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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Warrior angels just one factor in many connected radical salvations

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church

Al Bilal*, a fanatic Muslim, had long been an active member of his local mosque in a Middle Eastern kingdom. While studying at university, a Christian friend—who also happened to be the son of a Bibles for Mideast evangelist—gave him a sample gospel. As a courtesy to the friend he read it, but didn’t believe a word.

Not long after, Jesus surprised him by appearing before him in a vision.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” he said to Bilal. “I am the beginning and the end. I died on the cross and rose from the dead to give everyone eternal life. Those who believe in me will have a place with me in heaven. Follow me without hesitation!”  

Bilal managed to find the gospel tract again, and contacted the number printed on it. A Bibles for Mideast pastor answered the call, and shared the message of the gospel clearly with him. He didn’t need much convincing to accept Jesus as his personal savior and Lord, and soon afterwards made a full commitment to Christianity through baptism. 

Being highly educated both academically and in Islam, Bilal’s community had tremendous respect for him. But on his embrace of Christianity his parents, relatives and community leaders desperately wanted him back in the Islamic fold. Bilal boldly held to his precious new faith.

The angered community eventually excommunicated him from the mosque. Each and every one—his family included—came to consider him a dangerous enemy.

Bilal began going to a deserted area around midnight each night. He would kneel down in the sand, alone before his Lord, and for nearly two hours would pray and praise in the Spirit.

Some young people, under the leadership of Bilal’s first cousin Sulfiker*, began formulating a plan to kill him. They first found out where and when he headed for his nightly prayers. Then, armed with steel rods and sharp knives, they snuck out after him one night and prepared to lunge. 

But angels of the Lord surrounded Bilal, and fought back the attackers. In absolute terror, Sulfi and his gang took off in all directions.  Bilal however remained so engrossed in his time with the Lord he didn’t even notice the commotion!

Some angels you do not want to mess with

Some angels you do not want to mess with

As Sulfiker bolted away, he suddenly fell into a deep pit. He broke both his hands and legs in the fall, so of course could then barely move, let alone climb out. 

As his time of prayer and praise ended, Bilal stood and shook the sand from his knees. He then felt the Holy Spirit leading him to the pit his cousin had fallen in to. He could see immediately Sulfi needed help getting out, so climbed down and managed to get the young man mounted on his shoulders. Sulfi thought his cousin must be furious with him.

“Don’t kill me!” he screamed.

Bilal dragged and pulled him from the pit and administered some first aid. He also prayed for his cousin. He then took him to his home, and from there to the hospital.

Sulfi remained in hospital several weeks, with Bilal almost constantly by his side. When the time seemed right, he shared the gospel message with his injured cousin. Sulfi then blurted out all that had happened the night of his fall. Embarrassed and overwhelmed, he confessed his sins and accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and Lord.

Sulfi’s friends—the fellow-attackers—also visited him in the hospital. They had obviously been just as terrified seeing and experiencing the mighty, fighting angels. When Sulfi shared with them the salvation available and possible in Jesus Christ alone, they likewise needed little convincing and joined him in praying to accept Jesus into their hearts and lives.

All have now been excommunicated from their mosque and face severe persecution. They also all secretly attend worship services in an underground ALG Church and work for the Lord through Bibles for Mideast.

Please pray for them and all other ministers and ministries of Bibles for Mideast! We so appreciate and need your prayerful support.

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* names changed for security reasons

A Muslim love story: first with Jesus, then each other, and now the world around them

Islamic teacher Davood* worked for years training children in the Koran at a religious school attached to a mosque in Africa. One day, he discovered a student with a gospel tract. Infuriated, he demanded to know where the fellow had gotten it. Someone had handed it to him as he walked to school, the boy explained. Snatching the leaflet from him, Davood warned him to never accept such foolish writings from anyone ever again.

But he held onto the tract, intending to show it to the mosque’s religious leaders. They absolutely must find out who was distributing the literature and, if he had anything to say about, punish them severely.

Since he wasn’t able to meet any of the leaders when school finished, he headed back to his home. Getting ready for bed that night, he again noticed the tract. He might as well see what nonsense they were writing, he figured, and read it through.

When he got to the part about there being “salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved” something—he wasn’t sure what—struck him and stuck in his mind.

That night Jesus—whom Muslims recognize as a great prophet and messenger of God—came to him in a dream.

“I am the way and the truth and the life,” he announced to Davood. “No one comes to the Heavenly Father except through me.”

As morning dawned the Muslim man had another look at the gospel tract, and finding a contact number on the back, called it. Pastor Musthafa with Bibles for Mideast in Africa answered [an earlier story about Pastor Musthafa here: The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for others]. Soon Davood had many of his questions answered and was led in a prayer to accept Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

Meanwhile, in another part of Africa, young Minoo* lived with her parents, seven sisters and four brothers in a poor but fanatically Islamic household. 

“I wanted to go to school and college,” she explains, “but my parents directed me to go to work on farms before I was 12.”  

Because of the heavy labor and intermingling with other workers, she contracted HIV, which developed into full-blown AIDS several years later.

tHE FATE OF MANY EBOLA SUFFERERS [gETTY IMAGES, LIBERIA)

tHE FATE OF MANY EBOLA SUFFERERS [gETTY IMAGES, LIBERIA)

“I was in severe pain, but doctors refused to treat me,” she remembers.  “My friends and relatives were also afraid to visit me.” With no medical treatment, other members of her family also contracted HIV, and then all were infected by the Ebola virus when it later raged though West Africa.

With neighbors refusing to visit or help in any way, and with little to eat and drink, the family began to waste away physically and emotionally. Minoo decided to put an end to her misery.

“I collected some poisonous fruits to end my life,” she explains, but her attempt failed.

Pastors and workers with Bibles for Mideast learned of the sad and dying family, and, ignoring the warnings of others in the community, brought them food and clothes. They also fasted and prayed for three days for the family.

“The Lord Jesus revealed to us to visit the family and pray for them,” Pastor Paul explains, so he and Pastor Musthafa visited, bringing more food and clothes. When neighbors reiterated the warnings of certain death if they went in the home, they stood firm.

“We are going to that house in the name of Jesus Christ, who is the living Lord and Savior and mighty healer,” they told the naysayers. “If it is His will they all will be healed and saved, and you all will see it with your own eyes.”

The pastors found the family to be “like skeleton people,” Pastor Paul recalls. The men knelt down in the power of the Holy Spirit, while some family members gathered in front of them. Minoo and several others lay on their beds, unable to get up.

aS hE DID THEN, HE DOES NOW!

aS hE DID THEN, HE DOES NOW!

When the pastors began praying, “the power of Jesus’ victorious life-giving blood poured out on each in the family like electricity,” Pastor Paul recounts. Screaming, Minoo jumped to her feet and began dancing around.

“Glory to Jesus!” she cried, praising and thanking the Lord. Others stood to their feet, all experiencing the almighty awesomeness of God. They then knelt in His powerful Presence. The pastors shared the gospel with them, and each accepted the Lord Jesus as personal Savior and Lord.

Within days they had recovered their physical health, and grown leaps and bounds spiritually. But new trials began. The Muslim community they lived in insisted they reject their faith in Jesus as Savior, but with new-found strength and boldness, they held on. One night some radical neighbors set fire to their house, intending to kill all of them. The family managed to escape, and fled the region.

Minoo’s strong desire for higher studies finally found fulfillment as she went deep into the Word of God, and with the help of Bibles for Mideast, went on to university.

Before going, she began preparing for baptism with, unknown to her, her future husband—yes, Davood!—as a fellow candidate. They were baptized together by Pastor Musthafa, but only later, while studying at the same university, did they get to really know each other and fall in love.

Davood learned of her unfortunate past but did not let that get in the way of his desire to marry her. Pastor Paul officiated at their marriage and now, several years later, they have a young girl and infant boy. They lead an underground church, as well as evangelize Muslims in their area and distribute bibles. Please pray God’s protection, provision and guidance for this young couple, their church and their ministry … as well as for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast as a whole.

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*names changed for security reasons

Minoo Hussain reported several earlier stories for us: The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for othersand God restores and redeems: an astounding update of attack on the African church.

The religious component of Islam? Nothing but a ‘beard’ covering an all-encompassing system of life

The strong opinion voiced in our title comes from a man who understands the ‘system of Islam’ better than most. A pioneer missionary in and to some of the worst war zones in the world, Dr. Peter Hammond was born and raised in Africa. For 35 years he has served persecuted churches and pioneered evangelistic outreaches into Mozambique, Angola, Rwanda, Congo and Nigeria.

Peter has smuggled in and distributed hundreds of thousands of Bibles, New Testaments and Christian books into Muslim and communist nations, as well as helping establish over 100 Christian schools and numerous Bible colleges throughout Africa. Beaten by mobs, stabbed, shot at, arrested, ambushed, come under aerial and artillery bombardment, imprisoned and tortured for Christ—he  is one of our heroes and will surely go into the history books as a soldier of our faith. 

Islam book cover 1.jpg

 “Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components,” he writes in his most famous and controversial book, Slavery, Terrorism and Islam. What he refers to as the ‘Islamization’ of a society begins when the population of Muslims reaches a critical mass, and they then being to agitate for various privileges.

“When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well,” he notes. You can see how it works, according to Dr. Hammond, by looking at the percentage of Muslims in a particular country. We have updated his statistics and moved the countries around a bit to fit current available estimates.

When the Muslim population remains under or around 2-3% in a country, they will be seen primarily as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the current situation in: 

United States — Muslim 0.9%
China — Muslim 1.8%
Italy — Muslim 2.3%
Australia — Muslim 2.6 %
Canada — Muslim 3.2%
Norway — Muslim 2-4%

As the Muslim population reaches 4-5%, they begin to recruit from ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, within prisons and street gangs. This is happening in:

Denmark — Muslim 4.1%
Germany — Muslim 4.4-5.8%
Spain — Muslim 4.1%
United Kingdom — Muslim 4.8%

“From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population,” Dr. Hammond notes. “For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food” and increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature such food on their shelves—along with threats for failure to comply. This is happening in: 

Sweden — Muslim 5%
Switzerland — Muslim 5%
The Netherlands — Muslim 5-6%
Trinidad & Tobago — Muslim 5.8%
Thailand — Muslim 5.8%
France — Muslim 7.5%
Philippines — Muslim 5-11%

Soon they begin to apply pressure to allow Sharia law within their own communities (sometimes ghettos). “When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions,” Dr. Hammond notes. These tensions are seen on a regular basis in: 

Russia — Muslim 6.5-15%
Kenya — Muslim 10%
India — Muslim 14.2%
Israel — Muslim 17.7%

The violence increases when the Muslim population reaches 20%. After that, “nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues,” such as in Ethiopia (34% Muslim).

“At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare,” such as in: 

Bosnia — Muslim 50.7%
Albania — Muslim 56.7%
Chad — Muslim 58%
Lebanon — Muslim 59.7%

Above 60%, persecution of non-believing ‘infidels’ rises significantly, including sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia law as a weapon, and Jizya, a tax placed on infidels, such as in:

Malaysia — Muslim 61.4%
Qatar — Muslim 77.5%

After 80%, Dr. Hammond says to expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some state-run ethnic cleansing, and even genocide as these nations drive out those they consider non-believers and move toward a 100% Muslim society. A close to 100% Muslim society will theoretically usher in the Islamic version of peace, the peace of ‘Dar-es-Salaam’ according to Dr. Hammond. “Here there’s supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrassas are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word.” The following countries all approach 100% Islamization:

Riots in Pakistan, 2013

Riots in Pakistan, 2013

Syria — Muslim 82.9%
Indonesia — Muslim 87.2%
Egypt — Muslim 90%
Bangladesh — Muslim 90.4%
Jordan — Muslim 93.8%
Pakistan — Muslim 96.4%
Tajikistan — Muslim 96.7%
Sudan — Muslim 97%
Palestinian Territories — Muslim 97.5%
Turkey — Muslim 98.6%
Iraq — Muslim 99%
Morocco — Muslim 99%
Iran — Muslim 99.7%
United Arab Emirates — Muslim 100% of citizens (85% of the population are foreign workers. While no official figures are available, local observers estimate that approximately 55 % of the foreign population are Muslim.)
Afghanistan — Muslim 99.8%
Saudi Arabia — Muslim 97.1%
Somalia — Muslim 98.9%
Yemen — Muslim 99%

Obviously the ‘Islamic ideal’ can never be realized. In countries at or near 100% Muslim population, “the most radical Muslims intimidate and spew hatred, and satisfy their blood lust by killing less radical Muslims, for a variety of reasons,” observes Dr. Hammond.

“It is important to understand that in some countries, with well under 100% Muslim populations—such as France—the minority Muslim populations live in ghettos, within which they are 100% Muslim, and within which they live by Sharia law,” he states. “In Paris, we are already seeing car-burnings. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam, and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam.”

Dr. Hammond is also concerned by demographic trends, and the Muslim population has grown dramatically since he wrote his book. Estimates vary, but as of 2015, the Pew Research Center estimates there to be about 1.8 billion Muslims in the world; nearly one-fourth of the world’s population today.  Since their birth rates dwarf the birth rates of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and all other believers, all predictions have Muslims exceeding 50% of the world’s population by the end of this century.

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Dr. Peter Hammond is the Founder of Frontline Fellowship, the Reformation Society, Africa Christian Action and the William Carey Bible Institute. His other books include: In the Killing Fields of Mozambique, Holocaust In Rwanda, Faith Under Fire in Sudan, Putting Feet to your Faith, The Greatest Century of Missions, Practical Discipleship, Answering Skeptics, The Power of Prayer Handbook, Biblical Principles for Africa and Victorious Christians who Changed the World.

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MOST IMPORTANTLY, let's not forget the Good News!
Like here: Conversions in the millions: Muslims tasting the love of Jesus and embracing Christianity all over the globe, and many other places on this site and others. We know who wins in the end.

From Islamic enforcer and Christian killer to underground church leader: a modern-day Muslim Saul

For years, Zakkir* and his father lived to uphold the many religious rules governing their 100% Muslim country, one of the strictest in the Middle East. They followed Islamic ritual practices fanatically, and if they witnessed anything or anyone ‘out of order’, had no compunctions about resorting to violence. 

While Zakkir’s father served in the often-merciless Islamic religious force known as Muttawa, his son headed up an outlaw gang of angry young militants. All were fully committed to punishing anyone daring to defy the stern laws and practices of Islam.

Taliban religious police beating a woman because she dared to remove her burqa in public

Taliban religious police beating a woman because she dared to remove her burqa in public

“If anyone passed along the road by the mosque at the time of Namaz [Islamic prayer], our gang would stop and brutally beat them for not attending,” Zakkir explains. 

One day, he noticed some Christians distributing sample gospels and, he says, trying to convert several Muslims. The gang determined to put a stop to the evangelical activities.

“We attacked their office,” Zakkir relates, “and killed three of them.” Pleased with themselves, the men were jubilant when they discovered later that the ‘infidels’ had also been secretly translating bibles into Arabic.

Soon they were back at their post, stopping those passing by the mosque at the time of Friday prayer, insisting they come in.  They pulled over one man in the midst of rushing his sick child to hospital, and refused to take even that as an excuse.

“I dragged him out of the car myself,” Zakkir confesses. But as he did, the distraught father grabbed a gun from his glove compartment and fired off three shots directly into his assailant’s chest. Zakkir fell to the ground, and the man jumped back into his car and drove off.

The young militant’s friends sped him to the hospital. Surgeons managed to remove only two of the bullets, deciding that taking out the third, lodged in a dangerous position in his chest, would mean certain death.

He remained in a coma for several days, and doctors gave up hope for his recovery. Friends and relatives who had been by his hospital bed from the beginning gave up as well, leaving him alone in the hospital to die.

Bibles for Mideast director Pastor Paul ‘just happened’ to be visiting the country with several other missionaries at the time. In prayer for their mission, he received clear instructions about Zakkir and his condition in a vision, even though the two had never met.

“Not only did the Lord ask me to visit him,” he recalls, “but He told me to bring him back with me from the hospital! We fully trust our Lord, so without any doubts we went. My coworkers suggested we take along separate clothes for him, since he would be in a hospital gown.”

He, Pastor Rahim* and two other evangelists headed off to the hospital, found Zakkir’s room, and began to pray over his comatose body.

“At this moment,” the militant remembers vividly, “I had a dream that Jesus Christ came to me and said, ‘I am your Lord and Savior, I have been wounded for you, and by my stripes you are healed. I choose you as one of my vessels to bring many to my fold.’"

He says the Lord then touched his wounds with His own nail-scarred hands. “Suddenly, the remaining bullet jumped from my chest automatically, as I felt new blood flow through my veins!” He opened his eyes to see four people praying over him.

“I thought they were angels of the Lord,” he says. Pastor Paul made clear they were simply servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that they’d been given instructions to come and pray for him. He also explained to him the way of salvation.

“He is the author of life, believe in Him and you will be saved." 

Zakkir hardly needed convincing. He got up, accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior, and surrendered his life to the Lord of Life. The missionaries helped him into his ‘new clothes’, and then secretly whisked him away.

“No one knew about my escape with the pastors,” he explains. As only Jesus could work it, Zakkir now heads up an underground Bibles for Mideast affiliated church in his country.

“I am not worthy to be a pastor of our Lord's Church, for I was persecuting the Church,” he says, sounding for all the world like the Apostle Paul writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:9**). “But I am pastoring an underground ALG church. We are taking care of the persecuted Christians who were former Muslims.”

Please pray for Zakkir and the Christian colleagues he lives with as they work to spread the Kingdom of Jesus in a dark and restrictive kingdom of this world.

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* names changed for security reasons
** "
I don’t deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God’s church right out of existence." [1 Cor. 15:9, The Message]