Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church in east Africa
Hydrus*, born and raised in a fanatic Muslim family in eastern Africa, carefully followed all the prescribed rituals of Islam. Unfortunately, poverty, drought and starvation has long afflicted his country and caused tremendous suffering for many—including Hydrus’ own household. While willing to work, like many others, he can simply find no available jobs.
Pastor Abu* of Bibles for Mideast lives and ministers in the area. He lives with his family in a tiny home more resembling a hut, and uses a small shed nearby for local ALG church gatherings. So many attend for Sunday services that they often spill out onto the grounds around the shed. Most, however, come for the physical food served afterwards rather than any spiritual sustenance.
Undeterred, the church loves to provide the food, and hungry attenders bring along their own plates for the post-service meal. Pastor Abu often uses his own family’s allowance to buy the provisions.
Despite warnings not to attend from local Muslim leaders, close to 300 would usually show up, plates in hand. Even Islamic devotee Hydrus often attended, as clandestinely as possible, because of the food. He’d hear the gospel message each time of course, but refused to take it seriously.
Then came the Sunday the area’s poverty and famine had become so severe that Pastor Abu and his church had no meal to serve. With a sorrowful heart he had to report the lack to the hungry people, who began muttering among themselves and against him. What could he do? While they all trudged away unhappily, tired and feeble Hydrus lay down on the prayer shed floor, too weak to leave.
Pastor Abu noticed him lying there. He had seen the young man receiving food from them many times, but didn't know him personally. He got down on the floor beside him, and helped him sit up so they could talk. Hydrus explained he hadn’t eaten since the last church service.
The pastor went into his home and brought out his own meal for Hydrus. His wife, realizing that would hardly be enough, gave him hers as well. Even their two young children wanted to share theirs, but he refused to take it. Pastor Abu then noticed the filthy, torn clothes Hydrus wore and gave him a pair of his own clean pants and a shirt.
The family then left Hydrus to rest in the church shed, where he soon fell soundly asleep. As he slept, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared before him.
“I am the bread of life,” he heard Jesus say. “He who comes to me shall never hunger and thirst. For I am from heaven and I give life to the world. Believe in me as your Lord and savior!”
Hydrus stood up immediately. He noticed a bible on the table, went to it and opened to John 6: 33-35—which to his amazement sounded almost word for word what he had just heard Jesus say.
Bible in hand he went off to look for Pastor Abu. He found him with his wife, praying for him in their house. As he shared his experience with them, they praised and thanked the God they had just been praying to. Inviting Hydrus to sit with them, the pastor shared the word of God along with his own testimony of conversion from Islam.
Hydrus knelt down and accepted Jesus Christ into his life as his personal savior and Lord. Full of joy and peace, he didn't want to leave, and asked if he could possibly stay with them. Since their little house had hardly room for themselves, they offered him the prayer shed, which he gladly accepted.
Within a week, Hydrus learned a tremendous amount from and about the word of God, as well as how to pray. That next Sunday, he shared his testimony at the service.
Only about half of those who'd been there the week before came, the remainder certain there'd again be no food. Those who did come heard Hydrus’ testimony, and then listened intently to the Word of God. When the opportunity came, most readily accepted Jesus into their own hearts as Lord and Savior.
But God had more miracles for His precious African people that day! Again, the pastor and the church had no food to offer them. With sad and heavy hearts they had prayed earnestly before the service for all the help they’d need to get through the day.
The pastor’s wife had filled a small aluminum pot with water and prayerfully put it on her wood-burning stove. She gave Hydrus a packet with about 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of wheat flour in it to add to the pot, which he did, along with his own prayers. He then put the lid back on, and they went to join the others.
As the service ended, they were amazed to discover the pot full of prepared food much tastier than simple cooked wheat should ever be. Obviously such a small quantity could only, and barely, serve the pastor’s family of five, plus Hydrus. Half the usual congregation still meant there were about 150 hungry mouths out there.
Pastor Abu and his wife decided to share the pot with everyone. He announced this to the people, and tried to calculate how much that would mean for each person. As he began dishing out, he found that whatever he scooped from the pot would immediately be replenished! He praised and thanked the Lord in a loud voice and continued to serve until everyone had enough and was satisfied. All joined in exuberant praise and thanks to the Lord for His love, care and provision.
From then on, more and more people began coming for services and truly listening to the Word of God. Other Bibles for Mideast pastors, especially those from the Middle East, began sharing their church and ministry offerings with the African church to cover the growing food expenses.
Close to 600 people now attend the worship services. Local Muslim leaders, while upset with the growth of the church, have so far kept quiet because of the food being provided to the hungry.
Please pray for all of them, especially for those who are not yet fully saved, and for the Islamic leaders.
* names changed for security reasons