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‘Abdul’ update: Amazing growth, more opposition since SBC

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Most of the Southern Baptists in the crowd never saw his face. But they may remember seeing and hearing his story at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Indianapolis.

“Abdul,”* a South Asian Muslim who turned to Christ, helped spark a movement in his homeland that has changed thousands of lives for Jesus Christ. His story was depicted in a video dramatization just before he walked on stage.

Abdul spoke with his back to the crowd to protect his identity and answered questions from International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin. Standing next to Abdul was retired missionary Tom Thurman, who led him to the Lord years ago.

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 at that time.

Three months after Abdul shared his story at the convention, word has come of amazing growth within the ministry — and increased opposition.

Despite increasing opposition to Abdul, the movement has continued growing. Abdul recently crossed a border into another area of South Asia to share the Gospel.

Today, the number of believers and churches involved with the ministry has 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.

“When the 63 men get out, we will hear their stories.”

The workers ask Southern Baptists to continue praying 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.
*Name changed for security reasons.

Contributions designated to “The Families of the 63 Imprisoned Christians” may be sent to South Asia Relief, International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, Va., 23230-0767.

    About the Author

  • Shawn Hendricks