By Mark Ellis —
After a powerful visitation by an angel brought a Muslim to his knees in repentance and faith, relatives hostile to Christianity locked the man in a cellar. After languishing for days in the dark and musty underground chamber, police set him free.
Maheen had always been an observant Muslim in his town in India. At his place of employment, he was given a Bible, but once he took it home, the pages were never opened.
“He did not care about it, but just kept it in his room,” says Paul Ciniraj, founder of Paul Ciniraj Ministries. But that was about to change, due to an unexpected visit one evening.
As Maheen slept, an angel came to him, touched his shoulder and said, “Read Acts 26:23 from the Holy Scripture which you received.” Maheen thought it was a strange dream and went back to sleep.
A short time later, the angel touched his shoulder again – this time more firmly — and said, “Get up and read Acts 26:23 from the Bible. It is a verse for you.”
Still groggy and half-asleep, it was difficult for Maheen to process what happened. He decided to ignore the unusual dream and go back to sleep.
A third time the angel appeared while Maheen slept. This time, the angel nudged him strongly and said, “Get up and read the Bible as I said.”
This time, Maheen bolted out of bed, frantically grabbed his new Bible, and began to read from the Book of Acts: “That the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He should be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:23)
The striking visitation, the power of God’s Word, and the Holy Spirit brought Maheen to his knees. He acknowledged his sins before God and accepted Jesus as his Savior and Lord.
The next day, Maheen shared about his astonishing encounter with his wife Muneera. He urged her to become a Christian, but she did not have the faith to believe. Maheen pressed the issue with her, trying to convince her several times about the need to follow Jesus and the importance of reading the Bible.
But Muneera’s ears were closed and her heart hardened, partly due to the influence of her brother Siddhiq, an Islamist working in Saudi Arabia.
After Maheen was baptized, Muneera informed him that her brother Siddhiq was coming immediately to visit them.
After his arrival at their house with two others, the tension began to build between the men. Siddhiq wanted Maheen to renounce Christ and return to Islam. When Maheen refused, Siddhiq offered a tantalizing proposition: If Maheen would turn from Jesus and go to Saudi Arabia with him, he would be supplied a good job and a place to live.
“He offered a big house and property as Maheen’s own,” Ciniraj notes. “But Maheen said, ‘Jesus is far above any of the offers of this world. I may be killed, but I will never deny Jesus, for He is my Lord and Savior who granted me eternal life.”
Maheen’s courageous assertion of faith provoked Siddhiq and the men with him. “They brutally beaten him in front of his wife and locked Maheen in the cellar,” Ciniraj recounts. Denied adequate food and rudimentary care, the men did not even allow Muneera to visit her husband.
As the hours and days ticked by, Siddhiq thought Maheen would changed his mind and return to Islam. Instead, Maheen’s faith in Jesus grew stronger during his confinement.
Exasperated, Siddhiq consulted with Muneera’s father and they decided they must kill Maheen, in accord with their understanding of Islam.
This came as a shock to Muneera; she never thought it would come to this. That night, for the first time in her life, she prayed to the God of the Bible. When she prayed, something remarkable happened.
Muneera received a powerful vision of paradise. She saw heaven open and Jesus on His throne. Maheen was in the palm of God’s right hand, praising Jesus along with the angels.
She also witnessed the precious blood of Jesus washing human souls. His blood seemed to flow like a beautiful stream from His heart. Muneera also noted that His words carried authority and strength.
She felt an urgency to reach Maheen, but she could not, because of a wide gulf between heaven and earth – a huge divide between sinful man and a holy God. She saw a bridge in the shape of a cross over the gulf, but it was taken back to heaven when she attempted to stand on it.
Muneera realized she couldn’t get to heaven by her own efforts. She confessed to God her hard-heartedness and sins. She humbled herself and accepted Jesus as her Savior. She realized that only the finished work of Jesus on the cross made a way for her to heaven.
After Muneera was born again, she prayed for her husband. She asked God to protect him from harm.
“She called friends at our ministry by telephone and told them all the details,” Ciniraj recalls. “They prayed together and approached police officials and they intervened to release Maheen from the cellar.”
“With family they are doing underground mission works for our ministries. And recently, Siddhiq also accepted Jesus as his Savior,” Ciniraj reports.
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