How do spiritual fruit manifest in your life?

“... the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,
generosity, faithfulness,  gentleness, and self-control.”
—Gal. 5:22-23a  (NRSV)

The first three qualities of spiritual fruit—love, joy and peace—are essential ingredients of our inward spiritual life.  They are the direct result of our personal relationship with God, settling in our hearts as Holy Spirit abides within us.

The next three aspects of the fruit of the Spirit—patience, kindness and generosity—are outward manifestations of that inner love, joy and peace. These fruit are developed in and through our relationships and interactions with other people.

The last three fruit—faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—are further outward manifestations reflecting our inner love, joy and peace.  

All these qualities of Christian character are produced in believers as we submit to the guidance of Holy Spirit. 

“[W]hat happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.” —Gal. 5:22-24 (MSG)

Global persecution of Christians increasing at alarming rates

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Every single day, an increasing number of Christians die for their faith while countless more suffer growing persecution worldwide.  

A report commissioned by the British government released in May concluded that global Christian persecution is now so severe it is close to reaching the international definition of genocide. Islamic oppression, increasing religious nationalism and communism have proven to be the three major drivers behind the current unprecedented levels of worldwide persecution.

Clearly, radical extremists believing the complete opposite of what Jesus taught, are being ever more deceived into thinking that the One Who in fact loves them most, and those believing in eternal salvation through Him alone, are their greatest enemies.

The mission organization Open Doors, in their annual  World Watch List, rank the top 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. According to their last report, one out of ten Christians live where Christianity is either illegal or forbidden.

Photo Credit: Stephen Perry

Photo Credit: Stephen Perry

“Worldwide, our data reveals that 13.9 percent more Christians are experiencing higher levels of persecution than last year,” says Open Doors official Henrietta Blyth. “That’s 30 million more people.”

Bibles for Mideast works in many of the top-listed countries, engaging in largely clandestine evangelical activities and establishing underground Assembly of Loving God (ALG) house churches.  Pastors and believers face constant persecution and often death threats, but the Lord Jesus miraculously protects them even while saving countless souls. Almost all the posts on our website attest to that.

North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan remain in the top five worst places, while the rise in attacks by Hindu extremists in India and tough new laws in China have seen believers in the world’s two most populous countries face ‘extreme’ and ‘very high’ levels of persecution respectively.

“This year, we noticed how Christian women are especially targeted around the world,” reports David Curry, CEO of Open Doors. “Often, they are culturally discriminated against because they are women—and when it’s discovered they follow Jesus, the suffering can be even worse.”

North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Iran, India and Syria currently top the list of worst offenders—North Korea retaining its first place position for the past 16 years.

Although the communist North Korean government claims to provide freedom of religion in its constitution, no one can be openly Christian in the atheist state without facing arrest, re-education in a labor camp, or, in some cases, execution. Even so, underground churches have grown tremendously in the last two decades and close to 300,000 Christians live as covert believers under the oppressive regime.

For eight of the top eleven countries on the World Watch List, Islamic extremism proves to be the primary cause of Christian persecution.  Citizens in the 99-percent Muslim country of Afghanistan, second on the list, are banned from becoming Christian. Taliban radicalism continues to grow and new Christian believers have at times been killed by their own family members.

Many Christians have been martyred by Islamic militants in Somalia, third on the list of offenders. With about 99 percent of Somalis being Muslim, the tiny Christian community faces constant threats. In many rural areas, Islamic militant groups like al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda’s Somali-based branch, are de facto rulers. They regard Christians with a Muslim background as high-value targets, and when discovered, often kill them on the spot.

In Pakistan, the sixth largest country in the world and fifth on the persecution list, Christians are considered second-class citizens. Islamists there specifically vilify Christians. In 2016, a suicide bomber targeted members of Lahore's minority Christian community while they gathered at a funfair to celebrate Easter Sunday. Dozens of children were among the dead.

Lahore, Pakistan: Dozens of children among the dead in attack on Christians Easter Sunday 2016

Lahore, Pakistan: Dozens of children among the dead in attack on Christians Easter Sunday 2016

Persecution by means of a notorious blasphemy law, too often falsely leveled, can carry a death sentence. The most well-known example of this has been case of Asia Bibi. After sitting on death row for more than ten years, the Christian wife and mother has been finally acquitted of blasphemy charges yet her life remains in grave danger from radical Islamists. 

Coptic priests among the ruins of their church in Tanta, Egypt

Coptic priests among the ruins of their church in Tanta, Egypt

In fact, 71 of the world's 195 countries have blasphemy laws, with penalties ranging from fines to imprisonment and death.

The 29 countries listed with very high Christian persecution are Nigeria, Iraq, Maldives, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Central African Republic, Algeria, Turkmenistan, Mali, Mauritania, Turkey, China, Ethiopia, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Jordan, Nepal, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Brunei, Tunisia, Qatar, Mexico and Kenya. 

In China, the most populated country in the world, some church leaders are even saying persecution is the worst it’s been since the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. Chinese authorities have implemented laws prohibiting teachers and students from discussing religion or promoting their faith. Hundreds of churches have been demolished and Bibles are now banned across the country. In October of last year, Chinese police arrested more than 20 Christians for praying in the park.

Beijing has also banned public displays of the cross, and has torn down Jesus posters across the country and replaced them with photos of China's President Xi Jinping.

Christians meeting in a public park in China earlier this year after their services were shut down and their leaders taken away.   look closely :  many have packed bags next to them as they worship. They brought their clothes and personal items to the open-air meeting in case they were arrested and taken to prison.

Christians meeting in a public park in China earlier this year after their services were shut down and their leaders taken away. look closely: many have packed bags next to them as they worship. They brought their clothes and personal items to the open-air meeting in case they were arrested and taken to prison.

High persecution countries include the Russian Federation, Malaysia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka, Colombia, Bangladesh, the Palestinian Territories and Azerbaijan.

Hindu nationalism continues to grow in India and Nepal, as does Buddhist nationalism in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Persecution of Christians in central Asian nations, including Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, has intensified under nationalist, pro-Islamic governments.

Please keep our persecuted Christian ‘family members’, fellow citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus who live in increasing danger around the world, in your prayers. Please also be praying for those who, in spite of the increasing perils, refuse to stop sharing the Gospel of Love and Salvation.

We especially appreciate your prayers for the underground ministry of Bibles for Mideast, its leaders and believers. They suffer incredible hardships, yet continue to work and stand in faith boldly for the Kingdom of God. 

NEW LIFE: from Islam, and from death itself

Report: Bibles for Mideast and the ALG churches in Africa

Aminah* lived with her orthodox Muslim family in Africa. Her father, a leader in the community, felt proud that his strapping young sons ran their own business, but worried at times when they continually got into trouble with the locals.

One day, Aminah met handsome young Taban*, and the two became friends. Taban explained to her he had once been a practicing Muslim as well, but had recently embraced Christianity after meeting and interacting with a Christian minister, Pastor Mustafa**. Aminah found her new friend intriguing but wanted nothing to do with his Christian faith.

Taban, strong in his devotion to Jesus, invited her to attend worship services and prayer meetings with him at his church. Fearing she might lose her new friend if she refused, she often made the long trek to the church for gatherings. While the gospel messages and prayers seemed silly and even boring, Taban was another story. She sat through meeting after meeting only to be able to spend time with the fine young man she definitely felt more than stirrings of love for. She’d then make the long trip back home in the evening.

During one of the services, Aminah had the ominous sense of an approaching migraine. As the pain intensified, her vision began to distort and then, utter blackness.  She screamed out in agony.

Pastor Mustafa rushed to her side and prayed over her. Within minutes, the headache had disappeared and her eyesight became crystal clear.

Believing in Jesus suddenly became easy. She paid close attention to the gospel message that day, learning why and how Jesus suffered, was crucified, died on the cross of Calvary and then rose from the dead. She wholeheartedly accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Saviour. Soon, she underwent water baptism and not long afterwards, anointing by the Holy Spirit as well. 

Just three weeks ago, Pastor Mustafa officiated at the marriage of Aminah and Taban—without informing their parents or other relatives. All knew the family would not only forbid it, they’d harass and possibly turn violent against the church for proceeding with such a travesty.

On her wedding day, of course, Aminah did not return to her family home. Her brothers set out to find her and spent two days visiting her friends’ houses and any other places they thought she might be. It was during one of their searches they learned from someone of their sister’s intimate friendship with a former Muslim who had become Christian, and that she too had become one. Could it be, they wondered in horror, she had run away to marry him? They aimed their fury further afield.

For the first three days following their marriage, the couple enjoyed their new life together in the kindly pastor’s home. As the fourth day dawned, they realized they had to find their own place to rent and so headed out to see what might be available.

They hadn’t gotten far in their quest when, suddenly, Aminah’s brothers discovered and ambushed them. The vigilantes grabbed the two, shoved them in their vehicle and careened along the rough roads back to their home. There, after locking their sister in her room, they brutally beat Taban with steel pipes.

The church learned of their capture and called for a full night of prayer. The whole congregation prayed fervently and tearfully for the couple’s safety and release.

Meanwhile, the brothers dragged Taban from their home to a deserted area over a mile away and there, with a few more fierce blows, finished him off. They then dug a grave and buried his bloodied, lifeless body.

Aminah's mother came to her room to offer food, and encouraged her daughter to forget about both Taban and the Christian faith. 

“How can I?” Aminah retorted. “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, and my eternal Bridegroom. And the Lord has chosen Taban as my husband in this world. I am not ready to lose either of them!” 

Her dejected mother left the room, locking the door from the outside again. Ignoring the food, Aminah knelt down before her Lord.

A while later, she became aware of a conversation between her father and brothers out in the hall. One brother described how they had killed Taban, others where they had buried the body.

"Good,” she heard her father reply. “So that chapter is closed. Now Aminah needs good counselling. For that, we will ask the Imam to come to our house tomorrow. Then she will be perfectly alright. After that, we have to go to that church and destroy them all."

Shock … then depression … gripped her. She felt too much to even cry, and didn't know what to do. But soon, she regained her strength and knelt down again.

"Lord Jesus,” she prayed. “You alone are my Lord and God. You are able to do anything. My life is in You. I trust in You and I surrender myself to You again.  Lord, if You want to make me a widow as my life is just beginning ...." She couldn’t finish her sentence, and began weeping before the Lord. 

Suddenly she heard the sound of a door opening. She looked, but saw no one. She then realized the Lord must have opened her locked bedroom door. She wasted no time running from the house and towards the place, about a mile away, where her brothers had said they had murdered and buried her new husband.

When certain she had found the spot, she prayerfully began digging into the fresh grave and soon, found the dead body of her beloved. She pulled him out. His wounds now full of mud and sand, she set about cleaning them with her clothes. She took Taban’s head to her bosom, put her hands on his face, and prayed like she never had before.

"Lord Jesus!” she sobbed. “You are the Resurrection and the Life! You raised Lazarus from the dead! I believe You are still able to raise Taban from death to life. YOU are the author of life and death. Make us Your witness Lord. But if You want me to be a widow, let Your will be done. I will serve You till my end."

As she ran out of pleas, she felt a cool breeze swoosh in and ripple gently over them.

"My son!” she heard a voice … a Voice … declare. “I say to you, ARISE!"

Jesus resurrection and life best large print lr.jpg

Taban opened his eyes! As he lifted his head from her arms, the two were beside themselves with wonder and thanks. They praised and thanked the Lord for His great mercy. They all out worshiped the Lord in Spirit and Truth by the grave site.

Back at the house, her father and brothers had begun wondering at the complete silence from Aminah’s room. When they went to check on her, they discovered the door unlocked and the room empty. Might she have decided to escape to commit suicide? Fearful, they began to search everywhere. Eventually they ended up back in the area where they’d murdered and buried Taban.

They could not believe their eyes or ears. Aminah and her supposedly-dead husband, both bright with joy and life, worshipped, danced and sang right by the spot he had been buried.

Their throats, their brains, could form no words. Finally, Aminah described to them what had happened. Still stunned, their hardness began to melt away. Finally, they weakly managed to assure her they weren’t angry at her anymore.

"We love you for our Lord Jesus loves you," Aminah and Taban made clear to her father and brothers.

As the couple explained to them more about Jesus and His salvation, the men listened intently. Now though, gripped with a dreadful fear they’d never known, words again failed them.

Taban stepped forward and embraced them warmly with Jesus’ love, and Aminah followed. Only then did it dawn on all of them the reality and Truth of what had just happened.

Aminah's father and brothers, along with the newly-wed and newly-alive young couple, headed back to the family home. When they arrived they explained to everyone in the house what had happened, and then, naturally (and supernaturally!) the message of salvation. Every single one, including some neighbors and friends, accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Two Sundays ago, the entire household and their newly-Christian friends and neighbors boarded a mini bus for the long ride to Pastor Mustafa’s church, where they attended in their first service.

Plans now are to establish a house church in Aminah’s family home, where the newlyweds now stay. Please pray for them.

Pastor Mustafa also requests your prayers for 2,500 Arabic bibles and 1,500 each of Swahili and Somali bibles. Please keep him and the work all across Africa in your prayers.

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*
Name changed for security reasons
** Pastor Mustafa oversees approximately 40 underground Assembly of Loving God (ALG) house churches all across Africa. You can read more about his powerful but dangerous ministry here.

Dramatic healing and salvation for young Muslim woman ... and the miracles continue

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an ALG church in the Middle East

Halima*, born into an Arab Muslim family in the Middle East, grew up faithful and obedient to the many practices and rituals of Islam. She married as a teenager, set up home with her new husband, and the couple soon had a baby girl to look after. Within a few years, she conceived twice more, but unfortunately miscarried each time.

About four years ago, Halima developed severe pain throughout her whole body and found herself growing weaker and weaker. After a thorough medical check-up, doctors diagnosed a serious, life-threatening type of blood cancer.

Her husband loved her desperately. He could not imagine life without her or raising their now two-year-old girl on his own. He took her to many oncologists and even to specialists abroad for further treatments. But all medical efforts failed, and a year ago, she had reached the final stages of the disease. Doctors gave her no hope, advising her husband to take her home and give her whatever she needed to help her be as comfortable as possible for the limited time she had remaining.

Before being discharged, however, two Bibles for Mideast women visited her as part of their hospital ministry. When they offered to pray for her, her husband refused and angrily demanded hospital security get the evangelists out. Security staff complied, actually dragging the women out. Halima, however, quietly tucked the sample gospel away in her purse. 

Back in her own bed at home, waiting to die, she retrieved the gospel tract from her handbag and began poring over it. Like all Muslims, she knew historical Jesus had healed all manner of diseases and who knew? Maybe He could still do it. It seemed to her it was worth trying.

She told her husband what she had read and showed him the pamphlet. She then asked if he would call the mobile number printed on its back and see if someone might be able to come and pray for her.

“This is just wicked propaganda of the Christian religion!” he exclaimed. “It is not right for us to contact Christians and ask them to pray for us. Only a Kafir  [Arabic for infidel, or unbeliever—Ed.]  would do that. If we die, we should not die as infidels, but as Muslims. That is the real way to heaven. This Christian connection would only lead us to hell.”

Gazing at her little daughter by her side, now five, Halima began to cry. She reached out to her, pulled her close and held her tight, kissing her sweet face. The girl started crying as well.

This all proved too much for her husband. Relenting, he picked up the brochure and called the number printed on it. A Bibles for Mideast pastor answered. Halima’s husband outlined the details of his wife’s disease, and explained that she would like someone to come and pray for her. He handed the phone to Halima, who spoke to the pastor as well.

After praying for guidance, the pastor called several members of his congregation to join him at the church. Along with the pastor’s wife, they joined together in further prayer. [Situations such as these can be difficult in restricted areas of course. The possibility of a trap to ‘out the Christians’ always exists—Ed.]

"Lord, don't send me to Halima's house unless you come with me," the leader prayed. Sensing affirmation from the Lord, he headed off to the home, asking two church members to join him.

Halima's husband answered the door, invited the Christians in, and led them to his wife’s room—extremely unusual for a Muslim to do.

After the prayer time, the pastor asked the man if it would be okay if he and his church members held three days of fasting and prayer right there in his house.

“We will pray and fast from morning to evening,” he explained. “We won’t eat anything at all. And you must join with us.”

"Well, I will allow you to do your prayers and fasting in this room, only because it’s one of her last wishes,” the husband replied. “But I will not participate with you."

"Your presence is so important for our prayer and fasting," the pastor reiterated.

Halima then spoke up, pleading with her husband to go along with the pastor’s requests. Clearly annoyed, he finally gave in.

fasting breaks the chains 3 lr.jpg

The ALG church began their mission in the home the next day, Halima’s husband a reluctant participant. On the first day he ate his regular meals in his dining room, but by the second and third days he fully joined the fast. Not only that, he carefully listened to the prayers and gospel messages. At his request, the family servant, maids and driver even joined in. The Holy Spirit wonderfully moved among them.

On the third day, Halima saw Jesus! She watched and felt Him touch her head with His nail-pierced hands, and said that it felt as though blood flowed into and through her body from those hands. She jumped to her feet as power surged through her.

"Lord Jesus, you alone are my savior!” she exclaimed repeatedly, dancing and clapping. “You are my everything! Praise you Lord and thank you Jesus!" To the surprise of those around her, she even began speaking in tongues. All the pain had vanished, she announced.

She, her husband and daughter all surrendered themselves before Jesus and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. The servants and maids also accepted Jesus into their hearts and lives.

The fourth day proved a great time of celebration as the church gathered in the couple’s home to give thanks. All praised and worshiped their saving, redeeming Lord in Spirit and in Truth. As the time of praise and thanksgiving wrapped up, Halima and her husband served everyone food.

Halima of course checked in with her oncologist soon afterwards, who, after examining her and testing her blood, looked at her in amazement.

“This is a total miracle,” he said. “Your blood has no cancer cells. You are completely healed.” 

A few days later, all were baptised and began attending services regularly at the underground church in their area. But the Muslim community, on discovering they had become Christian, did their best to convince them to return to Islam. The little family remained firm and bold in their witness. Militants took to attacking their home with rocks, and threatened to kill them. They felt they had no choice but to escape to another region.

As they planned their departure, their driver and household help all wanted to join them since they had all become Christians as well. But the family knew they would no longer have the finances to support them and said they simply had to find work somewhere else. Still, two of the workers pleaded to come along, even knowing they could no longer be paid, and the family relented. Those left behind promised to never leave their faith in Jesus.

On settling into their new home, in an area with no known Christians, they continued worshipping on their own. The pastor who had prayed for and baptised them visited regularly for the first few months to lead a midweek service for them. With Halima and her husband, he began evangelising in the area. Some listened as they shared the Good News, many scoffed and scolded, and once they barely escaped when attacked. Still, they have managed to win a number of locals for the Kingdom of Jesus and a new underground ALG church was born! ALG Church President Peter Haneef recently appointed a minister to lead the new congregation, with Halima’s husband assisting.

Just last week, Halima gave birth to a baby boy. Both mother and baby, whom they named Abdul Masih—meaning ‘Servant of Messiah’—are healthy.

Please pray for Halima, her husband, children, and all the new Christians meeting in their home.  Please also pray for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church—that our Lord will protect, guide and bless His work being done in so many dangerous situations.

no fear allowed Teresa of Avila quote for site.jpg

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* Name changed for security reasons

Elderly woman thwarts attack on her church and points terrorist to Jesus

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an ALG church in the Middle East

Al-Khadir*, born into an Arab Muslim family in the Middle East, grew stronger in his faith in Islam and the law of Sharia as he matured into a young man. While at university one day, someone slipped him a sample gospel. He began reading, but when he got to “Jesus is the only Savior and the Son of Most High God”, erupted in anger. Ripping the pamphlet to shreds, he threw it into a nearby fire.

Soon after graduation, he joined a local terrorist group. Then, just a few months ago, he and one of his extremist friends planned an attack on an ALG church [ALG being the umbrella organization for all Bibles for Mideast churches—Ed.]. As they entered the church armed with pistols, an elderly woman somehow managed to grab hold of Al-Khadir’s legs.

“My son!” she cried out.  “Go back and save yourself! I was a strong Muslim once, with a husband and three sons. My sons joined up with terrorists like you and were killed in Syria. When my husband heard the news, he had a heart attack and died. Now I have no husband and no children. Yours is not the way of peace and reality! Lord Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He saved me from sin and death. I live with this hope. Only Jesus Christ can give us peace, salvation and eternal heaven. Sons, get back, please."

Infuriated, the other terrorist began kicking her. She fell down in pain, but kept repeating her admonition to them.

Al-Khadir suddenly thought of his own mother. He pushed his friend away and helped the woman to her feet.  The men then turned and left the church grounds without saying or doing anything more.

Back home that night, Al-Khadir had a dream like no other. The Lord Jesus Christ—the one he, like all Muslims, knew to be a great prophet but nothing more—came to him.

"I am the Massihullah [‘Messiah’ in Arabic],” Jesus said. “Do you know what that means? I am the one sent out from the Most High to bring humanity—who lost the Kingdom of Heaven through sin and iniquities—back to God. All have sinned and lost eternal life. To bring everyone back, I, the Kalimathullah [‘Word of God’ in Arabic] came down from heaven and was born of a virgin. I lived a sinless life, suffered, was crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and was buried as punishment for the sins of humanity … including yours. And I rose from the dead and now sit at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. Only those who confess before Me and believe in Me will have salvation and eternal life in heaven as God's gift. For I am the Son of the most high God. I will come again in clouds to separate and bring my own people to Heaven while others will end up in hell. Believe in Me and follow Me."

Knowing this to be no ordinary dream, the next day Al-Khadir approached the pastor of the very ALG church he had intended to attack. He poured out all that he had experienced. The pastor shared the gospel with him, along with his own testimony of conversion from Islam.

Wielding the wrong kind of sword

Wielding the wrong kind of sword

The young man readily accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord and not many days later was baptised. When he shared his experience with his terrorist friend, the man would have none of it. Unfortunately this man, along with two other of Al-Khadir’s former terrorist friends, were among 37 people executed for terrorist-related crimes—beheaded in fact—last week.

With the pastor in agreement, Al-Khadir decided to leave the country for his own safety. Launched now into a wholly new, holy life, he truly considers himself newly-born. Where he’d had no compunctions about his terrorist life before, he now feels remorse for the fear he instilled in others. While he thought he fought for God before, he now knows he is on the right and only path to and with Him. He says he now feels joy and experiences “great peace under the wings of Lord Jesus.”

“The Lord has saved me from a terrible life,” he adds, “As the book of Job says, 'I alone escaped from them to be the witness’ of mighty savior Jesus Christ.” [Job 1:15]

Al-Khadir has wasted no time getting into studying God’s word at his new location, his reference to Job above being deep proof. That whole verse reads, “and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” As he studies, he also works alongside his new Christian friends distributing Bibles and gospel tracts. Please pray for him and the entire ministry of Bibles for Mideast.

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* Name changed for security reasons