Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Yusuf Estes - Ex-Christian Preacher & Former Catholic Priest - Part

“And say: "Truth has (now) arrived, and Falsehood perished: for Falsehood is (by its nature) bound to perish."
(Al-Qur'an, 17:81 (Al-Isra [Isra, The Night Journey, Children of Israel])
"Yusuf Estes" Ex-Christian Preacher & Former Catholic Priest How He Came to Islam?

The media classifies Muslims as "terrorists," "hijackers" and "kidnappers." So why would anyone even look at Islam? Why are so many priests and preachers going to Islam?

Many people ask me how a preacher or priest in Christianity can ever go to Islam, especially considering all the negative things that we hear about Islam and Muslims everyday. I would like to thank everyone for their interest and offer my humble story, God Willing.

Actually, a very nice Christian gentleman asked me through email why and how I left Christianity for Islam. So this is more or less a copy of the letter that I sent back to him.

How It Happened
My name is Yusuf Estes and I am the National Muslim Chaplain for American Muslims, sponsored by a number of organizations here in Washington, DC. As such, I travel around the entire world lecturing and sharing the message of the Christ of the Quran in Islam. We hold dialogs and discussion groups with all faiths and enjoy the opportunity to work alongside of rabbis, ministers, preachers and priests everywhere.

Most of our work is in the institutional area, military, universities and prisons. Primarily our goal is to educate and communicate the correct message of Islam and who the Muslims really are. Although Islam has grown now to tie Christianity as the largest of religions on earth, we see many of those who claim Islam as Muslims, that do not correctly understand nor properly represent the message of "Peace, Surrender and Obedience to God" (Arabic = 'Islam').

Dear me, I am afraid that I got a bit ahead of myself. I was trying to give a bit of background on my own personal experience to see if it would in anyway benefit those who may being going through what I experienced while trying to resolve some of the issues in Christianity. This may seem quite strange, while we perhaps may share a few different perspectives and concepts of God, Jesus, prophethood, sin and salvation. But you see, at one time I was in the same boat as many folks are today. Really, I was. Let me explain.

I was born into a very strong Christian family in the Midwest. Our family and their ancestors not only built the churches and schools across this land, but actually were the same ones who came here in the first place. While I was still in elementary we relocated in Houston, Texas in 1949 (I'm old). We attended church regularly and I was baptized at the age of 12 in Pasadena, Texas.

As a teenager, I wanted to visit other churches to learn more of their teachings and beliefs. The Baptists, Methodists, Episcopalians, Charismatic movements, Nazarene, Church of Christ, Church of God, Church of God in Christ, Full Gospel, Agape, Catholic, Presbyterian and many more. I developed quite a thirst for the "Gospel" or as we say; "Good News." My research into religion did not stop with Christianity. Not at all. Hinduism, Judaism, Buddhism, Metaphysics, native American beliefs were all a part of my studies. Just about the only one that I did not look into seriously was "Islam". Why? Good question.

Anyway, I became very interested in different types of music, especially Gospel and Classical. Because my whole family was religious and musical it followed that I too would begin my studies in both areas. All this set me for the logical position of Music Minister in many of the churches that I became affiliated with over the years. I started teaching keyboard instruments in 1960 and by 1963 owned my own studios in Laurel, Maryland, called "Estes Music Studios."

Over the next 30 years my father and I worked together in many business projects. We had entertainment programs, shows and attractions. We opened piano and organ stores all the way from Texas and Oklahoma to Florida. I made millions of dollars in those years, but could not find the peace of mind that can only come through knowing the truth and finding the real plan of salvation. I'm sure you have asked yourself the question; "Why did God create me?" or "What is it that God wants me to do?" or "Exactly who is God, anyway?" "Why do we believe in 'original sin?" and "Why would the sons of Adam be forced to accept his 'sins' and then as a result be punished forever. But if you asked anyone these questions, they would probably tell you that you have to believe without asking, or that it is a 'mystery' and you shouldn't ask.

And then there is the concept of the 'Trinity.' If I would ask preachers or ministers to give me some sort of an idea how 'one' could figure out to become 'three' or how God Himself, Who can do anything He Wills to do, cannot just forgive people's sins, but rather and had to become a man, come down on earth, be a human, and then take on the sins of all people. Keeping in mind that all along He is still God of the whole universe and does as He Wills to do, both in and outside of the universe as we know it.

Then one day in 1991, I came to know that the Muslims believed in the Bible. I was shocked. How could this be? But that's not all, they believe in Jesus as:

* a true messenger of God;
* prophet of God;
* miracle birth without human intervention;
* he was the 'Christ' or Messiah as predicted in the Bible;
* he is with God now and most important;
* He will be coming back in the Last Days to lead the believers against the 'Antichrist.'

This was too much for me. Especially since the evangelists that we used to travel around with all hated Muslims and Islam very much. They even said things that were not true to make people afraid of Islam. So, why would I want anything to do with these people?

My father was very active in supporting church work, especially church school programs. He became and ordained minister in the 1970s. He and his wife (my stepmother) knew many of the TV evangelists and preachers and even visited Oral Roberts and helped in the building of the "Prayer Tower" in Tulsa, OK. They also were strong supporters of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim and Tammy Fae Bakker, Jerry Fallwell, John Haggi and the biggest enemy to Islam in America, Pat Robertson.

Dad and his wife worked together and were most active in recording "Praise" tapes and distributing them for free to people in retirement homes, hospitals and homes for the elderly. And then in 1991 he began doing business with a man from Egypt and told me that he wanted me to meet him. This idea appealed to me when I thought about the idea of having an international flavor. You know, the pyramids, sphinx, Nile River and all that. Then my father mentioned that this man was a 'Moslem.'

I couldn't believe my ears. A 'Moslem?' No way!

I reminded my dad of the various different things that we had heard about these people, how they are - Terrorists; hijackers; kidnappers; bombers and who knows what else? Not only that but: They don't believe in God. They kiss the ground five times a day and they worship a black box in the desert.

No! I did not want to meet this 'Moslem' man. No way!

My father insisted that I meet him and reassured me that he was a very nice person. So, I gave in and agreed to the meeting. But on my terms.
I agreed to meet him on a Sunday after church so we would be all prayed up and in good standing with the Lord. I would be carrying my Bible under my arm as usual. I would have my big shiny cross dangling and I would have on my cap which says: "Jesus is Lord" right across the front. My wife and two young daughters came along and we were ready for our first encounter with the 'Moslems.'

When I came into the shop and asked my father where the 'Moslem' was, he pointed and said: "He's right over there." I was confused. That couldn't be the Moslem. No way. I'm looking for a huge man with flowing robes and big turban on his head, a beard half way down his shirt and eyebrows that go all the way
across his forehead.

This man had no beard. In fact, he didn't even have any hair on his head at all. He was very close to bald. And he was very pleasant with a warm welcome and handshake. This didn't make sense. I thought they are terrorists and bombers. What is this all about? Never mind. I'll get right to work on this guy.

He needs to be 'saved' and me and the Lord are going to do it. So, after a quick introduction, I asked him: "Do you believe in God?"

He said: "Yes."

(Good!)


Then I said: "Do you believe in Adam and Eve?"

He said: "Yes."

I said: "What about Abraham? You believe in him and how he tried to sacrifice his son for God?"

He said: "Yes."

Then I asked: "What about Moses?" "Ten Commandments?" "Parting the Red Sea?"

Again he said: "Yes."

Then: "What about the other prophets, David, Solomon and John the Baptist?"

He said: "Yes."

I asked: "Do you believe in the Bible?"

Again, he said: "Yes."

So, now it was time for the big question: "Do you believe in Jesus? That he was the Messiah (Christ) of God?"

Again the said: "Yes."

Well now: "This was going to be easier than I had thought." He was just about ready to be baptized only he didn't know it. And I was just the one to do it, too. I was winning souls to the Lord day after day and this would be a big achievement for me, to catch one of these 'Moslems' and 'convert' him to Christianity.

I asked him if he liked tea and he said he did. So off we went to a little shop in the mall to sit and talk about my favorite subject: Beliefs. While we sat in that little coffee shop for hours talking (I did most of the talking) I came to know that he was very nice, quiet and even a bit shy. He listened attentively to every word that I had to say and did not interrupt even one time. I liked this man's way and thought that he had definite potential to become a good Christian.

To Be Contd.

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