Praising His amazingness: abducted pastors miraculously released in Middle East

Report: Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church in the Middle East

On a Sunday evening two weeks ago, Assembly of Loving God (ALG) pastors Firos* and Altaf* were visiting an Arab Muslim in his home in the Middle East. The Christians shared the gospel with the man, and his entire household had gathered around, listening intently.

As leaders of an underground ALG church** in the area and with families of their own, the men used their ‘spare time’ to engage in personal evangelism and distribute bibles among local Arab Muslims. About 50 former Muslims now met regularly with them for prayer, worship, and learning more about their new and living faith.

This particular country has extremely harsh attitudes towards proselytizing, especially attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity. As the men shared the Gospel of Life that Sunday evening, a neighbor noticed the goings-on and informed the imam of the local mosque.

Late evening namaz (prayer) was ongoing at the mosque, a requirement called Isha’ [Muslims are supposed to perform namaz five times per day, with Isha being the fifth—Ed.]. When Isha ended and the people learned of the evangelical activity in their neighborhood, an angry mob formed under the leadership of the imam. They armed themselves with a variety of weapons and headed to the home. Bursting in on the family, they brutally attacked the evangelists. They dragged the pastors to their mosque, tied them to a pillar, and kept up the beating. Firos and Altaf clutched their bibles to their chests, but the mob snatched them away. Shouting and laughing wildly, they set the men’s bibles on fire.

The imam told the pastors to leave Jesus and come back to Islam, offering them a number of official state positions if they agreed.*** But they turned down his appeals.

The ONLY fire and sword that matters

The ONLY fire and sword that matters

"Jesus is our Lord and Savior,” they bravely declared. “He saved us from the sin and death we knew and experienced in our own lives. Now we are new creations in HIM. You may kill our flesh, but we will have an everlasting life with our Savior in Heaven. So we will never lose our faith in Jesus, no matter what happens."

This provoked the people even further. They dragged the men to a cellar and abandoned them there for three days, without even a drop of water to drink. But the pastors looked to their Lord. For the entire three days and nights they praised and prayed. Being so with their Lord in Spirit, they didn’t feel any pain, hunger or thirst, nor were even aware of the passing time.

After the three days, the mob handed them over to a terrorist group, who threw them into a cellar in another location. For nine days they endured more brutal torture and again, no food or water. They were given dire warnings that unless they return to Islam and join the fight against Christians and Christianity, they would be killed and their bodies hung in a public place.

This proved hardly a threat to the pastors. For the sake of Jesus, they knew they could endure any persecution. They personally prepared themselves to die, assured of the greatest high hope of living even closer with Christ. 

Yesterday (Friday) morning, the terrorists tied the men’s hands behind their backs and took them out into an open area. Midday approached and temperatures soared. They told the pastors to kneel down. When they did, they tied their legs together as well.

Two men stood behind the kneeling pastors, wielding razor-sharp blades.  The killers tried to cover the Christians’ faces, but someone told them not to bother.  ‘Let them see and experience even more fear as they are being executed,’ they explained. 

Instead, the pastors looked to their Lord. They watched in amazement as a cloud formed overhead and they began sensing a refreshing coolness. Within the cloud, they saw Jesus seated on a throne! Thousands of angels surrounded Him.  They began praising the Lord joyfully and enthusiastically as they knelt under the shadow of His Presence and the cloud-like formation of angels around Him.

The killers, now even more determined due to the men’s praises [we’re fairly certain no one but the pastors saw the spiritual reality—Ed.], brandished their knives over the men’s necks. But as they prepared to bring down the blades, both they and their weapons unexpectedly fell to the ground.

Fear gripped onlookers as they heard the pastors’ loudly praising their Lord, and only intensified as they watched the would-be assassins fall over, helpless and disarmed.

The evangelists then witnessed rays of fire emanate from Jesus and down through the cloud towards the witnesses of the ‘execution’. Overcome with terror and the now-extreme heat, the crowd fled.

Somehow the pastors’ legs and hands were then loosed. Instead of standing up, however, they remained on their knees, praising and thanking their mighty Savior. Both then observed two angels appear, and felt themselves being lifted up. The next thing they knew, they were standing in front of a house.

They heard sounds of praise and worship from within the home, so they knocked on the door. A man came and opened the door slightly to have a somewhat fearful peek. When he saw the pastors outside he could barely contain his joy, praising the Lord loudly and shouting for the others to come. They were all members of the men’s own church … in the midst of prayer and fasting for their pastors’ immediate release!

Adding to the miraculousness of this story, this was not the location the church had been meeting in before the abduction. Soon after the pastors disappeared, worshippers had noticed several suspicious-looking characters watching the home they’d been meeting in.  Concerned, they moved their ‘church’ to a place many miles away. Since they had lost their leadership, some elder believers now led services, which was what was going on when the pastors ‘reappeared’. But the pastors of course had no idea their congregation had moved.

Our Lord of course knew, and He Himself arranged and rearranged everything according to His purposes. While the underground believers’ Friday prayer and fasting session would have normally drawn to a close by 3:00 p.m., this one continued many more hours, on into the night.

Both pastors’ wives and children had been sick with desperation when the men disappeared two weeks ago. Now of course they, and all who gather with them, are overjoyed.

Please pray for both families, and the believers who meet with them. The pastors want to specially thank all who have been praying for them, and know that it is only because of prayer that our Lord so mightily intervened.

____________________ 
* Names changed for security reasons
** the umbrella organization for Bibles for Mideast churches
*** We can’t know if this was a deception to tempt the pastors, or if the imam did have the authority to offer the positions since many religious leaders in the Middle East do have high influence in government.

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Muslim terrorist moves from death and destruction to Life and healing

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Radical Hindus destroy historic Babri Mosque: AFP (1992)

Radical Hindus destroy historic Babri Mosque: AFP (1992)

Ameen* decided as a teenager, back in 1992, to join the forces of Islamic terror. Radical Hindu nationalists had just destroyed the historic Babri Mosque in northern India (they believed the 16th-century mosque stood where one of their most revered Hindu deities had been born).**

After completing his training, Ameen became commander of a terrorist group with the main objective of destroying both Hindu temples and Christian churches—along with their priests, ministers and worshipers. 

Once while attempting to attack a major Hindu temple, a surprise counter-attack by Hindu militants forced them to flee. Ameen suffered serious gun-shot wounds and needed to be carried away by his fellow terrorists. They administered first-aid but he subsequently fell into a coma. Thinking they’d failed in their efforts to save him, they left his body alone in a field.

A few hours later, a passerby noticed him lying there. Thinking him dead, they approached the body and on checking more carefully, discovered a pulse. They immediately called police, who rushed him to hospital. There, doctors managed to revive and save him.

Police suspected he might be a terrorist and questioned him, but could not get him to reveal his true identity, let alone betray his friends. So he remained under police surveillance in the hospital.

Pastor Paul and a gospel team of Bibles for Mideast ‘just happened’ to be in the same hospital a few days later. They secured permission from the police to visit Ameen, and found him slowly recovering from his injuries.

The missionaries told the wounded terrorist about Jesus, how He is the author of life and death. They then shared their own dramatic testimonies, and explained how Jesus was crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and rose from the dead. The visitors assured him that anyone who believes in Jesus will gain eternal life. Ameen listened to their words, but didn’t respond. So the gospel team prayed for him before leaving the hospital.  

According to the anti-terrorist act then in place in India, Ameen was sentenced to prison without bail. He remained there for years without legal assistance. Two years ago, 24 years after being imprisoned, he was finally set free.

Another ‘God-incidence’

Prisoners with their new bibles

Prisoners with their new bibles

But before Ameen’s release, Pastor Paul ‘just happened’ to meet him while there on prison ministry. Ameen was friendly to him, attended the gospel meeting held inside the jail, listened attentively to the message presented, and received a Bible when they were handed out to prisoners. He even asked for Pastor Paul’s mobile phone number.

Then, just last month, Ameen called Pastor Paul in extreme anxiety. He and his family members all wanted to meet with him for prayer.

“When I call on the name of Jesus, I feel relief whenever I’m desperate,” Ameen explained over the phone. “But I do not know what to do more. If possible, kindly come to me, give me needed guidance and pray for me and my family."

Pastor Paul prayed about the request, and asked the church and several others to pray for the Lord's guidance. 

Days later, all spent in fervent prayer, he traveled 18 hours to meet Ameen and his family. Two other ALG (Assembly of Loving God) church pastors joined him on the mission trip.

They finally arrived at Ameen’s house to find a most unwell 46-year-old. He could barely walk, needing the help of his brother’s children to get around. With no wife or children, his younger brother, their elderly mother and his brother’s family—all firm believers in Islam—took care of him.

Ameen happily greeted the pastors when they arrived. The visitors shared the gospel with him and the family. But his younger brother took offence at their presence and their message, and began shouting angrily at them. He wanted them out of his house, NOW! Ameen pleaded with him, explaining the men were there because he had asked them to come.

Neighbours, hearing the commotion, came over to investigate. Soon community leaders and the Imam of the local mosque got wind of the Christian visitors and arrived to voice disapproval and argue with them.

“I politely explained to them about Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross,” Pastor Paul relates. “But with great anger, the Imam slapped me on the cheek.” 

Seeing the Imam slap the kindly pastor, Ameen felt wretched and cried out in grief.

Pastor Paul reached out to hold Ameen’s hands, then wiped away his tears and tried to console him. He and his fellow pastors then knelt down before the Lord in front of the family, and prayed for further guidance.

Ameen's brother never imagined the Imam would slap Pastor Paul. He also of course couldn’t help but be moved by Ameen's sorrowful outburst and the Christians’ kneeling prayers. So he turned against the Imam and the community leaders. The brothers’ elderly mother also shouted at the Imam and other leaders, ordering them out of the house.

When they’d all gone and quiet returned, Ameen's brother with the rest of the family apologized to Pastor Paul, asking his forgiveness.

“We consoled all of them and shared the sufferings of our Lord,” the Bibles for Mideast director explains.

“After that, they all sat before us and listened to the Word of God. Some neighboring people also participated. That same day everyone of that house accepted Lord Jesus Christ as their personal savior and Lord.”

And that very night, Ameen dreamt that Jesus touched and healed him. When he awoke—and without anyone's help—he got up, walked, and then ran around the house. His brother also had a dream of the glory of Jesus.

Please praY FOR aMEEN, HIS FAMILY, AND THE NEW UNDERGROUND CHURCH

Please praY FOR aMEEN, HIS FAMILY, AND THE NEW UNDERGROUND CHURCH

The pastors stayed four days and nights in the family’s tiny, impoverished home. With only one room plus a kitchen and a veranda attached to the front of the house, the family had no furniture: no tables or chairs, not even cots to sleep on.

“We all were happy to spend more time for prayers and sharing the Word of God,” says Pastor Paul. “We pastors slept in the room with Ameen on floor mats. The other men slept in the veranda, and the women slept in the kitchen.”

The second day of their visit, more people joined in their times of prayer. On the third day, a number of villagers attended and accepted the Lord Jesus as their savior.

By the fourth day, a new church was born! They held a worship service, and Pastor Mujib, who had been working in another area, is now in charge of the newborn ministry..

Please pray for him, the new believers, and the ongoing work in this area.

We also ask that you remember the dire situation in Indonesia after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. With millions affected and the death toll at 1,400 and rising, relief efforts have been slow to come. Bibles for Mideast has pastors and evangelists working in Indonesia, and a number of underground churches with between 12 and 20 members each. By God’s grace all are safe but needs—both practical and for prayer—are huge.

____________________________
Name changed for security reasons
** The religious site where the Babri Mosque was destroyed in 1992 in the northern Indian town of Ayodhya has been a flashpoint between Hindus and Muslims for years and has sparked recurring episodes of violence.

Boy’s dramatic dream of wounded lamb leads to salvation of his Islamic terrorist father

Report from Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church

After a brutal attack by Islamic extremists last week, Pastor Peter Haneef (President of the ALG Church), by God’s grace and the prayers of His people, is recovering. He had been ministering in Bangladesh when, in the middle of the night, radicals burst into the place where he and his young family were staying (Brutal attack on ALG Church leader Pastor Peter Haneef and family in Bangladesh).

Underground church members rushed him first to a nearby hospital where he was refused admission, then transported him hours away to another hospital.  With several broken bones and severe blood loss, he had by then lost consciousness. In need of major surgery, believers donated blood and stayed on hand to pray him through the operation. They rented a room in a neighboring lodge and began a prayer vigil. Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast arrived at the hospital to visit with Pastor Peter and his family, later joining with the others for all-night prayer at the lodge.  

lamb emerging from darkness loer2.jpg

In the meantime, Khani*—who had led the attack on Pastor Peter and his family—began having serious troubles at home. His 16-year-old son dreamt one night that a joyful little lamb entered their house, but his father grabbed a knife and tried to kill it. Injured, the lamb managed to escape.

Within a few minutes, the boy saw a mob of giants—resembling an army from some other planet—hurry towards their house.  Furious and with round, reddish eyes, they breathed fire from their mouths and nostrils. They clearly intended to destroy the whole village, particularly his house and every one in it with some kind of strange, extraordinary weapon, the boy marvelled. The wounded lamb appeared instantaneously and stood between the monstrous army and his house. Alone, it successfully fought off the angry giants. It then gazed mournfully at the boy’s household before disappearing. He couldn’t help noticing blood oozing from its wounds.

When the dream ended, Khani’s son got up. Still reeling from what he saw, he began begging his father to get back the little lamb. “Why did you persecute and try to kill it?” he asked angrily. “It was coming to save us! Bring it back please!”

His father, mother and others in the home had no idea what he was talking about. They finally realized he must have had a disturbing dream and tried to calm him. But the boy’s pleas only intensified. Now shaking uncontrollably, he began screaming for the lamb. His fever rose dangerously throughout the day; by evening his concerned parents took him to hospital. Pneumonia began setting in but doctors could find no reason nor offer any relief. Within two days his legs were paralyzed.  Their imam visited the boy and prayed over him, but nothing changed.

A few neighboring women came to visit the sick boy in hospital. Two were secret believers, attending an underground ALG Church in the area and taking part in prayer and fasting services when they could.  They explained to the boy’s mother that his ailments must be due to what his father and the other attackers had done to the innocent pastor. “Go and see the pastor,” they advised her.  “Confess before him so your son can be cured.”

The boy’s mother implored her husband to go find the pastor as soon as possible, for their son’s sake. Khani however had no idea whether the man had survived, and if he did, where he might be. But his wife wouldn’t give up her desperate pleas. If he went to where the church leader had been staying and he was no longer there, others nearby would know something, she felt certain. But Khani remained uneasy, especially about the prospect of facing the pastor and his people. The secretly Christian women insisted he had nothing to be concerned about.

“They are such loving people,” they assured him. “They teach God’s love only and never stay angry. If you see them, they will pray for your son and he will be healed.”

Within seconds, Khani left the hospital to go to where the pastor had been staying. Several church members were meeting for prayer there with Pastor John Asghar, a Bibles for Mideast minister who had stepped in to lead while Pastor Peter recovered.

Fear gripped the believers when they saw Khani … until he began to speak. He politely and humbly asked them about Pastor Peter, then burst into tears like a child.  At Pastor John’s request, he explained everything. The pastor told him about the major surgery ongoing, necessary due to the attack.

Absolutely miserable by now, Khani asked forgiveness of all of them. Pastor John and the others invited him to sit with them for prayer. As they began to pray for his son, they felt Holy Spirit moving mightily. Pastor John heard the Lord tell him to go with Khani to see his boy in the hospital. 

He then explained why and how the Lord Jesus was crucified, died and rose from the dead. He shared his testimony of converting to Christianity from Islam, and how Pastor Peter converted [that story here: From radical Islamic murderer to ardent leader in the Kingdom of Jesus].

“If you accept Jesus as your personal savior and Lord, He will surely save you and your family from sin and death,” he assured Khani. “Certainly your son will be cured by the healing power of Jesus Christ.”  

Khani went along with what they said, and did as they suggested, but apparently not fully convinced.  Led by the Holy Spirit, the pastor and three of the other believers accompanied him to visit the boy in hospital. They found him lying sedated and motionless.  

lamb with scripture red blood of Christ.jpg

Pastor John took out his Bible and read Isaiah 53. They all then sang several verses of a song before joining hands to pray over the boy. As they did, his legs began shaking intensely and he opened his eyes. He tried to sit up, so the men reached out to help him.

“The little lamb came to me again and washed me with the blood coming out of its wounds!” he exclaimed. “After that, it transformed into a man with blood-stains on his hands, chest and legs. Then he told me he is Jesus Christ, and was crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and rose from the dead for my salvation. He asked me to believe in him as my Lord and Savior. Then he disappeared.” The boy rose from his bed and took a few steps, his legs now fully functional. “I believe Lord Jesus Christ!” he cried.

Khani stood dumbfounded. Weeping now, he reached out to embrace Pastor John. “Forgive me for my unbelief!” he exclaimed. “Now I fully believe in Jesus Christ and I accept Him as my Lord and Savior.”

The third day after his son’s dramatic healing, Khani and his family attended Sunday worship at Pastor Peter’s church (currently led by Pastor John).  He shared his testimony, and immediately afterwards, his wife and their other children joined him in accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord. Once the meeting ended, he and his family made the long drive to visit Pastor Peter in hospital.

Khani reached out to gently touch the injured pastor’s legs and begged forgiveness.

“My dear brother,” Pastor Peter replied. He then invited the former terrorist to sit by his side and prayed for him. 

Khani says that he will share his experiences with his friends, and hopes to convince them of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for the salvation of all. This will be a dangerous undertaking, so please pray for his protection and success.

Please also pray for Pastor Peter’s complete recovery; that he will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit to lead the church even more powerfully than ever. Keep the believers and other workers in your prayers as well.

_____________
*pseudonym

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.

Saved first from Islam, then by a giant bird of prey from Islamic extremists

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church

Fadila* and her husband Al Rafeeq*, both former Muslims, serve in the Middle East as volunteer evangelists with Bibles for Mideast.

Fadila, once a strong devotee of Islam, converted to Christianity through the miraculous healing of her bedridden mother. As a result of that dramatic healing, she, her parents and siblings all accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and began regularly attending an ALG underground church in their area.  

As we reported two years ago in our first story about Fadila (Bedridden Arab Muslim woman healed by Jesus; she and her family now believe), her father’s second wife and her children by him—Fadila’s half-siblings—became hostile to the new Christians in the family and even threatened to call religious authorities. While her father came to faith in Christ as well, he kept it quiet out of fear of possible reprisal from the threats of this other wife.

But Fadila, along with her brothers and sisters, regularly prayed for their step-mother, and if opportunity arose, would try to talk to her about the salvation possible only in Jesus.

When one of the second wife’s younger children developed a severe fever with seizures. Fadila prayed over the little girl, and immediately she was healed. So the woman, no longer able to deny the power and reality of Christianity, finally accepted Jesus as her personal savior. Her young children all readily followed her into the Kingdom.

This emboldened Fadila to share her testimony and the gospel message with many of her friends and relatives. When possible, she would also join some missionaries for Bibles for Mideast in her area, distributing bibles and sample gospels.

One of her distant relatives, a young man named Al Rafeeq, grew increasingly furious as all the members of Fadila’s household converted.  Unfazed, she went out of her way to meet with Rafeeq and at least try to share the gospel message with him.

He not only refused to listen, but ordered her to ‘get lost!’—as she had done when Christian pastors several years earlier visited her home to pray for her mother. Still, out of both stubbornness and perseverance, she refused to give up. And many visits later, she did finally persuade him of his need for salvation. Fadila brought him to her pastor, who gave him further instructions in God’s Word, will and ways. Finally, convicted and convinced, he accepted Jesus as his own personal Lord and savior.

The bond between Fadila and Rafeeq grew and soon blossomed into love. Not long ago, they married in an ALG church with the full support and participation of her household and other new believers. The newlyweds now volunteer with Bibles for Mideast, doing personal evangelism and distributing bibles to many of their fellow Arabs in the Middle East.

Their path together has been short so far, but treacherous. They have been threatened numerous times, even with death. Still they refuse to worry, completely trusting and believing, they say, in the powerful, mighty protection of their Lord Jesus Christ.

Two weeks ago, as they walked home late one evening after visiting and sharing the gospel with a neighbour, three masked men suddenly jumped from the darkness and attacked them.

A furious falcon attacking university researchers (who were trying to tag their young) in the US. [Photo courtesy Caters News Agency]

A furious falcon attacking university researchers (who were trying to tag their young) in the US. [Photo courtesy Caters News Agency]

“Jesus, save us! Jesus save us!” Rafeeq and Fadila screamed.

The words of their cries provoked the attackers even more.  While one man aimed his rifle at Rafeek, the other two attempted to rape Fadila.

“JESUS!!!” the couple screamed again.

A giant falcon-like bird swooped out of seemingly nowhere.  It first attacked the man holding the rifle, and then lunged at the other two with its beak and talons. All three attackers ran for their lives. 

Just as swiftly, the bird disappeared. Rafeeq and Fadila say they have never seen such a bird before—close to four times larger than a common falcon. They have absolutely no doubt their awesome Jesus saved and rescued them from certain harm. They fell to their knees on the spot, praising and thanking the Lord for his mighty deliverance. 

Please keep them and their ministry in your prayers!

____________________________
names changed for security reasons

Saved from Islam and suicide by a raging river

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church

Asmath*, born and brought up in a predominantly Muslim country in central Asia, never met her natural father. Five months before she was born, her father divorced her mother and left the family home. When she was only three, her mother re-married, but her stepfather refused to accept her as his own. So she was handed over to a Yateem Khana (orphanage). She grew up there according to the tenets of Islam, and learned to practice all the required rituals.

Girls at a Yateem Khana (representational image)

Girls at a Yateem Khana (representational image)

When she reached the age of 20, a much-older man asked the orphanage if he could marry the young woman. Even though the 60-year old had other wives and children older than Asmath, the orphanage officials told her she had little choice but to marry him. After so many years of isolation and loneliness, she decided to go along with the proposal.

But the man had a heart condition, and died within two months of their marriage. With the funeral service barely over, his children forced her to leave their home, saying it was no longer hers.

So she decided to put an end to her life of misery. She found what seemed like the perfect way: leaping from a tall bridge into a deep river flowing below.

In a village near the banks of the same river, miles downstream, many Muslim families had accepted Jesus Christ into their lives under the ministry of an underground Bibles for Mideast ALG church in their area. The villagers, including the church’s leader Pastor Hamad* and his family, live in mud houses with no modern conveniences. The river banks serve for most of their ‘primary needs’, and Pastor Hamad baptizes new believers in the same river. He always conducts early-morning baptismal services to avoid the spying eyes of authorities and radical Muslim neighbors.

Early one morning, as church members prepared for another of these exciting services, they noticed the body of a young woman lying submerged near the shore of the river. Running to drag her body out of the water, they discovered she was still breathing, but barely.

As onlookers prayed, Pastor Hamad pushed and released her chest and stomach until water began gushing from her mouth. He then breathed into her as others rubbed her feet and palms to warm her up.

She gradually began breathing more easily, opened her eyes and began to talk. They learned how far upriver she had jumped to her death, and realized that only the Lord could have protected her and brought her to them. With the believers joining in, the pastor prayed over her.

He then gave a short gospel message to all gathered around, explaining the salvation possible only in Jesus Christ and the importance of baptism. He then baptized five people, with Asmath intently listening to and watching all that went on.

When the service ended, they brought her back with them to their church, where they participated in a joyful Lord’s Supper as she continued to observe.

That night, Jesus came to Asmath in a dream.

“Fear not. I am your Lord and God,” he said to her. “I am the only one who can be your very present help in trouble. And I am the life and resurrection.”

Then he showed her his nail-pierced hands.  “See, I have suffered this for you,” he said. “for I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. Have faith in me.”

She knew that it had to have been the Lord Jesus who had rescued her and now offered her new life. The next day she shared her dream—as well as her story—to the pastor, and accepted Jesus as her personal savior and Lord.

Asmath now studies the word of God and helps out with the ministries of the church. She recently asked to be baptised, and just last week she was!

Believers in Asmath’s country attend underground churches and worship as secretly as possible due to severe persecution. Accusations of blasphemy happen regularly and mean dire punishment or death. And it’s not only government officials they fear; terrorist groups war against Christians there as well.

Please pray for Asmath, for all the underground ALG churches and the ministries of Bibles for Mideast.

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* Names changed for security reasons

A Muslim love story: first with Jesus, then each other, and now the world around them

Islamic teacher Davood* worked for years training children in the Koran at a religious school attached to a mosque in Africa. One day, he discovered a student with a gospel tract. Infuriated, he demanded to know where the fellow had gotten it. Someone had handed it to him as he walked to school, the boy explained. Snatching the leaflet from him, Davood warned him to never accept such foolish writings from anyone ever again.

But he held onto the tract, intending to show it to the mosque’s religious leaders. They absolutely must find out who was distributing the literature and, if he had anything to say about, punish them severely.

Since he wasn’t able to meet any of the leaders when school finished, he headed back to his home. Getting ready for bed that night, he again noticed the tract. He might as well see what nonsense they were writing, he figured, and read it through.

When he got to the part about there being “salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” something—he wasn’t sure what—struck him and stuck in his mind.

That night Jesus—whom Muslims recognize as a great prophet and messenger of God—came to him in a dream.

“I am the way and the truth and the life,” he announced to Davood. “No one comes to the Heavenly Father except through me.”

As morning dawned the Muslim man had another look at the gospel tract, and finding a contact number on the back, called it. Pastor Musthafa with Bibles for Mideast in Africa answered [an earlier story about Pastor Musthafa here: The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for others]. Soon Davood had many of his questions answered and was led in a prayer to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

Meanwhile, in another part of Africa, young Minoo* lived with her parents, seven sisters and four brothers in a poor but fanatically Islamic household. 

“I wanted to go to school and college,” she explains, “but my parents directed me to go to work on farms before I was 12.”  

Because of the heavy labor and intermingling with other workers, she contracted HIV, which developed into full-blown AIDS several years later.

tHE FATE OF MANY EBOLA SUFFERERS [gETTY IMAGES, LIBERIA)

tHE FATE OF MANY EBOLA SUFFERERS [gETTY IMAGES, LIBERIA)

“I was in severe pain, but doctors refused to treat me,” she remembers.  “My friends and relatives were also afraid to visit me.” With no medical treatment, other members of her family also contracted HIV, and then all were infected by the Ebola virus when it later raged though West Africa.

With neighbors refusing to visit or help in any way, and with little to eat and drink, the family began to waste away physically and emotionally. Minoo decided to put an end to her misery.

“I collected some poisonous fruits to end my life,” she explains, but her attempt failed.

Pastors and workers with Bibles for Mideast learned of the sad and dying family, and, ignoring the warnings of others in the community, brought them food and clothes. They also fasted and prayed for three days for the family.

“The Lord Jesus revealed to us to visit the family and pray for them,” Pastor Paul explains, so he and Pastor Musthafa visited, bringing more food and clothes. When neighbors reiterated the warnings of certain death if they went in the home, they stood firm.

“We are going to that house in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the living Lord and Savior and mighty healer,” they told the naysayers. “If it is His will they all will be healed and saved, and you all will see it with your own eyes.”

The pastors found the family to be “like skeleton people,” Pastor Paul recalls. The men knelt down in the power of the Holy Spirit, while some family members gathered in front of them. Minoo and several others lay on their beds, unable to get up.

aS hE DID THEN, HE DOES NOW!

aS hE DID THEN, HE DOES NOW!

When the pastors began praying, “the power of Jesus’ victorious life-giving blood poured out on each in the family like electricity,” Pastor Paul recounts. Screaming, Minoo jumped to her feet and began dancing around.

“Glory to Jesus!” she cried, praising and thanking the Lord. Others stood to their feet, all experiencing the almighty awesomeness of God. They then knelt in His powerful Presence. The pastors shared the gospel with them, and each accepted the Lord Jesus as personal Savior and Lord.

Within days they had recovered their physical health, and grown leaps and bounds spiritually. But new trials began. The Muslim community they lived in insisted they reject their faith in Jesus as Savior, but with new-found strength and boldness, they held on. One night some radical neighbors set fire to their house, intending to kill all of them. The family managed to escape, and fled the region.

Minoo’s strong desire for higher studies finally found fulfillment as she went deep into the Word of God, and with the help of Bibles for Mideast, went on to university.

Before going, she began preparing for baptism with, unknown to her, her future husband—yes, Davood!—as a fellow candidate. They were baptized together by Pastor Musthafa, but only later, while studying at the same university, did they get to really know each other and fall in love.

Davood learned of her unfortunate past but did not let that get in the way of his desire to marry her. Pastor Paul officiated at their marriage and now, several years later, they have a young girl and infant boy. They lead an underground church, as well as evangelize Muslims in their area and distribute bibles. Please pray God’s protection, provision and guidance for this young couple, their church and their ministry … as well as for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast as a whole.

____________________________
*names changed for security reasons

Minoo Hussain reported several earlier stories for us: The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for othersand God restores and redeems: an astounding update of attack on the African church.

The religious component of Islam? Nothing but a ‘beard’ covering an all-encompassing system of life

The strong opinion voiced in our title comes from a man who understands the ‘system of Islam’ better than most. A pioneer missionary in and to some of the worst war zones in the world, Dr. Peter Hammond was born and raised in Africa. For 35 years he has served persecuted churches and pioneered evangelistic outreaches into Mozambique, Angola, Rwanda, Congo and Nigeria.

Peter has smuggled in and distributed hundreds of thousands of Bibles, New Testaments and Christian books into Muslim and communist nations, as well as helping establish over 100 Christian schools and numerous Bible colleges throughout Africa. Beaten by mobs, stabbed, shot at, arrested, ambushed, come under aerial and artillery bombardment, imprisoned and tortured for Christ—he  is one of our heroes and will surely go into the history books as a soldier of our faith. 

Islam book cover 1.jpg

 “Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components,” he writes in his most famous and controversial book, Slavery, Terrorism and Islam. What he refers to as the ‘Islamization’ of a society begins when the population of Muslims reaches a critical mass, and they then being to agitate for various privileges.

“When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well,” he notes. You can see how it works, according to Dr. Hammond, by looking at the percentage of Muslims in a particular country. We have updated his statistics and moved the countries around a bit to fit current available estimates.

When the Muslim population remains under or around 2-3% in a country, they will be seen primarily as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the current situation in: 

United States — Muslim 0.9%
China — Muslim 1.8%
Italy — Muslim 2.3%
Australia — Muslim 2.6 %
Canada — Muslim 3.2%
Norway — Muslim 2-4%

As the Muslim population reaches 4-5%, they begin to recruit from ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, within prisons and street gangs. This is happening in:

Denmark — Muslim 4.1%
Germany — Muslim 4.4-5.8%
Spain — Muslim 4.1%
United Kingdom — Muslim 4.8%

“From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population,” Dr. Hammond notes. “For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food” and increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature such food on their shelves—along with threats for failure to comply. This is happening in: 

Sweden — Muslim 5%
Switzerland — Muslim 5%
The Netherlands — Muslim 5-6%
Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%
Thailand — Muslim 5.8%
France — Muslim 7.5%
Philippines — Muslim 5-11%

Soon they begin to apply pressure to allow Sharia law within their own communities (sometimes ghettos). “When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions,” Dr. Hammond notes. These tensions are seen on a regular basis in: 

Russia — Muslim 6.5-15%
Kenya — Muslim 10%
India — Muslim 14.2%
Israel — Muslim 17.7%

The violence increases when the Muslim population reaches 20%. After that, “nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues,” such as in Ethiopia (34% Muslim).

“At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare,” such as in: 

Bosnia — Muslim 50.7%
Albania — Muslim 56.7%
Chad — Muslim 58%
Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

Above 60%, persecution of non-believing ‘infidels’ rises significantly, including sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia law as a weapon, and Jizya, a tax placed on infidels, such as in:

Malaysia — Muslim 61.4%
Qatar — Muslim 77.5%

After 80%, Dr. Hammond says to expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some state-run ethnic cleansing, and even genocide as these nations drive out those they consider non-believers and move toward a 100% Muslim society. A close to 100% Muslim society will theoretically usher in the Islamic version of peace, the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ according to Dr. Hammond. “Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrassas are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word.” The following countries all approach 100% Islamization:

Riots in Pakistan, 2013

Riots in Pakistan, 2013

Syria — Muslim 82.9%
Indonesia — Muslim 87.2%
Egypt — Muslim 90%
Bangladesh — Muslim 90.4%
Jordan — Muslim 93.8%
Pakistan — Muslim 96.4%
Tajikistan — Muslim 96.7%
Sudan — Muslim 97%
Palestinian Territories — Muslim 97.5%
Turkey — Muslim 98.6%
Iraq — Muslim 99%
Morocco — Muslim 99%
Iran — Muslim 99.7%
United Arab Emirates — Muslim 100% of citizens (85% of the population are foreign workers. While no official figures are available, local observers estimate that approximately 55 % of the foreign population are Muslim.)
Afghanistan — Muslim 99.8%
Saudi Arabia — Muslim 97.1%
Somalia — Muslim 98.9%
Yemen — Muslim 99%

Obviously the ‘Islamic ideal’ can never be realized. In countries at or near 100% Muslim population, “the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons,” observes Dr. Hammond.

“It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations—such as France—the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia law,” he states. “In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam.”

Dr. Hammond is also concerned by demographic trends, and the Muslim population has grown dramatically since he wrote his book. Estimates vary, but as of 2015, the Pew Research Center estimates there to be about 1.8 billion Muslims in the world; nearly one-fourth of the world’s population today.  Since their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers, all predictions have Muslims exceeding 50% of the world’s population by the end of this century.

____________________________
Dr. Peter Hammond is the Founder of Frontline Fellowship, the Reformation Society, Africa Christian Action and the William Carey Bible Institute. His other books include: In the Killing Fields of Mozambique, Holocaust In Rwanda, Faith Under Fire in Sudan, Putting Feet to your Faith, The Greatest Century of Missions, Practical Discipleship, Answering Skeptics, The Power of Prayer Handbook, Biblical Principles for Africa and Victorious Christians who Changed the World.

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MOST IMPORTANTLY, let's not forget the Good News!
Like here: Conversions in the millions: Muslims tasting the love of Jesus and embracing Christianity all over the globe, and many other places on this site and others. We know who wins in the end.

Dead Imam comes alive during burial preparations; a year and a half later, he heads up a newborn church!

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Munaf Ali*, 46, had served faithfully as Imam and preacher at his Middle Eastern mosque for years. On one fateful day in March of 2016, the Bibles for Mideast gospel team decided to pay him a visit. As they chatted, the topic of Jesus and the Bible naturally came up. The imam heatedly denied both the divinity of Christ and the credibility of the Christian Bible. He angrily rejected their offer of a sample gospel and proceeded to curse the missionaries.

He then formulated a plan of assault. Gathering a mob of fanatics, he led them in an effort to attack the gospel team. With shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ (Arabic for ‘Allah is Greater’—Ed.], they arrived at the site they’d heard the group met at. Fortunately, by God’s leading, the team had decided to meet elsewhere.

A few days later, the imam was on his way back to his home after the Friday afternoon Juma Namaz (ritual prayers) at the mosque. Suddenly overcome by faintness, he fell to the ground. As he slipped into unconsciousness, he witnessed demons arriving on the scene—intent, he says, on taking his soul.

“Get lost, you cursed demons of Allah!” he yelled at them as best he could. “You have no right to take my soul!” 

“No,” they responded. "It is our right to take your life.” He says they then forcefully “took his soul.”

As the demons turned to leave, Jesus himself suddenly appeared, Munaf reports, flanked by a vast array of angels. The demons fled in terror.

"Listen, my son," Jesus said to Munaf. "The first Adam disobeyed God and sinned against Him under the pressure of Satan. The gates of heaven were shut down because of his sin.

“I am the second Adam, the Word of God and Messiah Jesus, Son of the Most High. I was born of the Virgin Mary as a sinless Son of Man to redeem the first Adam and all of his descendants—including you—from sin and death. I was crucified and died as a ransom for all for your sins, to make you a child of God and citizen of heaven."

"I rose from the dead and opened the gates of heaven to bring you to eternal glory. Have faith in me and be my witness. I give you your life back, for I have the authority to give life."

Imam.jpg

When Munaf opened his eyes, he became aware of his sons and other close relatives laying out his body on a table, preparing to wash and cover it for burial. A huge crowd attended the washing and shrouding ceremony, an Islamic necessity before burial.

All were absolutely astonished as he suddenly got up from the washing table.

He tried to explain to them what he had just experienced. He’d been dead, he said, and demons had done their best to try to take his soul. But Messiah Jesus had come and given him his life back!

Most of those listening thought he’d lost his sanity. Surely he’d hit his head on a stone while he’d fallen. Others wondered whether evil spirits now possessed him.

In the days that followed, Munaf talked about Jesus to his family and to anyone who visited him. His family members believed what he said and accepted Jesus as their savior and Lord. But the community insisted he needed psychiatric help, and dismissed him from the mosque.

As persecution against him and his family increased, they were forced to leave their home and country.

But God! Munaf went on to be a powerful evangelist working alongside Bibles for Mideast, winning many to the Lord. Two of his children now study the word of God. Just last week a new ALG house church was established under his leadership, holding their very first worship service on Sunday.

Please pray for Munaf Ali, his family, and the new church; that our Lord would continue to protect, guide and provide for them as they work to further God's Kingdom in areas hostile to the Gospel.

____________________________
*name changed for security reasons

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]

From radical Islamic murderer to ardent leader in the Kingdom of Jesus

Peter Haneef, now President of Bibles for Mideast's Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church, grew up in a fanatic Muslim family in a predominantly Islamic Asian country. For reasons that should become obvious in his story below, we cannot share his real name, nationality or location for his and his family’s safety.

“I was strict to follow Islamic rituals and cultures,” he explains. As he grew in his extremist beliefs, he wouldn’t think of associating with anyone from other faiths. “I hated them from my boyhood,” he admits.

One day, he heard about a young Muslim fellow from his area who had become Christian. So he decided to round up seven of his friends and take vengeance on the apostate. They attacked the new convert while he walked to his church on a Sunday morning, brutally stabbing him to death.

“Before he died, I was shocked to see him start praying,” Pastor Peter recalls. The words of the prayer stunned him even more.

“Lord Jesus, receive my life in your hands,” he heard him pray. “I praise you Lord for giving me an eternal home with you in heaven. But Lord, show these friends your forgiving love and great salvation. Bring them unto your fold, so that they may know that you are the resurrection and the life. Amen.” Then he died.

“We laughed at his nonsense, spat on his dead body and threw away our knives. We believed he would surely go to hell as a kafir [Arabic for infidel or unbeliever—Ed.]. The leaders of our mosque appreciated our action. But the police arrested all of us that night.” 

“Because we did it for the sake of Allah and his religion Islam, we thought certainly Allah will save us from all troubles and the religious leaders will stand behind us.”

The court had other ideas. Three of the murderers, Pastor Peter included, received the death penalty. Four others were sentenced to life imprisonment in another jail, while the youngest, a teenager, was sent to a prison for juvenile offenders.

The leaders of the mosque offered no help whatsoever. They refused to get involved with the case, and did not even try to visit their loyal Muslim brothers. The men’s parents decided to try jointly filing an appeal to the higher court.

“The higher court changed our execution order to lifetime imprisonment,” Pastor Peter explains.  “The others now got seven years imprisonment.”

While their outlooks seemed less bleak, the men still lost all hope. Their parents filed another petition to the higher court, but the sentences remained unchanged.

Two years dragged by, and the men found themselves haunted by thoughts and dreams of their victim’s last words. Pastor Haneef’s parents died, only adding to his agony.

One day, several Bibles for Mideast missionaries visited his jail as part of their prison ministry. They arranged a meeting in the recreation hall, and the jailer requested the murderers’ attendance.

With no intention to listen or respond in any way, the men filed into the meeting room. But as Pastor Paul, director of the ministry, shared the dramatic story of his own conversion from Islam they found themselves unable to block out his powerful words. 

“Usually we would have been violent and try to attack him because he was a convert from Islam,” Pastor Haneef explains. “But we did not feel any anger towards him!” That was their first surprise.

When the meeting ended, the three approached Pastor Paul, introduced themselves, and then spilled out the story of their crime. They explained they knew they would never be released from jail, and were equally certain they’d end up in hell. 

Pastor Paul listened quietly. With tears in his eyes, he told them the murdered man had been one of his best friends, a convert to Christianity with the help of his own mission organization. The men were shaken.

“Now he is with our Lord Jesus in heaven praising Him forever,” Pastor Paul explained. “You can go to heaven too, if you really confess before our Lord and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour. He is able to free you from jail, and also from sin and death. He was crucified, died and then rose from the dead for your salvation.”

Practically as one, the three convicts responded to the invitation and accepted Jesus as their saving Lord.

“Then he asked us to kneel down,” recalls Pastor Peter. “He and the other missionaries laid their hands on our heads and prayed for us.  Surprisingly, we all felt great peace.”

That night, Jesus appeared before Pastor Peter.

“I am the light of the world,” he heard Jesus say to him. “Whoever walks in my light will not go to the darkness. Follow me. And you will certainly be free, for I, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, give you freedom. Those who believe in me will have eternal life.”

“He touched me with His nail-pierced hands, and then disappeared,” Pastor Peter remembers with awe.

The other two men, remarkably, had matching experiences that night.

doves from chain final hi res.jpg

“On the third day, as a miracle we heard that the court ordered to release us from the jail! It was absolutely a miracle. We never thought we would ever be out of jail. Indeed Lord Jesus freed us.” 

The other four men were freed the same day from the jail they’d been in. When the new converts shared their experiences with their newly-released friends, they too accepted Jesus into their lives as savior and Lord.

Unfortunately, the men’s families and friends responded entirely differently. Pastor Haneef’s younger brother had by then become owner of the family home, but would not allow his now-Christian brother to enter. The others had similar experiences. All were rejected by their families and communities for their new faith, and had no idea where to go or what to do.

Pastor Paul had a vision from the Lord about their predicament. He contacted them, and invited them to his own small rental home.  All were soon baptized, and stayed with him for about two months. Pastor Paul arranged for the men to receive bible training, and helped them find another house to live in while they studied.

“We had no leave in Bible School for we had nowhere to go,” Pastor Peter recounts. “Four or five days in a month we had a mission trip with Pastor Paul. We learned midnight prayer from him. We adopted it. It is a great asset for our spiritual strength and ministry. After Sunday worship we conducted corner meetings. We got best training there!”

Nine years later, he is married to a fellow former Muslim and has two children. He works diligently as an evangelist and church planter with Bibles for Mideast and leads the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) umbrella organization

All seven of his fellow prisoners work with Bibles for Mideast as well. The man who had been in juvenile detention had been released before them, and unfortunately remains an enemy of Christ and of them.

“We suffer many persecutions, but Lord Jesus strengthens us by the prayers of many children of God,” says Pastor Peter.

Please pray for him, the work of the ministry and for the many desperately needing to discover the truth and peace possible only in Jesus. 

From Hindu priestly family to daughter of the King of Kings

Report: Pastor Peter Haneef,  Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church

Athira (not her real name) grew up in a grew up in a Hindu Brahmin (priestly) family in south Asia [Brahmin are the highest of the four Hindu castes; their traditional occupation being the spiritual guidance of people—Ed.].  She dutifully followed and practiced the ways of Hinduism throughout her youth, performing the ritual prayers and worshiping  various idols and deities. 

Once she reached university, Athira became best friends with the daughter of a Bibles for Mideast missionary. As a New Year’s gift, the friend presented her with a bible. Unimpressed, the young Hindu woman nonetheless accepted it because of their friendship. But the bible lay unread under the growing pile of her many other books. 
 
One night, she had a dream where she saw Jesus standing in the midst of a wall of fire, asking her to follow Him. On waking, she knew there had to be connection between the man in her dream and the book her friend had given her. She reached beneath her pile of books, fishing around till she found it. 

Opening it, she read: “There is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
 
The next morning, she shared her experience with her Christian friend. The friend took the opportunity to tell her all she could about the good news of the Gospel. 

“He came to save all humanity from sin and death through his crucifixion, death and resurrection,” she explained lovingly. “He is the Lord of the whole universe!  We will be saved if we believe in Him and follow Him.” 

Athira believed her friend, and prayed with her to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as her personal savior and Lord. She began attending worship services at a local Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church. Soon she was baptized, and received the new name Phoebe as her baptismal name. 

University exams completed, a local company hired the fresh young Christian. As weeks went by on the new job, she caught the eye of fellow employee, named Jawad. The young Muslim began professing his love for her and soon after, asked her to marry him. 

It turns out his real intent was ‘Love Jihad’ [Love Jihad, also called Romeo Jihad, is a not uncommon activity where Muslim boys and men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities for conversion to Islam by feigning love—Ed.]. If she fell for him and accepted his proposal, she would be forced to convert to Islam with the marriage.

But she didn’t fall for the scheme. Instead, she shared her new faith with him, and asked him to accept Jesus as his savior. And so the war was on. He would push Allah, the prophet Mohamed and the rigid Islamic religion; she would argue for the love of Jesus.
 
As his anger grew in intensity, he became violent, slapping her and pushing her around. She refused to have anything more to do with him, which only made him more furious. 
 
One day while returning from work, Jawad and several of his friends brutally attacked and attempted to rape Phoebe. She screamed as loudly as she could, and cried out to Jesus to save her. Immediately, a mighty man of fire appeared before all of them, and rescued her. The heat from the man was such the attackers' clothes were practically burnt off of their bodies. They fled, half-naked, from the scene. Phoebe firmly believes Jesus, the mighty King, saved her.

 “For I,” declares the Lord, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst” (Zech. 2:5, NASB).

 “For I,” declares the Lord, “will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst” (Zech. 2:5, NASB).

“Don’t be afraid,” she heard the fiery man say to her. “You are my dear daughter. I have great mercy on you. Trust me and keep standing in my shadow. The mountains can shake and the hills fall down, but my love for you will not fail or be shaken. And my covenant of peace will not be removed. Certainly I will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.”

She felt Jesus right beside her until she got back to her house. When her parents and others in the home saw her and heard her story or rescue, they could not deny the supremacy of this man Jesus. All accepted the truth of His saving power and grace, and now attend worship services with Phoebe. 
 
Please pray for her and her household. Also pray that Jawad and his friends will confess before Jesus Christ and come to saving knowledge of Him. 

Prayer support still desperately needed for Pastor Paul and family

First, a huge thank you to everyone praying our Pastor Paul back to a measure of health so that he can now be released from hospital. We didn’t reveal this earlier, but he actually had to be moved to a different hospital after authorities thwarted a plan by militants to kill him and his wife in the hospital.

He is now able to go home, but since ‘home’ is not a safe place, he and his wife have decided to go to a different state for the three months' rest doctors recommend for his full recovery.

Please continue to pray: for complete healing, for redemption, for protection, and for guidance and provision for the future. A massive thank-you to all who have generously contributed to the hospital costs for the past month!

Work in the field continues, so please continue to pray and support as you are able. We in the West have such a limited conception of how difficult it is to live for Jesus in so many restrictive countries in the world, such as those where Bibles for Mideast missionaries live and work.

____________________________
Related stories:
Despite persecution, more than 3,000 former Muslims baptized
Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

By Pastor Paul, Director of Bibles for Mideast

My risen Lord Jesus Christ has saved my life once again, and I praise and thank God for His unspeakable grace! Certainly I am not worthy of it.

The Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church of Bibles for Mideast called for 21 days fasting and prayer from March 13 to April 2. As that drew to a close, more than 3000 former Muslims were baptized in many of our churches in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Lord enabled me to baptize many people during this time.

About three weeks ago, I was changing my wet clothes after an early-morning baptism service for one of our churches. Suddenly, militants began stoning me and our group. My head was severely injured and bloodied, and a number of others sustained injuries as well.

Believers rushed me to the nearest hospital. An examination showed serious damage to my skull, so I was transferred to a specialist hospital for immediate surgery. Authorities there, however, refused to do surgery before receiving payment. My poor believing friends somehow managed to comply.

The Islamic militants who had attacked us discovered I was undergoing treatment in that hospital, and plotted to kill me. So the believers shifted me from the hospital to Pastor Ayyoob’s house in a nearby forested area.

Pastor Ayyoob lives there with his wife, two young children and 80-year-old mother. Two believers joined us to help care for me. So the eight of us stayed there—with no internet,, electricity, pipe water, or even proper bathrooms.  For primary things we used the forest areas and a nearby river.

Believers secretly visited me at the forest home, and we would have prayer services together. I stayed there about three weeks.

Last Sunday (April 16, Easter Sunday), we were in the midst of our worship service with Pastor Ayyoob leading. Suddenly, a group of militants reached the house, armed with steel bars and other weapons. We had no idea what to do.

I still hadn’t (and have not) fully recovered from the surgery. Pastor Ayyoob’s mother is an elderly, sick woman. We also had two children below four years old with us, and a woman seven months pregnant who came for the service.

Militants had found the house by noticing the people attempting to visit me secretly and coming for prayers.

Losing all hope, we thought for sure this was our last day. The children with us started crying. We all joined hand in hands and repeatedly praised and thanked our risen Lord Jesus Christ. We also continually claimed the blood of Jesus Christ as our victory.  The pregnant woman suffered pain, but joined in our praises to the Lord.

O Lord Jesus! Praise His Holy Name. Completely unexpectedly, a lion ran from the forest, leapt towards the militants, and seized one by the neck. When other combatants tried to attack the lion, two other lions bounded towards them. The terrified militants fled the site, and the lions left us completely alone. Equally astonishing, records show no lions are supposed to live in that forest.

Due to pressure from officials, we left the forest home yesterday.

URGENT: Prayer request for Pastor Paul

As reported earlier, believers at a recent baptismal service—including the director of Bibles for Mideast—were stoned and many injured. Pastor Paul sustained serious head wounds, including damage to his skull, and required surgery.

After a week in hospital he has now been secretly moved to the home of a formerly-Muslim, now Christian family. The hospital stay proved too expensive and even unsafe. Militants had heard he was there and began hunting for him.

As he wrote to me today, the family members sheltering him often face persecution and death threats themselves. Doctors instructed him not to use his mobile phone, but he managed to send an email when the others weren’t watching. He asks for our prayers, and explains he may not be able to communicate again for several weeks.

May the Lord protect and restore Pastor Paul, guide and provide for the family he stays with while recuperating and direct and inspire you in your prayers for him and the ministry.

____________________________

UPDATE April 17, 2017:  Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for others

Report: Ms. Minoo Hussain of Bibles for Mideast, Africa

March 15, 2017: A mob of Muslim extremists attacked the pastor and believers of a church of Bibles for Mideast in Central Africa today, charging at them with swords and iron bars and completely demolishing their church.  The group had been participating in the 21 days of fasting and prayer called by the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church.

Pastor Musthafa, who also coordinates Bibles for Mideast in Central Africa, had been leading the 40 (mostly women) in attendance in prayer. Church members were taking part in the fast, now into its third day.

The pastor, his family and most of the believers had all once followed Islam. For the last two years, all have been avid but underground followers of Jesus.

Many churches in the area have been destroyed by both fanatics and authorities (representational image)

Many churches in the area have been destroyed by both fanatics and authorities (representational image)

Believers from nearby had been joining with those gathered at the church for their prayer times, while local Muslims kept an eye on the comings and goings. Pastor Musthafa and his team had also been courageously visiting some Muslims in their homes to pray and invite them to attend the prayer services. Their evangelistic intent had obviously leaked out. Enraged Muslim leaders gathered a mob of 25 to 30 people for the assault. Government authorities in that region support the demolition of churches, and so rarely intervene.

Shouting “Allahu Akbar,” assailants forcibly entered the prayer hall, destroying all they could see, and ripping off the church roof.

One man stabbed the pastor’s neck with a large sword.  But just as suddenly, Pastor Musthafa felt an invisible person pull him away from the blade. The ‘invisible person’ proved to be a huge warrior angel. The attacker, unable to regain his composure or aim, ended up injuring himself with his own sword.  The attackers, now livid, began beating believers.

Heavy rain and blustery winds unexpectedly formed with thunder and lightning, swirling around the church and surrounding area. Massive drops of rain fell on the attackers like stones, throwing them into disarray. Yet the believers stayed dry and protected from the downpour. Everyone then became aware of a large cloud over-shadowing the church, shielding believers from the rain. Believers then saw the Lord Jesus in the cloud, and fell to their knees before Him.

clouds

“Hallelujah!” they began exclaiming at the tops of their lungs.

As always with our God, the connected miracle lies in the fact the region had been near-drought, so the thirsty ground and surroundings soaked up the sorely-needed water.

Seeing the praising believers safe from the deluge under what seemed to be the same cloud raining down on them, the attackers attempted to get to safety. But now huge hailstones fell from the cloud onto them, proving more painful than the rain. Attempting to escape, their legs, now coated with mud, made walking difficult. But somehow they managed to leave. The rain had fallen only in the immediate surroundings of the church, not other areas in the region.

Within minutes, the rain ended and the cloud disappeared. Believers could not stop praising and thanking the Lord—for His mighty protection from persecution, from what had seemed certain disaster, and that they had seen Him with their own eyes in that amazing cloud.

While the prayer and fasting had been scheduled to end by two that afternoon, by four they still sat in the ruins of the church, worshiping our risen Savior.

Update March 19, 2017God restores and redeems: an astounding update of attack on the African church!

Former radical Hindu man now testifies in most unusual way

Thankappan, a taxi driver in South Asia, once despised Christian missionaries. As a fanatic Hindu and active member of an anti-Christian movement, he often spoke out against Christianity and even organized people near Hindu temples to challenge the evangelistic activities of Christians.

Once, when an evangelist handed him a Gospel leaflet, he made a public display of burning it. Another time he argued with an evangelist and  ended up slapping him.

But Christ Jesus captured him and made use of him as a good vessel in His vineyard. And today he testifies Jesus as a miraculous man.

One day while driving his taxi a few years ago, he happened to drive near a Gospel meeting on a street corner.  Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast, himself a convert from Islam to Christianity, led the meeting. Seeing Pastor Paul, a former Muslim, and a former Hindu both witnessing for Christ enraged him. He spat in the diretion of the meeting through his car window.

At that very moment–while his anger distracted him—a huge truck ploughed into his car. Thankappan sustained multiple injuries and ended up in a coma in hospital. 

His intestines, both small and large, protruded from his abdomen. Doctors tried their best, but were unable to reposition them within his body. They declared he had less than a 0.01% hope of survival. So they created a pouch outside his body and just simply kept intestines together as a pack hanging below his waist, and stitched him up.  

While still comatose a few days later, something remarkable happened. He had a vision that Jesus Christ touched him and said, “I am giving you life again. Confess your sins and become my witness.”

When Thankappan opened his eyes, he saw Pastor Paul praying over him. Others, including his wife, stood nearby with tears in their eyes, expecting his death at any moment.

Though he had been unable to speak, he slowly opened his mouth and said to Pastor Paul, “Pastor, I spat at you. I spat at Jesus Christ. I persecuted the Lord Jesus and His servants. Forgive me. Forgive me. Ask my Lord to forgive me.”  Then he began to weep deeply.

A short time later, someone called for the doctor. He was amazed to see Thankappan had emerged from the coma, speaking and crying.

“This is a great miracle!” the doctor exclaimed.  

Thankappan was baptized and became an evangelist, distributing Christian literature and witnessing about Jesus all over the city.  His wife also became a believer and helped him in ministry. 

When preaching on street corners, he holds the Bible in one hand and reveals his unusual digestive pouch as part of his testimony.

“I was an enemy of Christians, but Jesus Christ loved me, made me alive and saved me from sin and death. Now I am His servant,” he declares. “I was persecuting Christians; but the Lord Jesus showed me how He mightily fights for His children. And I am a clear example for that.”

His grown children, living with their own families and also once strongly against Christianity have all accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Thankappan still drives cars for his livelihood as well as being involved with our Lord’s ministries.

Pray for him and his entire family that they would continue to be used mightily as witnesses for the Lord.

Militants firebomb home of Bibles for Mideast women; two seriously injured

(Nov. 19, 2016) The house of six women working with Bibles for Mideast was fire-bombed by Muslim militants in the Middle East yesterday evening, with two seriously injured.

Ramza, a young woman featured in a story here last July (Muslim father kills daughter; Jesus raises her from the dead), managed to miraculously escape with only minor injuries.

The six women lived and worked together, evangelizing and distributing bibles to local women, as well as  working for their livelihood as farm laborers.

After their evening prayers, the women had gone to bed. Not long after, they awakened to a terrifying noise and saw their house burning around them. They screamed and attempted to escape. But men armed with guns stood at their door.

“As we tried to come out, they fired at us,” reported Saleeha, who managed to escape unharmed. “So we were forced back into the house. By then, two women had collapsed, seriously burnt.”

“People living nearby managed to reach our house with weapons, and the attackers finally left,” Saleeha said.  “Five to seven attackers had come to kill us. They came by motor bikes. But our Lord Jesus Christ protected our lives,” she added.

“Christ Jesus is our mighty Savior and Lord!” Ramza added. “He is able to keep us safe. Whether we live or die, we belong to him.” As someone who had already experienced death at her own father’s hands, and been resurrected by Jesus, she certainly understood better than most of us the truth of her words.

The injured women were hospitalized, and the others moved to a different location. Please pray for them.

Jesus casts Satan from Muslim girl; her healing brings her family to Christ

Zaina, a 20-year-old Muslim girl from the Middle East, had suffered heavy bleeding for three years.  She consulted a gynecologist, who ordered an ultrasonography. When the scan revealed cysts on both ovaries, the doctor advised her to get a hysterectomy. Since she is unmarried, her parents advised her against the procedure—which they would not have been able to afford anyway. They lived ordinary lives, the father working in a shopping mall.

A few weeks ago, Zaina met a woman evangelist from Bibles for Mideast. The evangelist befriended her, and soon became a regular visitor at the family home.  Zaina’s mother, sisters and brothers liked the way she presented herself, and her behavior towards them.

2 muslim women reading bible.jpg

The evangelist reported regularly to 'headquarters' about Zaina and her family, so all of the Bibles for Mideast gospel teams were praying for their salvation.

While the mission worker gradually and effectively conveyed the gospel of Jesus Christ to them, Zaina’s family did their best to convert her to Islam, telling her about the Koran and Hadith [sacred texts in Islam—Ed.].

One day, the evangelist arrived with two fellow evangelists after some serious prayer and fasting. They shared the story of the woman with an issue of blood which had plagued her for twelve years, and how simply coming up behind Jesus and touching the border of his garment had resulted in her healing [Matt. 9:20-22]. They told the family that Jesus Christ could and would heal Zaina if they would simply believe in Him as savior and Lord. The gospel teams of Bibles for Mideast were also fasting and praying for them that day.

Zaina’s mother could not accept what the evangelists told her. But Zaina asked them to pray for her. Her brothers and sisters remained silent, without objecting.

While the evangelists prayed over Zaina, the demon within her manifested, and she began screaming like a wild creature. She pushed the evangelists away, as the demon possessing her told them not to send it away from either Zaina’s body or the family home.

So the evangelists inquired, “Who you are and why are you here?”

“A slave from Satan," they heard in response, "taking this family to hell and destroying their generations!” 

The evangelists explained that Jesus Christ had bruised the head of Satan by His crucifixion on the cross of Calvary and His resurrection from the dead.

"Now Satan and his slaves are bound in everlasting chains under darkness until the judgment of our Lord’s great day," they proclaimed with authority. "Zaina and her family belong to the Lord and to His heaven. Go away from here! We cast you out of Zaina in Jesus’ Name!"

Zaina fell to the floor, unconscious.

As the evangelists prayed over her, she came to, praising the Lord. She joyfully explained to them how Jesus had come to her and healed her. She said she gladly accepts the Lord Jesus as her personal Savior.

Her sisters and brothers followed suit, accepting the Lord Jesus into their hearts. And they ended up  convincing their mother to do the same!

Now, very secretly but joyfully, they all attend worship services in a Bibles for Mideast underground church. Please pray for them and for the ministry as a whole.

Testimony of Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast, a former Muslim

At the request of many, Pastor Paul tells his story

I was born into an ancient, prominent and orthodox Muslim family in South Asia, the fourth child of a retired higher secondary school principal. Besides being a former principal, my father was an Islamic scholar and President of the Jama’ath (parish of the mosque) Committee.

More than 4000 Muslim families lived in our area, and some Hindus in the suburbs. As far as I know there were no Christians at all not even in the schools where I studied.

The mosque we attended is around 1,000 years old. My ancestors spread the religion of Islam in that area and established the mosque very close to our ancestral home. My grandfather founded the present mosque. The land, revenue and auxiliary records of the mosque were kept in my father’s name well into my boyhood. 

I was brought up to love and highly regard my family as well as Islamic teachings and practices. I did my religious education before regular schooling. No bad habits existed in our family life. As a young man, I even wrote and published a book on the Qur’an.

I went to a Christian institution for my college education, so the vast majority of my classmates were Christian. As the only Muslim, I at first had difficulty mingling with others there, but gradually became close and intimate with many.

This, however, led me into evil associations and wretched habits. I started smoking, began to use drugs and alcohol and became known as rowdy in the city. Damaging reports and ugly pictures concerning me began to appear in the newspapers. As a result, my parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones became greatly concerned.  It began to look like I’d have to discontinue my education.

By that time I’d become addicted to drugs and alcohol. My body began to shiver and I became very tense if I did not use drugs at the habitual times. I was even on the police watch list. When I had money in my pocket, I had lots of friends, ready for any adventure. But when my parents cut off the money they’d been giving me regularly, those ‘friends’ became my sworn enemies. I lost my peace of mind.

At this juncture, some missionary students gathered enough courage to come and talk to me. They claimed that Jesus is the Son of God, and was crucified for all humanity. He rose from the dead and He is the King of Peace, they told me. They further claimed that if one believes in Him and confesses all sins, he will become a new person.

I could not even imagine that Prophet Isa (Jesus) could be the son of God, or that he was crucified and rose from the dead. So I in turn exhorted them to reach heaven by believing in Islam, which I told them is the true religion. I had heated arguments with them on many occasions. They could only find fault with my wretched life, but could not prevail over my arguments or prove my ideas wrong.

But without losing heart, one day they brought some gospel tracts.  They were based on the bible which I considered forbidden, for it is abrogated. [Most Muslims believe the teachings of Mohammed override, or abrogate, earlier Christian and Jewish scriptures—Ed]

Hence I went into a rage. The thought that the advice I had given them earlier regarding Islam had made no impact on them only increased my anger. I tore the tracts into pieces. With despicable words I threw the pieces into their faces and threatened to destroy them if they continued misleading others.

It was a serious matter that students of the priesthood were publicly insulted and persecuted, especially within the walls of a Christian institution. It looked almost certain that I would be expelled from the college. I could also expect trouble from many other directions.

The next day I went to the college armed with weapons and intent on using them. When I entered the class, the missionary students ran up to me and embraced me with love and joy. They surprised me by expressing regret for having caused me mental distress. Had the college been run by my religion and I found myself in the place of those missionaries, I know my reactions would have been very different. I was so touched by their love, kindness and gentle nature. The Holy Spirit, which reminds us about sin, righteousness and judgment, began to work upon me.

That night I found a piece of paper in a text book in my room. On it was written, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners, for whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim 1:15). On the reverse side of the paper I read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). I did not know they were verses from the bible. But I was overcome.

All the sins and violations I had committed since childhood began to appear before me as if on a screen. I recognized all my iniquities, big and small. Each one of them seemed to transform into a blister on my body. The blisters burst open and became sores. The flesh and bones, from where pus began to flow out, became very hot and began to melt. Worms were competing to get at the marrow of the bones. The pain was unbearable. The stench could not be described. I was being pulled into a bottomless pit. There was nobody to save me.

“God, save me!” I cried out.

Then a man, holy, white and bright, descended from heaven and touched me. I understood it was Jesus. For a moment I closed my eyes with heavenly joy, for His touch cooled my body and mind. When I opened my eyes, all the blisters and sores had disappeared. It was as if I’d been washed with perfumed ointment. But Jesus, who came in bright and spotless, was now infected with blisters and sores. Pus and discharge was flowing out of them and worms and maggots roamed freely on his body. He now appeared as an abominable, foul-smelling creature.

 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Christ had taken on himself all my afflictions. I should have been condemned to death for all my sins.  But I saw Christ taking on all my sins and being crucified in my place, for my sake.

Earlier I had never believed that Christ had been crucified. I used to ask how our sins could be washed away by his death, even if he was crucified. But now I was convinced how and for what Christ died.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

I saw Jesus break the tomb and rise up from the dead, glorious and resplendent. I fell at his feet crying, “My Lord and my God!”

I do not know whether this experience was a dream, a revelation or a vision. I wasn’t a believer in anything like this. But it transformed me into a Christian.  It enabled me to throw away the old man and become new. I received joy and peace, the like of which I had never known before.

I shared my conversion of mind and my new joy that same night to my parents. Although they listened, they tried to dissuade me, saying this was only a trick played by Iblis (Satan).  But I was convinced that the loving God had saved me through His only Son, and that I would inherit eternal life.

I was baptized in water as soon as I accepted Him as my personal Savior. The Lord also baptized me with the Holy Spirit and granted me the gifts of the Spirit.

But mine has by no means been an easy path. Some of the community I formerly belonged to felt that my accepting Jesus Christ was an act of betrayal and they tried to take revenge. Someone once sprinkled sulfuric acid on me.

One day, I was narrating my Christian experiences to some of my friends near the mosque. Suddenly one of my cousins stabbed me, splitting my lower jaw. Everyone thought I might die. But God saved me and made me a witness again at that place.

My cousin began planning another way to kill me, and try to make it look like a suicide.  While tying a noose for me to the top of a tree, a gust of wind knocked the branch he was on to the ground. We found him there near death, and I instinctively wished he would die. But Jesus ordered me to love and nurse him as He had loved me when I was His enemy. He was taken to the hospital and was in plaster for more than six months. When he recovered, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

When yet another person became a Christian, the Jama’ath (mosque) authorities chained me, shaved my head, and locked me in an underground cellar. When I tried to escape, they sprayed me with acid. I was beaten up several times and even lost a few teeth. I considered these experiences as lucky tips in the name of Jesus and as a symbol of my spiritual fervor.

The Lord visited a few more people who had caused me trouble, and most of them have come to believe in Jesus.

I have two sons and one daughter. A terrorist group once sent a division out to destroy my entire family. Their commander managed to make my children consume poison, and all three were taken to hospital in critical condition. My daughter remained in a coma for close to 30 days. Her remarkable recovery so resembled a resurrection from the dead that the man who had wanted to kill them became a follower of Jesus Christ. He has dedicated himself to working as a missionary and winning many souls unto His fold.

Pastor Paul in one of his demolished churches

Pastor Paul in one of his demolished churches

Another time, I and one of my assistant pastors were severely beaten in a village by a mob of radicals who also burned down our prayer hall. God alone has saved me, over and over.

Recently our Lord enabled me to overcome a murder attempt. Someone ran their motorcycle into me intentionally, trying to make it look like an accident. While I was in the hospital recovering, my wife and children faced murder threats at home as well, but God preserved us all miraculously.

I must mention that my parents, brothers and sisters were all devout Muslims. Most of the seniors are Hajjis (men who have made a pilgrimage to Mecca) and Hajjummas (women who have done so). Having let Jesus Christ into my life, I was ex-communicated and for quite some time was not allowed to have any contacts with my parents and extended family.

I and my wife felt sad about this, and brought it to the Lord in our prayers. Gradually, I began to re-establish links with my people through letters and telephone calls. Finally, a day came when they had accepted the fact that I worship Jesus Christ, visited my place and stayed with us and our children. I spoke to them about the love of God. We have maintained good contacts since then.

Two days before his death, my father had a vision of Jesus with the marks left by the nails on His hands and feet, and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. My mother too became a believer shortly before she died.

My deep desire is to take the gospel to the unreached, especially to the world of Islam, and win them to the salvation of Jesus Christ.