03/29/2013, 00.00
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Easter in Bangladesh, the conversion of a Muslim "to bear witness to Christ" to others

by Sumon Francis Gomes
The young man, 31, will be baptized during the Easter Vigil and become Catholic. From an Islamic family, he encountered Christianity thanks to his future wife. "I pray to the Lord that all Christians in Bangladesh can live in peace and harmony with others."

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - "I want to be part of the Church, pray the Word of God, follow the teachings of the Gospel and bear witness to Christ to others", says Angelo Gomes (all names used in this article are fictitious for security reasons, ed).  The 31 year old Muslim from Bangladesh will be baptized and become Catholic during the Easter Vigil. A few days later he will marry Martha, the woman who helped him to encounter Christ. "I'll start a new life - the young man tells AsiaNews - which at last will be complete".

Angelo was born and raised in a practicing Muslim family. When he was still a boy he lost both parents. He knew nothing about Christianity or Catholicism, until he met Martha, a Catholic, and fell in love with her. "She told me of Jesus and Mary - he recalls - and their suffering. I was shocked to discover the crucifixion of Christ, that He died on the cross to bring us all redemption and open the gates of Heaven."

The couple decided to get married. "I want to share my life with Martha - he says - but also the love of Jesus and His teachings." The young man thus began a catechism course, which lasts seven months between meetings, liturgies and activities of the parish. "It was not an easy decision - reveals Angelo - but the prayers and support of Martha helped me to overcome many difficulties."

In fact, in Bangladesh Islam is the state religion, practiced by more than 89.5% of the population. Catholics are just 0.1%. The Constitution does not recognize Sharia law and guarantees complete freedom of worship, but conversion to a religion, other than Islam, is often opposed. Fr. Francis, who will baptize Angelo tomorrow night, reveals that "it was not easy to accompany the young man in this way. But we made it, he has a good and kind heart."

"God - said Angelo - listened to our prayers and our hearts. I'll be obedient to Jesus and I have faith in the Church. I pray to the Lord so that all Christians in Bangladesh can live in peace and harmony with others, according to the teaching of the Gospel 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' "


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