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

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.

____________________ 
* 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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Attacked by wild pig, rescued by ‘man with nail-scarred hands’

Pastor Paul's wife Mercy shares a pivotal, transformational experience in her grandmother's life

My grandmother Eliyamma grew up in a heavily-forested area in a highrange region of India. Her family was religious but hadn’t been taught what it meant to have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. Child marriage was common in India at the time, so at the age of 13 she married a man named Mathai.

Eliyamma and Mathai lived with her family in their mud house in the forest. They had no electricity or running water, and there wasn’t a local market to buy food. Her father and Mathai worked hard to reclaim the forest for their small farm, where they cultivated coffee and spices such as pepper and cardamom.

Because the family had no pipes to get suitable drinking water to their house or even a well nearby, it was part of the women’s daily chores to fetch water from the river.

One day, when Eliyamma was 27, she walked down to the river to fill up her water pot. As she bent over the water’s edge, a wild pig charged out of the underbrush and brutally attacked her. She fought back, using the water pot as a defensive shield and weapon to swing at the pig’s head.

wild pig lr.jpg

But as they fought, the wild pig became even more enraged and fierce. His sharp teeth ripped her legs and arms. Eliyamma knew her life was in jeopardy when blood began to flow profusely from her torn body. She cried out for help, but no one was nearby.

Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. He drove the pig away and then knelt down beside her to tend to her wounds. When his hands touched the torn places on her body, she was immediately healed.

Still in shock, Eliyamma’s eyes grew wide with astonishment as she saw the palms of the man’s hands. They were nail-scarred; he carried the markings of crucifixion. Reverence and awe filled her heart. Only one response came to mind as she recognized who attended her. She prostrated herself on the ground and said, “My Lord and my God!”

It was but a moment that she was face down in the soil, which was damp with river water mingled with blood. When she slowly raised her head, her Rescuer had disappeared.

After this dramatic incident, Eliyamma had an insatiable hunger to know more about Jesus. She accepted Him as her personal Savior and, as a result of her testimony, her entire family believed and received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

In their lifetimes, Eliyamma and Mathai had a total of sixty-seven children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Eliyamma at 100!

Eliyamma at 100!

Being one of them, I grew up knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I married a man named Paul who, though Muslim by birth, accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and Lord on his twenty-first birthday while studying at university. Now we are winning souls for Christ.

My grandfather, Mathai, went home to be with the Lord when Eliyamma was 62. Thirty-nine years later, Jesus took Eliyamma home when she was 101. Up until that day, she eagerly awaited being with her Rescuer face-to-face, and she devoted her life to studying the Bible, praying for others, and glorifying her Lord as His living witness.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?” (Ps. 27: 1)

__________________

This forms a chapter from Amazing Modern-Day Miracles:  52 True Stories to Strengthen Your Faith by Suzanne Frey. 

Saved first from Islam, then by a giant bird of prey from Islamic extremists

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church

Fadila* and her husband Al Rafeeq*, both former Muslims, serve in the Middle East as volunteer evangelists with Bibles for Mideast.

Fadila, once a strong devotee of Islam, converted to Christianity through the miraculous healing of her bedridden mother. As a result of that dramatic healing, she, her parents and siblings all accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and began regularly attending an ALG underground church in their area.  

As we reported two years ago in our first story about Fadila (Bedridden Arab Muslim woman healed by Jesus; she and her family now believe), her father’s second wife and her children by him—Fadila’s half-siblings—became hostile to the new Christians in the family and even threatened to call religious authorities. While her father came to faith in Christ as well, he kept it quiet out of fear of possible reprisal from the threats of this other wife.

But Fadila, along with her brothers and sisters, regularly prayed for their step-mother, and if opportunity arose, would try to talk to her about the salvation possible only in Jesus.

When one of the second wife’s younger children developed a severe fever with seizures. Fadila prayed over the little girl, and immediately she was healed. So the woman, no longer able to deny the power and reality of Christianity, finally accepted Jesus as her personal savior. Her young children all readily followed her into the Kingdom.

This emboldened Fadila to share her testimony and the gospel message with many of her friends and relatives. When possible, she would also join some missionaries for Bibles for Mideast in her area, distributing bibles and sample gospels.

One of her distant relatives, a young man named Al Rafeeq, grew increasingly furious as all the members of Fadila’s household converted.  Unfazed, she went out of her way to meet with Rafeeq and at least try to share the gospel message with him.

He not only refused to listen, but ordered her to ‘get lost!’—as she had done when Christian pastors several years earlier visited her home to pray for her mother. Still, out of both stubbornness and perseverance, she refused to give up. And many visits later, she did finally persuade him of his need for salvation. Fadila brought him to her pastor, who gave him further instructions in God’s Word, will and ways. Finally, convicted and convinced, he accepted Jesus as his own personal Lord and savior.

The bond between Fadila and Rafeeq grew and soon blossomed into love. Not long ago, they married in an ALG church with the full support and participation of her household and other new believers. The newlyweds now volunteer with Bibles for Mideast, doing personal evangelism and distributing bibles to many of their fellow Arabs in the Middle East.

Their path together has been short so far, but treacherous. They have been threatened numerous times, even with death. Still they refuse to worry, completely trusting and believing, they say, in the powerful, mighty protection of their Lord Jesus Christ.

Two weeks ago, as they walked home late one evening after visiting and sharing the gospel with a neighbour, three masked men suddenly jumped from the darkness and attacked them.

A furious falcon attacking university researchers (who were trying to tag their young) in the US. [Photo courtesy Caters News Agency]

A furious falcon attacking university researchers (who were trying to tag their young) in the US. [Photo courtesy Caters News Agency]

“Jesus, save us! Jesus save us!” Rafeeq and Fadila screamed.

The words of their cries provoked the attackers even more.  While one man aimed his rifle at Rafeek, the other two attempted to rape Fadila.

“JESUS!!!” the couple screamed again.

A giant falcon-like bird swooped out of seemingly nowhere.  It first attacked the man holding the rifle, and then lunged at the other two with its beak and talons. All three attackers ran for their lives. 

Just as swiftly, the bird disappeared. Rafeeq and Fadila say they have never seen such a bird before—close to four times larger than a common falcon. They have absolutely no doubt their awesome Jesus saved and rescued them from certain harm. They fell to their knees on the spot, praising and thanking the Lord for his mighty deliverance. 

Please keep them and their ministry in your prayers!

____________________________
names changed for security reasons

Saved from Islam and suicide by a raging river

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an underground ALG Church

Asmath*, born and brought up in a predominantly Muslim country in central Asia, never met her natural father. Five months before she was born, her father divorced her mother and left the family home. When she was only three, her mother re-married, but her stepfather refused to accept her as his own. So she was handed over to a Yateem Khana (orphanage). She grew up there according to the tenets of Islam, and learned to practice all the required rituals.

Girls at a Yateem Khana (representational image)

Girls at a Yateem Khana (representational image)

When she reached the age of 20, a much-older man asked the orphanage if he could marry the young woman. Even though the 60-year old had other wives and children older than Asmath, the orphanage officials told her she had little choice but to marry him. After so many years of isolation and loneliness, she decided to go along with the proposal.

But the man had a heart condition, and died within two months of their marriage. With the funeral service barely over, his children forced her to leave their home, saying it was no longer hers.

So she decided to put an end to her life of misery. She found what seemed like the perfect way: leaping from a tall bridge into a deep river flowing below.

In a village near the banks of the same river, miles downstream, many Muslim families had accepted Jesus Christ into their lives under the ministry of an underground Bibles for Mideast ALG church in their area. The villagers, including the church’s leader Pastor Hamad* and his family, live in mud houses with no modern conveniences. The river banks serve for most of their ‘primary needs’, and Pastor Hamad baptizes new believers in the same river. He always conducts early-morning baptismal services to avoid the spying eyes of authorities and radical Muslim neighbors.

Early one morning, as church members prepared for another of these exciting services, they noticed the body of a young woman lying submerged near the shore of the river. Running to drag her body out of the water, they discovered she was still breathing, but barely.

As onlookers prayed, Pastor Hamad pushed and released her chest and stomach until water began gushing from her mouth. He then breathed into her as others rubbed her feet and palms to warm her up.

She gradually began breathing more easily, opened her eyes and began to talk. They learned how far upriver she had jumped to her death, and realized that only the Lord could have protected her and brought her to them. With the believers joining in, the pastor prayed over her.

He then gave a short gospel message to all gathered around, explaining the salvation possible only in Jesus Christ and the importance of baptism. He then baptized five people, with Asmath intently listening to and watching all that went on.

When the service ended, they brought her back with them to their church, where they participated in a joyful Lord’s Supper as she continued to observe.

That night, Jesus came to Asmath in a dream.

“Fear not. I am your Lord and God,” he said to her. “I am the only one who can be your very present help in trouble. And I am the life and resurrection.”

Then he showed her his nail-pierced hands.  “See, I have suffered this for you,” he said. “for I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands. Have faith in me.”

She knew that it had to have been the Lord Jesus who had rescued her and now offered her new life. The next day she shared her dream—as well as her story—to the pastor, and accepted Jesus as her personal savior and Lord.

Asmath now studies the word of God and helps out with the ministries of the church. She recently asked to be baptised, and just last week she was!

Believers in Asmath’s country attend underground churches and worship as secretly as possible due to severe persecution. Accusations of blasphemy happen regularly and mean dire punishment or death. And it’s not only government officials they fear; terrorist groups war against Christians there as well.

Please pray for Asmath, for all the underground ALG churches and the ministries of Bibles for Mideast.

____________________________
* Names changed for security reasons