Report: Bibles for Mideast
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.
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.
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.