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

Aggressive Islamic militants now serving God and bringing multitudes to Christ

Shah* once lived the life of an aggressive Islamic militant in a Muslim-dominated south Asian country. While the state officially recognized Christianity as a minority religion, it also considered blasphemy against Allah and the Prophet Mohamed great crimes. So with no justification, many would persecute Christians by falsely accusing them of such a ‘crime’.

One day, Shah saw a young Christian man associated with Bibles for Mideast holding a Bible and explaining salvation and the second coming of Jesus to a young Muslim fellow. Shah approached to set him straight. outlining the Islamic belief about ‘Prophet Jesus (Isa)’. He proclaimed forcefully the Islamic belief about Prophet Jesus (Isa): he did NOT die on a cross, but was elevated by Allah and will come back again as ‘Mahdi Imam’, a Messiah who will rule the rule the entire world for 40 years under Islamic (Shari'a) law.  

The Christian minister calmly and politely shared with him how Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary and living a sinless life, really did die on the cross of Calvary.  He then rose from the dead as a ransom to save all humanity from sin and death. Those who believe and follow Him are washed by His shed blood on the Cross. They are His bride and He is coming back in the clouds to receive them. That, he said, is what the Bible teaches.

"Your bible is annulled and false!" Shah screamed. He slapped the evangelist and grabbing the bible from his hands, threw it to the ground. He then set it on fire. The other man joined Shah in the assault, and the two decided to tie the minister up with a rope.

By this time a mob had gathered. They brutally beat the Christian and afterwards handed him over to the police, accusing him of blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed. The court then sent him to prison and within days, he was dead.

Shah and the young Muslim, Asif* rejoiced when they heard of the evangelist’s death in prison. They became fast friends in their crusade against Christianity, and made a sport of persecuting Christians by falsely denouncing them.

One day, the young men worked up a plan of attack on a group of Christians they’d heard were having an extended meeting for fasting and prayer. As they walked to the meeting place, a man joined up with them. He talked with them about the Son of God.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.  While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Protests in Pakistan over the killing of a young Christian couple falsely accused of blasphemy.
While Pakistan has a mandatory death sentence for those indicted for blasphemy, 12 other countries can punish with death people who leave or change their religion: Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

"God sent His Son, born of a virgin woman, not to condemn the world, but so that the world could be saved through him. That man is Jesus, the Son of God." 

Shah and Asif naturally became infuriated, and wanted to beat him up. Instead, they suddenly stepped back in fear. A heavenly host of warrior angels had appeared behind him! And now, he held a burning bible in his hands—looking just like the bible they’d thrown on the ground and burned when they attacked the Bibles for Mideast worker.

The man grew brighter and brighter, His body now shining like many suns. They noticed nail marks in his hands.

In a powerful voice, He proclaimed: "I am Jesus, the Son of God, who was crucified, died and then rose from the dead. I have come to save you. Don’t let Satan misguide you! He is a liar and a thief. The thief does not come except to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly, now and in eternity. Those who gave their lives for me aren’t lost, but are with me in eternal glory. I am totally revealed in this book,” He said. “Follow me and be my witnesses."

"Lord Jesus!” the men cried, closing their eyes and kneeling before Him. “You are our Saviour and Lord! We believe in You!" When they opened their eyes, Jesus and the angels had vanished.

They practically ran to where the Christians were meeting for prayer. The believers reacted in fear when they saw the men rush in. But their alarm turned to wonder as the two shared their experiences with Jesus and boldly declared their new-found faith.

The men spent several days with the prayer group members, learning more about Christianity. But their turning made them enemies of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, who set out to kill them. They fled to another area and began seriously studying God’s word, and eventually were anointed pastors. As persecution persisted and grew, the men headed for the mountains and joined in ministry with Bibles for Mideast. It wasn’t long before a new ALG Church was born in one of the mountain villages.

In our first story on Asif and Shah back in November, we reported on their work and a horrific attack they’d suffered, asking for the prayers of God’s people (Urgent prayer request: Pastors attacked and church demolished by terrorists).

God miraculously answered those prayers, so that a mere two weeks later, we had an exciting update: the entire Muslim village is now Christian (Exciting update: entire Muslim village now Christian)!

Please continue to pray for these men and the work they do in so many dangerous areas, as well as for the many new Christians.

______________________
*
Name changed for security reasons

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.

Man learns the truth in Jesus' words, 'Better to lose one eye than go to hell with both'

A south Asian man learns first-hand the truth in Jesus’ words from Matthew 18:9: 
“It is better for you to have only one eye and have eternal life than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”
One-eyed Sapru, taxi-driver and evangelist

One-eyed Sapru, taxi-driver and evangelist

48-year old Sapru, born and brought up in South Asia, wanted nothing to do with Christianity. The avowed atheist and equally-avid communist had many friends, most of whom, he says, were alcoholic. He drove a taxi for a living, and his drinking to relax with buddies soon grew into full-blown alcoholism.

But his Christian wife Blessey never gave up on him. She secretly prayed and meditated on scriptures every day, holding tightly to God’s promises for household salvation.

“If I had ever seen her praying or reading the bible, I would not have allowed it,” Sapru says.

Once, in an alcohol-fuelled rage after an argument with Blessey, Sapru beat her severely.  He then climbed into his taxi and careened off. He didn’t get far before colliding with a truck. The impact left him with life-threatening injuries, including a dislodged, completely destroyed left eye. An ambulance took him to hospital, where he went directly into emergency surgery.

Blessey, on hearing of the accident, rushed to the hospital with some Bibles for Mideast missionaries. They headed straight for the hospital chapel and fell to their knees. Blessey read promises from her bible and cried out to the Lord for her husband. She asked God to give me him his life back, but as a new creation.

“While the surgery was going on, my soul was wandering around trying to get a seat in heaven,” Sapru explains. “The angels did not allow me to enter into heaven, but pushed me to hell instead.”

Jesus, he says, then stepped in, rescuing him from the descent to hell.

“He held me back safe in His mighty nailed hands because of my wife’s intercession. The Lord showed me my wife and the prayer team kneeling down and praying for me with tears. And he said to me, ‘Go; be saved and baptized and live for me with your family.’”

As the surgeons worked to save him, Sapru’s heart and pulse slowed to a standstill. Doctors were ready to declare him dead when he suddenly began breathing again. He is convinced that is the exact moment when Jesus allowed his spirit to return to his body.

“It is better for you to lose an eye,” he heard Jesus say to him, “than to have both your eyes and be thrown into hell. Let this be your testimony in witnessing for me.”

Sapru confessed to his wrong ways, accepted Jesus as his personal savior and Lord and within days was baptized in water.

 “I recovered, but my left eye has been totally removed,” he says. “I don’t worry about it, because the Lord wants me to be with Him in heaven. Praise the Lord for His wonderful love.”

“Though I have only one eye, I can easily drive the car now. My boss, a believer in Jesus gave me a car to drive for him. I have two sons. I am so happy to see them rejoicing in the Lord because of my conversion and activities in ministries.”