From the River of Death to the River of Life!

Report: Bibles for Mideast and an Assembly of Loving God (ALG) church in South Asia

Rabinder and Padma*, devout Hindus, lived with their daughter in northern India.  They dutifully performed the regular Hindu rituals of worshipping and praying to a vast array of deities both in their home and in local temples.

One day, to their extreme distress, their daughter left their home proclaiming her love for a Muslim boy, who she then married. When the parents went to the newlyweds home to appeal for the return of their daughter, she instead asked them to convert to Islam as well.

Because of the shame of the marriage among their fellow Hindus, Padma and Rabinder were hated and shunned. Priests and community leaders forbad them entry to the temples to see their many beloved and feared idols. They accused the couple of creating opportunities for their daughter to develop a friendship with the Muslim boy. Then, when they had visited their daughter in her new home and could not convince her to return to them, why had they not killed the two of them, they demanded? Further, if they allowed the parents in the temple, surely they would misguide other boys and girls.

Rabinder and Padma were devastated. Everyone, even close neighbors, now kept their distance. In desperation, two weeks ago, they decided to drown themselves in the great river Ganges. According to Hindu belief, such deaths would not be considered suicide but as giving their lives into the hands of the goddess Ganga. [The Ganges River is considered sacred, and personified as the goddess Gaṅgā—Ed.]. Hindus believe that dying in the river Ganges or leaving a dead body there means a direct journey to Vaikuntha, the highest heavenly abode. With so many dead bodies floating in the polluted waters, Rabinder and Padma knew no one would search for them. So off they went, and after tying their hands together, jumped into the contaminated river.

Dead bodies floating in Ganges River near Pariyar (Getty Images)

Dead bodies floating in Ganges River near Pariyar (Getty Images)

By next morning, their bodies landed ashore, many miles downstream. Pastor Praveen* of Bibles for Mideast along with two other believers happened to be out on their morning stroll when they spied two bodies on the nearby shore. Certain they must be dead, they still approached, noticing one was male, the other female. Discerning some slight movement, they immediately pressed down on their abdomens, releasing some of the water inside. Both became conscious but were obviously extremely weak. The pastor and his friends took them inland to their ALG church.

The Hindu couple had never in their lives met even one Christian. What they’d heard and believed was that all had converted from the Hindu Dalit, or ‘untouchable’ class. So when they discovered their rescuers were Christian, all they wanted was to get away. But in their weakness, they could barely move. Surely, they thought, every last bit of goodness had vanished from their lives. Both began to cry.

When Pastor Praveen and a few others attempted to touch and console them, they screamed out for them to stop. The pastor's wife attempted to give them glasses of drinking water, but they refused to even touch the glass.

The Hindu woman wore a pendant around her in her neck, bearing an image of the lord Shiva. The two held onto the idol and called out to Shiva to save them.  By this time, other believers had joined the group.

Shiva pendant necklace similar to the one Padma wore

Shiva pendant necklace similar to the one Padma wore

Understanding what was going on, the pastor and his fellow church members simply sat nearby, praying the two exhausted visitors would come to know the one and only, true and living Lord God.

Pastor Praveen read aloud from Psalm 115, David’s beautiful ode to the greatness of God and the utter impotence of idols. As he brought in the Gospel to explain the reading, the Holy Spirit began to move mightily. The Hindu couple glanced around fearfully, wondering what on earth the Christians were up to.

"When I saw Him, I fell at his feet as though dead,” the pastor now read. “But He placed His right hand on me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, and see, I am alive forever and ever; and I have the keys of Death and of Hades’” (Rev. 1:17-18).

Suddenly an electric shock passed through the couple's hands and the idol shattered, the pieces flying everywhere.

"THAT is the true Word,” a mighty Voice thundered. “I am your Creator and Savior. I am neither a man nor an idol. I brought you here for your salvation." Everyone in the room heard it.

The couple began to weep, this time feeling burdened with sin. They confessed their sins before the Lord Jesus, and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.

Rabinder and Padma now stay with Pastor Praveen and his family, feeling joy they’d never known and worshiping the Lord Jesus in Spirit and in Truth. Please pray for them. They also request prayers that their daughter and son-in-law would come to know and accept Jesus as their own Savior and Lord as well.

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* 
Names changed for security reasons

Drug-addicted, suicidal young Muslim meets Jesus and becomes His powerful witness

Sameer, born and brought up in a fanatic Muslim family, strictly followed the practices of Islam. Whenever doing the ritual namaz (prayers prescribed by Islam to be observed five times a day), he would go further and recite du’a (personal supplications) as well.

“I am facing so many problems in my own personal life and family life and do not know how to overcome them!” he would cry to Allah. “Please hear my prayer, answer me and help me to come out from all my troubles.”

By the time he reached his late twenties, Sameer found his problems had only increased. Mentally anguished and exhausted, he fell into deep depression. He hated life. As anger and suicidal thoughts consumed him, he lost the ability to sleep. Friends recommended and supplied him with mandrax tablets [originally developed for medicinal purposes but now considered dangerous and highly addictive—Ed.], crushed and mixed with dagga (marijuana) to smoke in a pipe. When that lost its ability to sedate him, he began injecting it, and drinking more and more alcohol.  Soon, he was hopelessly addicted.

hang.jpg

While drugs, alcohol, and girls helped mask the severe depression, it and the accompanying emptiness always gnawed within. As his drug tolerance grew, his life revolved around finding the next fix.

One day, his heart broken after a bad relationship, Sameer decided he’d had enough. The only way out would be suicide, he figured. He found a rope, headed for a suitable tree, and prepared to hang himself.

It ‘just happened’ that a gospel convention had gotten underway within earshot. Over the loudspeaker, he could hear a man speaking.

“Oh, for the man about to commit suicide, you don’t have to die!” What? Was he addressing him?

“Our Lord Jesus Christ died for you so you can have peace and life!” The speaker went on. “He died as a ransom for your sins and was raised from the dead to glorify you as His child. If you believe in Jesus you will be saved from sin, iniquities and find help for your problems.”

While he could hardly believe his ears, his heart seemed ready to pounce from his chest. Could it be true? He wrapped the rope around his hand and headed to the convention grounds.

When the people gathered saw, many grew fearful and close to panic. Here was a drunken, known fanatic Muslim—holding a rope at that—and joining a gathering where the one preaching, Pastor Paul of Bibles for Mideast, had converted from Islam to Christianity. Surely he must be coming to attack the preacher. When one man tried to pull Pastor Paul to safety, the evangelist instead asked the fellow with the rope to come to the platform.

Sameer approached, explained what had happened, and asked for prayers. As Pastor Paul told him more about Jesus, Sameer knelt down before the Lord.  Joining with the other pastors at the convention, the evangelist laid his hands on the young man’s head and the leaders all prayed over him.

As they did, Sameer had a strange vision. He saw himself as a helpless sheep attacked by wild animals and held among the thorns in a jungle. He felt sure his life was about to end.

Suddenly, Jesus appeared like a shepherd, saved him from the wild animals, freed him from the thorns and carried him away on His shoulder. Walking with him what seemed a long distance away, Jesus then placed him gently in a fold of sheep, safe behind a beautiful, strong fence. 

"You are my child,” He said to Sameer. “I have marked you upon my palms as your savior. Now, be my witness."

"Lord I accept you as my savior!” Sameer cried out. “I will be your witness."

Baptized within a few days, Sameer soon joined Bibles for Mideast as an evangelist. Four years later, living and working in a remote village of North India, he continues to witness to the amazing love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,, winning many to Christ from among both the local Muslim and Hindu population.

While distributing gospel tracts six months ago, still-unknown assailants attacked him. The situation would have been much worse if some neighboring Hindus had not protected him. And his protectors all soon became Christians as well!

Most of the villagers completely accept and appreciate Sameer. In a region with scarce water and no indoor plumbing, he has been helping dig water wells as well as install toilets in their homes. He surely delights our Lord as he witnesses to God’s love and goodness in both word and deed.

Please pray for him and all the work he and Bibles for Mideast attempt to do, with God’s help, in so many restrictive and dangerous areas.