The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church

Report: Bibles for Mideast

We honor today the memory and legacy of two faithful workers for what is now Bibles for Mideast. Both lost their lives in brave service to the Lord they loved in Kashmir, a region rife with Islamic extremism and home to one of the world’s longest-running conflicts. [India and Pakistan have been fighting over Kashmir since both countries gained their independence in 1947—Ed.]

Evangelist Manzoor 

Evangelist Manzoor 

Manzoor Ahmad Chat, 33, worked as an evangelist and pastor in the area. A strong believer in the saving, redeeming power of Jesus, he felt 'where better to serve the Lord than Kashmir?' He helped many find their way into the Kingdom and led a small but active underground church that met in his home.

Eleven years ago, Hizbul Mujahideen—Muslim extremists aiming to turn Kashmir into an Islamic state—kidnapped and beheaded Manzoor. The terrorists wrapped his head in a plastic bag and left it outside of a mosque where police recovered it. 

Evangelist Bashir

Evangelist Bashir

A year earlier, evangelist Bashir Ahmed Tantray, 50, was also allegedly shot dead by Islamic militants. Bashir had been a public campaigner and a Bible teacher with Bibles for Mideast. A well-known Christian in the area, he been featured in numerous media reports.

We also think of and honor the memories of two teenage sisters, Arifa and Akhtar, who were shot dead by Islamic militants in 2011 simply for reading the Bible. They had found faith in Jesus thanks to the work of Bibles for Mideast evangelical outreaches in their area of Kashmir.

We remember and celebrate all of these martyrs’ faithful lives and service.

Jesus said: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."    (John 12:24)

Five years since teenage sisters murdered for reading the Bible

Report: Bibles for MIdeast

Five years ago, sisters Arifa, 17, and Akhtar, 19, were kidnapped and gunned down by Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based Islamic militant terrorist group in Indian-controlled northern Kashmir, bordering Pakistan. The victims were the daughters of Gulam Nabi Dar, a salesman at a government ration shop.

Arifa and Akhtar

Arifa and Akhtar

The girls did embroidery work and attended classes to learn to read and write at an adult education center run by an underground Bibles for Mideast outreach ministry. Though Muslims, the sisters believed in Jesus Christ, attended prayer services and had begun to read the New Testament.

Pastor Paul, Director of Bibles for Mideast and himself a convert from Islam, had visited the small community where the girls lived and shared his own story along with the message of the gospel. After the message, Arifa and Akhtar read Isaiah 53 together, declared their faith in Jesus Christ, and accepted Him as their Savior and Lord.

The very next evening militants barged into their home and forcibly took the girls. The terrorists may well have come to know about the underground ministries in the area and the young women’s involvement. Their bullet-riddled bodies were later found some distance away from their home. One had been shot in the left eye.

The teens’ family lived in two rooms, and their father had not yet come home from work when the assault happened. Police sources say the gunmen managed to escape under cover of darkness.

When the incident happened, two other women—aunts of the Arifa and Akhtar—were there, along with their younger brother and a young female relative who had come to visit the family. The women raised an alarm and ran after the gunmen, but stopped when the militants began threatening them. Their elder brother lived in another village with a maternal uncle.

Mourning over bodies of Arifa and Akhtar

Mourning over bodies of Arifa and Akhtar

“One of the gunmen had his face covered with a black scarf,” said younger brother Gulam Jeelani. “Only his eyes were visible. Two others followed him. They were speaking Urdu. One spoke a few words in Kashmiri.”

After the invasion and murder, local missionary Pastor Idris and his assistant were attacked with steel pipes, the pastor’s legs being broken. Pastor Paul and his family also suffered three brutal assaults and threats on their lives.

Lashkar-e-Taiba, or the 'Army of the Righteous', aim to create an Islamic state in South Asia and to ‘liberate’ Muslims in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

India has identified the group as the alleged masterminds behind the 2008 terror attack on the Indian financial capital of Mumbai that killed 166 people.