ISIS fighter flees bombardment and inadvertently, into the hands of Jesus

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG)  church in the Middle East

Shuhaib* grew up in a fanatically fundamentalist Muslim family who had been leaders in helping establish the Taliban in their native Afghanistan. They strongly believed the whole world should be ruled according to Islamic sharia law, and anyone not following sharia must die.

During the official reign of terror in Afghanistan (1996-2001), the Taliban murdered thousands of people and destroyed countless churches and temples. When US-led forces attacked Afghanistan in 2001, Shuhaib was only four years old.  Three of his brothers died in the assault, one of his older sisters went missing, and his mother died without getting proper treatment nor even a burial. Finally his father fled the home with nothing but his youngest son Shuhaib and little daughter Sameera, then seven. 

They hadn’t gotten far before being captured by armed forces in a military truck patrolling the streets. Shuhaib’s dad felt sure they would be killed but to his surprise, when the American soldiers saw the innocent youngsters, they actually helped the family escape. Driving them to a deserted area, they motioned for them to flee and many difficult days later, the young family ended up in a Middle Eastern Kingdom. The father eventually found work, and labored long and hard to support his growing children.

Whenever they thought about their deceased mother, murdered brothers, missing sister and other dead and missing relatives, their rage towards Christians grew. Like many Afghanis, they believed Christians were behind the invasion. So at 17, Shuhaib joined up with a militant group and from there was recruited by ISIS. He served as a faithful commander, but his father and sister never had any idea where he was.

ISIS militants, once on the march but now in retreat and disarray everywhere

ISIS militants, once on the march but now in retreat and disarray everywhere

About a year and a half ago the father died in a tragic accident, and as we reported in an earlier story, his sister Sameera, miraculously touched by the Lord Jesus about a year ago, accepted Him as her personal savior and even joined the ministry of Bibles for Mideast.

What we hadn’t reported is that six months ago, she married an ALG pastor in the Middle East. While no one knew for certain whether Shuhaib was even alive, his sister, her new husband and their whole church prayed fervently for his return, and that he would also join the Christian fold.  

Several days ago, a surgical strike by an anti-terrorist squad completely destroyed the base where Shuhaib and his forces had set up operations. All died except Shuhaib, who was catapulted from the camp like a football. Even though injured, he managed to flee the devastation, the sounds of bomb blasts continuing behind him. As he ran, he could feel someone holding his hand, helping him run even faster.  He also heard a voice from above.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” it declared. “No one can come to the Father without Me."  He neither understood the words nor had any idea where they came from.

As morning dawned, exhausted and parched Shuhaib had reached a village. He staggered to the door of a house on the outskirts and knocked. A young couple with two small boys by their side opened the door. Shuhaib asked for some water to drink. Inviting him inside, they gave him water as well as food, and bandaged his wounds. They questioned him about where he’d come from but Shuhaib, without the strength even to answer, fell asleep.

It turned out the family were members of a local ALG church, so naturally they began praying for the sleeping stranger. But before they even prayed, they’d received biblical verses they knew applied to him.

"I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.” (Isaiah 65:1)

Then, “a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).

As they prayed for the battered young man, they felt God tell them he was someone plucked straight from the fire by the Lord Jesus Christ. They got in touch with their pastor, who, with two other church members, came immediately.

Since Shuhaib still slept when the pastor arrived, he talked the situation over with the couple. Meanwhile, their two youngsters took it upon themselves to wake the fellow up.

"Shall we tell you a holy verse we know by heart?" a little voice queried.

"Yes," groggy Shuhaib replied.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” the older boy replied. “No one can come to the Father without Me."

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." the younger boy piped in.

Stunned, Shuhaib realized he’d been hearing the same words the older boy just recited the whole previous night as he’d been running to safety.

Seeing the visitor now awake, the others came over. Shuhaib asked them about that verse, and explained his own experience with it.

“Those are the words of Christ Jesus, our Savior,” the pastor replied.

At the name ‘Christ Jesus’, Shuhaib rose angrily.

"Are you Christians??” he demanded.

“Yes, we are Christians," the pastor replied politely.

"Well then, thank you for your hospitality. But I'm sorry, Christians have been my enemies since birth. So I’m leaving."

When he tried to, the pastor stopped him gently.

"Brother, the Lord Jesus just saved your life from a great tragedy. Jesus is not an enemy, but a friend of everyone. He rescued you, was with you on your way, and brought you right here. You can go if you want, but please allow us to have a few words of prayer with you before you do. God brought you here for that reason, we believe.”

Annoyed, Shuaib decided to do as they asked, and sat back down.

While the pastor prayed, Shuhaib again fell asleep.  He dreamt Jesus blessed him with nail-pieced hands, while behind Him stood a huge crowd of saintly-looking people. Multitudes of angels overshadowed the scene. Then, among the saintly ones, he clearly saw the bright, smiling face of his sister Sameera right on the front lines.

"I am the Light of Life, the Prince of Peace and the eternal Savior,” Jesus said to him. “I am the First and the Last. Follow me and glorify the Heavenly Father." He then disappeared.

Shuhaib suddenly opened his eyes wider than they’d ever been.

"I believe in you Lord Jesus!" he exclaimed.

Those standing around knew Jesus had visited him. Shuhaib then shared his whole story from the beginning. The pastor related his own testimony of how he had converted from Islam, and then outlined the message of the Gospel. Shuhaib readily accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

As the pastor listened to Shuhaib’s story, he put the pieces together and realized he could be none other than Sameera’s brother. He knew Sameera to be married to a fellow Bibles for Mideast pastor and living in another country.

After discussing the situation with Pastor Paul, director of Bibles for Mideast, he contacted Sameera's husband and told him the wonderful news. Within days, the former terrorist joined his sister and her husband at their church, and was baptized there.

We also just learned from Sameera that at likely the same time as her brother met with Jesus in his dream, she’d had a vision of herself worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth alongside her long-lost brother!

Please keep all of these precious people in your prayers.

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*
Name changed for security reasons

Previous story on Sameera: Jesus heals and saves Afghani girl brought up by Taliban

Why is human life so sinful?

By Pastor Paul, Bibles for Mideast

So often we wish to abandon our sins. But in our faint-heartedness, we say to ourselves, “I will wait a little bit longer.” Thus we keep away our good intentions.

Once St. Seraphim (a revered Russian monk and spiritual teacher) was asked, “why is man’s life so sinful?”  He replied: “Because he lacks the resolution to renounce sin.”

According to Seraphim*, the devil constantly tries to destroy the unity of our body, soul and spirit. When we sin, this unity—with which human beings were created—is broken. The devil aims to create situations that make us defy rather than obey the Lord’s commandments, and so replace our noble aspirations for perfection with damnation.

Let us not delay the struggle against our sinful ways. Let us be resolute, bold enough to swiftly abandon sin. Do not wait for the eleventh hour, for death may come at 10:30.

Let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to preserve the unity of our body, soul and spirit.

rom quote lowest.jpg

Body must be subordinate to soul, soul subordinate to spirit, and spirit subordinate to God—an essential unity in diversity necessary to restore our spiritual life. Our prayer and fasting are for our sojourn on earth, the aim of our spiritual journey being to grow and walk in the way that preserves the above-mentioned unity.

It is the time for repentance, penitence and to sincerely return to the Father through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit; to leave the sinful nature and to live a virtuous life. Certainly without effort, we cannot and will not succeed.

“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the time of salvation.” (2 Cor. 6 :2b).

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* Seraphim (1759-1833), one of the most renowned monastic figures in Russian Orthodox history, lived a life of contemplative prayer and self-denial. He often met with and advised those seeking his counsel.

Papal visit and 'illegal' evangelism’ lead eight young Muslims to Jesus

Report from Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG) church in the Middle East

Inside the Sheikh Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 5, 2019 ( AP photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Inside the Sheikh Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, UAE, Feb. 5, 2019 (AP photo/Kamran Jebreili)

While Muslims generally live for their religion and abide by its many laws, none ever learns about a loving God. So when two devout young Muslim men heard the news for the first time in their lives earlier this year—from the Pope, of all people—they couldn't believe their ears.

Pope Francis made a historic visit to their country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), in February. This first-ever papal visit to the Arabian Peninsula, the birthplace of Islam, made headlines in many ways.

Around 135,000 people attended a service at a massive sports stadium in the capital city of Abu Dhabi—many of them Catholic migrant workers from places such as the Philippines and South America*, as well as about 4,000 Muslims. The young Muslim men decided to join the crowds at the service and had every intention to cause mischief and challenge the Pope's teachings on Christianity. How could this Christian leader dare come to their country and speak against their Sharia laws?

While the UAE’s constitution establishes Islam as the country’s official religion, it also, officially at least, guarantees freedom of worship to those of other religions. Yet as we have reported in other stories, strict laws exist against proselytizing by non-Muslims, blasphemy and converting from Islam: all considered serious crimes punishable by death.

Due to traffic congestion, however, the young men had to settle for watching the ceremony on a large screen outside the stadium grounds.

Pope Francis cherishes God’s Word

Pope Francis cherishes God’s Word

As soon as the pope concluded his speech, they attempted to leave quickly but were again thwarted by the throngs of people. So they had to wait until the service concluded. By that time someone had passed one of them a note, which the fellow simply pocketed without looking at it.  

When the young Muslim men returned home, they began reflecting on the words they’d heard about Jesus bringing love to humanity, and how the pope explained Jesus had come to defeat fear, sin and death by the power of God's love. This was all news to them! Their conversation went on and on. How about where he said Jesus came poor, but wealthy in love; that He came to serve, but not to be served? That he healed many, but not himself … allowing himself to be wounded and even put to death!

The whole concept of God’s love for humanity was utterly foreign to them. They had never heard of nor known a loving God.  They learned from their Islamic upbringing that yes, God is beneficent and merciful, but never that He was loving.

The very next day, the man who’d gotten the piece of paper found it in his pocket. It turned out to be a gospel tract published by Bibles for Mideast. He unfolded it to read:

“For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son Jesus, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).

He read the whole tract. ‘Such strange, wonderful news!’ he thought. He called many of his friends and invited them over to read and discuss the words with him. When they arrived and began reading and discussing, another few verses printed on the tract impressed them:

“Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, He himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death” (Heb. 2:14-15).

As they talked, they sensed an unusual power moving among them. They decided to call the cell phone number printed on the back of the tract, which happened to be for a Bibles for Mideast pastor in the Middle East. They spoke at length with him, and asked if they could meet him. He told them to pray to God the Father to show them the truth, the way to salvation and eternal life. He said that in three days, they could get together.

The pastor and the ALG (Assembly of Loving God) Church spent the next three days fasting and praying for the eight young men. When the three days were over, the men met with the minister at his church and heard the gospel message. All eight readily accepted Jesus into their lives as personal savior and Lord! An awesome power engulfed them as they did, and all were filled with the Holy Spirit.

For the last month, each has been secretly studying the word of God, and just last week all were baptized. The new believers want to be involved in our Lord’s ministry and are waiting on God for guidance on what steps to take next. They know that persecution will be fierce and that their lives are now in serious danger. Please pray for them: that our Lord will guide, protect and provide for them in all ways.

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* A large migrant community in oil-rich UAE works building gleaming new towers or as domestic help, often under harsh or discriminatory conditions.

Sinking without a Shepherd

By Pastor Paul, Bibles for Mideast

A sheep wandered away from the fold one day and before she knew it, ended up alone in the jungle. Suddenly, she noticed a wolf racing towards her. She turned and fled, fearing that at any moment the wolf would sink its claws into her. The sheep desperately looked for a way to escape and at last, spied a shallow pond. Barely evading the wolf’s reach, she jumped into the pond and in the heat of the chase, the wolf blindly leaped in after her.

To the surprise of them both, the pond was extremely shallow yet filled with deep recesses of mud. After toppling over each other, the sheep and the wolf found themselves a short distance apart, stuck in mud up to their necks. Both had their heads free, but were unable to get themselves out no matter how much they writhed.

The wolf repeatedly snarled at the sheep and roared, “I am going to enjoy the sound of crunching your bones between my teeth!”

He thrashed about in fury but soon became fretful as he found no prospect of escape.

The sheep thoughtfully laughed as the wolf struggled to free himself and asked him, “Do you have a master?”

The wolf disdainfully replied, “I am strong and am my own master. Why do you ask me if I have a master?”

 “You may be strong and all in the jungle, but here all your power has failed to save your life,” the sheep replied.

“And what about you?” retorted the wolf. “You are going to die here in this mud too!”

The sheep smiled mildly, replying, “No, I am not.”

“If even I cannot free myself from this mud,” snapped the wolf, “then how can you, an ordinary sheep?”

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 “I cannot free myself from this mud, but my master can,” the sheep gently replied. “When he doesn't find me with the fold as dusk sets in, he’ll come looking for me. Once he finds me, he’ll raise me up out of the mud, hold me safe on his shoulders, and take me home.”

The wolf fell silent, glaring coldly at the sheep.

Soon enough, as the sky began to darken, the sheep’s master arrived. He immediately recognized the plight she was in and lifted her to safety. And they walked home.

The wolf sadly looked at them and sank down into the muddy waters, his pride going under as well. Why was his own power no longer enough; where was his master, someone to save him?

Aggressive Islamic militants now serving God and bringing multitudes to Christ

Shah* once lived the life of an aggressive Islamic militant in a Muslim-dominated south Asian country. While the state officially recognized Christianity as a minority religion, it also considered blasphemy against Allah and the Prophet Mohamed great crimes. So with no justification, many would persecute Christians by falsely accusing them of such a ‘crime’.

One day, Shah saw a young Christian man associated with Bibles for Mideast holding a Bible and explaining salvation and the second coming of Jesus to a young Muslim fellow. Shah approached to set him straight. outlining the Islamic belief about ‘Prophet Jesus (Isa)’. He proclaimed forcefully the Islamic belief about Prophet Jesus (Isa): he did NOT die on a cross, but was elevated by Allah and will come back again as ‘Mahdi Imam’, a Messiah who will rule the rule the entire world for 40 years under Islamic (Shari'a) law.  

The Christian minister calmly and politely shared with him how Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary and living a sinless life, really did die on the cross of Calvary.  He then rose from the dead as a ransom to save all humanity from sin and death. Those who believe and follow Him are washed by His shed blood on the Cross. They are His bride and He is coming back in the clouds to receive them. That, he said, is what the Bible teaches.

"Your bible is annulled and false!" Shah screamed. He slapped the evangelist and grabbing the bible from his hands, threw it to the ground. He then set it on fire. The other man joined Shah in the assault, and the two decided to tie the minister up with a rope.

By this time a mob had gathered. They brutally beat the Christian and afterwards handed him over to the police, accusing him of blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed. The court then sent him to prison and within days, he was dead.

Shah and the young Muslim, Asif* rejoiced when they heard of the evangelist’s death in prison. They became fast friends in their crusade against Christianity, and made a sport of persecuting Christians by falsely denouncing them.

One day, the young men worked up a plan of attack on a group of Christians they’d heard were having an extended meeting for fasting and prayer. As they walked to the meeting place, a man joined up with them. He talked with them about the Son of God.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.  While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.
While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

"God sent His Son, born of a virgin woman, not to condemn the world, but so that the world could be saved through him. That man is Jesus, the Son of God." 

Shah and Asif naturally became infuriated, and wanted to beat him up. Instead, they suddenly stepped back in fear. A heavenly host of warrior angels had appeared behind him! And now, he held a burning bible in his hands—looking just like the bible they’d thrown on the ground and burned when they attacked the Bibles for Mideast worker.

The man grew brighter and brighter, His body now shining like many suns. They noticed nail marks in his hands.

In a powerful voice, He proclaimed: "I am Jesus, the Son of God, who was crucified, died and then rose from the dead. I have come to save you. Don’t let Satan misguide you! He is a liar and a thief. The thief does not come except to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly, now and in eternity. Those who gave their lives for me aren’t lost, but are with me in eternal glory. I am totally revealed in this book,” He said. “Follow me and be my witnesses."

"Lord Jesus!” the men cried, closing their eyes and kneeling before Him. “You are our Saviour and Lord! We believe in You!" When they opened their eyes, Jesus and the angels had vanished.

They practically ran to where the Christians were meeting for prayer. The believers reacted in fear when they saw the men rush in. But their alarm turned to wonder as the two shared their experiences with Jesus and boldly declared their new-found faith.

The men spent several days with the prayer group members, learning more about Christianity. But their turning made them enemies of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, who set out to kill them. They fled to another area and began seriously studying God’s word, and eventually were anointed pastors. As persecution persisted and grew, the men headed for the mountains and joined in ministry with Bibles for Mideast. It wasn’t long before a new ALG Church was born in one of the mountain villages.

In our first story on Asif and Shah back in November, we reported on their work and a horrific attack they’d suffered, asking for the prayers of God’s people (Urgent prayer request: Pastors attacked and church demolished by terrorists).

God miraculously answered those prayers, so that a mere two weeks later, we had an exciting update: the entire Muslim village is now Christian (Exciting update: entire Muslim village now Christian)!

Please continue to pray for these men and the work they do in so many dangerous areas, as well as for the many new Christians.

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*
Name changed for security reasons