MUSLIM WOMAN DEAD FOR 2 DAYS HEARS JESUS SPEAK AND COMES BACK TO LIFE
After laying naked and cold in a morgue for two days, Sabina saw herself stuck at the bottom of a deep well. Surrounded by corpses covered with linen sheets, Sabina had a vision of a tree growing at the top of the well. From its trunk, a branch moved toward her as she lay on a hospital gurney. Close enough to reach, the branch changed into flesh as Sabina heard the words, “If you grab onto My hand, I will bring you back to life.” Taking hold of it with her cold, lifeless hand, Sabina woke to find her body covered from the neck down with a white sheet like other corpses around her. Hearing voices of doctors in search of a cadaver, Sabina sat up on the frigid metal surface below her body. “I’m alive. Don’t worry,” she shouted as doctors entered the morgue a second time after running out scared moments before.
Offering Sabina water, food, and clothes, the medical staff arranged to transport her to a university research hospital in Moscow, where she had travelled to visit a son imprisoned on trumped up charges. Baffled hospital personnel refused to publicly comment after Sabina spent two days in a coma and two more in the morgue. Returning to Central Asia, Sabina surprised family members on her first Sunday morning at home by leaving early, telling her stunned daughters: “There’s somewhere I have to go.” A Pentecostal church in a largely Islamic community was Sabina’s destination. Inside, she professed faith in Jesus Christ, leaving behind her Muslim faith.
Since then, Sabina’s six daughters and another son (the other died inside a Russian prison where he suffered injuries and brain damage) became Christians and entered full-time ministry. At 63 years of age, Sabina saw her 92-year-old mother and a niece come to faith in Jesus last year, demonstrating that entire household salvation exists even among Muslims. It was two of Sabina’s daughters who led their grandmother and cousin to the Lord. In a big surprise, Sabina’s oldest daughter recently came to know Jesus as well. Until the summer of 2016, she was vehemently opposed to the Gospel and even having a Bible in her home. Sabina shares her life-from-the-dead experience and testimony of conversion from Islam to Christianity in her native language within the Central Asian country she calls home.
A spiritual vision brought Sabina back from the dead and another vision-this one by her future son-in-law-drew him to the country where he now ministers with Sabina’s daughter as full-time missionaries. Family members agreed to share their testimonies on the condition that real names, ministry title and precise locations in the Middle East and Central Asia were not be published. Sabina’s son-in-law, Jamal, a Westerner who spent time in the Middle East as a young boy, had a vision the same year his future mother-in-law walked out of the morgue and into a Pentecostal church. “God called me to the Middle East in 2000 when I had a vision of myself preaching the Gospel on the steps of a mosque,” says Jamal who, as a youngster, disliked the country where he ministers today with his wife, Aisha.
They met at a world missions meeting in 2006 and married afterward, discovering that Jamal’s spiritual vision corresponded with Aisha’s heart for people in the same Islamic country in the Middle East, despite her upbringing in Central Asia. Jamal and Aisha find that Sabina’s death and resurrection story provides an open door for them to talk about Jesus with their Muslim friends and neighbours because it’s emotional and powerful. “The first day I was a university student, a classmate in our online group asked me if my wife was Muslim. “I shared my mother-in-law’s story briefly and, as a result of their openness to it, the students’ interest in the Gospel made it easier for me to share two days later with a group of about 30 Muslims,” says Jamal.
Before Jamal married Aisha, he ministered to his best friend, a Muslim, by telling him a simple Gospel message. Upon sharing Jesus’ love for him, Jamal says his friend began to have dreams and visions and, within a month, he gave his heart to the Saviour. “When we prayed together he began to weep,” says Jamal. “After settling himself, he told me, ‘Jamal, I just saw Jesus again. This time He had His arms open wide, welcoming me home,'” The next day Jamal’s friend was in tears again because his Muslim wife threatened divorce from her husband for his conversion from Islam. After praying for his wife, both of them were baptized three months later. More recently, Jamal and Aisha have been reading the Bible with Abdul, who they’ve known for several years.
When they shared the Gospel with Abdul, he ended the relationship. “He texted me recently, asking if we could get together, so Aisha and I had Abdul and his wife over. “During the course of the evening, Abdul said, ‘Jesus really did die on the cross, didn’t He?'” says Jamal. Abdul is now sharing Jesus with his co-workers, one of whom is interested in reading the Bible with the group Jamal and Aisha lead. “Just recently, we got to go over to Abdul’s house and pray over it,” Jamal says. Besides a vision in 2000, Jamal says his call to the Middle East was confirmed in 2003 when he heard God speak to him at a conference, indicating which missions group to partner with. “I had never heard the name before, so I was kind of puzzled when I heard God’s words.
“Five minutes later, the main speaker introduced himself and the organization’s name I had just heard God speak. “I literally went to the back of the room that night and applied for the organization’s training school,” says Jamal. Two of Aisha’s sisters and their husbands are part of the same global missions’ organization to which she and Jamal belong. It encourages Bible studies among friends and neighbours in homes or churches planted by indigenous leaders. The vision is based on the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans 15:20: “And thus I aspired to preach the Gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.” Jamal and Aisha are team leaders of seven adults and five children.
The team has formed two house churches in another province and planted seven churches among unreached and unengaged people. Some team members, including Aisha, are ministering to Syrian refugees, which total almost one million in just one of the Middle Eastern countries hosting them, making it impossible to reach everybody without help from established churches. “Last year we adopted an entire refugee camp before winter set in because many babies and toddlers die from the cold. We raised enough money to pay for heat and insulation in their tents,” Jamal says. Aisha requests prayer for her work with Syrian refugees, other partners to join them, the love of Jesus to be revealed to friends and neighbours, and for the health for 5 children of team members, two of whom belong to her and Jamal.
When Sahar was 13, her family arrived in Lebanon after fleeing the conflict in Syria, she was married off to a 20-year-old man as her parents tried to cut costs. It was not the wedding she had dreamt of. “The wedding day I was imagining would be a great day but it wasn’t. It was full of sadness,” she said. A year later she is two months pregnant. “I feel really blessed that I am having a baby,” she said. “But I am a child raising a child.” Sahar – not her real name – is one of 700 million child brides on the planet, according to a report, with 15 million girls married before the age of 18 each year. One girl aged under 15 is married every seven seconds. The report by Save The Children also found that at the present rate of increase there would be 950 million child brides by 2030 and 1.2 billion within another 20 years.
Seven countries still have no minimum age for marriage and in 30 nations girls can be married at 14 or 15 with their parents’ consent. South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Central America are broadly the worst affected regions, with tens of millions of girls condemned to lives of sexual slavery. India, where conservative, patriarchal attitudes are combined with a vast rural population, has the highest number of child marriages, with 47 per cent of girls – about 24.6 million – married before their eighteenth birthday. The scale of child marriage cuts millions of girls off from their right to education and health. Most drop out of school, denying them the right to their own livelihood and exacerbating endemic discrimination towards women in their societies.
“I wasn’t happy to get married at that age, but my father said there was nobody to look after me since my mum wasn’t around,” said Tamrea from Ethiopia, who was married at 12. “When I became pregnant my husband left me. I gave birth at home after 6 days in labour. I don’t want anyone to go through what I have. If a girl goes to school she can have a better life. My friends go to school and I feel really bad.” Instead of being in school, married girls face domestic violence, abuse and rape. Girls are disproportionately affected by conflict, with daughters such as Sahar routinely married off by refugee families who find themselves suddenly without a home or a livelihood due to conflict or natural disasters. The report found that one in four girls aged 15 to 17 in refugee camps in Jordan had been married off.
Forced marriage is also a weapon of war, as witnessed in Nigeria with the abduction of more than 270 girls by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group. Many of the girls who were seized have been sold or married off. Progress has been made in some regions, with the African Union last year adopting a resolution to ban child marriage and several African states issuing legislation that outlaws the practice. Enforcement remains piecemeal, however, and global initiatives have struggled to tackle the problem, which remains closely linked to poverty and literacy rates. “Child marriage isn’t just a form of discrimination, it’s a form of violence,” Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children, said. “Forcing girls to marry much older men robs them of their freedom and amounts to sexual slavery. ”
AMERICAN CULTURE MOVING FROM POST-CHRISTIAN TO ANTI-CHRISTIAN
The battle for religious freedom has become an important topic in the presidential race. Donald Trump has spoken out on behalf of Joe Kennedy, the high school football coach who was fired for praying after games. This week, Westminster Theological Seminary in suburban Philadelphia is taking up the debate in a conference called “Faith in the Public Square.” “We are aware that the culture that we’ve been part of for so many years is beginning to move from being just a post-Christian culture to literally being an anti-Christian culture,” Dr. Peter Lillback, president of Westminster, told CBN News. Christian thinkers of different theological backgrounds and political views will gather at the seminary to discuss, among other topics, threats to religious freedom in a diverse society.
“We’ve heard that the Civil Rights Commission of the United States has declared that the traditional understanding of the First Amendment that protects conscience is no longer the way they’re going to view it,” Lillback said. “They see a commitment to traditional marriage as an expression of hate speech; a belief that genders are divinely given as part of our personhood as some sort of opposition to the norms and standards of an enlightened culture,” he continued. “As we begin to see that taught and then applied in government policy, it’s creating a whole new context in the American setting,” he said. Lillback told CBN News that Christians need to find better ways of communicating their values and engaging the culture.
“Students who have studied at seminaries through the past many years have been used to the thought that the Church was a value-added contribution to a community,” Lillback said. “But now what we’re seeing is that those that hold an historic Judeo-Christian worldview are viewed as somehow not worthy of being protected by First Amendment liberties, that they are perpetrators of prejudice and hostility,” he continued. “In a small way, this conference, ‘Faith in the Public Square’… is trying to bring an inter-confessional dialogue together of those who care about these important ethical issues from our heritage,” Lillback said. “And find ways not only to talk to each other, but to think deeply, and hopefully, to create some better ways forward,” he added.
THE CHANGING FACE OF AMERICA AS IMMIGRANT POPULATION RISES
At 42.4 million, there are now more immigrants, legal and illegal, in America than ever before, fuelled by a massive flood from Muslim nations, and the growing numbers are substantially impacting public services like public schools, according to a weighty new analysis of Census Bureau data. One impact of note: There are 10.9 million students from immigrant households in public schools, accounting for 23 percent of all public school students, according to the Centre for Immigration Studies. And while the doors remain open on the U.S.-Mexico border, the biggest percentage increases in immigration are all from largely Muslim nations, a fact that has been drawn into the presidential election.
According to authors Steven A. Camarota, director of research, and Karen Zeigler, a demographer: “The sending countries with the largest percentage increases in immigrants living in the United States from 2010 to 2014 were Saudi Arabia (up 93 percent), Bangladesh (up 37 percent), Iraq (up 36 percent), Egypt (up 25 percent), and Pakistan, India, and Ethiopia (each up 24 percent).” The report breaks down the Census immigration reports of the last two years to determine where the legal and illegal immigrants are from, where they live, what they do, how much they make, their education and how births are adding to the population. They wrote:
The latest data collected by the Census Bureau shows that 18.7 million immigrants arrived in the country from 2000 to 2014 and between 2010 and 2014, 5.6 million immigrant arrived. The more than one million immigrants settling in the country each year have a very significant effect on many areas of American life. New immigration plus births to immigrants added more than eight million people to the U.S. population between 2010 and 2014, accounting for the overwhelming majority of population growth. Immigrants account for more than one in eight U.S. residents, nearly one in four public school students, almost one-third of children in poverty, and one-third without health insurance, creating enormous challenges for the nation’s schools, health care system, and physical infrastructure.
IRANIAN CHRISTIANS SENTENCED TO 80 LASHES FOR DRINKING WINE AT COMMUNION
An Iranian court has sentenced Church of Iran members Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Saheb Fadaie and Mehdi Omidi to 80 lashes each after finding them guilty of drinking wine during a communion service. The verdict follows a hearing that lasted for 10 minutes. This is the second time that Mr Fadaie and Mr Omidi have been found guilty of this offence. They are appealing the sentence, which allows for the execution of third-time offenders. All three men are converts from Islam. Sources have highlighted a recent increase in repression, that in the absence of apostasy legislation, the Iranian authorities appear to be making use of this provision to deter or punish anyone who changes religion. The men were arrested on 13 May, during a series of raids on Christian homes by security service (VEVAK) agents.
All four are currently charged with “actions against national security”, for which the maximum sentence is 5-6 years in prison. Mervyn Thomas, Chief Executive of Christian Solidarity Worldwide said, “These men are being punished for partaking in a sacrament practiced for centuries by Christians the world over. The effective criminalisation of a Christian sacrament is unacceptable and should not be occurring in a country with a constitution that not only recognises Christianity, but also states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief. We urge the Iranian authorities to end this unjust infringement on the right to practice their faith and call on them to ensure the full enjoyment of freedom of religion or belief, including the right to change belief without harassment”
GOD CREATES STORM OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS TO PROTECT CHRISTIAN CONVERTS
God created a massive dust storm to deliver Islamic converts from the militants who hunted them, according to a recent report. Bibles For Mideast claims the organization had just finished a mass baptism for 50 newly saved Christians when militants surrounded their bus and fired shots. “About 50 people including baptism candidates attended the service. We all went by a bus. After the baptism service and prayers, we all entered the bus to return back in our house church for the worship service and the Lord’s Supper. The bus was moved. Suddenly some militants approached behind us by three or more cars and started shooting with guns toward us,” a new believer said, according to the report. The new converts and their leaders feared the worst.
That’s when the wind started to pick up, and dust began to swirl around them. “Suddenly we saw a giant dust storm formed behind our bus. At first we all afraid of seeing the dust storm. We thought we may not be able to go beyond and will be held by the militants. But praise the Lord! Praise the Lord again and again! We all felt that the Lord Jesus Christ appeared upon the dust storm as a Mighty and Wonderful Man showing His protecting and lovely hands toward us with a sweet smile. Jesus saved us. He Himself blocked the road of militants in the form of a dust storm,” the report reads. Bibles For Mideast is an underground ministry to distribute the Word of God to people in need.