Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35)

Jack McAlister, founder of World Literature Crusade (now known as Every Home for Christ) said that the mission of taking the gospel to the whole world would come in three stages – easy, hard, bloody.  We are in that third stage.  Yes, there has been opposition, persecution, and even martyrdom since “day one” of the church, but today seems to be the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy that Christians would be hated and killed in every nation for His sake. (Matthew 24:9)  Over the past few years, Teach All Nations has had the privilege of being able to minister in several nations where Christianity is not welcomed and believers are targeted for varying levels of abuse, persecution, and violence.  We’ve ministered to many women whose husbands divorced them as soon as they discovered that they had become Christians; we’ve prayed for young men and women who were kicked out of their homes and rejected by their families for deciding to follow Jesus; we’ve met with evangelical teams who know that some of their team members have been killed and are still questioning what happened to other teammates who simply never returned from their missions.

Today, I would like to share the story of one of our ministry partners in a North African nation which is almost one-hundred percent Muslim.  I have known this evangelist for several years and have ministered with him in his home nation.  Teach All Nations has also financially supported him to build a church and purchase needed literature for his evangelistic and discipleship work.  When I didn’t hear from him for several months, I emailed him to find out if anything had happened since I knew that there was violence in his area.  The response that I received from him was shocking yet encouraging in that he survived the ordeal.

 I would like to share with you all the good things that the Lord has been doing in my life and ministry.  I have known you since my first visit in the USA in 2006, and I have been associated with your ministry since then.  I know that you have always been very interested in seeing the church in my country advance, and your visit in 2007 – especially through your visits in the village areas – demonstrated how my nation is in your heart.

 After I returned from Bible college in America in 2015, the Lord called me to start a ministry in my country, and Teach All Nations partnered with us by helping fund the construction of our mission center consisting of the church, a guesthouse, and a well.  However, the region where we started the center soon came under serious terrorist activity.  We were especially targeted because we were seeing many Muslims give their lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord.  That was so encouraging for us in spite of the terrorist attacks.  We continued to pray for revival and believe for a mighty move of the Holy Spirit in our region.  We continued to hold evangelical activities in the villages in spite of the terrorist threat.

 Last November, I set up a three-week evangelism campaign that was to take me into twenty-three villages to show the Jesus Film.  However, after evangelizing in only five of these villages, my car broke down.  When we saw people coming toward us, we thought that they were from the neighboring village and were coming to invite us to bring the film to their village as well.  We were totally unaware that this was actually the beginning of a very painful adventure.  These strangers knocked one of my companions to the ground with such force that he lost consciousness.  In fact, I thought that he was dead.  Then they grabbed the rest of us, tied us up, blindfolded us, and started beating us.  This torture went on for hours.  The next day, they set fire to my car because they didn’t want it to be tracked.  From November to January, we were held hostage and had no idea where we were.  We didn’t have access to phones or good food.  We were battling just to stay alive as they tried to force us to say Islamic prayers.  When they discovered that they could not shake our faith in Jesus, they decided to release us for a ransom.  I was allowed to call a friend who mobilized our families to make a payment for our release.  We were careful to ensure that word of our kidnapping was not made public because we did not want the new believers to be frightened and turn away from their newfound faith.  Even though we were determined to follow Jesus at any price, we feared that the new converts might not be that well established.

 On February 7th, we were taken to a desert area and released.  After almost a day of walking, we met some people on camels.  They helped us reach a village where we begged for a motorcycle ride to another village.  We stayed there for three days before we were able to get a ride to our homes.  One of the members of our group was so broken by the ordeal that he died a week after our release.  The other team member deserted me for safety.  Personally, I was so traumatized that I became very depressed and lost my courage – a horrible state that lasted for almost a month.  Praise God, I am now back at the mission center.  I also praise the Lord that a new military base has established just a few miles from our community.  That will make our region more secure and stable with less threat from the terrorists.

 I don’t know any of the details concerning the ransom transaction.  When I tried to find out, I was told that would be retaliation if my friend gave any information about where the money went.  In fact, he actually decided to leave the country in fear for his life.

 I left my family in the city for their safety, but I am determined to stay in this region proclaiming the kingdom of God and advancing the vision of God for my people.  Even after the loss of my companions, I am continuing to conduct a feeding program for children who have lost one or both their parents to the terrorism in the region.  My desire is to reach people for the kingdom of God no matter what challenges I have endure!