Sameera* grew up in a fanatically fundamentalist Muslim family who had actually 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 their official reign of terror in Afghanistan (1996-2001), the Taliban murdered thousands of people and destroyed countless churches and temples. When the US-led forces attacked Afghanistan in 2001, Sameera was seven. Three of her brothers died in the assault, and her older sister went missing.**
Their mother, completely undone by the tragedies, soon developed heart problems. As her heart began to fail and knowing she faced imminent death, she begged her husband to take their remaining children—Sameera and her four-year-old brother—and flee Afghanistan at any cost and in any way. Like many in their country, they believed Christians were behind the invasion, aiming to destroy both their nation and their religion.
So right after the mother died and without even taking time for a proper burial, Sameera’s father fled the home with nothing but his young children. He knew it was practically impossible to escape without being seen by the invading army, but also knew he had to try.
The young family hadn’t gotten far before being captured by armed forces in a military truck patrolling the streets. Sameera’s father felt certain they would be killed. But when the soldiers saw the innocent little ones with him, their hearts melted. Sameera has a clear memory of the men then joining hands and actually praying in the truck, eyes brimming with tears. She heard the words ‘Lord Jesus’ over and over. While she had no idea what they were saying, she memorized the name ‘Jesus’, somehow keeping it lodged in her heart.
When the truck reached a deserted area, the soldiers touched each of them kindly on the shoulders and told them to get out and flee. Knowing the family couldn’t understand English, they did their best to make themselves understood by gesturing and pointing to the children. One of the men tearfully tried to explain how they all had small children like Sameera and her brother at their homes in America. The family did finally grasp the men were urging them to escape, and as they clambered from the truck the soldiers again spoke using the name Jesus—likely, we think now, praying their Lord Jesus would bless and protect the family.
After a gruelling journey lasting many days, the family somehow ended up in a Middle Eastern kingdom. Sameera’s father found work and labored hard to support his growing youngsters.
Whenever they thought about their brothers, sister, mother and other dead and missing relatives, their rage towards Christians, the supposed invaders, grew. So they pledged to fight them to the death. Every day they prayed to Allah for strength and courage for the battle. Sameera’s brother figured his best option was to leave home and join forces with ISIS, which he did four years ago.
Eight months ago, Sameera’s father died in a tragic accident. Being so close to him, the shock of the loss proved near unbearable. Her emotional and mental anguish further increased when her brother didn't show up for their father’s funeral. No one knew where he might be, or even if he was still alive.
Sameera grew increasingly disturbed and even violent, to the point she had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital and confined to a separate room.
As only our Lord could work it, one of the hospital staff ‘happens’ to be a member of the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church and a voluntary evangelist with Bibles for Mideast. She loved and cared for Sameera like a sister, praying for her and spending time with her in her isolation. She often shared her testimony of having once been a Muslim, her decision to leave Islam, and the message of the gospel.
As their friendship grew, one day she prayed over Sameera in Jesus’ name. A lightbulb went off for Sameera as she remembered the soldiers in Afghanistan who prayed over her as a little girl, using the same name. The very men who had showed her family such unexpected loving kindness and had helped them escape the battle zone.
As she slept that night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared before in a dream.
“Daughter, you are not alone,” she heard him say. “I am always with you as your eternal Father and Comforter.” He showed her his nail-scarred hands and the wounds in his side. “I have suffered all of these—have been crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and rose from the dead—for YOU and your salvation. By my blood you are washed and by my stripes you are healed. You are no longer a patient. Believe in me and follow me.”
She awoke immediately, jumped from her bed praising the Lord, and tried to pray by herself in Jesus’ name.
Early the next morning she asked to see her beloved friend. When the Christian staff member arrived, Sameera joyfully shared what had happened. The friend praised and thanked the Lord and then, as they held hands, led Sameera in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ as her own personal Saviour and Lord.
The staff member later introduced Sameera to her pastor, who began visiting and praying for her as well.
When discharged soon afterwards from the hospital, Sameera had nowhere to go. The owner of her family’s house had repossessed it when she entered hospital and been unable to pay the rent. So the pastor arranged for her to stay with some Bibles for Mideast women, where she remains, studying the word of God and ministering alongside them.
She shared her testimony with her new church and has committed the rest of her life to the Lord’s ministry. At her request, the pastor baptized her.
We of course don’t know whether her brother will return. If he does, we cannot guess how he will react to his sister becoming a Christian. So please pray for Sameera and also for her brother’s salvation, if he is still alive. Pray also for the safety of the women she lives with and other workers and believers with Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church in that region.
Please keep all the missionaries and ministries of Bibles for Mideast and the many ALG churches in Asia, Africa and Middle East in your prayers. We could not do any of this without your help.
* Name changed for security reasons
** Even after being ousting from official power in the U.S-led invasion of 2001, the Taliban—with ISIS and others—continue to terrorize, murder and destroy in Afghanistan and beyond.