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!"

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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.

Terrorists JOIN church after Jesus terrorizes their plan to burn it down!

Report from Bibles for Mideast and an ALG Church in the Middle East

Ibrani*, a young man born and brought up in an orthodox Muslim family in a Middle Eastern kingdom, had always strictly followed the rituals and principles of Islam. 

A sister he was close to and loved very much had become Christian two years ago through the ministry of Bibles for Mideast. Her husband and children also joined the Kingdom of Jesus, and all were baptized and became members of an ALG Church. They evangelized whenever possible and brought others to faith in Christ.

Ibrani tried his level best to bring his sister and her family back to Islam. But they would explain to him how they now knew that Jesus was not only a great prophet (as all Muslims believe), but the Living Lord and Son of the Most High God. Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary as a sinless man to take away the sins of all humanity, they told him. His crucifixion on the cross of Calvary served to take away the penalty of sin. He died and rose from the dead on the third day. Only by believing in and accepting Him as Lord and Savior could he be free and attain salvation, they assured him. They even invited him to meet their pastor and attend a worship service, letting him know where and when the church met.

Ibrani would have none of it. He became their sworn enemy and determined to free his region of the scourge of the Christians and their church. Joining up with a group of militants, he formulated a plan to attack the believers and destroy their meeting place. His father, mother, brothers and other sisters all offered him their total support.

The plot entailed pouring petrol on the church during a worship service, then setting it alight in hopes of burning the place down. They received the backing of both local and religious police—who it turns out already knew about the church, but hadn’t yet been able to determine where it met. The religious police in particular were delighted with the new information.

Ibrani and the team collected the petrol in a large container, which Ibrani kept in his own house. They planned to carry out the attack as the church met for Sunday worship last week. 

Around midnight Saturday, the men noticed a fire develop over the petrol jar, and watched in horror as it began spreading to the parts of the house near it. They screamed to waken Ibrani’s family sleeping in other rooms. All woke immediately and ran to safety.

Suddenly, to their astonishment, a man appeared from within the fire.

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"I am the Lord of Heaven and Earth,” he told them with calm authority. “I dwell in the light which no one can come near.

“I am also the burning fire. I can finish you off now, for I am the author of life and death. But I didn’t come to the world to destroy, but to redeem each of you from sin and death. I died for you on the cross of Calvary, and I rose from the dead. Believe in me and follow me. You will have salvation and eternal life."

He then disappeared as quickly as he had materialized, and the burning fire subsided as well. No one doubted that the Jesus Ibrani's sister had told him about had just visited them. They prostrated themselves, foreheads to the ground, convinced now in the Truth of the message she had shared.

While the church had met for prayer and fasting on Friday, the pastor had had a revelation and three members had prophesied about a great tribulation coming to the church. The prophecies warned them to move their meeting place immediately to somewhere far away, even showing them where exactly to go. It turns out the religious police intended to arrest the pastor and church members that Sunday if  the militants’ plans failed.

Ibrani's family members and his band of (former!) militants contacted Ibrani's sister and brother-in-law the same night of their visitation. They met together with the pastor, and shared what all had happened. The pastor taught them more about Jesus and the gospel throughout the night. Everyone accepted Jesus as their personal savior and Lord.

As morning dawned, they all freshened themselves up and travelled to the new worship location for Sunday service. Once there, they openly declared their new faith in Jesus and joined in worship with the believers. The church rejoiced in the Lord for HIS amazing works.

Please pray for the new believers, the pastor and his church, all the churches in the Middle East and the entire ministry of Bibles for Mideast and the Assembly of Loving God Church as we keep marching forward with the Gospel of Love and Life.

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*
Name changed for security reasons

Exciting update: entire Muslim village now Christian!

The health of Pastors Shah* and Asif*, attacked in the remote mountain village where they live and serve in Central Asia, continues to improve [original story here: Urgent prayer request: Pastors attacked and church demolished by terrorists]. We praise God for all 45 families of the village who stand with the ministers, encouraging and helping them in their recovery. The other injured individuals have almost fully recovered as well. We thank everyone who has been praying for them.

As reported two weeks ago, several local youngsters, influenced by outside extremists, had demolished the church, health clinic, sewing school and education center, all which had been set up by the pastors. Both ministers as well as a number of believers, including children, had suffered serious injuries. The young attackers’ parents and other elders in the village severely reprimanded them, and advised them to ask the pastors’ forgiveness.

The village’s medical student, home on vacation, paid the young men a visit and full of the love of Christ (with plans to become a missionary doctor), counselled them similarly. They finally agreed.

All the villagers, including the young men, then joined forces and chased the militants from their town. The former ‘temporary terrorists’ then approached the pastors and asked forgiveness for what they had done. The ministers embraced them with brotherly love and prayed for them.

The villagers have since been working hard to rebuild the tin sheet church and the health clinic, all under the leadership of the young people.

Before the attack, 27 of the village’s families counted themselves believers. The other 18 families remained Muslim, but had no complaints against either the church or their fellow villagers who became Christian. The boys who had joined with the terrorists and persecuted the church had come from those families.

To dedicate the newly-constructed church, the pastors held three days prayer and fasting in the building, from Thursday through Saturday.  Even though still weak, Pastors Shah and Asif led the services, with all the villages’ 45 families taking part! 

By the end of the three days, every single one of the those Muslims accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. So the whole village, in an otherwise entirely Muslim-dominated region, has become Christian!

Thank you for your prayers for the Assembly of Loving God Church and Bibles for Mideast. Please pray now as we prepare for baptismal services for the new believers, as well as for all future activities of the church.

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* Names changed for security reasons

Ministry leader attacked by radical Muslims released from hospital; his main attacker and family now Christians!

Pastor Peter Haneef, President of the ALG (Assembly of Loving God)* is now home, with medical orders for a month of bed rest. 

We had reported on his attack earlier (Brutal attack on ALG Church leader Pastor Peter Haneef and family in Bangladesh) as well as an astonishing update a week later (Boy’s dramatic dream of wounded lamb leads to salvation of his Islamic terrorist father).

The following is excerpted from Pastor Peter’s letter of thanks.

“Dear co-pastors and friends in our Lord:

“Glory to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I am thankful to the Lord for you and all the prayer warriors of Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church…. I did not even think of coming back to life, for the attack by radical Muslims was so brutal and I was about to die. My wife and children also suffered with me. I was prepared to meet my Lord at any time. But now I know it is His will that I should live on in the flesh some more time and make fruits for the Lord from my labour.

“Also I thank Pastor Paul, Pastor John, sister Susanna and all the fellow labourers of our Lord…. May our Lord reward you all for your spiritual and physical helps and for your kind blessings.

“I am now back from the hospital. Doctors advised me to take complete bed rest for a month. No doubt it is hard for me. But also I think it is good that I have been afflicted, that I may have more time to pray for the salvation of unsaved people and to learn the statutes of my Lord Jesus Christ. Once again I and my family surrender ourselves before the Lord and we decided to serve Him better till the end of our lives.

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“Our Lord has saved the chief person of my attackers and his whole family from sin and death. But they are facing persecutions and were forcibly expelled from their house by the local Muslim community. The members of our  church have given them refuge and are helping them. He and his children have a great desire to become missionaries of our Lord among Muslims and are praying for that.  Offer your continuous prayers for them please.

“May the grace of our Father, the love of Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

With love and prayers,
Your fellow labourer in His service,
Pastor Peter H."

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*The ALG is the umbrella organization for all Bibles for Mideast churches.

PLEASE KEEP PRAYING FOR THE PROTECTION OF ALL MISSIONARIES AND WORKERS FOR JESUS IN THE RESTRICTED AREAS OF OUR WORLD

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.  

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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.  

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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.

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*pseudonym