Terrorists JOIN church after Jesus terrorizes their plan to burn it down!

Report from Bibles for Mideast and an ALG Church in the Middle East

Ibrani*, a young man born and brought up in an orthodox Muslim family in a Middle Eastern kingdom, had always strictly followed the rituals and principles of Islam. 

A sister he was close to and loved very much had become Christian two years ago through the ministry of Bibles for Mideast. Her husband and children also joined the Kingdom of Jesus, and all were baptized and became members of an ALG Church. They evangelized whenever possible and brought others to faith in Christ.

Ibrani tried his level best to bring his sister and her family back to Islam. But they would explain to him how they now knew that Jesus was not only a great prophet (as all Muslims believe), but the Living Lord and Son of the Most High God. Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary as a sinless man to take away the sins of all humanity, they told him. His crucifixion on the cross of Calvary served to take away the penalty of sin. He died and rose from the dead on the third day. Only by believing in and accepting Him as Lord and Savior could he be free and attain salvation, they assured him. They even invited him to meet their pastor and attend a worship service, letting him know where and when the church met.

Ibrani would have none of it. He became their sworn enemy and determined to free his region of the scourge of the Christians and their church. Joining up with a group of militants, he formulated a plan to attack the believers and destroy their meeting place. His father, mother, brothers and other sisters all offered him their total support.

The plot entailed pouring petrol on the church during a worship service, then setting it alight in hopes of burning the place down. They received the backing of both local and religious police—who it turns out already knew about the church, but hadn’t yet been able to determine where it met. The religious police in particular were delighted with the new information.

Ibrani and the team collected the petrol in a large container, which Ibrani kept in his own house. They planned to carry out the attack as the church met for Sunday worship last week. 

Around midnight Saturday, the men noticed a fire develop over the petrol jar, and watched in horror as it began spreading to the parts of the house near it. They screamed to waken Ibrani’s family sleeping in other rooms. All woke immediately and ran to safety.

Suddenly, to their astonishment, a man appeared from within the fire.

Jesus in fire wall heart.jpg

"I am the Lord of Heaven and Earth,” he told them with calm authority. “I dwell in the light which no one can come near.

“I am also the burning fire. I can finish you off now, for I am the author of life and death. But I didn’t come to the world to destroy, but to redeem each of you from sin and death. I died for you on the cross of Calvary, and I rose from the dead. Believe in me and follow me. You will have salvation and eternal life."

He then disappeared as quickly as he had materialized, and the burning fire subsided as well. No one doubted that the Jesus Ibrani's sister had told him about had just visited them. They prostrated themselves, foreheads to the ground, convinced now in the Truth of the message she had shared.

While the church had met for prayer and fasting on Friday, the pastor had had a revelation and three members had prophesied about a great tribulation coming to the church. The prophecies warned them to move their meeting place immediately to somewhere far away, even showing them where exactly to go. It turns out the religious police intended to arrest the pastor and church members that Sunday if  the militants’ plans failed.

Ibrani's family members and his band of (former!) militants contacted Ibrani's sister and brother-in-law the same night of their visitation. They met together with the pastor, and shared what all had happened. The pastor taught them more about Jesus and the gospel throughout the night. Everyone accepted Jesus as their personal savior and Lord.

As morning dawned, they all freshened themselves up and travelled to the new worship location for Sunday service. Once there, they openly declared their new faith in Jesus and joined in worship with the believers. The church rejoiced in the Lord for HIS amazing works.

Please pray for the new believers, the pastor and his church, all the churches in the Middle East and the entire ministry of Bibles for Mideast and the Assembly of Loving God Church as we keep marching forward with the Gospel of Love and Life.

_________________________
*
Name changed for security reasons

Freedom for Middle East missionaries imprisoned for evangelizing; healing and salvation for fellow prisoners!

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG)  church in the Middle East

Pastor Zakkir of Bibles for Mideast labored long, hard and secretively in one of the most restrictive countries in the Middle East, as we reported last year in our story From Islamic enforcer and Christian killer to underground church leader: a modern-day Muslim Saul.

After his dramatic conversion, he had been pastoring an underground ALG (Assembly of Living God) church and taking care of a number of persecuted Christians who had converted from Islam. He lived with and was training seven young men in how to effectively evangelize in the Middle East.
 
About seven months ago, he and his team headed out to evangelize and distribute gospel tracts and bibles in a particularly dangerous area. They shared with many Muslims in the region and on returning home, sat down to intercede for the salvation of those they'd reached out to. 

As they prayed, a group of policemen and angry locals barged in on them, brandishing guns. They brutally attacked Zakkir and the team, burned their bibles and gospel literature along with their clothes and other items. While the men who’d accompanied the police aimed to kill the Christians, fortunately the officers decided to 'only' arrest them. They were whisked away to a religious court for trial and sentenced to prison for blasphemy and proselytizing.

When thrown into a common cell with notorious criminals and murderers, their real trials began. For over a month they faced cruel torture by jail wardens and relentless, often violent harassment from fellow prisoners. Yet they report now they felt the ever-present love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compared to what He endured for us, they explain, their sufferings amounted to nothing.

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

On first arriving at their cell, they immediately knelt down and prayed in the name of Jesus. Seeing this, other prisoners beat them and made it clear they were not to ever pray like this. So the men resorted to waiting till the others were sound asleep, then join hands in fervent worship and prayer. They figure the Lord must have induced deep sleep in their fellow prisoners, just to allow His children to worship Him in spirit, truth and safety. They prayed especially for their jailers and cellmates.
 
One day a man imprisoned for murdering three people developed severe chest pains and began vomiting blood.  He had been the one encouraging others to torture the gospel team members. 

“Shall we pray to Jesus for your healing?” Pastor Zakkir asked him.

“No!” he replied. “You cannot pray for me in that name and I do not want to hear that name again!” 

When his vomiting resumed even more severely, the man, now exhausted, thought he was going to die.

“Shall we pray for you?” Zakkir inquired again. ”Jesus is the mighty healer and He will heal you and will give you life, for which we are the witness.”

The criminal didn’t turn down the offer this time. So the pastor touched his head and prayed over him. The other team members laid their hands on him as well, joining in the prayers.

His stomach settled down immediately, as did his chest pains. Leaping to his feet as if absolutely nothing had been wrong, he marvelled that he'd felt something like an electric current flow through his body when the men prayed.

Others in the cell were equally stunned by his swift relief. The atmosphere in the cell soon transformed as the convicts grew friendly and accommodating. The missionaries could now freely pray as and when they wanted.

Furthermore, when any prisoner felt sick, depressed or upset, he'd now ask for prayer and find rapid, remarkable relief. One by one the convicted murderers, rapists, thieves and other outlaws joined the gospel workers in their times of prayer. Without the jail wardens or officers knowing, the whole cell resembled an underground church each night, with praise, worship and prayers rising to the heavens. 

Zakkir and his team related their own stories of salvation to the others, and the pastor shared the gospel message. Each and every prisoner confessed his many sins before Jesus Christ, and readily accepted Him as personal savior and Lord. They agreed that if released from jail, they too would become witnesses of Jesus to others.
 
Three months ago, a new officer took charge of the prison. Apparently trying particularly hard to prove he was tough and up to the task of controlling those in his charge, he behaved harshly towards prisoners. He could not figure out, however, why the men in this one particular cell actually seemed calm and happy. They behaved well and kindly to each other and even more surprising, when beaten or tortured, responded with “Praise the Lord!” Keeping a close eye on them, he discovered it was all because of the prayers of the gospel team members. So after two weeks, he moved Pastor Zakkir and his team into a separate cell.
 
And he continued to watch them. One night, as soon as he heard them praying, the officer entered their quarters. The gospel workers’ initial fear turned to wonder as he walked unthreateningly towards them and sat down. He then opened up about his own life. He had studied at a western university, he explained, and while there, had many Christian friends. Through their influence, he learned about the sacrifice of Jesus and had even accepted Him as his personal savior. He attended worship and prayer services with his Christian buddies and had numerous experiences with God at the time.

But on returning to his homeland after studies, he joined the government services and lost all Christian fellowship. He did however still begin his day reading the bible and secretly prayed to Jesus both morning and night.

Now, he eagerly joined with the evangelists in prayer. He asked each of them to share their testimonies, which they of course did. The men continued in worship and prayer till dawn. From then on, the officer interceded with them every night. With his help the prisoners in the team's previous cell continued their prayers as well.
 
Since the new, secretly-Christian officer held sway in higher circles within the prison system, he took the initiative in securing their release from jail, with one condition: they must leave their native land.

Agreeing to this, the evangelists were freed from jail several days ago. Before departing, Pastor Zakkir asked two of the prisoners to lead in regular prayer services in the jail, as the Lord Himself would lead him. The Christian prison officer offered his full support to this. 

Worshippers in an underground church

Worshippers in an underground church

The officer then made arrangements for Pastor Zakkir and his brave team of seven to leave the country. They are now safe with Bibles for Mideast pastors in another region, and continuing ministry there.

Please pray for them and the entire ministry, all ministers and believers of Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church, and the ministry as a whole. Pastor Zakkir and his team also want to sincerely thank all who prayed for them over these challenging yet God-ordained seven months.

From Islamic enforcer and Christian killer to underground church leader: a modern-day Muslim Saul

For years, Zakkir* and his father lived to uphold the many religious rules governing their 100% Muslim country, one of the strictest in the Middle East. They followed Islamic ritual practices fanatically, and if they witnessed anything or anyone ‘out of order’, had no compunctions about resorting to violence. 

While Zakkir’s father served in the often-merciless Islamic religious force known as Muttawa, his son headed up an outlaw gang of angry young militants. All were fully committed to punishing anyone daring to defy the stern laws and practices of Islam.

Taliban religious police beating a woman because she dared to remove her burqa in public

Taliban religious police beating a woman because she dared to remove her burqa in public

“If anyone passed along the road by the mosque at the time of Namaz [Islamic prayer], our gang would stop and brutally beat them for not attending,” Zakkir explains. 

One day, he noticed some Christians distributing sample gospels and, he says, trying to convert several Muslims. The gang determined to put a stop to the evangelical activities.

“We attacked their office,” Zakkir relates, “and killed three of them.” Pleased with themselves, the men were jubilant when they discovered later that the ‘infidels’ had also been secretly translating bibles into Arabic.

Soon they were back at their post, stopping those passing by the mosque at the time of Friday prayer, insisting they come in.  They pulled over one man in the midst of rushing his sick child to hospital, and refused to take even that as an excuse.

“I dragged him out of the car myself,” Zakkir confesses. But as he did, the distraught father grabbed a gun from his glove compartment and fired off three shots directly into his assailant’s chest. Zakkir fell to the ground, and the man jumped back into his car and drove off.

The young militant’s friends sped him to the hospital. Surgeons managed to remove only two of the bullets, deciding that taking out the third, lodged in a dangerous position in his chest, would mean certain death.

He remained in a coma for several days, and doctors gave up hope for his recovery. Friends and relatives who had been by his hospital bed from the beginning gave up as well, leaving him alone in the hospital to die.

Bibles for Mideast director Pastor Paul ‘just happened’ to be visiting the country with several other missionaries at the time. In prayer for their mission, he received clear instructions about Zakkir and his condition in a vision, even though the two had never met.

“Not only did the Lord ask me to visit him,” he recalls, “but He told me to bring him back with me from the hospital! We fully trust our Lord, so without any doubts we went. My coworkers suggested we take along separate clothes for him, since he would be in a hospital gown.”

He, Pastor Rahim* and two other evangelists headed off to the hospital, found Zakkir’s room, and began to pray over his comatose body.

“At this moment,” the militant remembers vividly, “I had a dream that Jesus Christ came to me and said, ‘I am your Lord and Savior, I have been wounded for you, and by my stripes you are healed. I choose you as one of my vessels to bring many to my fold.’"

He says the Lord then touched his wounds with His own nail-scarred hands. “Suddenly, the remaining bullet jumped from my chest automatically, as I felt new blood flow through my veins!” He opened his eyes to see four people praying over him.

“I thought they were angels of the Lord,” he says. Pastor Paul made clear they were simply servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they’d been given instructions to come and pray for him. He also explained to him the way of salvation.

“He is the author of life, believe in Him and you will be saved." 

Zakkir hardly needed convincing. He got up, accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior, and surrendered his life to the Lord of Life. The missionaries helped him into his ‘new clothes’, and then secretly whisked him away.

“No one knew about my escape with the pastors,” he explains. As only Jesus could work it, Zakkir now heads up an underground Bibles for Mideast affiliated church in his country.

“I am not worthy to be a pastor of our Lord's Church, for I was persecuting the Church,” he says, sounding for all the world like the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:9**). “But I am pastoring an underground ALG church. We are taking care of the persecuted Christians who were former Muslims.”

Please pray for Zakkir and the Christian colleagues he lives with as they work to spread the Kingdom of Jesus in a dark and restrictive kingdom of this world.

____________________________
* names changed for security reasons
** "
I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence." [1 Cor. 15:9, The Message]

Christian grocer and Police Superintendent’s wife latest murdered by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh

Report: Bibles for Mideast 

Unidentified attackers murdered 65-year-old Sunil Gomes in the village of Bonpara, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. He had just returned from a Sunday worship service.

Murdered Bangladeshi grocer Sunil Gomes

Murdered Bangladeshi grocer Sunil Gomes

"Sunil Gomes was hacked to death at his grocery store just near a church at Bonpara village," said the deputy police chief of the surrounding Natore district, Shafiqul Islam.

He ran a fruit and vegetable shop, served at his Bonpara church and was respected among villagers.

"I am shocked and saddened. My brother had no enemies,” says his brother Proshanto Gomes, a Christian minister in Dinajpur. “We ask what could have motivated his murder?"

Benedict, a Christian leader in Bonpara, says that "the faithful of the village live in brotherhood with the people of other religions. Why did they attack us?”

He calls for severe punishment for the extremists, who in the past have escaped justice.  "Two months ago, an elderly Christian couple was attacked, but the police did not arrest anyone." Benedict added.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the murder through its Amaq news agency, according to the SITE monitoring group, saying it was "part of a series of operations" in Bangladesh.

The local Christian community lives in fear. Only hours earlier the wife of Police Superintendent Babul Aktar—a man fighting hard against militants and drug cartels—had been stabbed

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Oikya Parishad, organized a human chain Sunday afternoon and imposed a seven-day ultimatum for the capture of the killers to draw government attention and ask for protection.

A relative consoles Ms. Khanam's children following her death

A relative consoles Ms. Khanam's children following her death

Sunil’s murder happened just hours after the wife of Superintendent of Police Babul Aktar was stabbed and shot to death by three bike-borne assailants as she walked her six-year-old son to a bus stop in southeast Bangladesh. Her husband has led several high-profile operations against terrorists and drug cartels in the region.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the murder of Sunil Gomez and the officer’s wife, Mahmuda Khanam.

Over 40 people have died in the past three years in a series of attacks targeting activists and non-Muslims. Attacks have increased recently, but Bangladeshi authorities hold political rivals and homegrown Islamist terrorists responsible and reject any involvement from foreign terrorist groups.