By Mark Ellis –
In many parts of the Middle East, if a family members turns away from Islam and becomes a follower of Jesus, the family has a right to kill them.
“In Egypt, the police will provide a death certificate saying the cause of death was natural,” says Brother George, a church planter with Novo. “One police officer said to bring the head of the Christian in a bag and that’s sufficient.”
When a Muslim gives their life to Jesus it is serious business. “They may lose all their possessions. In Saudi Arabia they officially lose their civil rights. They don’t exist on the planet. They lose their records so the government can do anything. This is how much they lose.”
Brother George recounts the story of a sheikh’s brother who became a follower of Jesus in a miraculous way. The sheikh loved his younger brother “to the bones,” but soon faced family pressure to kill him.
The sheikh decided he would have to do it. He invited his younger brother to stay with him for a few nights. After they shared dinner together, the plan was to kill the younger brother in his sleep.
The two men shared the same bedroom and the sheikh placed a dagger under his pillow. After the younger brother fell into a deep sleep, the sheikh reached for the dagger, but there was nothing under the pillow.
He searched everywhere but couldn’t find the dagger. It disappeared!
“When he woke up in the morning, the dagger was back where he put it,” Brother George recounts.
The second night he came up with a better plan. When the two men went to bed, the sheikh attached the dagger to his belt. After the younger brother fell asleep, the sheikh went to grab the dagger and his hand stuck to it, as if by some invisible super glue.
“He tried to open his hand to remove the dagger and it wouldn’t move. He had to sleep all night in a chair with his hand stuck.”
In the morning, after they awakened, his hand released.
The sheikh went to his Muslim friends and told them what happened. “If you can’t kill your brother, that’s fine, we will kill him,” they said.
The next night they surrounded the sheikh’s house while the younger brother slept. They crept into the bedroom after he fell asleep and discovered the younger brother was not in his bed.
“They searched the house up and down and couldn’t find him. He had vanished!”
The younger brother woke up on a sidewalk several blocks away. Brother George likens this to the story of Philip in Acts 9, carried away by the Spirit after he baptized the Ethiopian eunuch.
When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:39-40)
“The sheikh became a follower of Christ,” Brother George reports. “I know both brothers. The sheikh lost his wife, his kids, his possessions, everything, when he followed Christ.”
One day Brother George asked the former sheikh if the cost of following Jesus was too great.
“I would do it again,” he said.
“One god is chasing people with a sword and one God loves people. One god wants to kill people, but our God died for people.”
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