A young Muslim meets Jesus at the holiest time of year for Islam, the Festival of Sacrifice

(Sept. 6, 2017, with reporting from Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast)

Just last week, about two million Muslims made the pilgrimage to Mecca called the Hajj. Central to their faith and one of the ‘five pillars of Islam’, every able-bodied follower of Islam is expected to do the Hajj once in his or her lifetime, if they can afford to. The promise is a cleansing of their souls and a deepening of their relationship with Allah.

The Hajj climaxes with Eid-al-Adha, the holiest time of the year for the world’s 1.8 billion (as of 2015) followers of Islam. Also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, Muslims from every part of the world are duty-bound to observe the annual celebration, usually lasting four days.

The Festival of Sacrifice commemorates Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son. Muslims consider the son to have been Ishmael, Abraham’s older son born to Sarah’s servant girl Hagar*. Christians and Jews of course consider the ‘son of promise’ to be Isaac, born to Abraham’s wife Sarah (Genesis 22). In both versions of the story, God provides a ram as a sacrificial offering instead, and considers Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his own son a supreme act of obedience.

As that annual Festival of Sacrifice wrapped up around the world last week, a Bibles for Mideast pastor living and working in central Asia experienced a dramatic encounter with some Muslim men getting ready for the time of animal sacrifice.  Since minority Christians have been and are continuing to be brutally persecuted in this country, names have been changed.

Omar and Salahi, strong young men trained and working as butchers, were leading several cows to the slaughterhouse early last Thursday morning in preparation for the next day’s celebration. Pastor Masih and two other Bibles for Mideast evangelists ‘just happened’ to meet them along the road and joined them on their walk:  a so-called chance encounter similar to Philip’s meeting the Ethiopian eunuch on a dusty road in Africa (Acts 8:26-40).

Sheep being led to slaughter

Sheep being led to slaughter

In the biblical story, the Ethiopian had been reading: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In (his) humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.”  Philip, entirely led of the Lord, asked his fellow traveller just the right leading question. We can't help thinking Pastor Masih was similarly led!

“Why are you killing animals for the Eid al-Adha?” Pastor Masih inquired. As a former Muslim living in a Muslim-dominated country he well-knew the answer.

“It is cow qurbani, the sacrifice for Allah as our forefather Abraham taught us to do,” Omar replied.  [Qurbani , as referred to in Islamic law, is the Arabic word for the sacrifice of  an animal during Eid al-Adha. The word is related to the Hebrew קרבן‎ corban, or offering.—Ed.]

Cow qurbani in Africa

Cow qurbani in Africa

“He tried to sacrifice his older son Ishmael, son of Hagar, as Allah told him to do,” Omar went on. “But later Allah did not allow him to kill his son, so he sacrificed an animal instead. We are doing the same thing with our cow qurbani.”

Pastor Masih was ready with his answer. “According to the word of God, we don’t need to sacrifice any animals or birds for our salvation,” he explained to the men. “That’s because Jesus Christ, the son of our Most High God alone, did this sacrifice once, to make all other sacrifices unnecessary. By his sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary and his resurrection from the dead, we are being redeemed and becoming God’s own children. Believe in Jesus and leave these hopeless qurbanis.” He pulled no punches, but Omar and Salahi were suddenly more than ready to.

“How dare you, you bastard and infidel, tell us this blasphemy against Allah!” they shouted, brandishing their butcher knives. “We will kill you now as well!” Pastor Masih and his evangelist friends managed to flee to safety.

The butchers continued on their journey to the slaughterhouse. Once there, they and their assistants began preparing an ox for sacrifice. Tying its front and back legs with strong rope, they pushed the animal down. Omar drew his knife and aimed for the beast’s neck. But the ox simultaneously shook its head, causing the blade to miss the neck and slice through the rope securing its front leg instead. With a limb suddenly freed, the ox kicked Omar solidly in the chest, throwing him to the ground. His chest collapsed and blood began spurting out.

 His helpers rushed him to hospital. By the time he arrived he had lost most of his blood. Doctors declared him 95% dead, and told his friends they had no hope for him. All they could do was admit him to the critical care unit and provide him with some blood.

For three days Salahi sat outside the hospital and prayed to Allah for Omar. If he dies, he thought, it would certainly be considered a sacrificial death before Allah and he will go directly go to heaven. That had to be so, he tried to tell himself.

But he couldn’t sleep. Whenever he closed his eyes, he saw Omar’s collapsed chest, and the blood gushing out of him. As the fourth day dawned, he was doing the required purification ritual before the Islamic early morning prayer time. As he washed, he looked up to see an angel standing before him.

“Turn from these worthless things to the living God who created heaven and the earth,” the angel told him. “Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. He sent His only Son to save the world. He is Jesus Christ, the son of Most High God and the seed of David who was raised from the dead. This is the Gospel.”

Salahi could barely believe what he was seeing and hearing. He knew the imam described the ablution practice as preparing for ‘an appointment before God’, but could it really be so?

The angel spoke again.  “Come with me. I will lead you to the Lord’s prophets. They will guide you.”

The angel began walking away. Salahi abruptly ended his ritual washing and followed.

Salahi still isn’t sure whether he actually walked or if the angel carried him, but when he did become aware of his surroundings, he found himself standing before Pastor Masih and others at their underground ALG house church. They were in a prayer meeting, and the Lord had already let the pastor know of Salahi’s imminent arrival, and that they were to receive him. By then the angel had vanished, never seen by the pastor and not to be seen again by Salahi. Salahi explained what had happened. The pastor, a former Muslim, told his own story and explained more about Jesus Christ and the salvation possible only in Him.

It was Sunday morning, so the group prepared for the Sunday worship service. During the service, Salahi accepted the Lord Jesus as his personal savior and Lord, declaring before the church his newfound faith. Church members rejoiced and prayed for Omar..

That evening, Pastor Masih, Salahi, and a few other believers went to visit Omar in the hospital. The pastor could only pray silently for the injured man’s healing and salvation because of the dangers Christians face both in the hospital and the entire region. As the church members stood beside his bed, Omar opened his eyes but was unable to speak.

Salahi now stays with Pastor Masih. They church continues to pray and believe that not only Omar, but the whole nation will be saved. Several groups actively promote terrorism in this region of central Asia, and reports are that the government does nothing to stop them. Please join with us in praying for these people.

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* God did promise Abraham he would make a ‘great nation’ out of Ishmael's descendants. He has tremendous plans for them; we must keep them in our prayers. Please read this excellent, insightful article by a leader and intercessor at the International House of Prayer, Samuel Whitefield: The Battle Over Ishmael’s Promises and the Coming Revival in the Middle East.

Guide us to the straight path

straight path narrow path road sign.jpg

GOSPEL TRACT FOR MUSLIMS, prepared by Bibles for Mideast

“Ih’dina Sirathwal musthakim” is the fifth verse of the first Surah of the Qur’an and it means “Guide us to the straight path”.

There is a traditional saying that ‘sirathwal musthakim’ is a narrow bridge over hell to heaven, made out of seven torn pieces of a hair. The righteous can pass over the bridge without any trials, but the wicked will go to hell.

A worldly person cannot pass over the narrow bridge. Jesus says in the Book of Injil: “Enter God’s kingdom through the narrow gate. The gate is large and the road is wide that leads to ruin. Many people go that way. But the gate is small and the road is narrow that leads to Life. Only a few people find it.” (Matt. 7:13-14)

The Qur’an warns humanity: “Lo! They who deny our revelations and scorn them, for them the gates of Heaven will not be opened nor will they enter the garden until the camel goes through the needle’s eye.” (Qur’an 7:40)

The Qur’an 7:10-17 says: “God created Adam out of mud, fashioned him and told the angels to fall and prostrate before the man. Iblis (Lucifer) did not obey. God degraded him. Still he asked God for reprieve till the day when human beings are raised from the dead. It was granted. Then Iblis (Satan) said to God that he will lurk in ambush of man on God’s Right Path. Again he said that he will go upon them from before them and from behind them and from their right hands and from their left hands for God would not find most of them beholden.”

Humanity does not see the Right Narrow Path, because it is hidden by Iblis. Also he tries to lead them into wrong, broad and worldly ways. But the Muslim world knows the broad path is not the right one to heaven, and prays to God to be shown the Right Path.

In the book of Injil (in the New Testament of the Bible) Jesus says, “Try very hard to enter through the narrow door. I tell you, many will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24). In the Bible, Jesus also declares, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6)

The Qur’an declares in 19:21 that Jesus is a revelation for humanity and a mercy from God, and has been ordained.

Jesus destroyed the head of Iblis, and opened the narrow door of Heaven. He says: “In this world you will have trouble. But be encouraged! I have won the battle over the world.” (John 16:33) Also He has given grace to those born of God so they can overcome the world.

Yes! It is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. “That’s because everyone who is a child of God has won the battle over the world. Our faith has won the battle for us. Who is it that has won the battle over the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:4-5)

But still it is very sad to say and to see that the truth of the Gospel is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case, the god of this world has blinded their minds and spirits, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God (2 Cor. 4:3-4).

“There is only one God. And there is only one go-between, one mediator, for God and human beings. He is the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Tim. 2:5)

The Qur’an also says very clearly that Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in both the world and the Hereafter, is one of those brought near unto God (Qur’an 3:45). So we may keep our duty to God and obey Jesus (Qur’an 3:50; 43:61).

The Bible is the word of God. It well explains why Jesus, the Son of the Most High, came down from heaven as the Son of Mary. “When the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God’s children." (Gal. 4:4-5)

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

"Jesus didn’t have any sin. But God made him become sin for us, So we can be made right with God because of what Jesus has done for us." (2 Cor. 5:21)

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12).

Dear Muslim brothers and sisters, God doesn't want you or anyone to go astray. Believe in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, accept Him as your personal savior and Lord. Only then can you can freely and joyously enter into the Kingdom of Heaven through the Right Narrow Path which is Jesus. He is the Word of God (Kalimathullah—see John 1:1 and John 1:14); the Spirit of God (Ruhullah—see John 4:24 and 2 Cor. 3:17); and the Messiah of God (Massihullah—see John 4:25-26) who became a ransom for many (see Mark 10:45).

Yes! Jesus is the Right, Straight, Narrow Path. He is, as He says, the Way, the Truth and the Life  By faith in Jesus you can easily enter into heaven.

Say the following prayer in your heart and with your mouth:

GOD, HEAVENLY FATHER, I BELIEVE IN JESUS AS YOUR ONLY BEGOTTEN SON WHO CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, DIED ON THE CROSS, AND ROSE FROM THE DEAD TO GIVE ME ETERNAL LIFE AND SALVATION. 
I ACCEPT JESUS AS MY PERSONAL SAVIOR AND LORD. FILL ME WITH YOUR HOLY SPIRIT THAT I MAY WALK WITH JESUS MY LORD ACCORDING TO HIS WILL AND HIS COMMANDMENTS. AMEN!

Bibles for Mideast Pastor Paul and many other Bibles for Mideast workers have turned from islam to Christianity. Please contact us via our CONTACT form if you have questions or would like further prayer. We would love to pray with and for you!