It is often challenging to be a Christian in the Middle East. Today, we hear from a Christian leader called Hassan,* who was sent to prison because of his ministry leading others to Christ. Here, he shares of his experiences in prison.
‘In prison with me was one of the worst, most restless prisoners, a man named Reza.* He was a murderer and was soon to be executed. He was very wild, uncontrollable and bad-mouthed, a real nuisance to everyone and no one liked him. When I spoke to him about Christ, he observed a spirit of love and peace in me. He exclaimed in a loud voice: “My friend, what are you doing here? How come a good person like you is here? I have committed murder and deserve to be here, but what have you done?”
‘I immediately said: “I am in here just for you, so that today you can hear the gospel and be saved and set free!” Tearfully Reza embraced me and said, “Do you think God puts such value on a bad, wicked person like me that He would send someone like you as His representative to me?”’
He was told the story of the lost sheep and how the angels in Heaven rejoiced over this one sheep that had been lost, but was now found. He was also told the story of the thief on the Cross and how, in the last moments of his life, he committed himself to Christ and was told that today he would enter the Kingdom of God.
Reza embraced Hassan again, saying loudly and with tears: ‘Please pray for me and help me to find salvation like that thief.’ That day, Reza fully committed himself to Christ and received the new birth. His behaviour, speech and even his appearance changed. Reza was grateful to the Lord that He had sent Hassan to the prison for the salvation of such an unworthy sinner like himself. He also apologised to the other prisoners for his behaviour and gave his testimony to all of them. Then, after two days, he was transferred to another prison where he was executed the following day.
But that is not the end of the story! A few years later, another Christian leader met up with a believer named Masood,* who turned out to be Reza’s brother.
‘When Hassan was in prison he witnessed to my brother, Reza, who had been sentenced to death for murder. Two days before his execution, Reza became a believer and found salvation. On the day of his execution, as a family we were granted permission to see him. The rest of the family were not willing to actually witness the execution, but I went to see him and spent some time with him alone.
‘Contrary to how I thought I would find him, worried and upset, he was very peaceful, and greeted me with a smile and a face full of hope. I wanted to comfort him but, in that short time before his death, he said to me, “Do you know the reason for my peace and strength of heart? In this prison, I met a Christian. He spoke to me about Christ and eternal life, and two days ago I received new life. I am no longer afraid of death. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ has accepted me and that I am going to be with Him. So don’t worry about me.”
I am no longer afraid of death. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ has accepted me and that I am going to be with Him.
‘He then said to me, “You also can find salvation. Recognise that the way to salvation is only found in Christ. Surrender yourself to Him and He will forgive you of all your sins.” He wanted to speak more with me but the prison guard told us that our time had finished, and they took my brother and led him away to be executed. As my brother went, I saw that he was at peace and worshipping the Lord, for he had surrendered his soul to God.’
Masood continued, ‘From that time onwards, I gave my life to Christ. I strengthened my faith through the internet and watching satellite TV, and witnessed to several of my friends who also became believers. Before all this, I was addicted to and even sold drugs but Christ delivered me from all these bondages. I am continuing to follow the Lord and to serve Him.’
How wonderful is the work of God? Hassan going to prison led to Reza’s salvation. Reza’s salvation led to Masood’s salvation. Masood’s salvation led to the salvation of some of his friends.
*names changed to protect identities
Pray for the Middle East:
- that the testimony of Christians in prison in the Middle East will result in other prisoners finding faith in Christ
- for believers in the Middle East, who often face isolation and persecution from their families and communities
- for this region, which faces tension, conflict and violence, as well as suffering from the impact of the coronavirus.