Poncardas Romas was born into a family of devout Seventh Day Adventists in the Philippines. This is the story of how he found Islam while preaching Christianity.
I was born on December 2, 1959, in Kawit, Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte, Philippines. Since birth my parents were devoted Seventh Day Adventists, one of the thousand branches in Christendom. I was a former Evangelist of the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA).
In childhood I was indoctrinated that Muslims are pagans. We believed that Muslims are warlike people, traitors, happy to kill non-Muslims, lawless, and that all negative attributes of humanity are in the Muslims’ doctrines. What I knew about Muslims was that "they were pagans and idiots!" I never even thought that they believed in God; I believed that they were people doomed to Hellfire. Some non-Muslims even believe that Muslims are like rats, a menace to a developed and peaceful society.
In 1981, I was trained extensively on how to preach Christianity, particularly to the Muslim community. We were later formed into groups and assigned in Zamboanga City, Southern Philippines to conduct house-to-house and office-to-office evangelism. Our main targets were to raise funds and to spread our doctrines and convert the Muslims to Adventism. Even today there are Christian institutions in the heart of the Muslim community in Mindanao, whose main motive is to gradually Christianize the Muslims.
One day, I was assigned at the Al-Malin Shipping Line Office, district of Santa Barbara, to do our jobs. That is where I had my first encounter with a Muslim intellectual. His name was Najeeb Razul Fernandez, formerly Samuel Fernandez, who was also a former Seventh Day Adventist-Evangelist. We discovered later that we were neighbors during our childhood, and our parents and his uncle’s family were close friends and neighbors.
I introduced myself to Mr. Najeeb Razul Fernandez. He warmly welcomed me and asked my purpose of visiting his office. He was a liaison officer that time at Al-Malin Shipping Line Office. He asked me, “Are you Seventh Day Adventist?”
“Yes, of course!”
“Do you believe in Jesus Christ?”
“Of course! We would not be a Seventh Day Adventist, unless we believe and follow Jesus Christ!”
He continued, “Your religion is Seventh Day Adventist, was Jesus Christ a Seventh Day Adventist?”
I was shocked at the question, because in my experience I had never encountered it before. I tried my best to ignore it, and talked of other unrelated things. He repeated the question direct to my eyes, and said : “If you could not answer that question, please bring it to your team leader and tell me his response.”
Then he related to me the true name and life of Jesus Christ, whose name is Iesa Al-Maseeh ibn Maryam in the Muslim world. Jesus was a prophet and messenger of God, and in fact, the prophets of Allah were Muslims. He also emphasized that Islam teaches about the Day of Resurrection, Judgment Day, Paradise, Hell-Fire, Angels, Prophethood, Morals, Divine Books, etc.
After I heard those words I brought it up to my team leader, and I asked him for an explanation. He did not answer, instead I received a warning not to talk to Mr. Fernandez any more or I would be excommunicated. My team leader’s reaction pushed me to investigate what Islam is all about. It also sowed doubts in my belief as a Seventh Day Adventist.
If indeed my belief is the truth, I am not supposed to be afraid to deal with other religions!
I did not heed his warning. Again I went to Mr. Fernandez, and then debated some more with my team leader. After our confrontation, our team leader immediately ordered me to pack up my things and leave. The whole group branded me a Muslim, and that I was not fit to do our task in Muslim community. With tears and confusion, I was forced to leave my SDA companions. That was the turning point which led me to research Islam and eventually became a Muslim a few months later in September 1981.
I embraced Islam because I found out that Islam is the true way of life prescribed by God, given to the Prophets, and the Quran is the only perfect book of God that has never been revised. I am appealing to non-Muslims to learn more about Islam from the Quran and authentic sayings or references written by Muslims.
Poncardas' story is a potent reminder that Islam can find you no matter who or what you are, and sometimes in ways you didn't expect.
Source : islamreligion.com