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.

Healings, salvations and a new underground church in South Asian village

Report: Bibles for Mideast and the ALG Church

Naseema*, 22, grew up the only child of poor Muslim parents in a village in South Asia. To support the family, her mother prepared snacks and bakery items at home which her father peddled door-to-door, balancing the food items in a large basket on his head.

As a brilliant and active little six-year-old, Naseema loved going to school. That being a fair distance from home, one of her parents would generally take her there and back.

One day when neither was able to accompany her, she made the trek home by herself. The youngster arrived back breathless, shivering and terrified. She managed to explain to her parents she had been running for her life from a stray dog who had chased her most of the way. She didn’t seem to have been bitten, but when the shaking increased and she developed a fever, her parents rushed her to hospital.  

She was admitted and as the night wore on, her fever and seizures increased, She became weaker and weaker and while wanting to speak, could not. Doctors were mystified at what might be plaguing her.  They began suspecting perhaps she had polio, or hemorrhaging in her brain, but were never able to definitively diagnose her illness. Soon she could no longer sit up, unable to balance her head or body, and became completely bedridden.

Her parents invested all of the little income they had for treatment and even hope for help. They invited many religious leaders of Islam to come and pray over her. They visited countless Muslim pilgrimage sites to offer vows and prayers for her healing. This went on for sixteen years.

Last year, Pastor Ishaq* of Bibles for Mideast—who regularly ministers in the region and had heard about the sick young woman—visited the family with his gospel team. He asked permission to pray for her, but her parents, dedicated Muslims, would not allow it. Christians were hated enemies, after all. The team left a sample gospel outside the house as they left.

A month later they were back. This time, the parents practically exploded in anger and forbade them from seeing Naseema. When the missionaries returned a third time, neighboring Muslims began gathering around, brandishing sticks, weapons and challenging questions.

“We have just come to pray for Naseema,” Pastor Ishaq answered them gently. “We believe our Lord Jesus Christ can heal her. For the word of God says that Jesus Christ was crucified, died and rose from the dead to save all human beings. It also says that by His wounds we are healed. So we believe that prayer in Jesus' name can heal Naseema.”

Hearing the name of Jesus, the crowd erupted in rage and rushed to attack. Pastor Ishaq and his team fled, the angry neighbors in hot pursuit. With God’s help they managed to escape safely … and of course they kept up their regular intercession for Naseema, her parents and the neighbors.

Not long ago, Naseema’s father met misfortune while out selling his wares. As he attempted to cross a busy road a car ran into him, knocking him down and scattering his basketful of food. The driver ignored the man he had just injured and kept driving.

Pastor Ishaq and his assistant ‘just happened’ to be by the same roadside and witnessed the accident. They rushed to help the hurt man get off the road, and administered first aid. Only then did the pastor recognize the man as Naseema’s father. He wanted to take him to hospital, but the father pleaded to be taken home instead. So the pastor hired a three-wheeled rickshaw and brought him to the family’s home. As they traveled, he talked of the love of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross.

“It is because of His love that we love you and are praying for you,” he explained. This time the man seemed to be listening. 

When they reached the family’s house and Naseema’s mother heard about the accident, the missionaries were warmly welcomed inside. The parents even invited the pastor and his assistant to pray for Naseema, and for them as well. After praying, Pastor Ishaq offered to hold three days of prayer and fasting in the house if the family agreed to it, and they readily did.

On hearing of the plan, Pastor Paul travelled 18 hours by train and 5 hours by bus to take part. On the very first day, a recent Thursday, Naseema had a vision of Jesus while the team prayed. She felt Him touch her head with His nail-pierced hands, she explained later. At the time however, all she could do was open her mouth and say, “Jesus is my Lord!” She had hardly moved and had not been able to speak for years. All were beyond astonished.

When she asked for assistance sitting up, Pastor Paul stepped forward to help and for the first time in 16 years Naseema could balance both her head and body and sit upright on her own. As the group began singing and praising, she clapped her hands in joy.  

News of the miracle began to spread. The next day, one of the neighboring families joined in the prayer and fasting.  By the third day, two more families and some other Muslim individuals had come along to take part.

When the pastors shared the message of gospel, all accepted Jesus as their personal savior and Lord.  On the fourth day, a Sunday, Pastor Paul conducted a worship service in the home and planted a new house church on the spot.

in another part of south Asia, worshippers gather outside their own 'house church'

in another part of south Asia, worshippers gather outside their own 'house church'

During the service, Naseema stood up from her bed, walked towards the others, sat on the floor and listened intently. Soon filled with the Holy Spirit, she began dancing before Jesus as the worship continued.

Since then, others have begun attending Sunday worship services at the new house church. Naseema's father has also completely recovered from his accident. Unfortunately, many other Muslims have begun persecuting the new believers.

Please pray for Naseema, her parents, the newly-saved people, Pastor Ishaq, his gospel team and other believers in the region. Also keep the ministries of Bibles for Mideast and the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church in your prayers.

____________________________
names changed for security reasons

Prayer support still desperately needed for Pastor Paul and family

First, a huge thank you to everyone praying our Pastor Paul back to a measure of health so that he can now be released from hospital. We didn’t reveal this earlier, but he actually had to be moved to a different hospital after authorities thwarted a plan by militants to kill him and his wife in the hospital.

He is now able to go home, but since ‘home’ is not a safe place, he and his wife have decided to go to a different state for the three months' rest doctors recommend for his full recovery.

Please continue to pray: for complete healing, for redemption, for protection, and for guidance and provision for the future. A massive thank-you to all who have generously contributed to the hospital costs for the past month!

Work in the field continues, so please continue to pray and support as you are able. We in the West have such a limited conception of how difficult it is to live for Jesus in so many restrictive countries in the world, such as those where Bibles for Mideast missionaries live and work.

____________________________
Related stories:
Despite persecution, more than 3,000 former Muslims baptized
Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

URGENT: Prayer request for Pastor Paul

As reported earlier, believers at a recent baptismal service—including the director of Bibles for Mideast—were stoned and many injured. Pastor Paul sustained serious head wounds, including damage to his skull, and required surgery.

After a week in hospital he has now been secretly moved to the home of a formerly-Muslim, now Christian family. The hospital stay proved too expensive and even unsafe. Militants had heard he was there and began hunting for him.

As he wrote to me today, the family members sheltering him often face persecution and death threats themselves. Doctors instructed him not to use his mobile phone, but he managed to send an email when the others weren’t watching. He asks for our prayers, and explains he may not be able to communicate again for several weeks.

May the Lord protect and restore Pastor Paul, guide and provide for the family he stays with while recuperating and direct and inspire you in your prayers for him and the ministry.

____________________________

UPDATE April 17, 2017:  Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

Despite persecution, more than 3,000 former Muslims baptized

Report: Bibles for Mideast

(April 05, 2017)  By God’s grace, in spite of setbacks and persecution, more than 3,000 former Muslims were recently baptized in all of the churches of Assembly of Loving God (ALG) in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. 

Bibles for Mideast had evangelized them and prepared them to witness Jesus Christ in the water and by the Spirit. What a tremendous blessing as our 21 days of fasting and prayer wrapped up!

Satan tried to spoil the ministry many times, but our Lord Jesus Christ destroyed all the evil plans.

In one church in Asia, the pastor and newly-baptized believers were stoned by fanatics. Pastor Paul was stoned while changing out of his wet clothes after the baptism service, receiving a blow to his head. Hameed, Fasal, Ruqiya, Sheela and Bishara were wounded as well.

In his epistle to the Philippians, the apostle Paul spoke of knowing the fellowship of the Lord’s sufferings and his goal to experience the power of His resurrection (Phil 3:9-11). We aspire to the same.

Five strong powers worked together against our Lord’s resurrection:

1) The government: Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect (governor) ordered the Lord’s crucifixion and also commanded the sepulchre be sealed;

2) The military: soldiers guarding the burial site;

3) The Lord’s own people: the Jews wanted to seal the tomb and set a watch;

4) Heathen: all screamed against Jesus;

5) Satan: of course never wanted the resurrection of Jesus.

But our Lord Jesus Christ overcame all these powers by rising from death and the grave. Such was the power of His resurrection.

Certainly we too need to overcome these forces. Most governments do not favor Christianity; police, military, terrorists and other militants all conspire against us. Many of our own people (blood-relatives or nominal Christians) do not share our precious faith in Jesus Christ. Non-believers and satanic forces everywhere work against our evangelistic activities.

Let us overcome all these powers by experiencing the power of our Lord’s resurrection. “In the world you shall have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

St. John says, “For whoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world: our faith. Who is it that has won the battle over the world? Only the person who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5: 4-5)

Miraculously sending His Word, the Lord radically saves Islamic scholar and teacher

Report: Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast

Abu Omar (name changed for security reasons) had been for many years a religious scholar and highly-respected citizen of the Middle East. He taught and preached the Koran, the Hadith and Sharia law in mosques and Islamic schools.

While getting into his car after evening prayers in the mosque, he noticed a piece of paper stuck to his car window. He pulled it off, climbed into his vehicle, put on the light and began reading it. 

“The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 6:23)

Furious, he crumpled it up. Then, taking the rifle he kept in his car, he stepped out to see if he could find the person who had left the tract. Seeing no one, he threw the paper out and drove away.

On the way home, he stopped in front of a shopping mall. A piece of paper flew towards him and stuck to his clothes: the same bible verse! Tearing it up, he stuffed it in the nearest waste bin.

After shopping, he came back to his car and as he opened the door, pieces of paper blew towards him from the garbage can—the same ones he had ripped up and thrown there. Enraged, he gathered them up and set them ablaze with his lighter.

As he drove home he felt something on his left shoulder. He pulled it off, and glanced to see a piece of burnt paper. He stopped the car to read it: “The wages of sin is death”. A terrible fear came to his mind. With other Muslims, Abu believed in two recording angels, one recording good deeds, and the other bad. He presumed ‘Atid’, the one recording all of his sins and bad deeds, sat on his left shoulder.

Suddenly he felt something on his right shoulder. There he found another scrap of burnt paper. Taking it off he read: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” He also held the Islamic belief that another angel named ‘Raqib’ rested on his right shoulder recording his good deeds. In frightened wonderment, he placed the pieces of gospel tract in the dashboard.

Abu Omar could now barely sleep at night. He began pondering the biblical teachings on Jesus Christ. His habit had been to get up at dawn to go to the mosque for morning prayer.

While sleeping fitfully one night, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and said, “Stop being afraid! I am the first and the last: I am he that lives, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever and always. And I hold the keys to Death and Hell.” (Rev 1:17-18)

Abu Omar saw his nail-pierced hands and knew he had to be Jesus.  He rose from the bed immediately and prostrated himself before Him. When he found the courage to raise his head, the Lord disappeared. He then heard the call for morning prayer from the mosque, but didn’t go.

He rushed to his car to retrieve the pieces of burnt paper from the dash board. On the back of one, he found a mobile number and calling it, connected with Pastor Steve of Bibles for Mideast.

Pastor Steve shared the gospel, and Abu Omar accepted Jesus as his own personal savior and Lord. The pastor later presented  him with a bible, and invited him to join in the 21 days fasting and prayer called by the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church. Abu also began preparing for baptism.

Pastor Steve’s secret underground house church of Bibles for Mideast is in an area highly hostile to Christianity.  Please hold all these believers in your prayers.

The storms of heaven in Africa: punishment for some, salvation for others

Report: Ms. Minoo Hussain of Bibles for Mideast, Africa

March 15, 2017: A mob of Muslim extremists attacked the pastor and believers of a church of Bibles for Mideast in Central Africa today, charging at them with swords and iron bars and completely demolishing their church.  The group had been participating in the 21 days of fasting and prayer called by the Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church.

Pastor Musthafa, who also coordinates Bibles for Mideast in Central Africa, had been leading the 40 (mostly women) in attendance in prayer. Church members were taking part in the fast, now into its third day.

The pastor, his family and most of the believers had all once followed Islam. For the last two years, all have been avid but underground followers of Jesus.

Many churches in the area have been destroyed by both fanatics and authorities (representational image)

Many churches in the area have been destroyed by both fanatics and authorities (representational image)

Believers from nearby had been joining with those gathered at the church for their prayer times, while local Muslims kept an eye on the comings and goings. Pastor Musthafa and his team had also been courageously visiting some Muslims in their homes to pray and invite them to attend the prayer services. Their evangelistic intent had obviously leaked out. Enraged Muslim leaders gathered a mob of 25 to 30 people for the assault. Government authorities in that region support the demolition of churches, and so rarely intervene.

Shouting “Allahu Akbar,” assailants forcibly entered the prayer hall, destroying all they could see, and ripping off the church roof.

One man stabbed the pastor’s neck with a large sword.  But just as suddenly, Pastor Musthafa felt an invisible person pull him away from the blade. The ‘invisible person’ proved to be a huge warrior angel. The attacker, unable to regain his composure or aim, ended up injuring himself with his own sword.  The attackers, now livid, began beating believers.

Heavy rain and blustery winds unexpectedly formed with thunder and lightning, swirling around the church and surrounding area. Massive drops of rain fell on the attackers like stones, throwing them into disarray. Yet the believers stayed dry and protected from the downpour. Everyone then became aware of a large cloud over-shadowing the church, shielding believers from the rain. Believers then saw the Lord Jesus in the cloud, and fell to their knees before Him.

clouds

“Hallelujah!” they began exclaiming at the tops of their lungs.

As always with our God, the connected miracle lies in the fact the region had been near-drought, so the thirsty ground and surroundings soaked up the sorely-needed water.

Seeing the praising believers safe from the deluge under what seemed to be the same cloud raining down on them, the attackers attempted to get to safety. But now huge hailstones fell from the cloud onto them, proving more painful than the rain. Attempting to escape, their legs, now coated with mud, made walking difficult. But somehow they managed to leave. The rain had fallen only in the immediate surroundings of the church, not other areas in the region.

Within minutes, the rain ended and the cloud disappeared. Believers could not stop praising and thanking the Lord—for His mighty protection from persecution, from what had seemed certain disaster, and that they had seen Him with their own eyes in that amazing cloud.

While the prayer and fasting had been scheduled to end by two that afternoon, by four they still sat in the ruins of the church, worshiping our risen Savior.

Update March 19, 2017God restores and redeems: an astounding update of attack on the African church!

Royal Family members believe in Jesus, now face death threats and prison

Report: Bibles for Mideast

Please pray for new believers in a ruling family of a country Bibles for Mideast has been making major Gospel inroads in. One family member was sentenced to death, and another, a supporter of evangelism, has been sent to prison.

prison reading bible between bars.jpg

The man with the death sentence had been accused of a serious crime years ago. He confessed to it (and all his other sins!) and invited Jesus to take over his life. When asked by officials to renounce his new-found faith, he not only refused but persisted in encouraging the evangelistic efforts of others.

The court ultimately ordered his execution, ostensibly for the earlier crime but more obviously for the ‘hidden crime’ of conversion.

Another member of the same family has recently been imprisoned. Several others have died for their faith, and many face persistent death threats.

While Bibles for Mideast occasionally puts itself in danger by publishing such stories, we can no longer hide the truth. The blood of Jesus is the seed of the church. We believe for and can see—in the near future and by God’s grace—a new, faithful Christian land where this family lives.

Pontius Pilot ordered the crucifixion of Jesus, though he could find no fault in Him. Pilate feared the crowd, the Jewish rulers, losing his friendship with Caesar, and weakening his own authority. We can and will not do the same.

Please pray for this family and others sharing their faith in dangerous places. Bibles for Mideast, its ministers, believers and all other Christian missions involved in evangelism in the region need and appreciate your prayer support.

Militants firebomb home of Bibles for Mideast women; two seriously injured

(Nov. 19, 2016) The house of six women working with Bibles for Mideast was fire-bombed by Muslim militants in the Middle East yesterday evening, with two seriously injured.

Ramza, a young woman featured in a story here last July (Muslim father kills daughter; Jesus raises her from the dead), managed to miraculously escape with only minor injuries.

The six women lived and worked together, evangelizing and distributing bibles to local women, as well as  working for their livelihood as farm laborers.

After their evening prayers, the women had gone to bed. Not long after, they awakened to a terrifying noise and saw their house burning around them. They screamed and attempted to escape. But men armed with guns stood at their door.

“As we tried to come out, they fired at us,” reported Saleeha, who managed to escape unharmed. “So we were forced back into the house. By then, two women had collapsed, seriously burnt.”

“People living nearby managed to reach our house with weapons, and the attackers finally left,” Saleeha said.  “Five to seven attackers had come to kill us. They came by motor bikes. But our Lord Jesus Christ protected our lives,” she added.

“Christ Jesus is our mighty Savior and Lord!” Ramza added. “He is able to keep us safe. Whether we live or die, we belong to him.” As someone who had already experienced death at her own father’s hands, and been resurrected by Jesus, she certainly understood better than most of us the truth of her words.

The injured women were hospitalized, and the others moved to a different location. Please pray for them.

Testimony of Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast, a former Muslim

At the request of many, Pastor Paul tells his story

I was born into an ancient, prominent and orthodox Muslim family in South Asia, the fourth child of a retired higher secondary school principal. Besides being a former principal, my father was an Islamic scholar and President of the Jama’ath (parish of the mosque) Committee.

More than 4000 Muslim families lived in our area, and some Hindus in the suburbs. As far as I know there were no Christians at all not even in the schools where I studied.

The mosque we attended is around 1,000 years old. My ancestors spread the religion of Islam in that area and established the mosque very close to our ancestral home. My grandfather founded the present mosque. The land, revenue and auxiliary records of the mosque were kept in my father’s name well into my boyhood. 

I was brought up to love and highly regard my family as well as Islamic teachings and practices. I did my religious education before regular schooling. No bad habits existed in our family life. As a young man, I even wrote and published a book on the Qur’an.

I went to a Christian institution for my college education, so the vast majority of my classmates were Christian. As the only Muslim, I at first had difficulty mingling with others there, but gradually became close and intimate with many.

This, however, led me into evil associations and wretched habits. I started smoking, began to use drugs and alcohol and became known as rowdy in the city. Damaging reports and ugly pictures concerning me began to appear in the newspapers. As a result, my parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones became greatly concerned.  It began to look like I’d have to discontinue my education.

By that time I’d become addicted to drugs and alcohol. My body began to shiver and I became very tense if I did not use drugs at the habitual times. I was even on the police watch list. When I had money in my pocket, I had lots of friends, ready for any adventure. But when my parents cut off the money they’d been giving me regularly, those ‘friends’ became my sworn enemies. I lost my peace of mind.

At this juncture, some missionary students gathered enough courage to come and talk to me. They claimed that Jesus is the Son of God, and was crucified for all humanity. He rose from the dead and He is the King of Peace, they told me. They further claimed that if one believes in Him and confesses all sins, he will become a new person.

I could not even imagine that Prophet Isa (Jesus) could be the son of God, or that he was crucified and rose from the dead. So I in turn exhorted them to reach heaven by believing in Islam, which I told them is the true religion. I had heated arguments with them on many occasions. They could only find fault with my wretched life, but could not prevail over my arguments or prove my ideas wrong.

But without losing heart, one day they brought some gospel tracts.  They were based on the bible which I considered forbidden, for it is abrogated. [Most Muslims believe the teachings of Mohammed override, or abrogate, earlier Christian and Jewish scriptures—Ed]

Hence I went into a rage. The thought that the advice I had given them earlier regarding Islam had made no impact on them only increased my anger. I tore the tracts into pieces. With despicable words I threw the pieces into their faces and threatened to destroy them if they continued misleading others.

It was a serious matter that students of the priesthood were publicly insulted and persecuted, especially within the walls of a Christian institution. It looked almost certain that I would be expelled from the college. I could also expect trouble from many other directions.

The next day I went to the college armed with weapons and intent on using them. When I entered the class, the missionary students ran up to me and embraced me with love and joy. They surprised me by expressing regret for having caused me mental distress. Had the college been run by my religion and I found myself in the place of those missionaries, I know my reactions would have been very different. I was so touched by their love, kindness and gentle nature. The Holy Spirit, which reminds us about sin, righteousness and judgment, began to work upon me.

That night I found a piece of paper in a text book in my room. On it was written, “The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came to the world to save sinners, for whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim 1:15). On the reverse side of the paper I read, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). I did not know they were verses from the bible. But I was overcome.

All the sins and violations I had committed since childhood began to appear before me as if on a screen. I recognized all my iniquities, big and small. Each one of them seemed to transform into a blister on my body. The blisters burst open and became sores. The flesh and bones, from where pus began to flow out, became very hot and began to melt. Worms were competing to get at the marrow of the bones. The pain was unbearable. The stench could not be described. I was being pulled into a bottomless pit. There was nobody to save me.

“God, save me!” I cried out.

Then a man, holy, white and bright, descended from heaven and touched me. I understood it was Jesus. For a moment I closed my eyes with heavenly joy, for His touch cooled my body and mind. When I opened my eyes, all the blisters and sores had disappeared. It was as if I’d been washed with perfumed ointment. But Jesus, who came in bright and spotless, was now infected with blisters and sores. Pus and discharge was flowing out of them and worms and maggots roamed freely on his body. He now appeared as an abominable, foul-smelling creature.

 “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Christ had taken on himself all my afflictions. I should have been condemned to death for all my sins.  But I saw Christ taking on all my sins and being crucified in my place, for my sake.

Earlier I had never believed that Christ had been crucified. I used to ask how our sins could be washed away by his death, even if he was crucified. But now I was convinced how and for what Christ died.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

I saw Jesus break the tomb and rise up from the dead, glorious and resplendent. I fell at his feet crying, “My Lord and my God!”

I do not know whether this experience was a dream, a revelation or a vision. I wasn’t a believer in anything like this. But it transformed me into a Christian.  It enabled me to throw away the old man and become new. I received joy and peace, the like of which I had never known before.

I shared my conversion of mind and my new joy that same night to my parents. Although they listened, they tried to dissuade me, saying this was only a trick played by Iblis (Satan).  But I was convinced that the loving God had saved me through His only Son, and that I would inherit eternal life.

I was baptized in water as soon as I accepted Him as my personal Savior. The Lord also baptized me with the Holy Spirit and granted me the gifts of the Spirit.

But mine has by no means been an easy path. Some of the community I formerly belonged to felt that my accepting Jesus Christ was an act of betrayal and they tried to take revenge. Someone once sprinkled sulfuric acid on me.

One day, I was narrating my Christian experiences to some of my friends near the mosque. Suddenly one of my cousins stabbed me, splitting my lower jaw. Everyone thought I might die. But God saved me and made me a witness again at that place.

My cousin began planning another way to kill me, and try to make it look like a suicide.  While tying a noose for me to the top of a tree, a gust of wind knocked the branch he was on to the ground. We found him there near death, and I instinctively wished he would die. But Jesus ordered me to love and nurse him as He had loved me when I was His enemy. He was taken to the hospital and was in plaster for more than six months. When he recovered, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

When yet another person became a Christian, the Jama’ath (mosque) authorities chained me, shaved my head, and locked me in an underground cellar. When I tried to escape, they sprayed me with acid. I was beaten up several times and even lost a few teeth. I considered these experiences as lucky tips in the name of Jesus and as a symbol of my spiritual fervor.

The Lord visited a few more people who had caused me trouble, and most of them have come to believe in Jesus.

I have two sons and one daughter. A terrorist group once sent a division out to destroy my entire family. Their commander managed to make my children consume poison, and all three were taken to hospital in critical condition. My daughter remained in a coma for close to 30 days. Her remarkable recovery so resembled a resurrection from the dead that the man who had wanted to kill them became a follower of Jesus Christ. He has dedicated himself to working as a missionary and winning many souls unto His fold.

Pastor Paul in one of his demolished churches

Pastor Paul in one of his demolished churches

Another time, I and one of my assistant pastors were severely beaten in a village by a mob of radicals who also burned down our prayer hall. God alone has saved me, over and over.

Recently our Lord enabled me to overcome a murder attempt. Someone ran their motorcycle into me intentionally, trying to make it look like an accident. While I was in the hospital recovering, my wife and children faced murder threats at home as well, but God preserved us all miraculously.

I must mention that my parents, brothers and sisters were all devout Muslims. Most of the seniors are Hajjis (men who have made a pilgrimage to Mecca) and Hajjummas (women who have done so). Having let Jesus Christ into my life, I was ex-communicated and for quite some time was not allowed to have any contacts with my parents and extended family.

I and my wife felt sad about this, and brought it to the Lord in our prayers. Gradually, I began to re-establish links with my people through letters and telephone calls. Finally, a day came when they had accepted the fact that I worship Jesus Christ, visited my place and stayed with us and our children. I spoke to them about the love of God. We have maintained good contacts since then.

Two days before his death, my father had a vision of Jesus with the marks left by the nails on His hands and feet, and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. My mother too became a believer shortly before she died.

My deep desire is to take the gospel to the unreached, especially to the world of Islam, and win them to the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Bibles for Mideast missionaries brutally attacked; one in critical condition

(June 13, 2016) Three young Bibles for Mideast missionaries were brutally attacked by a group of Muslim extremists yesterday evening in the Middle East. Returning home after Sunday services, they had stopped to share the gospel with someone standing under a street light.

Terrorists jumped from the darkness and beat the men with iron pipes, shouting “Allahu Akbar” and “kill them” in Arabic [‘Allahu Akbar’ is the Arabic phrase which translates directly as ‘Allah is Greater’ but is often mistranslated as ‘God is great’—Ed.]. All men have been hospitalized, one in critical condition.

Had it not been for passersby on a bus, the men may well have been killed. Passengers jumped out and fought the attackers, causing them to flee. The travellers then took the three men—Pastors Stephan and Samuel and evangelist named James—to hospital, with James the most critically injured.

The Friday before, 12 new believers from five Arab families had been baptized and on the Sunday had been worshipping and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

Please pray for them. 

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UPDATES!  Missionaries of Bibles for Mideast abducted in the Middle East
Abducted missionaries miraculously rescued from terrorists in Middle East!