Former Hindu ‘snake goddess’ now powerful witness to Jesus

To Christians, a snake symbolizes evil and the Devil himself. Yet Hindus view serpents as divine creatures worthy of worship—in temples dedicated to them, as well as in their natural habitats. Westerners familiar with the increasingly popular practice of kundalini yoga may, or at least should be aware of the entwinement of Hindu-based yoga and the ‘serpent power’ kundalini yoga attempts to awaken in practitioners. That however is a whole other story!

For young Nagamma, growing up Hindu in southern India, loving snakes seemed natural. Her family were of the Dalit class, on the lowest rung of India’s social ladder and once known as ‘untouchables’.  Without many options for employment, her father was a leading wizard of black magic and taught  the craft to his daughter from a young age. The name given her, Nagamma, even means ‘mother of snakes’.

“As a child, I fed the local snakes, carrying milk to the edge of their snake holes,” she recalls. She would also join members of her community to worship in a special temple dedicated to snakes, located under a fig tree in the border area of Kerala and Tamil Nadu States. Her love of the many idols, especially the snake gods, only increased.

One day as a young 12-year-old, a cobra raised its head and bit her while she attempted to bring milk to it. Her parents rushed her to a local non-traditional medical practitioner who wasn’t able to fully remove the poison from her body.

Within three days her outward health appeared to improve, but—to put it mildly—unusual side effects began manifesting. She began feeling completely different in both body and mind, her skin even taking on a bluish tinge.

“I started acting like a snake,” she explains matter-of-factly. She even started acting like one. Soon, all she wanted to do was sit in the temple dedicated to snakes. When people began treating her as a snake goddess, her father announced to them that yes indeed, that was what she had become!

As her fame increased, people from her community and beyond began bringing offerings of milk, fruit and flowers to her. They gave her money, fell prostrate before her, and believed if she touched them, they would be blessed.

“I asked if I could visit them in their homes,” she explains. There, for a fee, she would invoke the black magic learned from her father in an effort to destroy their enemies and so, she hoped, bring blessings on them. Her parents would pocket the money given to her.

worshipping a 'snake god'?

worshipping a 'snake god'?

When Bibles for Mideast missionaries visited Nagamma and her family, they gave them brochures on Christianity and the bible, and shared the good news of Jesus. Her father contended that since his daughter was a goddess, they should follow her, not Jesus!

Five years ago, Nagamma went to the home of a family with a young child to perform her black magic.

“Something unusual happened there,” she recalls. “Satan instructed me that there was golden treasure in that house, and I should sacrifice the child of less than three months old to find the treasure.”

An intense spiritual battle for the life of the baby ensued. Nagamma had never encountered that before; apparently the prayers of the Bibles for Mideast workers was having an effect in the heavenlies. Nagamma couldn’t, as she says, “complete the black magic for that house,” and fled.

In her bedroom that night, she had a remarkable visitation.

“A white and handsome man came to me and sat beside me,” she says with wonder. Her room filled with the brightest light she had ever seen. When the man showed her his hands, she could see what looked like injuries caused by nails.

“He told me: ‘My daughter, you are dear to me. I am your Lord and God. I give the treasure of peace and eternal life. I am the door. Those who come to me will be saved; they will go in and out and will find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that you might have life. Life in all its fullness!’”

From the words she’d heard from the recent Christian visitors to her home, Nagamma recognized the man in her dream as Jesus Christ! Overwhelmed with emotion, she knelt before him and accepted him as her personal Savior and Lord.

In the days that followed, her changed heart led to bold actions.

“I broke all the idols in the temple of snakes myself,” she says. “My parents and those who believed in me did not like it. They told me I was mad. They tied me to a tree and beat me. Many other persecutions I faced. But I did not lose my faith in Jesus and wanted to enter into the fold of Jesus Christ through baptism.”

Her next step was to contact Bibles for Mideast and request baptism. She chose as her baptismal name ‘Maria’, and the Lord has anointed her mightily as an evangelist to her people. Her parents and brothers have all joined her in believing in and following Jesus. A prayer tent for Christian worship now sits where the serpent’s temple once did.

Five years after her dramatic conversion, God continues to use Maria as a mighty weapon against the kingdom of darkness. She works with Bibles for Mideast bringing many Hindus into the love and freedom possible only with Jesus.

Please pray for her protection, and for all those converting from Hinduism to Christianity. The conversion is instantaneous, but often inner healing and deliverance are needed to bring about the full freedom God so desires for His children.

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.

_______________
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.

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!

Jesus saves Arab from horrible tragedies, his Christian-hating wife soon to follow

The following story is from a man who for security reasons, we’ll call Al-Jamali. From a prominent Middle Eastern Arab Muslim family, Al-Jamali up until recently strictly adhered to the five pillars—the basic and foundational tenets—of Islam.

About eleven years ago, in 2004, I went on a tour of India with my friend. We were visiting Kanyakumari, the cape of South India, in December that year when gigantic waves began heading to shore. We saw them coming, but not thinking they would affect us on land, I made an effort to take photos. They were, in fact, tsunami waves [generated by the massive magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Banda Aceh, northern Sumatra—Ed.].

Within seconds the waves battered the shore, wiping out everything.  Thousands of people died.  My friend and I were trapped in the waves. The undercurrent pulled me down to the ocean depths, where I probably remained for five minutes, certain I would die. Suddenly, I felt a strong and mighty man pick me up in his hands. I really felt like a baby being carried by its mother. I could see blood stains on the man’s hands. While he carried me, I heard him saying,

“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; and those who live and believe in me will never die.” [John 11:25]

He carried me safely to the shore, completely unharmed. But I couldn’t find my friend, only dead bodies everywhere. I ran out among them, calling out, until I finally realized I would never see that friend again. Hundreds of the bodies could not be identified. While I watched, government authorities gathered them all up, poured gasoline over them, and set them alight.  Certainly my friend would have been among them. If God had not saved me, I too would have been burned.

Jesus holding man painting.jpg

Though I got my life back, I could not get over the shock of losing my friend. I know the mighty man had saved me, but somehow that did not affect me as much as missing my friend.  I just couldn’t get over it, and lost all peace of mind. I returned to the Middle East alone, and gradually the memories of that horrible day became less strong.

But eleven years later, on the same day, December 26th, 2015, I was driving my car along with my wife. By then, I had become a family man and had married two women. The one with me was my second wife.

Suddenly, my car rammed into the rear of a truck, while another truck came up from behind and crashed into me. Unfortunately, our air bags didn’t deploy. But I felt the same thing I had back on the day of the tsunami.  A strong, mighty man held me, carrying me like a baby in the arms of its mother. I saw the same blood stains on his hands and realized he was the same man who had rescued me from the tsunami. .

Police and an ambulance arrived almost immediately, and we were taken to the hospital. On the way, sadly, my wife died. I was admitted. And that same night, the man who had saved me from both the tsunami and accident visited me. I was very happy to see him. I held his hands and asked him to sit beside me. He sat down and then said to me:  “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” [Matt. 16:26-27]

I asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Jesus, who was crucified and rose from the dead,” he replied. “Do you believe me?”

“Yes Lord, I believe,” I answered. “But what about my wife?”

“You need only one wife,” he responded. “Lead a life with her, and live for me.” He then vanished.

The very next day, two strangers came to my hospital room. They introduced themselves as Pastor Paul and Pastor Steve from Bibles for Mideast. One explained he’d had .a dream from Jesus Christ about me, and that’s why they had come. I welcomed them happily. They explained to me the message of the Gospel and gave me an Arabic Bible. When I opened it, there were the words Jesus had said to me!  I accepted him as my personal savior and Lord before the pastors, who then prayed over me. Afterwards I went to my wife’s burial, carrying my bible in my bag.

I now study the scriptures, and secretly attend worship services at an underground house church of Bibles for Mideast. For several months, my wife refused to believe in Jesus. I tried to tell her gospel stories, but she didn’t want to hear them. When I mentioned the name of Jesus and talk about his crucifixion and resurrection, she’d become angry and even violent. But the church and I continuously prayed for her.

One day she slipped on the floor and broke her hip.  She needed surgery, and afterwards, in severe pain, could only rest at home.  Whenever I .prayed silently over her, she felt some relief but when I stopped, the pain would return. Slowly though, she began to understand the power of prayer.

I was thrilled when she asked me to call the pastors to pray for her. So I called Pastor Paul immediately to see when he could come, and then sent my car to bring him. He arrived with two others. It was in fact the second time he’d come to my house. The first time, my wife had angrily let him know she did not like or want Christians visiting our home. But on this second visit, she welcomed him with a beautiful smile and asked me to pull a chair up for him beside her bed.

Pastor Paul helped her understand more about Jesus, and her need for salvation. She readily accepted Jesus as her savior and Lord. Then he got up and started praying for her. I was surprised to see her reach out and take his hands, and then hold them to her head. As a religious Muslim, she never allowed any man except her husband to touch her body. This is an absolute requirement under Shariah law. But with Jesus in her heart, she had totally changed.

While Pastor Paul prayed, we all heard some breaking or joining sounds coming from her hip area, and she was totally healed! We had a consultation with her doctor that same day, and since she no longer needed them, all the materials that had been surgically implanted to repair the broken hip were removed. Now I attend the worship service along with my wife and children at Assembly of Loving God, the church organized by Bibles for Mideast..

Please keep our friend Al-Jamali in your prayers. Surely the Lord has huge plans for him!

Gospel-hating drunkard finds Jesus and escapes disaster

Mr. Julannan hated it when anyone tried to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. He and his wife, while members of the Catholic Church, lived worldly lives and looked with contempt on any charismatic Christians they encountered. He had a drinking problem as well. When drunk, he’d become violent both at home and with neighbors. There were times locals found him lying by the roadside in an alcoholic stupor.

He especially abhorred people coming to his house to share the message of Jesus. One day, members of a Bibles for Mideast team visited. They handed him gospel tracts which he grabbed, only to then promptly set alight with a nearby box of matches.

“Get out of my house!” he yelled as the surprised visitors watched their precious tracts burn.

Travelling home from his contracting job one evening, Mr. Julannan passed an open-air gospel convention ground. With contempt, he spat in the direction of those gathered there, and continued on his way.

“Jesus is the instant help for your troubles!” he suddenly heard the convention speaker announce. “He is always before you, watching over you, and healing your sicknesses.” He stopped dead in his tracks as the voice continued.

“But you are crucifying Him by your sins," the man warned. "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. So confess, confess your sins before the Lord!”

The words pierced his heart. That night he couldn’t sleep.  He couldn’t shake the feeling—especially when it also invaded his dreams—that something terrible was heading his way. He tried to pray, but didn’t know how.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” was all he could say.  “JESUS! Save me Jesus!”

The next day as Mr. Julannan hurried to his job, he noticed with dismay a train approaching the railway crossing along his route. If he waited the long minutes for it to pass, he knew he’d be late for work. So he decided to take his chances and run for it. Partway across, the speeding train barrelled down on him, knocking him flat between the railway tracks. Onlookers screamed as they watched the disaster unfold.

Mrs & Mr Julannan receive bibles from leader of Bibles for Mideast, Paul ciniraj

Mrs & Mr Julannan receive bibles from leader of Bibles for Mideast, Paul ciniraj

As soon as the train passed, he leapt to his feet and off the tracks—without a scratch on his body. To the astonishment of bystanders, he explained how when the train ran over him, he cried out to the Lord Jesus. Immediately, he sensed someone hugging him tightly, cushioning him from the train roaring overhead, like a baby being sheltered by its mother. The Presence then disappeared just as quickly once the train had passed.

“I know my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ saved me from what should have been a horrible tragedy!” he repeated with renewed confidence.

Since he and his family had no bible at home, Bibles for Mideast provided them with several, which they now read and meditate on daily. Alcohol no longer holds him in its grip. Further, he and his wife have partnered with the ministry to joyfully distribute both bibles and gospel tracts—ablaze now with the fire of the Holy Spirit!