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From birth, Silas was surrounded by a family of devout Muslims. At the age of four or five, he went to study at the Madrassa, a Muslim school dedicated to teaching the Koran. Then, while he was still very young, both his parents died, leaving him an orphan.

When Silas was just seven, he learned he had a rare disease that would make him permanently blind. With no one to care for him, Silas was forced to fend for himself.

Muslim evangelist
By the time he was 18 Silas was so well versed in the Koran that the teachers sent him to a village to be a Muslim evangelist.

When he was guided to the village mosque he was told it had been empty for a long time; in fact, the families had sent their children to a Christian school. Annoyed, Silas met with each family, threatening to report them to the government. In just over a year, the families stopped sending their children to Sunday school and he began to teach them Islam once more. Silas felt deeply satisfied with himself.

The light of truth
One evening, as Silas was praying alone in the mosque, he felt the room take on the intensity of a bright light for around 10 seconds. Despite his blindness, the light seemed to shine into his very being. Then a voice said, “I am Isa whom you persecute. I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can pray to God except through me.”

Silas tried to process what had just happened. He knew Isa was recorded as a great prophet in the Koran, but this encounter left him wondering. The next day, he had a long debate with his leader over its meaning, but walked away confused, with no answer to his questions. After many deep discussions with his leader, he told him, “If you cannot give me the answer I am seeking, I will stop studying the Koran. It’s a waste of time.”

This is the truth
Determined to find answers, Silas spoke to a deacon of the local Christian church. The deacon opened the Bible and read from John 14:6 the words he had heard: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

Silas listened to these powerful words of Scripture identifying Isa as Jesus Christ. He thought, “This is the truth I want to follow.” He decided to commit to being a follower of Jesus forever.

The deacon made arrangements for Silas to be escorted to safety in a village 9km away. There, a Christian family welcomed him to their home.

Sunday school student
Silas met a young Bible college student who offered to teach him more about Christianity. For three months the young man taught Silas the Word of God. Silas said, “He treated me like a child at Sunday school because he wanted to establish a foundation and build me up in the Word of God. He taught me to memorise verse after verse and how to evangelise.”

The solid teaching excited Silas and his faith grew stronger. With zeal in his heart and a new understanding of what following Christ means, he set out with a desire to lead others to Him.

Persecution begins
It was not long before Silas gained a reputation as the blind evangelist. The Muslim clerics knew him well and despised him for betraying Islam. Whenever a devout Muslim saw him, they mocked and spat at him. The persecution had begun.

The family Silas lived with had a daughter who took care of Silas’ needs. Over time a special relationship developed between them and they decided to marry. The girl’s family had observed Silas’ dedication to God. Although he was blind, they knew he would take care of her. He was determined to support his own family, and would go out to find vegetables in the forest to sell in the local market.

A church is born
His new wife supported him in his evangelistic work and in the home group he established. Beginning with only four people, they met to worship God and together faced many trials and suffering. Slowly, their fellowship grew to 25 people.

Beaten for Christ
One evening, local Muslims came to their house and dragged Silas, his wife and young child outside. They dragged him to the village chief’s house, where more than 20 Muslim leaders from the village interrogated him for 12 hours. “Why have you become a Christian?” They demanded. “Why do you bother with this religion?”

Silas replied, “I found the truth in Christianity,” but they refused to listen. They became increasingly angry and began beating him on the face and head. Each time he collapsed, they hauled him back up, only to beat him back down to the floor. Eventually, they ordered that he stop evangelising. He agreed that he would stop evangelising that day, but added, “This won’t stop me from evangelising tomorrow!” Finally, the village leaders released him.

Today, Silas and his wife continue to lead the small church. Whenever there is opportunity, Silas proclaims the Gospel unashamedly. One of his three sons is his constant companion. He faithfully takes him to appointments and assists him with his church duties, acting as his father’s eyes so that the message of Jesus Christ can be proclaimed.

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