Bible distribution plans: Please pray

Pastor Peter Haneef, president of the ALG Church (umbrella for the many Bibles for Mideast churches) has a special prayer request for visitors to this website and supporters of the work and ministries of Bibles for Mideast.

“Kindly pray as our church wants to distribute 30,000 bibles in Arabic, Urdu and other Asian and African languages before the end of this year,” he asks.

“All our believers will also be presenting bibles as New Year’s gifts to at least two of their non-Christian friends,” he adds. “Please pray that the Holy Spirit helps them to win souls for Jesus our Savior.”

He and all of us know we cannot do this—any of it—without the help of praying, generous Christians. If the Holy Spirit leads you to participate with this Bible Distribution Ministry, please click here.

Pastor Peter himself knows better than most the mighty power of prayer, having himself had a dramatic conversion from Islamic extremism (From radical Islamic murderer to ardent leader in the Kingdom of Jesus). Now leading the ALG, he found himself on the receiving end in June of this year of the very atrocities he once meted out (Brutal attack on ALG Church leader Pastor Peter Haneef and family in Bangladesh). While that ended gloriously with, ultimately, the salvation of his main attacker (Boy’s dramatic dream of wounded lamb leads to salvation of his Islamic terrorist father), Pastor Peter is in fact still not quite completely recovered, so please pray for him as well.

TOP :    (L)   aT A recent bible distribution event;      (R)   a cancer patient receives a bible   Bottom  (L to R):    Muslim woman receives bible;   Hindu woman learning bible;   presenting a passenger boat driver with his own bible

TOP: (L) aT A recent bible distribution event; (R) a cancer patient receives a bible
Bottom (L to R):
Muslim woman receives bible; Hindu woman learning bible; presenting a passenger boat driver with his own bible

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.

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.