by Shawn Hendricks
Abdul" hid his face as he told his amazing story at this year's Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis. "Abdul," who uses this name to protect his identity, is a former Muslim who lives in a South Asian nation. He fears for his life not only because converting to Christianity puts him at risk but also because he helped spark a movement in his homeland that has changed thousands of lives for Jesus Christ.
At that summer meeting, Abdul told stories about persecution and martyrdom. One of his childhood friends was among nine evangelists in the movement murdered for their faith. Despite persecution, the ministry had more than 400,000 followers and 9,000 churches three months ago.
That was then. Now the number of believers and churches involved with the ministry has further ballooned, says a missionary who has worked closely with Abdul on the field. "The movement has grown so quickly, we have found it almost impossible to have actual' numbers," he said.
Abdul's enemies also have continued to increase. "He called today to let us know that he has received some very specific threats against his life, his family, and others who work with him," the worker said. "These threats are actually being [left] on his mobile telephone-so they even have his number."
In addition to the death threats, 63 Christian men who are involved in the ministry were arrested recently. All of the men remain imprisoned.
"In the past when Abdul's people were placed in jail, [Christians] would scramble to raise money to get them out. It is different this time," another worker said. Instead of paying for lawyers and various court fees, any money that is raised is going to the men's families, the worker says. Each wife will receive about $20 for food while the men are in jail. This amount should maintain an average-sized family for two to three weeks.
"They are thinking that God has placed all of these men in jail for a purpose," the worker added. "We feel confident that incredible things are taking place inside the jails."
Staff at SBC's International Mission Board were informed the workers ask fellow believers to pray for Abdul and those involved with the ministry in several specific ways:
Pray for God's protection over Abdul and his family. Despite death threats against him and his family, he continues to help spread the gospel.
Pray that the families of these 63 men who were imprisoned for their faith will be cared for during this time.
Pray that those imprisoned will endure the beatings and harsh conditions they encounter.
Pray that the prison guards and other prisoners will be open to the gospel through the witness of the 63 men.