Nabi Morris Rasool (assumed name) was born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1980. It had been more than 120 years since the first Latter-day Saint elders had entered his native land. Even after a dozen decades, there was little chance that Nabi would encounter the Lord’s emissaries there. But the time would come when they would find him.
In 1999, Nabi accompanied his father to Rome for business. “My father worked as an important and high government official in Italy,” Nabi recalls. “With nothing else to do, I went to the Catholic church to learn what they taught. We learned about the Bible and read from the New Testament. It was very good to my heart. I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and that he sacrificed for us and made it possible for us to go to heaven and live with God.”
He continued his visits to the cathedral until January 14. “When I went to the church this one time, they offered wine. I said, ‘No, thank you, because I do not like alcohol.’ I had learned that for myself, because my father drank alcohol and went out with other women. But I knew that I wanted my children to be in the right way.”
With little to keep him occupied, Nabi later ventured into a library. There he saw two Latter-day Saint missionaries talking to people about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But it was not religion that attracted the young man to approach the two missionaries, he only wanted to try out his language skills. “Parli inglese?” he asked. The missionary replied in Italian. Then Nabi left, satisfied with his exchange in another language.
Some months later, Nabi spotted two more missionaries – this time, women. The pair immediately began talking to him about Jesus Christ. He left the encounter with a copy of The Book of Mormon in his hands. Later, I returned to the library to study my Book of Mormon with them,” Nabi remembers. “We spent five days studying there, and we read up to Alma 26. That’s when it touched my heart. I got a really strong feeling – I felt that the Bible and The Book of Mormon is one book.”
The next pair of Latter-day Saint missionaries to enter Nabi’s life were elders. One of them, Elder T.J. Mack, recorded in his missionary journal the experience of teaching the young man. “I had been transferred to Rome in October 2001. On November 8, we had our first appointment. As we taught him the message, he was very receptive. He knew it was the right thing, and he was excited to join the Church and make it part of his life.”
After learning some of the truths of the restored gospel, Nabi persisted in his studies: “I read The Book of Mormon once and I kept reading it.” When the missionaries asked him to be baptized, the young man was enthusiastic, but the elders told him he could be baptized only with his father’s permission.
“When I asked my father,” Nabi recalls, “he became angry. He told me, ‘You cannot do that. You can talk with them, but you will not pursue it any further.’ Then he kicked me in the face and hung me upside down outside in the cold winter until morning. I hung outside all night.”
Years later, Brother Mack remembers Nabi’s reaction to his father’s treatment. “He came to us and was distraught and upset. ‘They won’t let me get baptism!’ he said. He was hurt by it and very sad.” He began studying ways to escape from his home and his father’s rule, “But I had no money and my father had my passport.”
Brother Mack also recalls Nabi’s account of having dreams. “He told us of dreams of Christ. He saw things we had not taught him. He understood things about the Church and Christianity from his dream. We said, ‘Wow, how did you know that?’”
With time, his father’s grip on Nabi’s life began to ease. “Later in 2001, my father gave me my passport, and I got an American visa. He told me to go to New York and ‘make your life.’ I went to New York on a plane in 2002.”
Nabi rented a small apartment from a man who knew his father. His desire to be connected with the gospel of Jesus Christ led him on a search for the missionaries. “I tried to get baptized, but the landlord was from Bangladesh and always talked to my father. I didn’t join the Church because my father gave the landlord authorization to kill me.”
Even with that threat, Nabi, now 22 years old, met another set of missionaries and asked for baptism. On 25 August 2002, while living in New York, he became a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and received the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Difficulties with his father resumed and so Nabi began to search for an escape plan. “A friend of mine told me how I could go to Canada,” he remembers. With that information, Nabi left the U.S. to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. But living in the east was difficult, because Nabi could not find work. He made the decision to cross the country to the lower mainland of British Columbia. He soon found, however, that Church membership stilled carried risks. In 2011, Nabi was attacked because he had converted to Christianity. He was stabbed in the throat and left for dead. Though medics kept him alive, he remained in a coma for nearly four months. After a lengthy recovery period, Nabi felt well enough to leave the hospital. What he left behind, however, was much of his memory, including the fact that he was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Now Nabi was alone, with only a foggy recollection of his past and no friends to rely on. One day, while standing at a bus station, Nabi spotted two familiar figures – missionaries in white shirts and ties. He approached one of the elders with his singular style: “Hello! Do you have a copy of The Book of Mormon that you can give me, and will you baptize me? Please, sir?”
Missionary lessons with a “golden contact” ensued, the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptism were again accepted. It was a few weeks later when the bishop approached his new ward member. “Nabi, you’ve already been baptized!” Records from Church headquarters had verified his earlier baptism in New York.
Though his memory was not fully restored, Nabi now serves faithfully in his Aaronic Priesthood duties and as official greeter at the chapel doors for sacrament meeting.
“I feel that I don't want to leave from this Church,” says Brother Rasool. “I feel safe as a Latter-day Saint, and I wish I had been born as a member of the Church and that my family members were Latter-day Saints. I want to have a family in the Church and my children to be born in the Church,” he says.
“When I die,” says Brother Rasool, “I want to die as a Latter-day Saint.”