Stoned by terrorists, protected by a lion!

By Pastor Paul, Director of Bibles for Mideast

My risen Lord Jesus Christ has saved my life once again, and I praise and thank God for His unspeakable grace! Certainly I am not worthy of it.

The Assembly of Loving God (ALG) Church of Bibles for Mideast called for 21 days fasting and prayer from March 13 to April 2. As that drew to a close, more than 3000 former Muslims were baptized in many of our churches in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The Lord enabled me to baptize many people during this time.

About three weeks ago, I was changing my wet clothes after an early-morning baptism service for one of our churches. Suddenly, militants began stoning me and our group. My head was severely injured and bloodied, and a number of others sustained injuries as well.

Believers rushed me to the nearest hospital. An examination showed serious damage to my skull, so I was transferred to a specialist hospital for immediate surgery. Authorities there, however, refused to do surgery before receiving payment. My poor believing friends somehow managed to comply.

The Islamic militants who had attacked us discovered I was undergoing treatment in that hospital, and plotted to kill me. So the believers shifted me from the hospital to Pastor Ayyoob’s house in a nearby forested area.

Pastor Ayyoob lives there with his wife, two young children and 80-year-old mother. Two believers joined us to help care for me. So the eight of us stayed there—with no internet, electricity, piped-in water, or even proper bathrooms.  For primary things we used the forest areas and a nearby river.

Believers secretly visited me at the forest home and we would have prayer services together. I stayed there about three weeks.

Last Sunday (April 16, Easter Sunday), we were in the midst of our worship service with Pastor Ayyoob leading. Suddenly, a group of militants reached the house, armed with steel bars and other weapons. We had no idea what to do.

I still hadn’t (and have not) fully recovered from the surgery. Pastor Ayyoob’s mother is an elderly, sick woman. We also had two children below four years old with us, and a woman seven months pregnant who came for the service.

Militants had found the house by noticing the people attempting to visit me secretly and coming for prayers.

Losing all hope, we thought for sure this was our last day. The children with us started crying. We all joined hand in hands and repeatedly praised and thanked our risen Lord Jesus Christ. We also continually claimed the blood of Jesus Christ as our victory.  The pregnant woman suffered pain, but joined in our praises to the Lord.

O Lord Jesus! Praise His Holy Name. Completely unexpectedly, a lion ran from the forest, leapt towards the militants, and seized one by the neck. When other combatants tried to attack the lion, two other lions bounded towards them. The terrified militants fled the site, and the lions left us completely alone. Equally astonishing, records show no lions are supposed to live in that forest.

Due to pressure from officials, we left the forest home yesterday.

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UPDATE
Pastor Paul took months to recover, and required further surgery in another hospital. Due to security concerns and threats on his life, he had to leave that hospital early as well. You can read more about that
here. Please keep him and the many other Bibles for Mideast workers whose lives are so often in danger in your prayers.

Daughter of Muslim ruler under house arrest for Christian faith

Najima (not her real name) is the daughter of a Muslim ruler. She had firmly believed in and practiced Islam from childhood—reciting the Qur'an, praying (namaz) five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan and giving alms (zakat) to the poor and needy.

While she went to a western university for her higher education, she still never missed practicing ‘the pillars Islam’.

One day she noticed a small piece of paper stuck in a crease at the table at which she was sitting. She pulled it out and read: "For God made Christ who had no sin to become sin for us, so that in Christ we could become right with God." (2 Cor 5:21).

The verse struck her. ‘How can Jesus possibly be made to be sin for us?’ she asked herself, then threw the tract into the waste paper basket. But the verse kept invading her mind. Trying to forget it, she went bed.

But as much as she tried, she couldn’t get the verse out of her thoughts, nor escape into sleep.

Suddenly, she saw and felt her room fill with light. From that light, a voice spoke.

"Daughter, you're a sinner.  There is no one righteous, absolutely none. All have messed up and fallen short. But I came to take away all of your sins. I paid the ransom for many. Believe me and accept me … and I will give you eternal life."

She knew it had to be Jesus’ voice. Undone, she knelt down and accepted him as her personal savior and Lord.

She declared her new faith to her friends first. When she told her family, her father and brothers exploded in rage. They stripped her naked, bound her to a chair, and wired it up to a metal plate to electrocute her. She asked them to at least lay a bible in her lap.

"If you want to die together with your false religion, so be it," her father replied,

"That will show that your religion is powerless," one of her brothers added

Although they had bound her, she could still touch a corner of her bible. She then noticed a strange peace, as though someone were standing beside her.

Her father and brothers pushed the plug into the socket—and nothing happened. They tried four times with various cables, but it was as though the electricity refused to flow.

Finally, her father, angry and frustrated, hit her and screamed, "You are no longer my daughter!" He then threw her out into the street, naked.

Najima ran through the neighborhood, humiliated and in pain. People looked at her, curious rather than shocked. Shaking and tearful, she finally made it to a friend’s house. Her friend let her in, clothed her and gave her shelter.

The next day, her friend asked neighbors what they had thought when they had seen a girl running naked through the streets.

"What are you talking about?" they responded. "We saw a girl running with a wonderful white dress, like an angel.  We asked ourselves why someone so beautifully clothed had to run through the streets. With that dress, she almost looked like she was flying!"

God had hidden her nakedness from their eyes, clothing her in a beautiful white dress.

She became stronger in her Christian faith. But her father learned of her location. Her mother and  brothers went to see her to convince her to come back. But she would not, and reiterated her solid faith in Jesus Christ.

Her father then went himself, and took her back to their home by force. She remains there under house arrest. Because of her change of faith, he banned all other religious movements and activities in his region.

Recently, two women missionaries of Bibles for Mideast visited Najima at her home. Wearing veils, they introduced themselves as her university classmates, and so got permission to see her. Happy to see them, she prayed with the women. She asked that children of God around the world pray for her. She also asked that we pray that her father, mother, brothers, sisters and all the Muslims of her country experience the salvation of Jesus Christ.

"The Lord Jesus Christ gave me freedom from sin and death,” she said to the missionaries. “I experience that real freedom and peace in my mind."

She concluded with, “Amen and Halleluiah!”

Jesus protects persecuted new convert from Islam by the 'power of His right hand'

Maheen* had always been an observant Muslim. When given a Bible by a team distributing them in his neighbourhood, he took one, brought it home, but never looked at it. Why should he? He had the Koran.

One night while he slept, he says an angel came to him and touched him on the shoulder.

“Read Acts 26:23 from the Holy Scripture which you received,” the angel told him. Whether a dream or a vision he wasn’t sure, but it certainly struck him as strange. Too tired to react otherwise, he fell back asleep.

A short while later, the angel touched his shoulder again, more firmly this time. “Get up and read Acts 26:23 from the bible you were given. It is a verse for you.”

Still groggy and half-asleep, Maheen had a hard time trying to process what was going on. So he decided to ignore the unusual occurrence again, and go back to sleep.

The angel appeared a third time, nudging him forcefully. “Get up and read the verses as I said!”

Maheen bolted out of bed, frantically grabbed his new bible, and began to read from the Book of Acts.

“That the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23)

The striking visitation, the power of God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit brought Maheen to his knees. He acknowledged his sins before God and accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.

He became a strong believer in Jesus Christ. As much as he tried to convince his wife Muneera* of her need for salvation, of the importance of reading and meditating on the Bible, the Word of God—she would have none of it. Further complicating the situation were the attitudes of her brother Siddhiq*, an Islamic extremist working nearby in Saudi Arabia.

Maheen desperately wanted to be baptized, but waited months, hoping and praying his wife would join him in his new faith and be baptized with him. He finally decided to take the step alone.

When Muneera told her brother of the new development, he flew in immediately from Saudi Arabia. He implored Maheen to return to Islam, offering him an outstanding employment opportunity if he’d move to Saudi Arabia. He could even have an immense home and property as part of the deal.

"My Lord Jesus is far, far above any of the offers of this world,” Maheen replied. “I may be killed, but I will never deny Jesus, for He is my Lord and Savior, and granted me eternal life."

This infuriated Siddhiq. While his sister watched in horror, he joined with others he had traveled with and brutally beat Maheen. They then locked him in a dark room. For 17 days he remained locked away in darkness, without proper food or facilities, and unable even to see his wife.

Everyone felt sure Maheen would change his mind and come back to Islam. Instead, he grew stronger in his faith with each passing day. So they decided the only way to save Muneera from her husband would be to kill him.

She couldn’t believe it. How could her own brother, her own family, including her own father, even think of killing her husband? So she implored God, the Almighty, to intervene.

While praying, she had a vision of heaven and saw the Lord Jesus seated on the throne. And there was Maheen, her husband, at His right hand being held safe, praising Him along with the angels! While she couldn’t understand it, she could see human souls being washed by blood which flowed like a beautiful stream from the heart of Jesus.

When she tried to reach out to her husband, she couldn’t even get close. A huge gulf spanned the distance between them. Then she noticed a bridge in the shape of a cross over the gap, but when she tried to go towards it, it was taken back to heaven.  

Shaken to her core, Muneera began to weep. She took her own step of faith and accepted the Lord Jesus as her Savior. Who else could this be but the savior of humanity? She prayed that Maheen would not be harmed.

She then phoned the leader of the team who had been distributing the free bibles and holding the underground worship services Maheen had been attending. She explained to him all that had happened.

He explained that he too was a convert from Islam and often faced similar hardships. He arranged to visit the area, meeting up with a group of local believers first, all also converts from Islam. They prayed together, then met with a politician in the region. With his help they were able to secure the assistance of a senior police officer who freed Maheen from the dark room that had been his prison for over two weeks.

That same evening, a mob under Siddhiq’s leadership gathered with weapons to attack the church leader. A group of secret believers in Jesus heard of it and Immediately moved him to another house where the terrorists couldn’t find him. The prayers of the children of God certainly moved to save and protect Maheen as well as the Christian leader.

Maheen with bibles for distribution

Maheen with bibles for distribution

Maheen and Muneera now have two children, a boy and a girl. They work with Bibles for Mideast, distributing bibles, Christian literature and helping establishing house churches in their area of the Middle East.

“It is a great task,” they explain. “We have to work very secretly. We worship secretly. We collect bibles for distribution also in a secret way. We are in need of support, but we don’t get it.”  Both retain secular jobs to earn enough for themselves and the work of their team. Please pray for them!

If you feel led to support the work of acquiring and distributing bibles and establishing house churches for new believers, please use the form here.

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* names changed for security reasons