I was born on 25th May, 1954 as the fourth child of Janab Kassim Pillai Labba, a retired headmaster and Fathima Beevi. My house is known as “Kochera. It is an ancient, prominent and orthodox Muslim family at Kalloor, a rural area in Trivandrum, South India.
More than 4000 Muslim families inhabiting in our area and some hindus at suburbs. No Christians at all. There was not even a single Christian in the schools where I was studied.
Our mosque is around thousand years old. My ancestors spread the religion of Islam in that place and built the mosque. My ancestral home is very close to the mosque. The land revenue and the auxiliary records of the mosque were kept in my father’s name well into my boyhood. My ancestors were entitled to muslim priesthood by heredity. They had the designation as “Labba” with their names to indicate the priesthood.
In these circumstances, I was brought up with great regard and love for Islamic teachings and its practices and of my family. I did my religious education before I started regular schooling. No bad habits existed in the way of our family life. I even wrote a book about the Qur’an.
My college education was held at a Christian institution called Mar Ivanios College, which is in Trivandrum city. The vast majority of my college classmates were Christians. I was only muslim in the class. I had difficulty to mingle with my classmates in the beginning. But gradually I became close and intimate with them. Actually it led me to evil associations and wretched habits. I started smoking, began to use drugs and alcohol, done streaking, being known as rowdy in the city. Damaging reports and ugly pictures concerning me began to appear in the news papers. As a result my parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones were greatly disturbed. It seemed I may have to discontinue my education. If so I wanted to prove I could succeed on my own by going to the Arabian Gulf even as a stow-away.
By this time I became addicted on drugs and alcohol. My body began to shiver and I became very tense if I did not use drugs at the habitual times. I was on the watch-list of the Police. My parents cut off the money which they were giving me regularly. I had lot of friends, ready for any adventure, when I had money in my pocket. As a matter of fact my earlier friends became my sworn enemies in my period of trial. I lost my peace of mind.
It was at this juncture that some missionary students gathered courage to talk to me. They claimed that Jesus is the Son of God, who was crucified for the mankind. He rose from the dead and He is the king of peace. They further claimed that if one believes in Him and confesses all sins he will become a new person. I could not even imagine that Prophet Isa (Jesus) is the son of God or that he was crucified and rose from the dead. In turn exhorted them to reach heaven by believing in Islam which is the true religion. I had heated arguments with them on many occasions. They could only find fault with my wretched life, but could not prevail over my arguments or prove my ideas wrong.
But without losing heart, one day they brought some leaflets. The leaflets were based on the Bible which I considered forbidden, for it is abrogated. Hence I went into a rage. The thought that the advice that I had given them earlier regarding Islam, had made no impact on them increased my rage. I tore the leaflets into pieces. With despicable words I threw the pieces into their faces and I gave warning that I would destroy them if they continue misleading others.
It was a serious matter that the students of priesthood in cassocks were publicly insulted and persecuted, specially in the compound of a Christian institution. It looked almost certain that I would be expelled from the college. I could also expect troubles from any direction. The next day I went to the college armed with weapons, intending to cause violent incidents. When I entered the class the missionary students ran to me and embraced with love and joy. They surprised me by expressing regret for having caused mental distress on me. If the college was run by my religion and I was in the place of a missionary, surely I would not have let one, persecutes me, scot-free.
In fact, I was touched by their love, kindness and gentle nature. The Holy Spirit, which reminds us about sin, righteousness and judgement, began to work upon me.
That night I found a piece of paper in a text book in my room. On it was written, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners, for whom I am the foremost” (1Tim 1:15). On the reverse side of the paper was written, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). I did not know those were the verses from the Bible. But I was overcome with thoughts.
All the sins, the violations that I had committed since childhood began to appear before me as if on a screen. I recognized all my inequities, big and small. Each one of them transformed into a blister on my body. The blisters burst open and became sores. The flesh and bones, from where pus began to flow out, became very hot and began to melt. Worms were competing to get at the marrow of the bones. The pain was unbearable. The stench could not be described. I was being pulled into a bottomless pit. There was nobody to save me.
Without realizing I cried out, “God, save me”.
Then a man, holy and bright, descended from heaven and touched me. I understood it was Jesus. For a moment I closed my eyes with a heavenly joy, for His touch cooled my body and mind. When I opened my eyes all the blisters and sores had disappeared from my body. I am purified as if washed with a perfumed ointment. But Jesus who came in bright and spotless was now infected with blisters and sores. Pus and discharges were flowing out of them. Worms and maggots were roaming freely on his body. It was like an abominable, foul smelling creature.
Yes! “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:4-5).
Christ had taken on himself all my afflictions. I should have been condemned to death for all my sins. But I saw Christ taking on all my sins and being crucified in my place for my sake.
Earlier I never believed that Christ was crucified. I used to ask how our sins would be washed away by his death, even if he was crucified. But now I was convinced how and for what Christ died.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
I saw Jesus breaking the tomb and rising up from the dead. He was more glorious and resplendent in resurrection than he descended from the clouds
I fell at his feet crying, “My Lord and my God”.
I do not know whether this experience which occurred me in my own house in an area where there are no Christians, is a dream, or a revelation or a vision. I was not at all believing such kind of matters. But this experience transformed me into a Christian. It enabled me to throw away the old man and made me to become a new man. I received joy and peace the like of which I never knew before.
I shared my conversion of mind and joy at the same night to my parents. Although they listened me, but tried to dissuade saying this was only a trick played by Iblis (Satan). But I was convinced that the loving God has saved me through His only Son and that I would inherit eternal life. As a result I had to face torture and threats in my life.
I was baptized in the water as soon as I accepted Him as my personal Saviour. God baptized me with the Holy Spirit too.
One day I was narrating my Christian experiences to some of my friends near the mosque. Suddenly one of my cousin brothers named Salim stabbed me with a knife. My lower jaw was split. Everybody thought that I may die. But God saved me and made me a witness again at that place. Salim was making arrangements to murder me in another way and had a plan to convert it into a suicide. For the same he was buisily making a noose at the top of a tree. But a whirl wind blew and Salim fell with the branch of the tree. He was near to death. Instinctively I wished for his death. But Jesus ordered me to love and nurse Salim as He had loved me when I was His enemy. At my initiative Salim was taken to the hospital and was in plaster for more than six months. When Salim recovered he accepted Jesus as his Saviour.
The Jama’ath authorities chained me, shaved my head, locked me in an underground cellar when yet another person became a Christian. When I tried to escape acid was sprayed on me. I was beaten up several times and even lost a few teeth. I considered these experiences as lucky de in the name of Jesus and as symbol of my spiritual fervour.
The Lord visited a few more people who caused trouble on me. Most of them led to believe in Jesus. My parents and siblings who banned me from the entire area is now visiting me, and are willing to pray with me, though in private. My family and I can now visit with confidence our ancestral home and the adjoining Muslim neighbourhood as witnesses to the Gospel. The Living God is helping us in that.
I have a deep burden about those who go astray. Also He empowered me to preach Gospel. By Gods grace I have already preached before thousands of crowds. Preaching the Word of God, using the gift of healing, counselling, sharing the testimony are the part of my preaching ministry.
While many who take pride in calling themselves Christians look upon gospel work with contempt, I consider it only God’s grace that I look upon proclaiming the Gospel as a great honour. My life’s goal and ambition is to show the Muslim world the truth and thus help them in saving their souls.
The prayers of God’s children are essential to keep my family and persevering on the chosen path and to make my parents, siblings and dear ones accept truth wholeheartedly.