Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church in east Africa
Gainful employment being as scarce as rain and healthy crops in Milad’s* drought-stricken east African country, many, including his family, struggled to survive. As the eldest of nine children in an orthodox Muslim family, when an offer to work on a ship came along, he gladly accepted. At last he could help provide for his parents and siblings.
Not till he joined his new employers onboard did he realize the ‘work’ involved attacking and robbing ships. They were pirates! When he tried to abandon ship they wouldn’t allow him, and when he told them he had no intention of working for them, they bound his hands and legs with steel chains. He became a slave to the pirates, freed only when they found their next target of attack. They knew that if he got away, their secrets and information on who they were would escape with him.
One evening they attempted to rob a ship full of valuable merchandise in the Indian Ocean. The vessel’s strong security force fought back, and a fierce gun battle ensued. When a bullet hit Milad in his left shoulder, he jumped into the sea to save himself.
As he tried to swim to safety, a giant fish suddenly darted through the dark waters towards him. Whether a shark or a whale he couldn’t tell, but he could see its wide-open mouth ready to finish him off. Just as he felt himself sucked into the creature’s mouth, a strange reflection … a bright image of what appeared to be a man, but somehow in the shape of a cross ... appeared on and through the water. It was like it came down from above and both reflected off of, and pierced, the dark water. He noticed what looked like blood stains on the luminous image. He felt himself being pulled away from the gaping jaws, and then helped safely to shore.
By this point, late at night, bedraggled and alone, all Milad knew was that some supernatural power had saved him from certain death. But what could it have been? Looking around in the darkness, seeing no one, fear quickly overtook him. He sat down by the sea shore, his mind and emotions churning, his heart heavy.
As only God could arrange it, members of an underground ALG church in Africa were engaged in an all-night prayer vigil some miles inland from where Milad sat. Pastor Abu* had gathered believers at his ‘prayer shed’ for the night watch [more on that prayer shed in our earlier story about Pastor Abu and his ministry here: Miraculous multiplication of faith, food and believers in east Africa].
As they prayed, his wife had a vision of the Lord Jesus saving someone from pirates and a giant fish, and that the man, named Milad, was now sitting at the sea shore gripped with terror. She shared her revelation with the prayer group. Two others (including Hydrus, the former Muslim whose radical salvation we also relate in the story mentioned above) received the same vision. One even prophesied they were to go get him and ‘pick him up’ for the Lord’s work.
As they continued praying, Pastor Abu also prophesied about the fellow on the seashore. Clearly an immediate rescue was in order, so the men determined to go find the survivor. They headed out in the direction they’d been shown in the visions. Pastor Abu’s wife remained behind in charge of the vigil, and the women and children continued praying.
Walking the eight miles to the sea shore, the 40 or so men refrained from speaking, uttering only words of prayer and praise. Each carried his own Bible, and none felt tired or found the journey long. When Milad saw them approaching, his fear intensified. What now? But then he heard his own name being uttered by a calm, assuring voice.
“Don’t be afraid, Milad,” Pastor Abu called to him. “The one who saved you from the gunshot and from the giant fish in the sea has sent us to you to console you and rescue you.”
“He is Jesus, who was crucified for us on the cross of Calvary and rose from the dead for our salvation. He loves you and wants to make you His own child. Believe in Him and follow Him.”
Already incredulous Milad did not think things could get any more incredible until he then heard the pastor outline to him all that he had gone through. Could it be a dream? He touched the leader and several of the other men to see if they were real.
“You are not dreaming,” Pastor Abu assured him. “All of this is real and true, and only because our Lord and Saviour Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” He then held up his Bible.
“This is the word of the true and living God, who saves you from sin and death.”
Milad rushed to kiss the Bible, and then prostrated himself before the pastor.
“No, I am just a servant of God,” he explained, stepping back. “You surrender before Him and confess all your sins to Him. He is our savior.”
Milad cried aloud and confessed all of his sins before God. He then readily accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord. The men prayed over the new convert and joyfully brought him back with them, praising and thanking the Lord for His marvelous wonders as they journeyed back to the shed.
Milad now stays with Hydrus at the underground church’s 'prayer shed' under the guidance of Pastor Abu. Please pray for Milad and Hydrus as they grow in their faith and walk. Also keep Pastor Abu, his family and all the other believers in Africa in your prayers.
* names changed for security reasons
As an important ‘back story’ here, we asked Milad if he knew of anyone from his past who may have been praying for him. He then remembered that several years ago, an American missionary team had visited his town on a charitable and medical mission. One day, Milad and one of his sisters visited the temporary quarters set up by the team, hoping for help for the skin disease they both suffered from. Missionary doctors examined each, and gave them medicine. One took a special interest in the two siblings, making note of their names. She began telling them about the healing and saving power of Jesus.
Milad and his sister had no idea what she was talking about. Then, when she put her hands on their heads to pray for them, the young man angrily pushed her away. The doctor simply smiled, and let them know she would continue praying for them. She also asked them to come back in two days for checkups and more medicine, but the siblings never returned.
What an encouragement to continue praying! We thank the Lord that missionary doctor kept up her prayers for Milad, and for you for praying for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Never give up.