Dr. Andrew is a gifted apologist to Muslims and began his evangelistic work among nomadic Arabs several years ago in the Middle East. After finishing his university studies, Dr. Andrew set up a veterinary clinic in a small village to treat sheep and camels. Dr. Andrew is now leading a team of evangelists who are working among difficult-to-reach Muslims.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” – II Timothy 3:12
We often read these verses in the Bible, and the first thing we think about is the church in the first and the second centuries, when people were persecuted for their faith, and when living for Jesus meant putting everything on the line. Sadly, few in the West realize the fact that these verses are the everyday life for many Christians in the Middle East.
Recently, during one of our visits to the Christian Iraqi refugees who left Mosul because of the killing machine of the Islamic State (IS; formally known as ISIS), we met Mark (pseudonym). He told us his story and how he was able to flee from his city before IS invaded it. Mark is in his sixties, a father and grandfather, who owned a restaurant in Mosul for more than twenty years. Before IS invaded the city, a group of Muslims who supported IS came to Mark, inviting him to convert to Islam. But Mark refused and said that he believed in the one true God of the Bible.
Later that week, the same group approached him, telling him that they would come to kill him the moment IS took over Mosul, unless he converted to Islam. Mark again refused and said that he would never deny Christ, whatever might happen. Mark insisted on staying, refusing to leave the place he had lovingly built over his lifetime.
The threats quickly turned into reality, however, when IS bombed the family’s restaurant. But still they would not surrender. Mark was determined to restore and repair the shop. The family worked hard to return everything back to normal, and after finishing the restaurant, they resumed working in it.
IS returned with a more serious threat the next time, demanding that the family evacuate the area or convert to Islam. The family was forced to either leave behind all that they had built or stay and convert to Islam. Neither choice was desirable. In the end, Mark and his family chose not to deny Christ, electing instead to leave all behind. They could not take anything with them except their clothes, because IS began shooting at them and at other Christian families in the city. After much struggle and a long journey, they arrived in another country which borders Iraq. They left their painful past behind to begin an unknown future. To make matters worse, Mark and his family are not allowed to work in their new country because of their status as refugees.
We shared with this family from Hebrews 11, which speaks about faith and the reward of faith. We thought that we were there to encourage them, but this brother encouraged us when he said, “I am ready to sacrifice my children and die with my family to stay with Jesus; we will never deny Jesus.” Stories like this give a different meaning to the phrase, “live for Christ.” People like Mark and his family redefine the meaning of commitment to our Christian faith. But Mark and his family are not the only ones who suffer for their faith – there are many across the globe who live for Christ faithfully, even with all the persecution and fear.
“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.” – Hebrews 13:3
Prayer Needed | Secret Police and Islamic Rebels
Though he grew up in a Coptic community in Egypt, Boutros was converted and is now serving the Lord in a Muslim country in the Middle East that has no Evangelical witness. For a number of years, he had felt a strong burden to move to this country in order to strengthen and establish indigenous churches. Boutros is a gifted preacher and has a heart to see the church equipped with the truth of God’s Word. The following entries, written by his sending church, help to show the kind of danger in which Boutros might find himself on a daily basis. We hope they will be to you a reminder to pray for him and for the brethren across the globe who are in similar situations.
“After this week’s underground church meeting, Boutros was called to go to the secret police office. The current situation in this country has been getting bad and unstable, especially after all the victories that the radical Muslim rebels have achieved on the ground. There is even a possibility that they will overthrow the government. At a time like this, a meeting with the secret police can be very dangerous. We don’t know if the police have called Boutros because of his work among the underground church or for some other reason.”
November 2nd, Morning
“The Islamic rebels are gathering themselves around the city where Boutros lives. They tried to enter the city this morning, but the army was able to hold them off. Prayers are needed; it would be very dangerous if they were able to enter the city.”
November 2nd, Evening
“Boutros is doing well – he is at his home at the moment. In the meeting, the secret police did not ask him anything about the underground church, but they did ask him about his reason for coming to this country. He told us that the situation in the city is critical. The Muslim rebels are surrounding the city, and the soldiers are littering the streets. Please pray!”