliant person I have ever met. At fourteen, he had already memorized the whole Koran in its original language. It would be like an English speaker learning the complete New Testament by heart in Greek, since Arabic was not Paul’s mother tongue. He completed the six primary grades of the Institute for the blind in three years.
While taking his classes in Braille, Paul also mastered English. He did this by listening and repeating what he heard on broadcasts over a transistor radio. With the help of a small ear plug, he would tune in programs in English coming into Afghanistan from other countries. He then started asking questions about what he had heard, such as, “What do you mean by substitutionary atonement?” He had heard such theological concepts on Christian radio broadcasts like the Voice of the Gospel coming from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
Finally, he shared with Betty that he had received Jesus Christ as his personal Savior through listening to these programs. She asked him if he realized he could be killed for this, since the Islamic law of apostasy dictates death for anyone leaving that religion. He answered, “I have counted the cost and I am willing to die for Christ, since He already died on the cross for me.”
Paul then became the spiritual leader of the Afghan Christians. In the Institute for the Blind in Kabul, the students elected him as the president of their association. But the next year, after it became known that he had become a Christian, he lost the election for that position.
Betty told him how sorry she was that he had lost. He replied by quoting what John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” (John 3.30). His goal in life was not to seek prominence for himself but to be a humble servant of the Lord.
Paul’s father said that before he had entered the Institute for the Blind, he had been like a cold piece of unlit charcoal. But after his experience there, he had become like a red hot burning ember!
Once he came to see me and asked to borrow an English Braille copy of the Gospel of John. He opened it and read it with his fingers. Then he returned it and said his question had been answered. I asked him what his question was. He replied that in John 13.34, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you that you love one another.” He had wondered why the Lord had called it “new” since the commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” had already been given by God to Moses over a millennium before, as recorded in the Old Testament book of Leviticus 19.18. But now he understood.
I asked him to tell me. He explained that until the time of Christ’s incarnation, the world had never before actually seen love personified. He went on to state that the Bible reveals that God is love, and that Jesus as God (Kalimatu’allah, the Eternal Word of God born by the Holy Spirit of a virgin miracle, tj) in human flesh was Love Incarnate. This was what made the commandment new, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you.” In His perfect life, Jesus has not only given us a new model of love to follow, but He also indwells us by His Holy Spirit and therefore He bears the fruit of love through us!”
Paul was the first blind person to attend regular public schools in Afghanistan along with the sighted students. There he had a small tape recorder on which he took down everything his teachers said, so he could listen to the lessons again and again and master them thoroughly. In this way he became the number one student out of hundreds at his grade level. 3
Those who failed in their classes were given a second chance to take examinations at the end of the three-month vacation. Paul studied the next year’s courses during the break and then passed the tests with the students who had failed. In this way he went through high school in record time, finishing two grades each year.
At Christmas in Kabul, we used to have an outdoor pageant under the lights in the garden of the house church where we lived. This included a live donkey, cows, sheep and hybrid Bactrian camels. As hundreds of Afghans came to see the story of Christmas for the first time, Paul narrated it over the public address system in their Dari language.
He also would come to see me in order to study Calvin’s Institutes, since he wanted to grasp the Biblical concepts of the great Reformation leader.
Paul fell in love with an Afghan girl who was legally blind and was studying in the Institute. After a courtship, they decided they wanted to get married. As far as we know, this was the first Christian wedding between two Afghan Muslim converts ever held in that nation.
He told me that he also wanted to study Islamic Law so that he could defend Christians who might be persecuted for their faith. He therefore entered the University of Kabul, from which he successfully graduated with his law degree.
The Christoffel Mission to the Blind in Germany gave the Institute in Afghanistan an extensive library of Braille books in German. Since Paul wanted to read these, along with the other classes, he went to the Goethe Institute in Kaul and learned German. As the top student there too, he won a scholarship to go to Germany to study advanced German. When the representatives found out that he was blind, they said they would need to give the scholarship to the second student since they did not have accommodations for a person who could not see. He asked them what he would have to do? They said he would have to travel alone and take care of himself. He said that he would do that.
Therefore, they finally accepted him. While studying with top students from Goethe Institutes from around the world, he was number one in their advanced course as well.
He also travelled to Saudi Arabia, where he entered a memory contest on the Koran and won first place! The Saudi Muslim judges were so chagrined that a non-Arab speaker had won, that they tried to save face by awarding two gold medals, one to the best Arab, and the other to the best…non-Arab.
Paul, with a talented Finnish woman missionary also translated the New Testament from Iranian Persian into Dari. This was published by the Pakistan Bible Society in Lahore. Its third edition—by Cambridge University Press, England, 1989—is distributed worldwide.
At that time, an Iranian pastor, a Muslim convert, came to Afghanistan to reach the blind. He encouraged Paul greatly. One evening while the tow men were praying in the pastor’s home, the cat ate some of their food, went into convulsions and died. Someone had poisoned their food. Yet on this occasion, God protected them. As David Livingstone said, “In Christ’s work, we are immortal until God’s time comes for us to die.”
Because numerous blind students like Paul had become Christians, in March 1973, the Muslim government in Afghanistan closed down the two Institutes for the Blind, the one in Kabul, with more than a hundred pupils, and the other in Heart, with more than forty.
Betty and J. Christy were ordered out of the country in three days, after we had served there for twenty-two years. All expatriate teachers of the blind, along with their families, were forced to leave Afghanistan within one week.
The destruction of the church building in Kabul.
The Muslim government then destroyed the Christian Church building in Kabul, after they had previously given permission to build it.
An oft quoted Afghan proverb is, “When Satan fell to earth, he fell in Kabul.”
This church building came to pass as a precious act of God through the hands of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (My most beloved and favorite President even till today, tj). Many don’t realize that former General Dwight . Eisenhower was baptized after he became President. His godly mother had named him Dwight after Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist whome she highly respected. But he had never been baptized nor joined a church. When he got to the White House, he requested baptism and joined the National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC, on confession of his faith. This was pastured by Dr. Edward Elson, whom the President knew while the former was a chaplain in the US Army.
A mosque had been built in Washington for Muslim diplomats, and President Eisenhower had been invited to the opening. J. Christy wrote to Dr. Elson, and asked to forward a message to the President, “Since a mosque has been built for the Muslim diplomats in Washington, we should have a church built here in Kabul for the Christian diplomats.” President Eisenhower agreed and when he was in Kabul he asked the King’s permission to build a church. Finally, the Afghan Government gave the authorization and the church was built with loving donations from all over the world in 1970. The beautiful Afghan alabaster cornerstone engraving said,
“To the glory of God, “Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” this building is dedicated as a “house of prayer for all nations,” In the reign of His Majesty Zahir Shah, May 17, 1970AD, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone.”
Three years later, the building was demolished. Even as I write, has it ever been rebuilt? Was any compensation ever paid? Was this act such a great affront to God and to His honor, that it has brought a curse on its nation? If the leaders of Afghanistan even today would repent and make things right, would God rush to heal and restore this nation and its people as a miracle to behold for all history to witness? It is up to them to see. God’s last cry was for the “healing of the nations”, Revelation 22.2. Shouldn’t it be ours as well?
Anyhow, when the Muslim troops arrived and started knocking down the wall between the street and the Church property prior to destroying it, a German Christian businessman, Hans Mohr—who purchased most of the semi-precious lapis lazuli stone minded each year in Afghanistan—went to the mayor of Kabul to see if he could get him to recind the order that was given. The mayor had been educated in Germany. Mr. Mohr said “If your Government touches that House of God, God will overthrow your Government.” This proved to be a prophetic word. The mayor then sent a letter to the congregation ordering them to give over the Church for destruction. That way the Government would not have to pay compensation. The congregation replied that they could not give the church to anyone, since it did not belong to them. It had been dedicated to God. (Just like our Farm in China that was knocked down..tj). They also added that if the Government took it and destroyed it, the officials would be answerable to God! (Did-o, regarding the farm…tj). Soldiers, police, workmen, and bulldozers were then sent to destroy the Church. The congregation, instead prayed and many wrote letters to Afghan Embassies in various countries. Billy Graham and other Christian leaders signed a statement of concern and sent it to King Zahir Shah.
The Afghan Government received a secret police report that there was an “underground church” in Afghanistan. Since they did not understand this term, they dug twelve feet below the foundation looking for the underground church!
On July 17, 1973, the Muslims completely destroyed the Church building and finished digging the foundation. Then…that very night, the Afghanistan Government was overthrown in a coup! 7
Afghans, who are quick to see omens in events, say that Jesus Christ ca,e down from heaven and overthrew the Government because it had overthrown His Church. It had been a monarchy for 227 years, That night it became a Republic under President Daoud. Then in 1978 the Republic was toppled by a Communist coup, followed by the Russian invasion just after Christmas in 1979. Millions of Afghans had to flee their country as refugees, One of them said, “Ever since our Government destroyed the Christian Church, God has been judging our country.”
Now, back to Paul. Under the Communists, the Institute for the Blind in Kabul was reopened and Paul was put in charge. He did a fine job in reorganizing it. He took his Master’s degree in Education at the University of Kabul by producing the first system of shorthand for the Dari Braille in Afghanistan.
Since he served as President of Handicapped Education for the nation, he was an official under the Communist regime and pressure was brought on him to join the party. But he refused. One official told him that if he did not join, he might be killed. He replied that he was not afraid of that since he was ready to die. He then asked the Communist if he were prepared to die.
Finally, Paul was arrested under false charges and put in the Puli Chardhi political prison outside of Kabul where tens of thousands were executed. There was no heat in the jail to protect the prisoners from the cold weather. He had to sleep on the freezing mud floor with only his overcoat. A prisoner next to him was shaking with cold since he did not even have a jacket. Paul knew what John the Baptist (Yahya) had said, “The man who has two coats should share with him who has none.” (Luke 3.11). But he took off his only coat and gave it to his neighbor. From then on, the Lord miraculously kept him warm every night. He slept as if he had a comforter over him.
In prison, the Communists gave Paul shock treatments to try to brainwash him. The electric burns from these left scars on his head. But they could not break his spirit with the cruel psychological treatment aimed at destroying his mind. He was then offered a chance to study Russian in prison. There he mastered this language as well. The Communists finally freed him in December 1985. 8
Following his release from prison, Paul read Genesis 12.1-3, in his English Braille Bible, “The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I…will bless you…and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you, I will curse and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
(In light of this rheama Word over Paul’s life, not only should the church in Afghanistan be restored to honor God, but the leaders of the country should make a public Holiday to remember Paul, much like our Martin Luther King’s Day, in order to reverse the curse they have, to become a blessing. Tj)
He felt God was calling him to leave Afghanistan and go to Pakistan as a missionary. He therefore, got in touch with a friend who was a blind beggar. Then he dressed himself in rags, On their way out of the country, he let his friend do all the talking. They thus were able to get through the Soviet check points along the main highway from Kabul. It took them twelve days to travel the 150 miles to the Khyber Pass and then on into Pakistan.
After Paul arrived in Peshawar, he typed a beautiful letter to Betty and J.Christy saying that he had reached there safely. J. Christy answered and invited him to come to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary to study Hebrew since he was then working on a translation of the Old Testament into Dari. He said he would love to come, but that he had too much to do among the Afghans and Pakistanis.
Paul’s wife and their three daughters joined him in Pakistan, where he started schools for the blind in the refugee camps. He also learned Urdu and preached in the churches in Pakistan. Then he completed a book of the Bible stories for children in Dari.
In a prophetic word, Paul once told a Canadian Christian friend that if Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, the leader of the fanatical Muslim group called Hisbe Islami (the Party of Islam) captured him, he would be killed.
They were both students at the University of Kabul at the same time, Paul was studying law, and Gulbuddin was studying engineering. So they knew each other. It was probably there that Gulbuddin learned Paul was a Christian.
On March 21, 1988, Paul was kidnapped by this group and accused of being a CIA agent because he knew English, a KGB or Khad spy, because he knew Russian, and a apostate from Islam because he was a Christian.
(Pray for the many Afghan interpreters today who are promised visas to America for their service, yet have not been issued them yet. Some have strong, loving advocates, yet as America is pulling back in this season, God knows those who have heart’s like Paul, pray God’s blessing, strength and mercy be on them.)
Paul was then beaten for hours with rods. A sighted person can brace and flinch when the blow comes. But one who is blind cannot see the club coming and gets the full force, even like the torture the Lord Jesus Christ experienced when He was blindfolded and struck. (Luke 22.64).
When J. Christy heard of his capture, he went to Pakistan in the summer of 1988 to try to secure his release. In talks with officials, all their attempts to free him failed. He was apparently taken out of Pakistan and imprisoned in Afghanistan. J. Christy comforted his wife and three daughters. Four months after Paul’s capture, his wife had a beautiful boy who looks like his father. No one knows if Paul ever heard that he had a son.
Many rumors gave cause to think Paul had been martyred. Then in 1991, an Afghan friend told this story. He too had been captured for his faith and put into prison. But in the fighting between two rival factions, a rocket hit and destroyed the building he was held in. His guard ran for cover, while he walked out of the jail unharmed. This was like the miraculous deliverance in the Book of Acts, chapters 4, 12 and 16. This Afghan Christian then relayed the story he had heard of Paul’s murder for his faith in Jesus Christ.
Gulbuddin Hikmatyar, the leader of Hisbe Islami, asked Paul if he were a Christian, knowing he was not going to deny, he cut off Paul’s tongue with a sharp knife and ordered him shot to death. Paul’s 39 year old body is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere around Khost, one hundred miles south of Kabul, yet he reigns forever with God, in the arms of Jesus with eternal shouts of praise, and with sparkling sight Paul behold the face of the Father’s love!
Where is Gulbuddin Hikmatyar today? Perhaps, Jesus might use Paul as a “Stephen” in his death, and Gulbuddin might be the next “Saul of Tarsus”? Only God knows. Paul did not die in vain.
Every 11 minutes, a Christian will be martyred for his/her faith in Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, are you ready? If you are a Muslim, yet deep in your heart know that Jesus is drawing you to Him, are you ready to risk it all?
If you need to read a free Bible(Injil) in your language or to hear it in Audio, go to www.bible.is
If you need to watch a movie made by former Muslims who have struggled with the truth and have found Jesus as their Savior, go to www.almassira.org or come to one of our many meetings to study and seek answers to your questions.
If you just need the privacy of your computer, go to www.answering-islam.org and get clear answers in multiple languages.
You are welcome to come to a meeting at ___________________________/ and the time is ______________or call. After reading the story of Paul, everyone either Muslim or Christian needs to ask more than things like “Follow your dream”, we must be willing to ask, “if God is real, how can we know His heart and follow His Dream!” God bless you as you seek.