This email comes from one of our ministry partner, Kenneth Wells.
“I had the opportunity to talk with our student, Ahmed*, in Lebanon recently. He is from the Damascus, Syria area. A couple of years before he began studying with us, he was captured by IS!S along with a friend of his who is both deaf and mute. They were ordered to kneel and kiss the leader’s feet. Ahmed was then ordered to deny his faith, which he immediately rejected, saying, ‘I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I won’t kneel at anyone else’s feet.’ He was beaten for his perceived disrespect. When his friend was ordered to do the same, of course, he did not respond as he could not hear. When they went to beat him, Ahmed intervened, informing them of his inability to understand what they were asking. Ahmed was given an opportunity to change his mind or they would both die. He told the leader, ‘You serve a dead prophet, but I serve a risen Savior who is alive. If you kill me, I will go to be with Him. I will not renounce Jesus.’
“They were put on ‘dead man’s rations’ and were sentenced to die a couple of days later. During this time, Ahmed’s fiancée was very concerned and discovered what happened to him. Her family knew a man who knew the landowner where the IS!S cell was based. Through this contact, they were able to negotiate their release with a few thousand dollars cash and the car. When they were to be released, the leader, still upset over Ahmed’s seeming disrespect and insolence, said, ‘You can go, but I am going to shoot one of you someday.’ Ahmed said, “Then shoot me.” He did…in the foot. Ahmed was taken to the hospital, but he and his friend were released. Not long after, he married his fiancée.
“During this time, he began the enrollment process with NTCGS and was making plans to study. Meanwhile, he and his wife were informed that they would not be able to have children. They continued serving the Lord with children and youth and he was undeterred in his plans to study theology. He is now 2 ½ years into the 4-year program. When I was with him just 11 days ago, he shared a keepsake celebrating the birth of their first child – a baby boy.
“Ahmed also shared a remarkable event a few weeks ago. He was contacted by a former IS!S member who had guarded him a good part of the time he was in captivity. This man was now in Europe and had come to know Jesus Christ as his Savior. He found a group of believers there and was now sharing the gospel with others who don’t know Christ. He wanted to let Ahmed know that hearing him pray and sing during that time of captivity had broken his heart and was key to his trusting in Christ.
“Brother Jared, spending time with some of these men and women whose lives reflect the passion and courage of the early church just after the resurrection is so humbling. It is obvious the change the resurrection has made in their lives. I pray I can show that same commitment and passion for Christ here where we don’t have the trials and persecution they face.
“We are so grateful for Bethel, which has been a significant part of our support partnership over the years. Please express our appreciation to the church for their faithfulness. Pray as we seek open doors to invite other partners to join us in training nationals for ministry. Please also pray for Muslim friends we’ve made over the last several years. I have had the privilege to share the gospel with them on several occasions. Pray for their salvation and that of their families. Thank you for being a vital part of all of this! Please greet the folks at Bethel for me!”
*His name has been changed to protect his identity.