An influential Shia Muslim leader in a Middle Eastern country heard Allah telling him to go to a majority-Sunni Muslim country to convert Sunnis to Shia Islam – or so he thought.
Zain* was so influential in his native land that he was known as a key Shiite leader’s top aid, according to local sources. He seemed well suited to Allah’s call: In spite of centuries of hatred and war between Islam’s two historical branches, soon he had converted a number of Sunni Muslims to Shia Islam.
Taking a break from his busy days as a sheikh visiting converts gathered in various homes to help them grow as Shiites, he decided to visit a Christian website, where he heard a message prepared by refugees from his home country.
There on his computer, he heard the message of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and resurrection for the first time.
“I’ve never ever seen an Islamic missionary decide to believe in Jesus.”
“It so influenced him that he kept watching it every week for quite a while,” said the director of a native ministry (name withheld for security reasons). “Finally, he came to visit our ministry and listened to the gospel. He declared that he believed in Jesus, but the miracle wasn’t finished then. He went back to the group he had converted to Shiism and told them about Jesus, and they too decided to follow Jesus.”
If it sounds like things happened awfully fast, it’s because they did. The ministry director said he was astonished by the rapid turn of events.
“It’s been so amazing that my mind struggles to understand what happened,” he said. “For sure, nothing is impossible with God.”
As the now-former sheikh was based 372 miles (600 kilometers) from the director’s ministry, he and the Shiites he led to Christ were discipled via Skype calls. They spoke once a week.
Soon they sought baptism, which in Islamic countries often presents societal dangers. In this case, there were not only dangers but logistical challenges, he said. Ministry personnel decided to travel to baptize them, but, as there was no baptismal in their city, they rented a hall that came with a small pool of water.
After the director paid the rental fee, the new Christians were gathering for the first baptism when the doorbell rang, he said. A small band of Sunni Muslims pressed around the door.
“They demanded that we immediately leave the premises – I’m thinking that someone followed us and reported our intentions to the owner,” he said. “We asked to be left there one more hour, as we’d already paid the rental for 24 hours, but they said, ‘No, take back your money and get out of here.’”
The director requested 10 minutes to change and gather their belongings to leave, which the Muslims granted.
“Then after I closed the door, God gave me the courage to say to everyone, ‘Let’s be quiet, and I’ll baptize you very quickly – gather together now,’” he said.
In rapid succession, 32 people were baptized.
“I believe that while we were baptizing these dear ones, with each person going under and coming up again, there were angels in heaven rejoicing with great shouts of joy,” he said. “They were singing, ‘Our Lord’s blood was not spilt in vain, because 32 more people are saved for eternity, hallelujah!’”
When they left the premises, they saw more Muslims gathering to oppose the baptisms – something the Christian leaders had expected, he said. The opposition that appeared was a sure sign that the Christians were under some form of surveillance by the hard-line Islamist government, according to the director.
Undaunted, the newly baptized Christ-followers went on to share the Lord’s Supper, and then parted in joy.
“For us this was indeed a miracle,” the director said. “All these who decided to be baptized had been bound so tightly to another religion they had shared, but now they’ve all chosen to follow Jesus together. Let’s give all the glory to our Lord Jesus for this.”
What the director referred to as the miraculous took place in a country that has steadily ratcheted up societal and official opposition to Christianity, though Christians are a small fraction of the population. The growing hostilities only heighten the native ministry director’s astonishment.
“I’ve met a lot of people in my life – some may not like Christians, some have read the Koran but then have decided to believe in Jesus,” he said. “I’ve even seen those who did their Islamic prayers five times a day, then decided to believe. But I’ve never ever seen an Islamic missionary decide to believe in Jesus.”
Native missionaries co-laboring with God are seeing such miracles throughout the Middle East. Please consider a donation today to help them reach their people for Christ.
*Name changed for security reasons