ISIS fighter flees bombardment and inadvertently, into the hands of Jesus

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

Shuhaib* grew up in a fanatically fundamentalist Muslim family who had 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 the official reign of terror in Afghanistan (1996-2001), the Taliban murdered thousands of people and destroyed countless churches and temples. When US-led forces attacked Afghanistan in 2001, Shuhaib was only four years old.  Three of his brothers died in the assault, one of his older sisters went missing, and his mother died without getting proper treatment nor even a burial. Finally his father fled the home with nothing but his youngest son Shuhaib and little daughter Sameera, then seven. 

They hadn’t gotten far before being captured by armed forces in a military truck patrolling the streets. Shuhaib’s dad felt sure they would be killed but to his surprise, when the American soldiers saw the innocent youngsters, they actually helped the family escape. Driving them to a deserted area, they motioned for them to flee and many difficult days later, the young family ended up in a Middle Eastern Kingdom. The father eventually found work, and labored long and hard to support his growing children.

Whenever they thought about their deceased mother, murdered brothers, missing sister and other dead and missing relatives, their rage towards Christians grew. Like many Afghanis, they believed Christians were behind the invasion. So at 17, Shuhaib joined up with a militant group and from there was recruited by ISIS. He served as a faithful commander, but his father and sister never had any idea where he was.

ISIS militants, once on the march but now in retreat and disarray everywhere

ISIS militants, once on the march but now in retreat and disarray everywhere

About a year and a half ago the father died in a tragic accident, and as we reported in an earlier story, his sister Sameera, miraculously touched by the Lord Jesus about a year ago, accepted Him as her personal savior and even joined the ministry of Bibles for Mideast.

What we hadn’t reported is that six months ago, she married an ALG pastor in the Middle East. While no one knew for certain whether Shuhaib was even alive, his sister, her new husband and their whole church prayed fervently for his return, and that he would also join the Christian fold.  

Several days ago, a surgical strike by an anti-terrorist squad completely destroyed the base where Shuhaib and his forces had set up operations. All died except Shuhaib, who was catapulted from the camp like a football. Even though injured, he managed to flee the devastation, the sounds of bomb blasts continuing behind him. As he ran, he could feel someone holding his hand, helping him run even faster.  He also heard a voice from above.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” it declared. “No one can come to the Father without Me."  He neither understood the words nor had any idea where they came from.

As morning dawned, exhausted and parched Shuhaib had reached a village. He staggered to the door of a house on the outskirts and knocked. A young couple with two small boys by their side opened the door. Shuhaib asked for some water to drink. Inviting him inside, they gave him water as well as food, and bandaged his wounds. They questioned him about where he’d come from but Shuhaib, without the strength even to answer, fell asleep.

It turned out the family were members of a local ALG church, so naturally they began praying for the sleeping stranger. But before they even prayed, they’d received biblical verses they knew applied to him.

"I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.” (Isaiah 65:1)

Then, “a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice” (Isaiah 42:3).

As they prayed for the battered young man, they felt God tell them he was someone plucked straight from the fire by the Lord Jesus Christ. They got in touch with their pastor, who, with two other church members, came immediately.

Since Shuhaib still slept when the pastor arrived, he talked the situation over with the couple. Meanwhile, their two youngsters took it upon themselves to wake the fellow up.

"Shall we tell you a holy verse we know by heart?" a little voice queried.

"Yes," groggy Shuhaib replied.

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” the older boy replied. “No one can come to the Father without Me."

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." the younger boy piped in.

Stunned, Shuhaib realized he’d been hearing the same words the older boy just recited the whole previous night as he’d been running to safety.

Seeing the visitor now awake, the others came over. Shuhaib asked them about that verse, and explained his own experience with it.

“Those are the words of Christ Jesus, our Savior,” the pastor replied.

At the name ‘Christ Jesus’, Shuhaib rose angrily.

"Are you Christians??” he demanded.

“Yes, we are Christians," the pastor replied politely.

"Well then, thank you for your hospitality. But I'm sorry, Christians have been my enemies since birth. So I’m leaving."

When he tried to, the pastor stopped him gently.

"Brother, the Lord Jesus just saved your life from a great tragedy. Jesus is not an enemy, but a friend of everyone. He rescued you, was with you on your way, and brought you right here. You can go if you want, but please allow us to have a few words of prayer with you before you do. God brought you here for that reason, we believe.”

Annoyed, Shuaib decided to do as they asked, and sat back down.

While the pastor prayed, Shuhaib again fell asleep.  He dreamt Jesus blessed him with nail-pieced hands, while behind Him stood a huge crowd of saintly-looking people. Multitudes of angels overshadowed the scene. Then, among the saintly ones, he clearly saw the bright, smiling face of his sister Sameera right on the front lines.

"I am the Light of Life, the Prince of Peace and the eternal Savior,” Jesus said to him. “I am the First and the Last. Follow me and glorify the Heavenly Father." He then disappeared.

Shuhaib suddenly opened his eyes wider than they’d ever been.

"I believe in you Lord Jesus!" he exclaimed.

Those standing around knew Jesus had visited him. Shuhaib then shared his whole story from the beginning. The pastor related his own testimony of how he had converted from Islam, and then outlined the message of the Gospel. Shuhaib readily accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord.

As the pastor listened to Shuhaib’s story, he put the pieces together and realized he could be none other than Sameera’s brother. He knew Sameera to be married to a fellow Bibles for Mideast pastor and living in another country.

After discussing the situation with Pastor Paul, director of Bibles for Mideast, he contacted Sameera's husband and told him the wonderful news. Within days, the former terrorist joined his sister and her husband at their church, and was baptized there.

We also just learned from Sameera that at likely the same time as her brother met with Jesus in his dream, she’d had a vision of herself worshiping the Lord in Spirit and in Truth alongside her long-lost brother!

Please keep all of these precious people in your prayers.

 ________________________
*
Name changed for security reasons

Previous story on Sameera: Jesus heals and saves Afghani girl brought up by Taliban

Freedom for Middle East missionaries imprisoned for evangelizing; healing and salvation for fellow prisoners!

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

Pastor Zakkir of Bibles for Mideast labored long, hard and secretively in one of the most restrictive countries in the Middle East, as we reported last year in our story From Islamic enforcer and Christian killer to underground church leader: a modern-day Muslim Saul.

After his dramatic conversion, he had been pastoring an underground ALG (Assembly of Living God) church and taking care of a number of persecuted Christians who had converted from Islam. He lived with and was training seven young men in how to effectively evangelize in the Middle East.
 
About seven months ago, he and his team headed out to evangelize and distribute gospel tracts and bibles in a particularly dangerous area. They shared with many Muslims in the region and on returning home, sat down to intercede for the salvation of those they'd reached out to. 

As they prayed, a group of policemen and angry locals barged in on them, brandishing guns. They brutally attacked Zakkir and the team, burned their bibles and gospel literature along with their clothes and other items. While the men who’d accompanied the police aimed to kill the Christians, fortunately the officers decided to 'only' arrest them. They were whisked away to a religious court for trial and sentenced to prison for blasphemy and proselytizing.

When thrown into a common cell with notorious criminals and murderers, their real trials began. For over a month they faced cruel torture by jail wardens and relentless, often violent harassment from fellow prisoners. Yet they report now they felt the ever-present love of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compared to what He endured for us, they explain, their sufferings amounted to nothing.

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

Inside a Mddle Eastern jail cell

On first arriving at their cell, they immediately knelt down and prayed in the name of Jesus. Seeing this, other prisoners beat them and made it clear they were not to ever pray like this. So the men resorted to waiting till the others were sound asleep, then join hands in fervent worship and prayer. They figure the Lord must have induced deep sleep in their fellow prisoners, just to allow His children to worship Him in spirit, truth and safety. They prayed especially for their jailers and cellmates.
 
One day a man imprisoned for murdering three people developed severe chest pains and began vomiting blood.  He had been the one encouraging others to torture the gospel team members. 

“Shall we pray to Jesus for your healing?” Pastor Zakkir asked him.

“No!” he replied. “You cannot pray for me in that name and I do not want to hear that name again!” 

When his vomiting resumed even more severely, the man, now exhausted, thought he was going to die.

“Shall we pray for you?” Zakkir inquired again. ”Jesus is the mighty healer and He will heal you and will give you life, for which we are the witness.”

The criminal didn’t turn down the offer this time. So the pastor touched his head and prayed over him. The other team members laid their hands on him as well, joining in the prayers.

His stomach settled down immediately, as did his chest pains. Leaping to his feet as if absolutely nothing had been wrong, he marvelled that he'd felt something like an electric current flow through his body when the men prayed.

Others in the cell were equally stunned by his swift relief. The atmosphere in the cell soon transformed as the convicts grew friendly and accommodating. The missionaries could now freely pray as and when they wanted.

Furthermore, when any prisoner felt sick, depressed or upset, he'd now ask for prayer and find rapid, remarkable relief. One by one the convicted murderers, rapists, thieves and other outlaws joined the gospel workers in their times of prayer. Without the jail wardens or officers knowing, the whole cell resembled an underground church each night, with praise, worship and prayers rising to the heavens. 

Zakkir and his team related their own stories of salvation to the others, and the pastor shared the gospel message. Each and every prisoner confessed his many sins before Jesus Christ, and readily accepted Him as personal savior and Lord. They agreed that if released from jail, they too would become witnesses of Jesus to others.
 
Three months ago, a new officer took charge of the prison. Apparently trying particularly hard to prove he was tough and up to the task of controlling those in his charge, he behaved harshly towards prisoners. He could not figure out, however, why the men in this one particular cell actually seemed calm and happy. They behaved well and kindly to each other and even more surprising, when beaten or tortured, responded with “Praise the Lord!” Keeping a close eye on them, he discovered it was all because of the prayers of the gospel team members. So after two weeks, he moved Pastor Zakkir and his team into a separate cell.
 
And he continued to watch them. One night, as soon as he heard them praying, the officer entered their quarters. The gospel workers’ initial fear turned to wonder as he walked unthreateningly towards them and sat down. He then opened up about his own life. He had studied at a western university, he explained, and while there, had many Christian friends. Through their influence, he learned about the sacrifice of Jesus and had even accepted Him as his personal savior. He attended worship and prayer services with his Christian buddies and had numerous experiences with God at the time.

But on returning to his homeland after studies, he joined the government services and lost all Christian fellowship. He did however still begin his day reading the bible and secretly prayed to Jesus both morning and night.

Now, he eagerly joined with the evangelists in prayer. He asked each of them to share their testimonies, which they of course did. The men continued in worship and prayer till dawn. From then on, the officer interceded with them every night. With his help the prisoners in the team's previous cell continued their prayers as well.
 
Since the new, secretly-Christian officer held sway in higher circles within the prison system, he took the initiative in securing their release from jail, with one condition: they must leave their native land.

Agreeing to this, the evangelists were freed from jail several days ago. Before departing, Pastor Zakkir asked two of the prisoners to lead in regular prayer services in the jail, as the Lord Himself would lead him. The Christian prison officer offered his full support to this. 

Worshippers in an underground church

Worshippers in an underground church

The officer then made arrangements for Pastor Zakkir and his brave team of seven to leave the country. They are now safe with Bibles for Mideast pastors in another region, and continuing ministry there.

Please pray for them and the entire ministry, all ministers and believers of Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church, and the ministry as a whole. Pastor Zakkir and his team also want to sincerely thank all who prayed for them over these challenging yet God-ordained seven months.

Astonishing power of prayer: Jesus saves Muslim man from pirates and jaws of death at sea

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church in east Africa

Gainful employment being as scarce as rain and healthy crops in Milad’s* drought-stricken east African country, many, including his family, struggled to survive.  As the eldest of nine children in an orthodox Muslim family, when an offer to work on a ship came along, he gladly accepted. At last he could help provide for his parents and siblings.

Not till he joined his new employers onboard did he realize the ‘work’ involved attacking and robbing ships. They were pirates! When he tried to abandon ship they wouldn’t allow him, and when he told them he had no intention of working for them, they bound his hands and legs with steel chains. He became a slave to the pirates, freed only when they found their next target of attack. They knew that if he got away, their secrets and information on who they were would escape with him. 

Armed Somali pirates preparing to attack a ship (AFP/GETTY IMAGE)

Armed Somali pirates preparing to attack a ship (AFP/GETTY IMAGE)

One evening they attempted to rob a ship full of valuable merchandise in the Indian Ocean. The vessel’s strong security force fought back, and a fierce gun battle ensued. When a bullet hit Milad in his left shoulder, he jumped into the sea to save himself.

As he tried to swim to safety, a giant fish suddenly darted through the dark waters towards him. Whether a shark or a whale he couldn’t tell, but he could see its wide-open mouth ready to finish him off. Just as he felt himself sucked into the creature’s mouth, a strange reflection … a bright image of what appeared to be a man, but somehow in the shape of a cross ... appeared on and through the water. It was like it came down from above and both reflected off of, and pierced, the dark water. He noticed what looked like blood stains on the luminous image. He felt himself being pulled away from the gaping jaws, and then helped safely to shore.

By this point, late at night, bedraggled and alone, all Milad knew was that some supernatural power had saved him from certain death. But what could it have been? Looking around in the darkness, seeing no one, fear quickly overtook him. He sat down by the sea shore, his mind and emotions churning, his heart heavy.

As only God could arrange it, members of an underground ALG church in Africa were engaged in an all-night prayer vigil some miles inland from where Milad sat. Pastor Abu* had gathered believers at his ‘prayer shed’ for the night watch [more on that prayer shed in our earlier story about Pastor Abu and his ministry here: Miraculous multiplication of faith, food and believers in east Africa].

As they prayed, his wife had a vision of the Lord Jesus saving someone from pirates and a giant fish, and that the man, named Milad, was now sitting at the sea shore gripped with terror. She shared her revelation with the prayer group. Two others (including Hydrus, the former Muslim whose radical salvation we also relate in the story mentioned above) received the same vision. One even prophesied they were to go get him and ‘pick him up’ for the Lord’s work.

light on dark ocean more contrast2.jpg

As they continued praying, Pastor Abu also prophesied about the fellow on the seashore. Clearly an immediate rescue was in order, so the men determined to go find the survivor.  They headed out in the direction they’d been shown in the visions. Pastor Abu’s wife remained behind in charge of the vigil, and the women and children continued praying.

Walking the eight miles to the sea shore, the 40 or so men refrained from speaking, uttering only words of prayer and praise. Each carried his own Bible, and none felt tired or found the journey long. When Milad saw them approaching, his fear intensified. What now? But then he heard his own name being uttered by a calm, assuring voice.

“Don’t be afraid, Milad,” Pastor Abu called to him. “The one who saved you from the gunshot and from the giant fish in the sea has sent us to you to console you and rescue you.”

“He is Jesus, who was crucified for us on the cross of Calvary and rose from the dead for our salvation. He loves you and wants to make you His own child. Believe in Him and follow Him.”

Already incredulous Milad did not think things could get any more incredible until he then heard the pastor outline to him all that he had gone through. Could it be a dream? He touched the leader and several of the other men to see if they were real.  

“You are not dreaming,” Pastor Abu assured him. “All of this is real and true, and only because our Lord and Saviour Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.” He then held up his Bible.

“This is the word of the true and living God, who saves you from sin and death.”

Milad rushed to kiss the Bible, and then prostrated himself before the pastor. 

“No, I am just a servant of God,” he explained, stepping back. “You surrender before Him and confess all your sins to Him. He is our savior.”

Milad cried aloud and confessed all of his sins before God. He then readily accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord. The men prayed over the new convert and joyfully brought him back with them, praising and thanking the Lord for His marvelous wonders as they journeyed back to the shed.

Milad now stays with Hydrus at the underground church’s 'prayer shed' under the guidance of Pastor Abu. Please pray for Milad and Hydrus as they grow in their faith and walk. Also keep Pastor Abu, his family and all the other believers in Africa in your prayers.

____________________________
names changed for security reasons

LR from pirates to cross paint arrow plus heart.jpg

Essential note

As an important ‘back story’ here, we asked Milad if he knew of anyone from his past who may have been praying for him. He then remembered that several years ago, an American missionary team had visited his town on a charitable and medical mission. One day, Milad and one of his sisters visited the temporary quarters set up by the team, hoping for help for the skin disease they both suffered from. Missionary doctors examined each, and gave them medicine. One took a special interest in the two siblings, making note of their names. She began telling them about the healing and saving power of Jesus.

Milad and his sister had no idea what she was talking about. Then, when she put her hands on their heads to pray for them, the young man angrily pushed her away. The doctor simply smiled, and let them know she would continue praying for them. She also asked them to come back in two days for checkups and more medicine, but the siblings never returned.

What an encouragement to continue praying! We thank the Lord that missionary doctor kept up her prayers for Milad, and for you for praying for the ministry of Bibles for Mideast in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Never give up.

Reji Joseph, who was abducted in Libya, rescued

Report: Bibles for Mideast

(July 6, 2016) Reji Joseph, 43, who was abducted in Libya has been rescued today. The Indian embassy in Libya has confirmed his release. The news has been validated by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who posted about the rescue on social media.

Reji Joseph had been working as an IT professional, attached to the Civilian Registration Authority (CRA) in Libya. He was abducted on March 31 along with three others. The kidnappers are believed to be members of a local Islamic group.

Reji also worked as a volunteer minister with Bibles for Mideast, spreading the word of God in Libya. He remained in the custody of the terrorists for almost 97 days. His wife Shinuja had been serving as a nurse in Tripoli. The couple have three young daughters

We praise and thank God for the release of Reji. Also we thank for those who prayed for him, especially who were fasting and praying 100 hours with us for the release of Reji along with pastors Stephen, Samuel and James.  Our Lord heard our prayers and rescued them all. Praise the Lord!

Reji with his family

Reji with his family

Muslim man starves and burns 10-year-old son for accepting Jesus as Lord

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Bible for Mideast missionaries in Uganda report that a Muslim man in their area, furious that his 10-year-old son had become a Christian, practically killed the boy in an attempt to force him to give up his new faith.

The father first refused young Nassif food or water for three days. He then insisted the child both deny Jesus and recite the Islamic ‘fifth kalima’, which are words seeking forgiveness of Allah [apparently Muhammad recited this, also known as  Astagfar, at least 100 times a day—Ed.]

But the boy boldly held onto his faith in Jesus Christ.

"My father locked me in a room for three days,” Nassif told the missionaries. “Then he started beating me with sticks. I managed to escape to a nearby bush, but he followed me with wild anger and brought me back to the homestead. There he tied me up to a banana tree. He went back into the house and came out with a bigger piece of wood and beat me again. Then he set fire to the banana tree, which was full of dry leaves. That caused serious burns on my body."

Neighbors rescued the boy and delivered him to a nearby hospital, where he is recovering.

Nassif used to attend worship services at a church in another village. He had accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord only two months there, the church’s pastor told the missionaries.

"Nassif remained behind at the end of the service one day, and then followed me to the pastry room,” he explained. “He told me he wants to have the experience of salvation."

"I was a bit hesitant, but after he asked repeatedly I then prayed with him, and he left," he remembers. "I am a pastor. If anyone approaches me wanting salvation, I will teach that person and pray for them. It’s the Lord Jesus who is winning that soul."

Uganda children safe in a Christian mission. Children are also persecuted for their faith.

Uganda children safe in a Christian mission. Children are also persecuted for their faith.

Evelyn Mulinde, another convert from Islam, gave her take on the issues in her country.

"There are Christians and Muslims in Uganda,” she says. “The main point of contention between Muslims and Christians is that Muslims have yet to embrace the reality of freedom of worship or coexistence. Muslims always think that any person who doesn't believe like them is an enemy who deserves to be killed." 

Please pray for Nassif, his family, and the whole situation in Uganda.