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.

______________________
*
Name changed for security reasons

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.

Jesus heals and saves Afghani girl brought up by Taliban

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

Sameera* grew up in a fanatically fundamentalist Muslim family who had actually been leaders in helping establish the Taliban in their native Afghanistan. They strongly believed the whole world should be ruled according to Islamic sharia law, and anyone not following sharia must die.

During their official reign of terror in Afghanistan (1996-2001), the Taliban murdered thousands of people and destroyed countless churches and temples. When the US-led forces attacked Afghanistan in 2001, Sameera was seven. Three of her brothers died in the assault, and her older sister went missing.**

Taliban fighters in afghanistan (EPA)

Taliban fighters in afghanistan (EPA)

Their mother, completely undone by the tragedies, soon developed heart problems. As her heart began to fail and knowing she faced imminent death, she begged her husband to take their remaining children—Sameera and her four-year-old brother—and flee Afghanistan at any cost and in any way. Like many in their country, they believed Christians were behind the invasion, aiming to destroy both their nation and their religion.

So right after the mother died and without even taking time for a proper burial, Sameera’s father fled the home with nothing but his young children. He knew it was practically impossible to escape without being seen by the invading army, but also knew he had to try.  

The young family hadn’t gotten far before being captured by armed forces in a military truck patrolling the streets. Sameera’s father felt certain they would be killed.  But when the soldiers saw the innocent little ones with him, their hearts melted. Sameera has a clear memory of the men then joining hands and actually praying in the truck, eyes brimming with tears. She heard the words ‘Lord Jesus’ over and over. While she had no idea what they were saying, she memorized the name ‘Jesus’, somehow keeping it lodged in her heart.

When the truck reached a deserted area, the soldiers touched each of them kindly on the shoulders and told them to get out and flee. Knowing the family couldn’t understand English, they did their best to make themselves understood by gesturing and pointing to the children. One of the men tearfully tried to explain how they all had small children like Sameera and her brother at their homes in America. The family did finally grasp the men were urging them to escape, and as they clambered from the truck the soldiers again spoke using the name Jesus—likely, we think now, praying their Lord Jesus would bless and protect the family.

After a gruelling journey lasting many days, the family somehow ended up in a Middle Eastern kingdom. Sameera’s father found work and labored hard to support his growing youngsters.

Whenever they thought about their brothers, sister, mother and other dead and missing relatives, their rage towards Christians, the supposed invaders, grew. So they pledged to fight them to the death. Every day they prayed to Allah for strength and courage for the battle. Sameera’s brother figured his best option was to leave home and join forces with ISIS, which he did four years ago.

Eight months ago, Sameera’s father died in a tragic accident. Being so close to him, the shock of the loss proved near unbearable. Her emotional and mental anguish further increased when her brother didn't show up for their father’s funeral. No one knew where he might be, or even if he was still alive.

Sameera grew increasingly disturbed and even violent, to the point she had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital and confined to a separate room.

As only our Lord could work it, one of the hospital staff ‘happens’ to be a member of the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church and a voluntary evangelist with Bibles for Mideast. She loved and cared for Sameera like a sister, praying for her and spending time with her in her isolation. She often shared her testimony of having once been a Muslim, her decision to leave Islam, and the message of the gospel.

As their friendship grew, one day she prayed over Sameera in Jesus’ name. A lightbulb went off for Sameera as she remembered the soldiers in Afghanistan who prayed over her as a little girl, using the same name. The very men who had showed her family such unexpected loving kindness and had helped them escape the battle zone.

As she slept that night, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared before in a dream.

“Daughter, you are not alone,” she heard him say. “I am always with you as your eternal Father and Comforter.” He showed her his nail-scarred hands and the wounds in his side. “I have suffered all of these—have been crucified on the cross of Calvary, died and rose from the dead—for YOU and your salvation. By my blood you are washed and by my stripes you are healed. You are no longer a patient. Believe in me and follow me.”

She awoke immediately, jumped from her bed praising the Lord, and tried to pray by herself in Jesus’ name.

Early the next morning she asked to see her beloved friend.  When the Christian staff member arrived, Sameera joyfully shared what had happened. The friend praised and thanked the Lord and then, as they held hands, led Sameera in a prayer to accept Jesus Christ as her own personal Saviour and Lord.

The staff member later introduced Sameera to her pastor, who began visiting and praying for her as well.

When discharged soon afterwards from the hospital, Sameera had nowhere to go. The owner of her family’s house had repossessed it when she entered hospital and been unable to pay the rent. So the pastor arranged for her to stay with some Bibles for Mideast women, where she remains, studying the word of God and ministering alongside them.

She shared her testimony with her new church and has committed the rest of her life to the Lord’s ministry. At her request, the pastor baptized her.

Atrocities in Afghanistan continue; here, Children run away after an explosion in Kabul in May, 2013 (REUTERS)

Atrocities in Afghanistan continue; here, Children run away after an explosion in Kabul in May, 2013 (REUTERS)

We of course don’t know whether her brother will return. If he does, we cannot guess how he will react to his sister becoming a Christian. So please pray for Sameera and also for her brother’s salvation, if he is still alive. Pray also for the safety of the women she lives with and other workers and believers with Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church in that region.

Please keep all the missionaries and ministries of Bibles for Mideast and the many ALG churches in Asia, Africa and Middle East in your prayers. We could not do any of this without your help.

____________________________
* Name changed for security reasons
** Even after being ousting from official power in the U.S-led invasion of 2001, the Taliban—with ISIS and others—continue to terrorize, murder and destroy in Afghanistan and beyond.

________________________ 

EXCITING UPDATE! A year later, Sameera’s brother, who was really lost, is REALLY found:
ISIS fighter flees bombardment and inadvertently, into the hands of Jesus

Muslim extremist stabs pastors; their love and forgiveness lead him and his family to Jesus

Report: Bibles for Mideast

cutting the fingers and hands of a man caught reading the Bible

cutting the fingers and hands of a man caught reading the Bible

Al-Farooqi (name changed for security reasons), 37, had been a fanatic and faithful Middle Eastern follower of Islam his whole life. He strongly believed the whole world should be ruled according to Islamic Sharia law, and anyone not following Sharia must be killed.

In his twenties, he worked with the Taliban, destroying churches and temples and killing scores of people. He seemed consumed with shedding the blood of ‘infidels’. Seriously injured when the US army attacked his Taliban base, he managed to escape and fled back to his native city. He still limps from the damage caused by the bombing.

He had a special enmity toward Christians. Whenever he met one, he would immediately slap them. It was his pledge, as was keeping a large knife ever with him.

Several weeks ago, two Bibles for Mideast pastors met him along the road, gave him a sample gospel and started talking to him about Jesus. They of course had no idea who he was or about his past; they simply saw and attempted to engage a handicapped man walking alone.

Farooqi exploded in anger. His eyes reddened and he shook with fury.

“Allahu Akbar!” he screamed, tearing up the gospel literature they’d given him. He then grabbed his knife and lunged at them several times. Both pastors sustained injuries, but by God’s grace the wounds weren’t too serious.

While furiously stabbing the pastors, Farooqi lost the grip on the knife. It flew from his hand down to his one undamaged leg, tearing into it violently. With blood spewing out like a gusher, he fell to the ground, crying out in agony.

The pastors moved quickly to form tourniquets out of their handkerchiefs and attempted to bandage him up. At first he wouldn’t let them near him. The men had to force first aid on him, and managed to at least partially stop the flow of blood. They then hailed a taxi and took him to the nearest hospital. Once medical staff had applied proper bandaging and  given him several injections, the pastors brought him back to his own home.

On the way there from the hospital, they told him the parable of the Good Samaritan [from Luke 10:25-37].

“This was what Jesus taught us to do,” they explained. “We are simply following what He says.” Farooqi listened but seemed totally uninterested.

When the pastors left, he refused to smile at or even thank them. They could tell he was still angry. Yet the next day, backed up by prayer, they went back to the home. While his family members were happy they returned, Farooqi refused to speak to them.

Two days later, the prayerful, persistent pastors again paid a visit. They helped him untie his bandages and apply new ones. Other family members grew fonder of the Christian leaders, but not until their fourth stopover did Farooqui finally speak, thanking them. While they knew he’d done it under the compulsion of his family, they became regular visitors. Farooqi eventually began to enjoy the visits, and as they talked, the whole family learned more and more about Jesus. They listened carefully, and accepted the Arabic Bible offered to them.

 “I am not worthy to stand before the Lord,” Farooqi told them one day. “I am such a sinner and I’ve killed so many people. He simply cannot love me as a human being.”

The pastors opened the Bible to Romans 5:8-10 and showed it to him.

result of punishment inflicted in picture above: The blood of Jesus covers even this

result of punishment inflicted in picture above: The blood of Jesus covers even this

“But here is how God has shown his love for us,” he read. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. The blood of Christ has made us right with God. So we are even more sure that Jesus will save us from God’s anger. Once we were God’s enemies. But we have been brought back to him because his Son died for us. Now that God has brought us back, we are even more secure. We know that we will be saved because Christ lives.”

Farooqi and his family became convinced about the value and truth of the Christian belief system. They confessed before the Lord and accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Now all regularly but secretly attend worship services at a Bibles for Mideast underground church.

Please pray for Farooqi and his family: that the Muslim community will not bring them any harm; that our mighty Lord will continually protect them under His wings.

Christian grocer and Police Superintendent’s wife latest murdered by Islamic extremists in Bangladesh

Report: Bibles for Mideast 

Unidentified attackers murdered 65-year-old Sunil Gomes in the village of Bonpara, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in Muslim-majority Bangladesh. He had just returned from a Sunday worship service.

Murdered Bangladeshi grocer Sunil Gomes

Murdered Bangladeshi grocer Sunil Gomes

"Sunil Gomes was hacked to death at his grocery store just near a church at Bonpara village," said the deputy police chief of the surrounding Natore district, Shafiqul Islam.

He ran a fruit and vegetable shop, served at his Bonpara church and was respected among villagers.

"I am shocked and saddened. My brother had no enemies,” says his brother Proshanto Gomes, a Christian minister in Dinajpur. “We ask what could have motivated his murder?"

Benedict, a Christian leader in Bonpara, says that "the faithful of the village live in brotherhood with the people of other religions. Why did they attack us?”

He calls for severe punishment for the extremists, who in the past have escaped justice.  "Two months ago, an elderly Christian couple was attacked, but the police did not arrest anyone." Benedict added.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the murder through its Amaq news agency, according to the SITE monitoring group, saying it was "part of a series of operations" in Bangladesh.

The local Christian community lives in fear. Only hours earlier the wife of Police Superintendent Babul Aktar—a man fighting hard against militants and drug cartels—had been stabbed

The Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, Oikya Parishad, organized a human chain Sunday afternoon and imposed a seven-day ultimatum for the capture of the killers to draw government attention and ask for protection.

A relative consoles Ms. Khanam's children following her death

A relative consoles Ms. Khanam's children following her death

Sunil’s murder happened just hours after the wife of Superintendent of Police Babul Aktar was stabbed and shot to death by three bike-borne assailants as she walked her six-year-old son to a bus stop in southeast Bangladesh. Her husband has led several high-profile operations against terrorists and drug cartels in the region.

Islamic State militants have claimed responsibility for the murder of Sunil Gomez and the officer’s wife, Mahmuda Khanam.

Over 40 people have died in the past three years in a series of attacks targeting activists and non-Muslims. Attacks have increased recently, but Bangladeshi authorities hold political rivals and homegrown Islamist terrorists responsible and reject any involvement from foreign terrorist groups.