THE FULL GOSPEL BUSINESSMEN'S FELLOWSHIP TAKES A LOOK AT ISLAM

Cayman Net News, Cayman Islands
Aug. 30, 2006

Some of the members and guests of the local chapter of Full Gospel
Businessmen's Fellowship International after their breakfast at the
Bayside Restaurant in George Town this weekend where Islam was the
religion under discussion. (L-r) Stephen Ebanks, Harold Paramlall,
Lonnie Ebanks, Neil Powery, Edmund Hydes, Rupert Ebanks, Thabiti
Anyabwile, Daniel Rattan, and Carlon Powery. Photo by Christopher
Tobutt

The local chapter of the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship
International (FGBFI) meets on the last Saturday of each month for
breakfast and on 26 August, they met in the Bayside Restaurant in
George Town.

An Armenian dairy farmer named Demos Shakarian founded the Full Gospel
Businessmen's Fellowship International in 1953.

He wanted to do something that would encourage men to follow Christ,
after observing that many churches' congregations contained a much
higher proportion of women than men.

They began meeting in a cafeteria in Los Angeles and during their first
meeting, one man gave the testimony of how he became a Christian,
setting a pattern for future FGBMFI meetings. Today the FGBMFI has
chapters in nearly 200 countries.

The Grand Cayman chapter started in 1983 with Peter Leggatt as the
first President and the late Innis McTaggart as Vice President.

Over the years the chapter has invited many different speakers from
all over the world and it welcomes all men, both those who are strong
in their Christian faith, as well as those who are still 'uncommitted.'

"Our main goal is to bring men back to God using a 'non-threatening'
environment, hence the use of a hotel or restaurant," the present
National President, Rev Harold Paramlall, explained.

"We are not a church, a service club or a lodge, but are a group of
men interested in the spiritual lives of so many men we see going
astray," he added.

The FGBMFI normally meets for breakfast once a month where they invite
a speaker to talk about his conversion experience. On special occasions
they also meet for dinner.

This Saturday's agenda was slightly different, as Rev Paramlall
decided to give a talk on Islam, because, he said, there is so much
talk about Muslims in the media, but not many Christians really know
what Muslims actually believe.

Outlining the similarities and differences between Christianity and
Islam, Rev Paramlall began by saying that the Muslim's holy book, the
Koran, states there is one God. The bible agrees, but says that the
one God described by the Bible is triune in nature, Rev Paramlall said.

The Koran also states that Jesus' conception was supernatural in
nature, another point in agreement with the Bible.

After listing several other similarities, Rev Paramlall said that the
main point of disagreement between the Bible and the Koran is on the
identity of Jesus, with the Koran stating that he was a messenger or
prophet, and the Bible stating that he was the Son of God.

The next speaker for the morning was Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, the
new pastor of the First Baptist Church in George Town, who converted
from Islam to Christianity.

Telling his story, the pastor said that he grew up in a small town in
North Carolina, in an atmosphere he described as 'Civic Christianity,'
meaning that people described themselves as Christians by reason of
their culture, rather than out of true conviction.

"My father left us when I was 14...I grew hungry for strong male
leadership," Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile recalled.

When he began attending college, Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile said he
also went to church, but lacked any real personal conviction about
Christianity, owing in part to the unclear message he was receiving
from the pastor's sermons.

"Unfortunately the church I went to was not faithful in making the
message of the gospel clear," Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile explained.

After being baptized, but without properly understanding the
significance of the act, he drifted away both from that church,
and from Christianity.

Later, at college, he began to see a group of smartly dressed young
men who seemed to have a sense of purpose.

They seemed to be doing good things in the community; in short,
they seemed to have all the conviction and passion that the members
of the church he had attended lacked. He found out they were Muslims.

At the age of 21 both Mr Anyabwile and his wife became Muslims too.

Zealous for his new religion, he immersed himself in studying the
Koran, and related Islamic literature.

"I lived that way for five or six years," Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile
explained.

There came a time, however, when the more he studied the Koran, the
more he became dissatisfied with what he saw as its inconsistencies:

"The Koran stated that Jesus was virgin born, but not that he was the
Son of God," Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile stated, as one example out of
many of the inconsistencies he had found.

Eventually, as these inconsistencies weighed so heavily upon him,
he drifted away from Islam, becoming an Agnostic. Materialism then
took the place of a thirst for spiritual meaning:

"We decided to pursue the American Dream of having our own house with
a white picket fence, and two and a half kids," he said.

One day, he was watching a gospel television station, as the pastor
of the Tampa Hills Church, featured in the broadcast, spoke about
the holiness of God as he read from the Book of Exodus.

"Every word he said had life; I was clearly aware that I was a sinner,
and needed to be saved," Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile recalled.

Six months later, when visiting the same church they had seen on the
television, Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile and his wife both responded to
an invitation to give their lives to Christ.

"God gave us a new life that day... twelve years later, here I am, a
pastor of a church. If anyone would have told me, fifteen years ago,
I would become the pastor of a church, I'd have laughed them out of
the State... but that's the power of God," he said.

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