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

From the River of Death to the River of Life!

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG) church in South Asia

Rabinder and Padma*, devout Hindus, lived with their daughter in northern India.  They dutifully performed the regular Hindu rituals of worshipping and praying to a vast array of deities both in their home and in local temples.

One day, to their extreme distress, their daughter left their home proclaiming her love for a Muslim boy, who she then married. When the parents went to the newlyweds home to appeal for the return of their daughter, she instead asked them to convert to Islam as well.

Because of the shame of the marriage among their fellow Hindus, Padma and Rabinder were hated and shunned. Priests and community leaders forbad them entry to the temples to see their many beloved and feared idols. They accused the couple of creating opportunities for their daughter to develop a friendship with the Muslim boy. Then, when they had visited their daughter in her new home and could not convince her to return to them, why had they not killed the two of them, they demanded? Further, if they allowed the parents in the temple, surely they would misguide other boys and girls.

Rabinder and Padma were devastated. Everyone, even close neighbors, now kept their distance. In desperation, two weeks ago, they decided to drown themselves in the great river Ganges. According to Hindu belief, such deaths would not be considered suicide but as giving their lives into the hands of the goddess Ganga. [The Ganges River is considered sacred, and personified as the goddess Gaṅgā—Ed.]. Hindus believe that dying in the river Ganges or leaving a dead body there means a direct journey to Vaikuntha, the highest heavenly abode. With so many dead bodies floating in the polluted waters, Rabinder and Padma knew no one would search for them. So off they went, and after tying their hands together, jumped into the contaminated river.

Dead bodies floating in Ganges River near Pariyar (Getty Images)

Dead bodies floating in Ganges River near Pariyar (Getty Images)

By next morning, their bodies landed ashore, many miles downstream. Pastor Praveen* of Bibles for Mideast along with two other believers happened to be out on their morning stroll when they spied two bodies on the nearby shore. Certain they must be dead, they still approached, noticing one was male, the other female. Discerning some slight movement, they immediately pressed down on their abdomens, releasing some of the water inside. Both became conscious but were obviously extremely weak. The pastor and his friends took them inland to their ALG church.

The Hindu couple had never in their lives met even one Christian. What they’d heard and believed was that all had converted from the Hindu Dalit, or ‘untouchable’ class. So when they discovered their rescuers were Christian, all they wanted was to get away. But in their weakness, they could barely move. Surely, they thought, every last bit of goodness had vanished from their lives. Both began to cry.

When Pastor Praveen and a few others attempted to touch and console them, they screamed out for them to stop. The pastor's wife attempted to give them glasses of drinking water, but they refused to even touch the glass.

The Hindu woman wore a pendant around her in her neck, bearing an image of the lord Shiva. The two held onto the idol and called out to Shiva to save them.  By this time, other believers had joined the group.

Shiva pendant necklace similar to the one Padma wore

Shiva pendant necklace similar to the one Padma wore

Understanding what was going on, the pastor and his fellow church members simply sat nearby, praying the two exhausted visitors would come to know the one and only, true and living Lord God.

Pastor Praveen read aloud from Psalm 115, David’s beautiful ode to the greatness of God and the utter impotence of idols. As he brought in the Gospel to explain the reading, the Holy Spirit began to move mightily. The Hindu couple glanced around fearfully, wondering what on earth the Christians were up to.

"When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead,” the pastor now read. “But He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades’” (Rev. 1:17-18).

Suddenly an electric shock passed through the couple's hands and the idol shattered, the pieces flying everywhere.

"THAT is the true Word,” a mighty Voice thundered. “I am your Creator and Savior. I am neither a man nor an idol. I brought you here for your salvation." Everyone in the room heard it.

The couple began to weep, this time feeling burdened with sin. They confessed their sins before the Lord Jesus, and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.

Rabinder and Padma now stay with Pastor Praveen and his family, feeling joy they’d never known and worshiping the Lord Jesus in Spirit and in Truth. Please pray for them. They also request prayers that their daughter and son-in-law would come to know and accept Jesus as their own Savior and Lord as well.

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* 
Names changed for security reasons

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.

 ________________________
*
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.