The power of friendship evangelism and healing prayers in the Middle East!

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

Born into a large Muslim Arab family in the Middle East, Aslam Shukkoor* firmly believed the only way to live properly and make your way to heaven was to follow the strict rules of radical Islam. He devoutly practiced his faith and followed its teachings. He never allowed non-Muslims even to visit his house.  He also made a good living owning date plantations and fuel stations.

He and his wife had three boys and three girls, all well-behaved, intelligent children. When the oldest son reached 15, a mysterious illness struck. It began with fever and body pain, then progressed to severe weakness in his legs until he became completely bedridden.  Aslam took him to several super-specialist hospitals, but doctors could not diagnose the cause of his ailments. Every treatment they tried failed, and within two months, the young man died.  

When the second son reached 15, the same disorder began to plague him. The imam of the local mosque told the family it must be because of an ancestral curse. So they invited a number of famous Muslim priests to pray for the children and all in the household. But nothing improved. Someone suggested to Aslam that their house surely had strong demons living in it, drinking the children’s blood one by one. So they decided to move to an area far away.

Bibles for Mideast gospel team sharing with locals

Bibles for Mideast gospel team sharing with locals

Several missionaries of Bibles for Mideast working in that region, on hearing of the tragedy in Aslam’s family, decided to go visit them.

“We are Christians,” they boldly announced at his gate. “Our Lord Jesus Christ is the living savior. He was crucified, died and rose from the dead. He is able to heal the sick and cast out all demons. If you allow it, may we see your sick son and pray for him and for the rest of your family?”

Aslam would have none of it.

“You kafirs!” he shouted [a derogatory expression for anyone not believing in Islam—Ed.] “How dare you come to my house?  We don’t need your prayers. Allah is merciful. We know he hears our prayers. Get away from my house before I call the police!”

The missionaries attempted to leave a sample gospel with him. Yelling again, he grabbed it from them before tearing it to pieces and throwing it in a nearby waste basket.

Aslam and his wife decided to take their second son, now in debilitating pain, to another country for, they hoped, better treatment. Unfortunately, he too died.

Soon afterwards, they boarded a plane for the flight home, bringing their son’s lifeless body back for burial. Another Arab couple, who ‘just happened’ to be members of an ALG (Assembly of Loving God) church, sat across from them.

They could easily see how distressed Aslam and his wife were—she weeping inconsolably and he trying his best to comfort her in the name of Allah. They obviously and palpably worried about their other children as well.

The Christian Arab couple gently questioned them, and learned they were travelling home with the body of their second dead son. They sympathized and consoled in such a kindly way that the Muslim couple soon considered them trustworthy friends. Aslam shared all they had gone and were going through.

The Christian woman related to them her own family’s unfortunate experiences and how the Lord Jesus Christ—through the prayers of Christian missionaries—had saved them. “If you believe in Jesus and pray in faith, he will certainly help you to overcome the problems. Our own lives are witnesses to that,” she assured them. She and her husband then shared the message of the gospel.

Aslam and his wife grew increasingly irritated.

“Islam is the most holy and true religion in the world,” Aslam let them know with certainty. “Prophet Mohammed is the true messenger of Allah. Prophet Jesus is only a human being and lower than Prophet Mohammed. Whatever Allah wills, he does. Though we are sad about our children, we know it is Allah’s will. We obey him and his truth. So our advice to you is not to become kafir.”

In spite of the tension, the four remained friendly for the rest of the flight. The Christian couple helped the bereaved parents at the airport, and even accompanied them as they took their son’s corpse back to their house.

The relationship continued to blossom as the weeks went on, discussions often centering on religion. The church couple naturally kept up their attempts to convince their new friends of the need for salvation.

It wasn’t many months before the Muslim couple’s third son came down with the dreaded illness. The Arab Christians decided to visit them, accompanied by the same Bibles for Mideast missionaries Aslam had ‘thrown out’ few years earlier. Aslam recognized them but said nothing about it. He simply invited them within the gates of his property and offered them seats in the yard.

The Christian woman they’d met on the plane went inside the house, where Aslam’s wife introduced her to her sick son and the couple’s other children. The woman again tried to explain the all-importance of prayer in Jesus’ name.

Aslam’s wife then called her husband inside. She asked him to invite the missionaries in as well, and allow them to pray for the boy. He agreed!

Poor former Muslim woman reading Bible

Poor former Muslim woman reading Bible

Once inside and before praying, the Bibles for Mideast workers related their own dramatic stories of moving from Islam to Christianity. All listened intently, and continued to as the missionaries went on to share the gospel.

“I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior!” they suddenly heard from the sick boy’s room. “I believe He will heal me and deliver me and others of my house from this strange trouble. Please pray for me.”

So of course the missionaries did. As they laid their hands on his head and prayed, the young fellow explained later how he felt a man’s hands gently touch his whole body. He also sensed a horrible smell leave his body and then, a beautiful aroma totally enveloped him. Finally, he caught a glimpse of the hands and saw what looked like scars in them.

Immediately, all the pain vanished. He shook his legs and found them stronger. When he tried to put them on the floor, he found to his delight they worked! He began walking and running around as everyone else watched in amazement. Only moments later, all believed in Jesus as their personal savior and Lord.

Praying in an underground church

Praying in an underground church

Since then, no sickness has come near that family. They now regularly attend an underground Assembly of Loving God (ALG) church and worship the Lord Jesus Christ in Spirit and truth.

Please pray for them as well as all missionaries, staff and believers of Bibles for Mideast and the growing ALG churches.

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Name changed for security reasons

Conversions, healing and deliverance in the jungles of South Asia!

A seven-member team from Bibles for Mideast returned victorious last week from an exhausting but exhilarating mission trip in South Asia! Many thanks to all who held them up in prayer. 

High and deep in a remote, thickly-forested region of South Asia, two Bibles for Mideast missionaries have lived and worked among a group they call ‘jungle people’ for close to two years. Despite the area being infiltrated by sorcerers, witches and communist terrorists, several locals had made decisions to join the Kingdom of Christ and a small underground ALG Church was born.

But battles proved intense and were worsening. While the workers sensed an eagerness among many to accept the gospel, fierce backlashes from the Kingdom of darkness led to increasing fear and hesitancy among the inhabitants and death threats to the missionaries

So they did the best Kingdom logical thing: they declared a five-day period of fasting, prayer, house visits and gospel meetings. On hearing of the plans, Pastor Paul,  ALG pastors Peter Haneef and James Irshad and four other Bibles for Mideast evangelists decided to join up with the missionaries.

Simply getting there involved days of demanding travel, much of it on rough, stony roads and paths inaccessible to most vehicles. At one point they were stranded by torrential rains at a forest station near the foot of the final pathway up to the people they hoped to reach. As God would have it, the forest officer is a strong believer in Jesus, stays in fairly regular contact with the hilltop believers, and gladly sheltered, fellowshipped with and prayed with the evangelists. The plan was for some of the hilltop believers to make the three-mile trek down the mountain to meet the visitors and accompany them back up to where they lived.

As the rains, now accompanied by thunder and lightning, continued, dangerous rock and mudslides began rolling down the mountain.

“Our missionaries and believers could not come down from the hills,” Pastor Paul explains. They thought they might have to abort the mission.

oFFERING A BIBLE TO A LOCAL

oFFERING A BIBLE TO A LOCAL

“But that night we prayed until the rain finally stopped at about two in the morning. Then, finally, we went to bed. We did not have any idea about the hill people, whether they would come to receive us or not.”

About three hours later, the men woke to hear loud knocking on their door. They opened, stunned to see the ‘hilltop missionaries’ along with the new converts waiting to take them up the hill! Hours of torturous trudging later, they reached the top by ten that morning

“Physically we all were tired, but spiritually we were strengthened,” Pastor Paul reports of the ascent.

The original plan had been to stay among the people for five days: praying and fasting each morning, visiting in people’s homes each afternoon, then holding gospel meetings each evening. While they kept to the prayer and fasting even while and after climbing that first day, due to fatigue they canceled the afternoon visiting and evening meeting. Instead they pretty well passed out on floor mats in the hut they stayed in, but woke refreshed the next morning.

“We held our prayer and fasting again and a few more villagers attended,” Pastor Paul recounts. “Someone brought a deaf and dumb man to the gathering, and all joined in prayer for him.  After the service he knelt down before the Lord Jesus in front of me. I put my hands on his head and prayed. As I prayed, he suddenly said, ‘Praise the Lord Jesus and hallelujah!’  Then he said he could hear!”

THEIR ORIGINAL SCEPTICISM TURNED TO ACCEPTANCE

THEIR ORIGINAL SCEPTICISM TURNED TO ACCEPTANCE

The news of course spread quickly and by that afternoon, all of the houses in the area opened their doors wide to the missionaries and their message. Many more attended that evening's meeting.

Communist terrorists have a strong influence in this region, forming almost as dire a threat as ISIS.

“They were directing people against Christians and our ministry,” Pastor Paul explains. “They had a large stockpile of landmines they planned to use to destroy our church along with us during the meetings.”

In a wondrous God-twist, the landslides which had so threatened the evangelists’ trip up the mountain had also completely buried and washed away the terrorists’ collection of landmines. Shocked at their sudden loss, the terrorists still sent agents to spy on the church’s evening meetings.

On the third day, the believers meetings and visits went according to plan. That evening, one of the communist terrorists unknowingly stepped on a landmine planted by one of his comrades. Placed to explode when the missionaries walked towards one of the villager's homes, it instead nearly blew apart the terrorist.

Severely injured, he had no chance of getting to a hospital in time to be saved.  Believers who witnessed the explosion told his friends to bring him to the gospel center for prayer. They refused at first, but the locals persisted until they relented and brought him.

“We shared the gospel and prayed for him,” explains Pastor Paul. “At once our Lord poured out His healing power and restored him.  He knew the power of prayer and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and Lord.”

His friends, now totally free of misgivings, followed suit. They then warned the believers of the many other landmines they had planted all around the prayer hall. After the whole group prayed together again, the former terrorists went out and, under the direction and leadership of their healed comrade, located and removed all the hidden landmines.

On the fourth day, Sunday, most of the villagers attended the worship service. Everyone who did confessed before the Lord and accepted Him as his or her personal savior. That afternoon, the team visited all the remaining homes.

gROWING PRAISE AND WORSHIP AMONG NEW BELIEVERS

gROWING PRAISE AND WORSHIP AMONG NEW BELIEVERS

One of those happened to belong to the village sorcerer. She had a giant black idol as her ‘goddess’, the villagers explained, and when possessed, would begin to shudder violently. Then, taking hold of a huge sword, she’d find a rooster and kill it in front of her goddess. Screaming, she would proceed to drink the animal’s blood in hopes of pleasing the idol. Now completely demonized, she’d ‘tell the fortunes’ of those in attendance and dictate what they should and should not do to be blessed. All would obey.

Unfazed by the stories, the missionaries invited themselves into her home and shared their testimonies and the message of the gospel. They made it clear ALL worship and praise must be to the one and only Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"He came down from heaven, suffered, was crucified on the cross of Calvary and died for our sins," they boldly told her. "On the third day—which was around 2000 years ago—He rose from the dead and still lives for usI In Him we have salvation and eternal life. Accept Him as your Savior." 

Not surprisingly, Pastor Paul says, she refused their message and further, “angrily asked us to get lost.”

But as they found out later, “she lost her peace and could not sleep at night,” he explains.  “Several times she tried to please the idol with her black practices. She’d pull her hair, grab it together and smash the floor with it, beat her chest and scream in front of the idol.”

Suddenly she heard a loud, horrifying noise. She looked to see that her precious idol had somehow been smashed to pieces and now lay scattered all over her floor.

In absolute terror, she ran out to find the pastors. With the believers, all were deep in prayer at their evening gathering. She rushed in among them and "prostrated herself before us,” Pastor Paul recalls. As she trembled on the floor in fear, the women prayer warriors gathered around her and helped her up. She explained all that had happened and begged them to pray for her.

for site nite time baptism.jpg

“We shared the gospel again and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior,” says Pastor Paul.  “After that she did not go to her house because of fear, but stayed with us.” 

The group held a glorious baptismal ceremony on the fifth evening, baptizing many. They then wrapped everything up with the Lord’s Supper. The next day they set out on the long, arduous, but beyond-joyful journey back home

Please keep this growing gathering of believers and the missionaries working among them in your prayers!

Astonishing power of prayer: Jesus saves Muslim man from pirates and jaws of death at sea

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church in east Africa

Gainful employment being as scarce as rain and healthy crops in Milad’s* drought-stricken east African country, many, including his family, struggled to survive.  As the eldest of nine children in an orthodox Muslim family, when an offer to work on a ship came along, he gladly accepted. At last he could help provide for his parents and siblings.

Not till he joined his new employers onboard did he realize the ‘work’ involved attacking and robbing ships. They were pirates! When he tried to abandon ship they wouldn’t allow him, and when he told them he had no intention of working for them, they bound his hands and legs with steel chains. He became a slave to the pirates, freed only when they found their next target of attack. They knew that if he got away, their secrets and information on who they were would escape with him. 

Armed Somali pirates preparing to attack a ship (AFP/GETTY IMAGE)

Armed Somali pirates preparing to attack a ship (AFP/GETTY IMAGE)

One evening they attempted to rob a ship full of valuable merchandise in the Indian Ocean. The vessel’s strong security force fought back, and a fierce gun battle ensued. When a bullet hit Milad in his left shoulder, he jumped into the sea to save himself.

As he tried to swim to safety, a giant fish suddenly darted through the dark waters towards him. Whether a shark or a whale he couldn’t tell, but he could see its wide-open mouth ready to finish him off. Just as he felt himself sucked into the creature’s mouth, a strange reflection … a bright image of what appeared to be a man, but somehow in the shape of a cross ... appeared on and through the water. It was like it came down from above and both reflected off of, and pierced, the dark water. He noticed what looked like blood stains on the luminous image. He felt himself being pulled away from the gaping jaws, and then helped safely to shore.

By this point, late at night, bedraggled and alone, all Milad knew was that some supernatural power had saved him from certain death. But what could it have been? Looking around in the darkness, seeing no one, fear quickly overtook him. He sat down by the sea shore, his mind and emotions churning, his heart heavy.

As only God could arrange it, members of an underground ALG church in Africa were engaged in an all-night prayer vigil some miles inland from where Milad sat. Pastor Abu* had gathered believers at his ‘prayer shed’ for the night watch [more on that prayer shed in our earlier story about Pastor Abu and his ministry here: Miraculous multiplication of faith, food and believers in east Africa].

As they prayed, his wife had a vision of the Lord Jesus saving someone from pirates and a giant fish, and that the man, named Milad, was now sitting at the sea shore gripped with terror. She shared her revelation with the prayer group. Two others (including Hydrus, the former Muslim whose radical salvation we also relate in the story mentioned above) received the same vision. One even prophesied they were to go get him and ‘pick him up’ for the Lord’s work.

light on dark ocean more contrast2.jpg

As they continued praying, Pastor Abu also prophesied about the fellow on the seashore. Clearly an immediate rescue was in order, so the men determined to go find the survivor.  They headed out in the direction they’d been shown in the visions. Pastor Abu’s wife remained behind in charge of the vigil, and the women and children continued praying.

Walking the eight miles to the sea shore, the 40 or so men refrained from speaking, uttering only words of prayer and praise. Each carried his own Bible, and none felt tired or found the journey long. When Milad saw them approaching, his fear intensified. What now? But then he heard his own name being uttered by a calm, assuring voice.

“Don’t be afraid, Milad,” Pastor Abu called to him. “The one who saved you from the gunshot and from the giant fish in the sea has sent us to you to console you and rescue you.”

“He is Jesus, who was crucified for us on the cross of Calvary and rose from the dead for our salvation. He loves you and wants to make you His own child. Believe in Him and follow Him.”

Already incredulous Milad did not think things could get any more incredible until he then heard the pastor outline to him all that he had gone through. Could it be a dream? He touched the leader and several of the other men to see if they were real.  

“You are not dreaming,” Pastor Abu assured him. “All of this is real and true, and only because our Lord and Saviour Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” He then held up his Bible.

“This is the word of the true and living God, who saves you from sin and death.”

Milad rushed to kiss the Bible, and then prostrated himself before the pastor. 

“No, I am just a servant of God,” he explained, stepping back. “You surrender before Him and confess all your sins to Him. He is our savior.”

Milad cried aloud and confessed all of his sins before God. He then readily accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord. The men prayed over the new convert and joyfully brought him back with them, praising and thanking the Lord for His marvelous wonders as they journeyed back to the shed.

Milad now stays with Hydrus at the underground church’s 'prayer shed' under the guidance of Pastor Abu. Please pray for Milad and Hydrus as they grow in their faith and walk. Also keep Pastor Abu, his family and all the other believers in Africa in your prayers.

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names changed for security reasons

LR from pirates to cross paint arrow plus heart.jpg

Essential note

As an important ‘back story’ here, we asked Milad if he knew of anyone from his past who may have been praying for him. He then remembered that several years ago, an American missionary team had visited his town on a charitable and medical mission. One day, Milad and one of his sisters visited the temporary quarters set up by the team, hoping for help for the skin disease they both suffered from. Missionary doctors examined each, and gave them medicine. One took a special interest in the two siblings, making note of their names. She began telling them about the healing and saving power of Jesus.

Milad and his sister had no idea what she was talking about. Then, when she put her hands on their heads to pray for them, the young man angrily pushed her away. The doctor simply smiled, and let them know she would continue praying for them. She also asked them to come back in two days for checkups and more medicine, but the siblings never returned.

What an encouragement to continue praying! We thank the Lord that missionary doctor kept up her prayers for Milad, and for you for praying for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Never give up.

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!

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names changed for security reasons