NEW LIFE: from Islam, and from death itself

Report: Bibles for Mideast and the ALG churches in Africa

Aminah* lived with her orthodox Muslim family in Africa. Her father, a leader in the community, felt proud that his strapping young sons ran their own business, but worried at times when they continually got into trouble with the locals.

One day, Aminah met handsome young Taban*, and the two became friends. Taban explained to her he had once been a practicing Muslim as well, but had recently embraced Christianity after meeting and interacting with a Christian minister, Pastor Mustafa**. Aminah found her new friend intriguing but wanted nothing to do with his Christian faith.

Taban, strong in his devotion to Jesus, invited her to attend worship services and prayer meetings with him at his church. Fearing she might lose her new friend if she refused, she often made the long trek to the church for gatherings. While the gospel messages and prayers seemed silly and even boring, Taban was another story. She sat through meeting after meeting only to be able to spend time with the fine young man she definitely felt more than stirrings of love for. She’d then make the long trip back home in the evening.

During one of the services, Aminah had the ominous sense of an approaching migraine. As the pain intensified, her vision began to distort and then, utter blackness.  She screamed out in agony.

Pastor Mustafa rushed to her side and prayed over her. Within minutes, the headache had disappeared and her eyesight became crystal clear.

Believing in Jesus suddenly became easy. She paid close attention to the gospel message that day, learning why and how Jesus suffered, was crucified, died on the cross of Calvary and then rose from the dead. She wholeheartedly accepted Jesus as her personal Lord and Saviour. Soon, she underwent water baptism and not long afterwards, anointing by the Holy Spirit as well. 

Just three weeks ago, Pastor Mustafa officiated at the marriage of Aminah and Taban—without informing their parents or other relatives. All knew the family would not only forbid it, they’d harass and possibly turn violent against the church for proceeding with such a travesty.

On her wedding day, of course, Aminah did not return to her family home. Her brothers set out to find her and spent two days visiting her friends’ houses and any other places they thought she might be. It was during one of their searches they learned from someone of their sister’s intimate friendship with a former Muslim who had become Christian, and that she too had become one. Could it be, they wondered in horror, she had run away to marry him? They aimed their fury further afield.

For the first three days following their marriage, the couple enjoyed their new life together in the kindly pastor’s home. As the fourth day dawned, they realized they had to find their own place to rent and so headed out to see what might be available.

They hadn’t gotten far in their quest when, suddenly, Aminah’s brothers discovered and ambushed them. The vigilantes grabbed the two, shoved them in their vehicle and careened along the rough roads back to their home. There, after locking their sister in her room, they brutally beat Taban with steel pipes.

The church learned of their capture and called for a full night of prayer. The whole congregation prayed fervently and tearfully for the couple’s safety and release.

Meanwhile, the brothers dragged Taban from their home to a deserted area over a mile away and there, with a few more fierce blows, finished him off. They then dug a grave and buried his bloodied, lifeless body.

Aminah's mother came to her room to offer food, and encouraged her daughter to forget about both Taban and the Christian faith. 

“How can I?” Aminah retorted. “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour, and my eternal Bridegroom. And the Lord has chosen Taban as my husband in this world. I am not ready to lose either of them!” 

Her dejected mother left the room, locking the door from the outside again. Ignoring the food, Aminah knelt down before her Lord.

A while later, she became aware of a conversation between her father and brothers out in the hall. One brother described how they had killed Taban, others where they had buried the body.

"Good,” she heard her father reply. “So that chapter is closed. Now Aminah needs good counselling. For that, we will ask the Imam to come to our house tomorrow. Then she will be perfectly alright. After that, we have to go to that church and destroy them all."

Shock … then depression … gripped her. She felt too much to even cry, and didn't know what to do. But soon, she regained her strength and knelt down again.

"Lord Jesus,” she prayed. “You alone are my Lord and God. You are able to do anything. My life is in You. I trust in You and I surrender myself to You again.  Lord, if You want to make me a widow as my life is just beginning ...." She couldn’t finish her sentence, and began weeping before the Lord. 

Suddenly she heard the sound of a door opening. She looked, but saw no one. She then realized the Lord must have opened her locked bedroom door. She wasted no time running from the house and towards the place, about a mile away, where her brothers had said they had murdered and buried her new husband.

When certain she had found the spot, she prayerfully began digging into the fresh grave and soon, found the dead body of her beloved. She pulled him out. His wounds now full of mud and sand, she set about cleaning them with her clothes. She took Taban’s head to her bosom, put her hands on his face, and prayed like she never had before.

"Lord Jesus!” she sobbed. “You are the Resurrection and the Life! You raised Lazarus from the dead! I believe You are still able to raise Taban from death to life. YOU are the author of life and death. Make us Your witness Lord. But if You want me to be a widow, let Your will be done. I will serve You till my end."

As she ran out of pleas, she felt a cool breeze swoosh in and ripple gently over them.

"My son!” she heard a voice … a Voice … declare. “I say to you, ARISE!"

Jesus resurrection and life best large print lr.jpg

Taban opened his eyes! As he lifted his head from her arms, the two were beside themselves with wonder and thanks. They praised and thanked the Lord for His great mercy. They all out worshiped the Lord in Spirit and Truth by the grave site.

Back at the house, her father and brothers had begun wondering at the complete silence from Aminah’s room. When they went to check on her, they discovered the door unlocked and the room empty. Might she have decided to escape to commit suicide? Fearful, they began to search everywhere. Eventually they ended up back in the area where they’d murdered and buried Taban.

They could not believe their eyes or ears. Aminah and her supposedly-dead husband, both bright with joy and life, worshipped, danced and sang right by the spot he had been buried.

Their throats, their brains, could form no words. Finally, Aminah described to them what had happened. Still stunned, their hardness began to melt away. Finally, they weakly managed to assure her they weren’t angry at her anymore.

"We love you for our Lord Jesus loves you," Aminah and Taban made clear to her father and brothers.

As the couple explained to them more about Jesus and His salvation, the men listened intently. Now though, gripped with a dreadful fear they’d never known, words again failed them.

Taban stepped forward and embraced them warmly with Jesus’ love, and Aminah followed. Only then did it dawn on all of them the reality and Truth of what had just happened.

Aminah's father and brothers, along with the newly-wed and newly-alive young couple, headed back to the family home. When they arrived they explained to everyone in the house what had happened, and then, naturally (and supernaturally!) the message of salvation. Every single one, including some neighbors and friends, accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Two Sundays ago, the entire household and their newly-Christian friends and neighbors boarded a mini bus for the long ride to Pastor Mustafa’s church, where they attended in their first service.

Plans now are to establish a house church in Aminah’s family home, where the newlyweds now stay. Please pray for them.

Pastor Mustafa also requests your prayers for 2,500 Arabic bibles and 1,500 each of Swahili and Somali bibles. Please keep him and the work all across Africa in your prayers.

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*
Name changed for security reasons
** Pastor Mustafa oversees approximately 40 underground Assembly of Loving God (ALG) house churches all across Africa. You can read more about his powerful but dangerous ministry here.

Elderly woman thwarts attack on her church and points terrorist to Jesus

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an ALG church in the Middle East

Al-Khadir*, born into an Arab Muslim family in the Middle East, grew stronger in his faith in Islam and the law of Sharia as he matured into a young man. While at university one day, someone slipped him a sample gospel. He began reading, but when he got to “Jesus is the only Savior and the Son of Most High God”, erupted in anger. Ripping the pamphlet to shreds, he threw it into a nearby fire.

Soon after graduation, he joined a local terrorist group. Then, just a few months ago, he and one of his extremist friends planned an attack on an ALG church [ALG being the umbrella organization for all Bibles for Mideast churches—Ed.]. As they entered the church armed with pistols, an elderly woman somehow managed to grab hold of Al-Khadir’s legs.

“My son!” she cried out.  “Go back and save yourself! I was a strong Muslim once, with a husband and three sons. My sons joined up with terrorists like you and were killed in Syria. When my husband heard the news, he had a heart attack and died. Now I have no husband and no children. Yours is not the way of peace and reality! Lord Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He saved me from sin and death. I live with this hope. Only Jesus Christ can give us peace, salvation and eternal heaven. Sons, get back, please."

Infuriated, the other terrorist began kicking her. She fell down in pain, but kept repeating her admonition to them.

Al-Khadir suddenly thought of his own mother. He pushed his friend away and helped the woman to her feet.  The men then turned and left the church grounds without saying or doing anything more.

Back home that night, Al-Khadir had a dream like no other. The Lord Jesus Christ—the one he, like all Muslims, knew to be a great prophet but nothing more—came to him.

"I am the Massihullah [‘Messiah’ in Arabic],” Jesus said. “Do you know what that means? I am the one sent out from the Most High to bring humanity—who lost the Kingdom of Heaven through sin and iniquities—back to God. All have sinned and lost eternal life. To bring everyone back, I, the Kalimathullah [‘Word of God’ in Arabic] came down from heaven and was born of a virgin. I lived a sinless life, suffered, was crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and was buried as punishment for the sins of humanity … including yours. And I rose from the dead and now sit at the right hand of the Heavenly Father. Only those who confess before Me and believe in Me will have salvation and eternal life in heaven as God's gift. For I am the Son of the most high God. I will come again in clouds to separate and bring my own people to Heaven while others will end up in hell. Believe in Me and follow Me."

Knowing this to be no ordinary dream, the next day Al-Khadir approached the pastor of the very ALG church he had intended to attack. He poured out all that he had experienced. The pastor shared the gospel with him, along with his own testimony of conversion from Islam.

Wielding the wrong kind of sword

Wielding the wrong kind of sword

The young man readily accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord and not many days later was baptised. When he shared his experience with his terrorist friend, the man would have none of it. Unfortunately this man, along with two other of Al-Khadir’s former terrorist friends, were among 37 people executed for terrorist-related crimes—beheaded in fact—last week.

With the pastor in agreement, Al-Khadir decided to leave the country for his own safety. Launched now into a wholly new, holy life, he truly considers himself newly-born. Where he’d had no compunctions about his terrorist life before, he now feels remorse for the fear he instilled in others. While he thought he fought for God before, he now knows he is on the right and only path to and with Him. He says he now feels joy and experiences “great peace under the wings of Lord Jesus.”

“The Lord has saved me from a terrible life,” he adds, “As the book of Job says, 'I alone escaped from them to be the witness’ of mighty savior Jesus Christ.” [Job 1:15]

Al-Khadir has wasted no time getting into studying God’s word at his new location, his reference to Job above being deep proof. That whole verse reads, “and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” As he studies, he also works alongside his new Christian friends distributing Bibles and gospel tracts. Please pray for him and the entire ministry of Bibles for Mideast.

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* Name changed for security reasons

Aggressive Islamic militants now serving God and bringing multitudes to Christ

Shah* once lived the life of an aggressive Islamic militant in a Muslim-dominated south Asian country. While the state officially recognized Christianity as a minority religion, it also considered blasphemy against Allah and the Prophet Mohamed great crimes. So with no justification, many would persecute Christians by falsely accusing them of such a ‘crime’.

One day, Shah saw a young Christian man associated with Bibles for Mideast holding a Bible and explaining salvation and the second coming of Jesus to a young Muslim fellow. Shah approached to set him straight. outlining the Islamic belief about ‘Prophet Jesus (Isa)’. He proclaimed forcefully the Islamic belief about Prophet Jesus (Isa): he did NOT die on a cross, but was elevated by Allah and will come back again as ‘Mahdi Imam’, a Messiah who will rule the rule the entire world for 40 years under Islamic (Shari'a) law.  

The Christian minister calmly and politely shared with him how Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary and living a sinless life, really did die on the cross of Calvary.  He then rose from the dead as a ransom to save all humanity from sin and death. Those who believe and follow Him are washed by His shed blood on the Cross. They are His bride and He is coming back in the clouds to receive them. That, he said, is what the Bible teaches.

"Your bible is annulled and false!" Shah screamed. He slapped the evangelist and grabbing the bible from his hands, threw it to the ground. He then set it on fire. The other man joined Shah in the assault, and the two decided to tie the minister up with a rope.

By this time a mob had gathered. They brutally beat the Christian and afterwards handed him over to the police, accusing him of blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed. The court then sent him to prison and within days, he was dead.

Shah and the young Muslim, Asif* rejoiced when they heard of the evangelist’s death in prison. They became fast friends in their crusade against Christianity, and made a sport of persecuting Christians by falsely denouncing them.

One day, the young men worked up a plan of attack on a group of Christians they’d heard were having an extended meeting for fasting and prayer. As they walked to the meeting place, a man joined up with them. He talked with them about the Son of God.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.  While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.
While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

"God sent His Son, born of a virgin woman, not to condemn the world, but so that the world could be saved through him. That man is Jesus, the Son of God." 

Shah and Asif naturally became infuriated, and wanted to beat him up. Instead, they suddenly stepped back in fear. A heavenly host of warrior angels had appeared behind him! And now, he held a burning bible in his hands—looking just like the bible they’d thrown on the ground and burned when they attacked the Bibles for Mideast worker.

The man grew brighter and brighter, His body now shining like many suns. They noticed nail marks in his hands.

In a powerful voice, He proclaimed: "I am Jesus, the Son of God, who was crucified, died and then rose from the dead. I have come to save you. Don’t let Satan misguide you! He is a liar and a thief. The thief does not come except to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly, now and in eternity. Those who gave their lives for me aren’t lost, but are with me in eternal glory. I am totally revealed in this book,” He said. “Follow me and be my witnesses."

"Lord Jesus!” the men cried, closing their eyes and kneeling before Him. “You are our Saviour and Lord! We believe in You!" When they opened their eyes, Jesus and the angels had vanished.

They practically ran to where the Christians were meeting for prayer. The believers reacted in fear when they saw the men rush in. But their alarm turned to wonder as the two shared their experiences with Jesus and boldly declared their new-found faith.

The men spent several days with the prayer group members, learning more about Christianity. But their turning made them enemies of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, who set out to kill them. They fled to another area and began seriously studying God’s word, and eventually were anointed pastors. As persecution persisted and grew, the men headed for the mountains and joined in ministry with Bibles for Mideast. It wasn’t long before a new ALG Church was born in one of the mountain villages.

In our first story on Asif and Shah back in November, we reported on their work and a horrific attack they’d suffered, asking for the prayers of God’s people (Urgent prayer request: Pastors attacked and church demolished by terrorists).

God miraculously answered those prayers, so that a mere two weeks later, we had an exciting update: the entire Muslim village is now Christian (Exciting update: entire Muslim village now Christian)!

Please continue to pray for these men and the work they do in so many dangerous areas, as well as for the many new Christians.

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*
Name changed for security reasons

Bible distribution plans: Please pray

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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* 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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