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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Encouragement for your walk: "Why should I ... ?"

By Pastor Paul, Bibles for Mideast

1. Why should I say I can't
when the Bible says
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength?
(Phil. 4:13)

2. Why should I lack
when I know that
God shall supply all my needs
according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus?
(Phil. 4:19)

3. Why should I fear
when the Bible says
God has not given me a spirit of fear,
but of power, love and a sound mind?
(2 Tim. 1:7)

4. Why should I lack faith
to fulfil my calling knowing that
God has allotted to me a measure of faith?
(Rom. 12:3)

5. Why should I be weak
when the Bible says that
the Lord is the strength of my life and that
I will display strength and take action because I know God?
(Ps. 27:1; Dan. 11:32)

6. Why should I allow
Satan supremacy over my life when
He that is in me is greater than he that is in the world?
(1 John 4:4)

"hand in hand with the King' by Ineke Hopgood

"hand in hand with the King' by Ineke Hopgood

7. Why should I lack wisdom
when Christ gave wisdom to me from God and
God gives wisdom to me generously when I ask for it?
(1 Cor. 1:30; James 1:5)

8. Why should I accept defeat
when the Bible says that
God always leads me in triumph?
(2 Cor.  2:14)

9. Why should I be depressed
when I can recall to mind
God's loving kindness, compassion,
and faithfulness and have hope?
(Lam. 3:21-23)

   10. Why should I worry and fret when
I can cast all my anxiety on Christ who cares for me?
(1 Peter 5:7)

11. Why should I ever be in bondage knowing that
there is liberty where the Spirit of the Lord is?
(Gal. 5:1)

12. Why should I feel condemned
when the Bible says
I am not condemned because I am in Christ?
(Rom. 8:1)

13. Why should I feel alone
when Jesus said
He is with me always,
and He will never leave me nor forsake me?
(Matt. 28:20; Hebrews 13:5)

14. Why should I feel accursed or a victim of bad luck
when the Bible says that
Christ redeemed me from the curse of the law
that I might receive His Spirit?
(Gal. 3:13-14)

15. Why should I be discontented
when I, like Paul, can learn
to be content in all my circumstances?
(Phil. 4:11)

16. Why should I feel worthless when
Christ became sin on my behalf that
I might become the righteousness of God in Him?
(2 Cor. 5:21)

17. Why should I have
a persecution complex knowing that
nobody can be against me when God is for me?
(Rom. 8:31)

18. Why should I be confused when
God is the author of peace and
He gives me knowledge through His indwelling Spirit?
(1 Cor. 14:33, 2:12)

19. Why should I feel like a failure when
I am a conqueror in all things through Christ?
(Rom. 8:37)

20. Why should I let the pressures of life bother me
when I can take courage knowing that
Jesus has overcome the world and its tribulations?
(John 16:33)

__________________
The painting in this post, called 'Hand in hand with the King', is by an amazing prophetic artist and friend of mine named Ineke Hopgood. She lives in Australia and paints prolifically and entirely Spirit-led. You can visit her website here: Ineke Hopgood Prophetic Art.
† Susanna

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

98-year-old Sri Lankan pastor carries on in the Lord's ministry

98-year old Pastor Tiddy Senapatiratne of Sri Lanka

98-year old Pastor Tiddy Senapatiratne of Sri Lanka

Report: Bibles for Mideast

"Even at the age of 98, my grandfather carries on a ministry of intercession as well as writing prayer letters to encourage pastors and believers," says Kevin Senapatiratne of his grandfather, Tiddy Senapatiratne. "In his writings, he is challenging people to follow the Scripture and live it out with faith and adventure."

We present to you here the latest letter from Pastor Tiddy to Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast.

_________________________

My dear Brother in Christ,

Greetings in the blessed name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who exhorts us to read and obey His Word.

Sometime back I wrote in one of my letters to you about God commanding us to meditate on God's Word day and night (Joshua 1:8,9). He did not only command us, but He also gave us promises. Joshua had only five books at that time, but now we have 66 books (in the Bible) to read and obey, and we have many more promises in them. God loves us so much, and I am sure you too would have experienced His love in many ways, just as much as I have, perhaps more.

We should read God’s word often, if possible daily—at least a small portion each day. It will make us grow in our Christian life. I used to know a Mr. Leisser, the proprietor of an English firm in Sri Lanka. He told me that he had read through the Bible 40 times. He knew it thoroughly from beginning to end. We need not do so much, but if we read it as often as we could and use it for His glory and for the salvation of souls, we will be much blessed. It will be helpful if we could learn verses of scripture by heart.

“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

The Word of God has been used powerfully by many persons mentioned in the Bible. Let us have a look at some of them.

A centurion wanted his servant healed. He knew that if only Jesus would speak a word from just where He was, his servant would be healed, just as for when he speaks a word to his soldiers they obey. Please read about it in Matthew 8:5-13.

Jesus cast out demons with His Word. We read about it in many places in the Bible. Whatever Jesus said was with authority (Luke 4:32; Matt. 7:28,29; John 6:63).

After Jesus ascended, His disciples spoke with authority as He had done. One such occasion was when Peter and John healed a man who was lame from his birth. When this man was healed he went into the temple “walking and leaping and praising God” (Acts 3:1-9).

In Acts 9:32-35, Peter only spoke a few words and Aeneas (who had been bedridden for eight years) arose immediately.

In Acts 9:36-41 we read of Dorcas, who was dead, being raised up by Peter speaking only two words after praying.

When Elymas the sorcerer tried to prevent the deputy from accepting what Paul said, being filled with the Spirit, Paul said: “You shall be blind not seeing the sun for a season.” Immediately he became blind (Acts 13:6-12).

In Acts 14:8-10 when Paul said “Stand up straight on your feet,” the man who had never walked stood, leaped and walked.

Please read the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-10. Both had lied and when Peter spoke to each one they fell down and died.

When we see what happened when apostles of Jesus did after seeing Him do all these, do we not get a desire to act similarly? But we might excuse ourselves, saying that they saw Jesus Himself do it all. What about us? Let us ask Jesus to give us too a vision and power to do likewise and be firebrands for Him.

May the Lord bless you.

Your servant in the service of the Most High God,

Tiddy Senapatiratne