The news of Yousef YouhannaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conversion to Islam has sparked a hot debate among Pakistani Christians all around the world. Many questions have been raised in order to find the reasons and the facts surrounding this event of great per potion. I am one of those Christians of Pakistani origin looking for the answers.
I have been living in Melbourne, Australia for number of years. And like many others I have been a cricket fanatic all my life. On the past two visits to Melbourne by the Pakistani cricket team, I was fortunate enough to come in contact with Yousef and his family. We had him over for dinner on the first occasion and Christmas lunch on the second as well as spending some time with his wife and kids on the next day. Just like to millions others, Yousef was a hero to me and my family. On top of just knowing Ã¢â‚¬ËœofÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ him through following cricket, we got Ã¢â‚¬ËœtoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ know him and his family and subsequently developed an emotional link to them.
Since the day of his news, I have spent many hours trying to overcome the sense of grieve, betrayal, anger and disappointment. The best I could describe my feelings is that of Ã¢â‚¬Å“loosing someone dear.Ã¢â‚¬Â In the midst of all of this I, thank God to stumble across your web site, where I could share these feelings, and be a part of the debate by answering Dr. GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s questions. I hope this exercise will work as a process of overcoming this grief.
I admit I do not know enough about Dr. Gill or his motives behind these questions. On one hand it might be safe to presume that Dr. Gill is trying to play Ã¢â‚¬Å“devilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s advocateÃ¢â‚¬Â to provoke Christians to have a good look at themselves and examine the part they played in the rise and fall of Yousef Youhanna. But on the other hand I could be wrong. It could be a true reflection of his approach to the whole situation. Whatever the case maybe, following are my answers to his questions.
1. Did they pray to God, so that Yousaf Yahona could be selected to the cricket team?
Yes we did. I live more than half of my life in Pakistan where in my younger days I played good cricket. I even played with some of the guys who went on to represent Karachi A and Pakistan. I came across many other Christian cricketers who were as good as those who reached greater heights. However many would agree with me that it was almost impossible to think of a Christian to play for the national team. But they would also agree with me for having a Ã¢â‚¬ËœwishÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ that some day some Christian player would be given an opportunity to represent their community and country. I know I did. Yes I never prayed for Yousef directly. But isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t having a wish, could be termed as a prayer, and when Yousef was selected, I regarded it as an answer to those prayers, that we finally have a Christian test cricketer.
2. According to reports, Christians used to pray for his success in the team. Is it not an insult to his personal talent, his personal efforts and his own prayers?
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think praying for some to succeed is necessarily an insult to their talent. On Christmas day last year we earnestly prayed with Yousef to the Lord to do well at the MCG test match. He went on to make 111 runs which was a great achievement. I remember he thanked us for praying for him. He even signed one of the kids bat with the words Ã¢â‚¬Å“pray for meÃ¢â‚¬Â. Which indicated that he himself was aware of the part all the prayers play in his success.
3. If the prayers of Christians of Pakistan had been so forceful, then why do they not pray now for Yousaf Yohana to come back?
I am sure many Christians including me are fervently praying for him to get back in the fold. The Lord has created all men with a free will. They have a freedom to choose. Yousef may have turned his back to Him, but let me assure you that Lord hasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turned His back to Yousef. He does not force anyone to follow him. I believe Yousef will get lots of opportunities to follow Him again. What he does with those opportunities is his choice.
4. How was he received by Christian community when he was selected for the cricket team? Was he recognized in formal ways by the community? What are the names of the awards and recognitions that he has received for the credit he brought to the community and his country?
I am not in position to answer this question in full since I have been away from Pakistan for many years. But it is not hard to imagine the treatment and reception he would have received from his community. I know when ever he was in Melbourne we made it our duty to make him feel very very special. And I know for sure, when he was in Dubai number of years ago, the Christian community made him feel special and bestowed him with gifts etc. How else would you recognise your heros? On the other what did he do for the community?
5. Is Christian community doing anything to welcome other heroes and heroines of the community?
Again I am not in a position to answer this question. But I hope they are. And why would they do any differently? But on the other hand if they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t would you blame them, after what happened the first time.
6. I read a letter in Pakistan Christian Post to request readers to send him money, so that he could recognize heroes and heroines in the community. It seems he forgot to leave even his address and telephone number. He wants to fly with borrowed feathers. Is it possible to be able to fly this way? Is it not true that this story is that of PakistanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Christian community in a microcosm, may be even of the majority class?
I am a brand new reader/participant on this website. Therefore I am not sure whom or what Dr. Gill is referring to in this question. So I am unable to comment on it.
We may never know the exact reasons for Yousef YouhannaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s conversion to Islam. But as true believers of Jesus Christ the Lord and Saviour we should somehow find in our hearts the grace to forgive him. I know it is easy to say, but if we ever cross his path again we should show him same love and respect. We should not blame ourselves for his apostasy as Dr. GillÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s questions have suggested. May the Lord shine his face on Yousef and his family as He did once before.