I should be lacking in my sense of gratitude to the greatest of all teachers, the Holy Spirit, if I were to omit mentioning that all through my personal study of the Bible, unaided by a human teacher, He was my guide. It was in a wonderful way that I was guided to His knowledge. I knew of the Blessed Trinity consisting of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and by this time I understood about the first person and the second person of the Triune God, but I often wondered who was the Holy Spirit and what were His offices. In my study of the New Testament I had read about Him in St. John's Gospel, but had never pondered over the passages which referred to Him long enough to grasp their significance. It was my first Christian friend, the Indian preacher who one day, telling me about the Muslim claim as to the prophecies concerning Muhammad in the Christian Scripture, drew my attention to the Paraclete and asked me to study carefully the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the Gospel of St. John, and then referred me to the fulfilment of the promise of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. As I read those passages my mind was filled with a new sense of joy. I came to know of His operation in the hearts of believers in Christ. "He wilt guide you into all truth," so ran the promise. How could I have been guided to the knowledge of God's truth, if He had not helped me to it! It was He who revealed the glory of Christ to me as depicted in the pages of the sacred Scripture, and it was He who helped me to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and, pointing to heaven, indicated the place of honour which Christ now occupies at the right hand of God,
making intercession for us and from where He will come again to receive those who are His faithful servants. It was the Holy Spirit who taught me the blessed truth that Christ was my Saviour and that He died for me, and who made me experience the efficacy of His precious blood which cleanses us from all sin. I have done nothing to merit such Divine favour as to be an object of His care, it was absolutely unmerited grace that guided me to His knowledge. I can only exclaim with the Psalmist: "What is man that Thou art mindful of him? And the son of man that thou visitest him?" Ps. 8:4 and, as for me I was "a brand plucked out of the fire."
In due course of time the Lord planned to grant me the favour of experiencing the joy of Christian fellowship. In the extremity of my failure to find a Christian to help me to join the Church, He guided my steps to the door of the Y.M.C.A. Building at College Street, Calcutta, where stood the gatekeeper that day distributing the handbills for certain public lectures to be delivered in its Hall. A brief conversation with him informed me of the purpose of the lectures which were regularly delivered there. The object of the institution, as he put it to me, was to make people Christian. If there was ever an institution I needed to know about, it was this. Shortly after I had gained this information I dropped a reply post card, to be sure of a word in acknowledgment, addressed to the Secretary, Y.M.C.A., College Street, Calcutta, intimating to him my desire to become a Christian and seeking an interview with him with this object. A reply was received shortly, directing me to see the undersigned on Wednesday at 5 p. m. The letter was signed which my poor knowledge of English did not
help me to decipher; the rest of the letter being written in typewritten form, I was able to read and understand. On the appointed day I found my way to the Y.M.C.A. and I met the writer with the help of his post card which I had carried with me. I was directed to a man who being deprived of his sight could not see me, he was the Rev. F. W. Steinthal, then one of the Secretaries of the Y.M.C.A. After a short conversation he suggested that I should attend the lecture that evening which was to be the first of the series to be delivered there by Dr. S. M. Zwemer, a missionary from Arabia. The suggestion was readily accepted. It was my first occasion to listen to a lecture delivered in English, and moreover my knowledge of the language being very poor I could not follow it. When, however, the lecture was finished and the crowd was dismissed and I went over to see Mr. Steinthal again, he introduced me to Dr. Zwemer as an inquirer. Dr. Zwemer taking the text from the Quran Chapter first and its fifth verse: Show me the straight paths, explained to me how Christ Himself was that straight path, and how He is an answer to this Muslim prayer which is repeated every day five times in their prayers. For it is He who said I am the Way, and there is no other way, for He also said "No one cometh unto the Father but by me." The talk left a deep impression upon my mind. Surely, I felt, God has not allowed that prayer, which in all my namaz, according to the customary practice, I have repeated daily, to go unanswered, for has He not guided me through His Divine mercy to the knowledge of His Son without whom no one can know God?
A weekly appointment was made with the Rev. F. W. Steinthal to read the Bible with him. His inability
to speak my tongue and mine to understand English easily, did not deter him from undertaking my instruction or from keeping up his appointment faithfully and regularly with me. Till the Lord put me in touch with this new friend I had no idea of Christian prayer, except what I had learnt from the book of the Common Prayer. My only conception of prayer till then was that of its ritual forms. With Mr. Steinthal I had the privilege for the first time to kneel by the side of a Christian, and listen to a prayer offered extemporaneously from his heart and addressed directly to the throne of God. As I looked into his face, out of sheer curiosity, and heard his prayers, it seemed to me as if his inner eye penetrated beyond the material universe and that he actually was transported to the very presence of God before whom even the angels fear and tremble, and I knew what prayer meant. I then recalled to my mind how my brother seeing my zeal for the punctuality of appointed prayers in the days when I was a zealous Muslim, had teased me once asking what need the God Almighty, All-sufficient in Himself, had of my prayers which consisted in going through certain postures and repeating things in a language which I did not understand, or why He should grant merits to me for the performance of certain deeds regarded as religious and obligatory, and then reward me with a heaven, the joys of which, in some respects, consisted of an enjoyment of certain carnal pleasures which are not regarded as honourable in this world and which one would be ashamed even to mention before another? No, I knew now, prayer was not a bargain with God. It was a fellowship of a son with his father. It was a taste of one of the real joys of heaven here on earth.
It continued to be Mr. Steinthal's practice never to leave me without prayer and at every visit I looked forward to the moment when we would kneel together and pray. The value of prayer was one of the most precious lessons that the Lord taught me through him. My desire to become a Christian was now greatly increased, but I was refused baptism on account of my age.
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