Ismail* (50), a fanatic Muslim in South Asia, never liked Christianity. He seized every opportunity to thwart evangelical activities, quarreled constantly with Christian leaders, and even stoned those preaching the gospel at roadside meetings.
Ismail’s motorized rickshaw provided his livelihood, but one day in 2006 he decided to use it to take the life of Pastor Paul Ciniraj of Bibles for Mideast, ramming into him on the street. As the mission leader lay in hospital, other fanatics threatened his family at home. Fortunately all family members survived (that story in Christianity Today India here, and another at the Voice of the Martyrs website here).
In late 2008, the same man led a mob of extremists in an attack on one of the house churches established by Pastor Paul. While its leader narrowly escaped with his life, his church was completely demolished (Worthy Network News story here).
Ismail and his wife had only one child, Afsal* (15). They had waited years to have the boy, now a local high school student.
For months Asfal had been in hospital undergoing treatments following surgery to remove a brain tumor. To afford his son's care, Ismail had been forced to sell his rickshaw, his home, and then to borrow from whomever he could. His anguish grew.
“Several days ago, his blood count dropped suddenly,” Dr. A.K., the oncologist, explained. He could present only one diagnosis: leukemia.
Ismail and his wife plunged even deeper in despair. They found themselves utterly unable to cope with either the trauma of their dying son, or their spiraling debt.
Without telling anyone, before dawn one morning the couple and their boyleft the hospital and headed for a nearby beach. Then, tying one of each of their hands to their son’s, they walked out into the depths of the ocean.
Several Christian fishermen had decided to try for an early-morning catch that same day. In the low light of daybreak, they noticed rather odd behavior in some sea-gulls overhead. The birds would approach their boat, make unusual sounds, and then fly back to sea. Gazing along the flight path, the men suddenly became aware of three people sinking beneath the waves in the distance.
“O Lord Jesus!” one cried. They rushed to rescue the three, calling on the Lord for continued help. As they pulled the family into the boat, blood trickled from the victims' mouths and nostrils and a strong smell of poison filled the air. In their determination to end their lives, the family had obviously ingested poison before heading into the sea.
The fishermen immediately brought them to the nearest hospital. Emergency physicians managed to revive the couple, but hemorrhaging had wrought the boy comatose. Doctors determined he was near death.
That same evening, the Lord revealed the whole story to Pastor Paul in a vision—even showing the couple's broken, contrite hearts. So he gathered a prayer team and visited them in the hospital. The doctor, himself a dedicated Christian, allowed them to pray for Afsal and joined in the prayers. Pastor Paul shared his heart with Ismail and his wife. He told of his conversion from Islam to Christianity, and of his own miraculous healing from leukemia. He shared the bible story of the four people who brought a sick man to Jesus by ripping open a roof and lowering him before the Lord.
“Jesus healed that man because of his friends’ faith,” Pastor Paul explained to the couple. “He rose from his bed and walked. If you personally believe Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, He is able to heal your son Afsal and bring him back to life. It is only because of the Lord you were prevented from committing suicide.” He further explained to them the way of salvation.
“We had lost all our hope and only wanted to die,” Ismail explained. “This is our second birth! I know it is the Lord Jesus who captured me through trials and hardships. I confess all my sins which I have done against Him, and His people. I repent before Him. And I really want to have a new live in Jesus, along with my son and wife. I believe in Jesus Christ and I accept Him as my Lord and savior.”
His wife also declared Jesus Christ to be her personal savior and Lord.
The prayer team, doctor and couple all joined hands around Afsal’s bed, rejoicing and praising the Lord. They sang a song of healing as Pastor prayed for the boy. At the end of the prayer, to everyone’s astonishment, Afsal opened his eyes.
“The Lord Jesus Christ came to me!” the boy soon explained. “He smiled at me, and put both of His nail-pierced hands to my head and chest. I felt new blood flowing from my heart to my veins, like electricity!” He got out of bed and stood up. He too declared Lord Jesus as his savior. All continued rejoicing in thankful amazement at the miraculous healing.
Pastor Paul gave the family bibles. With new-found respect and reverence, they kissed the bibles and held them closely to their chests.
Doctors examined the boy thoroughly and declared him to be completely and miraculously healed.
To help protect the family, Bibles for Mideast has rented a small house for them away from their former neighborhood. They rejoice in their new faith. Please pray for God’s protection and provision for His precious new family members.
"Jesus is the loving Lord," Pastor Paul reminds us. "He loves us and sacrificed for us when we were His enemies. He wants us to love one another. Through His love we can have reconciliation with everyone. Only by His love, the world can attain peace and salvation." [Romans 5:8; Eph. 2:14-18]
He also finds the following scriptures apropos to the story:
“Send your resources out over the seas; eventually you will reap a return.” (Eccl 11:1) .
“Jesus told them: ‘I saw Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. I have given you the power to trample on snakes and scorpions and to defeat the power of your enemy Satan. Nothing can harm you. But don’t be happy because evil spirits obey you. Be happy that your names are written in heaven!’ ” (Lk 10:18-20)
*names changed for security reasons