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Eid al-Fitr

Muslims celebrate a three-day festival at the end of Ramadan called Eid-al-Fitr. This year Ramadan ends in early June. Families buy new clothes, decorate their homes, visit friends and relatives, and exchange gifts. Schools and businesses in Muslim countries close for the holidays.

Muslims in many countries greet each other during the festival by saying, “Eid Mubarak,” which means “blessed festival.” They may send greeting cards to other Muslims.

Egg fighting is a traditional game in Afghanistan played during the celebration. Two people each hold a hardboiled egg. They bump the ends of their eggs together until one egg cracks. The holder of the egg that is not cracked wins.

Note: Citizens of Afghanistan who declare faith in Christ experience serious persecution. Learn about Christians in Afghanistan in Bold Believers in Afghanistan, available in the free Downloads section.

The “Night of Power”

Iraqi child at a Ramadan feast

This month, Muslims have been celebrating Ramadan, a month-long fast from food and drink during daylight hours. One of the final nights of Ramadan is the “Night of Power.” Muslims may be more open to dreams, visions, and revelations on the Night of Power.

Pray that Muslims who seek the truth during Ramadan will come to know Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Learn more about Islam from Learning About Islam, a 60-page spiral bound book for readers ages 8 and up, available for free download on this site.

Libya: Pray for Bible Smugglers, Part 2

Libyan Muslims praying

The previous post told about Brother Hannu, a Christian from Finland who planned a trip to Libya with Christian friends. He was not happy when he realized that his friends intended to smuggle Bibles into Libya, a Muslim country. Read below what happened next.

Brother Hannu wondered how he could get out of the situation. He was too fearful to smuggle Bibles into Libya.

He decided he would let his friends carry their suitcases full of Bibles, and he would just pray for them while they tried to get their Bibles past the officials at customs. [“Customs” is the place at an airport or other point of entry into a country where officials check incoming luggage.]

“Yes, that was my strategy,” said Hannu on VOM Radio. Then, unfortunately, one of the guys said, ‘Hannu, my suitcase is very heavy. Could you please help?’

“I prayed, ‘God, You have to help. You understand, I have a wife, I have a son, and I am a pastor in a church.’” But he helped his friend carry the suitcase. As they approached customs, the official said, “Welcome!” They passed through customs with no problems. “I was happy!” said Brother Hannu.

But his happiness ended later that night. At 1 a.m., his hotel room phone rang. “This is the police!” said a voice when Brother Hannu answered the phone. “Come to the lobby! We will arrest you. You have brought illegal books into the country!”

“I almost had a heart attack,” said Brother Hannu. “I knew that another group had been put in a Libyan prison for smuggling Bibles the week before. So I was very scared. I hung up the phone, and they called again and shouted the same words. I was in a state of shock.

“I got on my knees in the hotel room, and I said, ‘Jesus, please forgive me. I don’t love Muslims. I don’t like them. Lord, You see how they are treating Your people in many places. But, Jesus, I can love them because Your Word says in Romans 5:5 that the love of God has been poured out in our hearts. So I will open the tap, and it will flow. I will love them. I promise to preach Your Word to these people.’

“I was just surrendering my life to God….and then to my big surprise, the telephone was silent. Nothing happened. We had a good trip to Libya.

“When I went back to my church in Finland, a woman asked me, ‘Hannu, what happened [on a certain date] at 1 o’clock in the night?’ It was the same night when the police called me. ‘I was deep in sleep,’ the woman continued, ‘when suddenly I woke up, and I saw your face. You were in danger. I started praying for you. I prayed for a long time that you would be happy again.’”

[Note: Finland and Libya are in the same time zone, so when it is 1 a.m. in Finland, it is also 1 a.m. in Libya, except when Finland is observing Daylight Saving Time.]

Since that trip, Brother Hannu has had many opportunities to love Muslims and to share the Good News of Jesus with them.

He requested prayer for himself and other Christians working among Muslims. “In Ephesians, Chapter 6, while he was in prison, Paul said, ‘Please pray for me, that I will preach the Word of God boldly.’ Fear is paralyzing many Christians in the tough Muslim areas. They need the power of the Holy Spirit; they need boldness. The Apostle Paul said to please pray for him; I need this, too. Also, ex-Muslims and Christians in those countries really do need this, to preach the Word of God in boldness.”

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)

Libya: Pray for Bible Smugglers

Brother Hannu is the leader of The Voice of the Martyrs office in Finland. He recently talked to Todd Nettleton at VOM Radio about some of his past Bible smuggling adventures. Brother Hannu had taken Christian literature hidden in special underwear into a hostile country, and his youth group wrapped videos about Jesus in gift wrapping paper to smuggle them into another country. But he still hesitated when he felt God calling him to share Jesus among Muslims. “We had practically no Muslims in Finland,” he said on VOM Radio.

A Vision
“I’m not one who dreams dreams and sees visions,” Brother Hannu said. “I was not raised like that at all. But one day I saw in front of my eyes a curtain opening….There were faces of people shouting, ‘We need help!’ I understood that the people were Muslims.”

Brother Hannu shared the vision with his pastor. He hoped to convince the pastor that he had not seen a vision. “You know I have a very lively imagination,” he reminded the pastor. The pastor wasn’t convinced. “I feel that God is calling you to the Muslim world,” he said.

A Trip
Brother Hannu decided to visit a Muslim country, Libya, to see what one was like. “I had heard about the threat of Islam and terrorists. So I had fear,” he said. [Islam is the religion of Muslims.]

He planned to visit Libya with a group of Christians. “I thought it was a nice, small trip,” he said. “We’d get to know how is the food, what is the weather like.

“But then I found out that this group was packing their suitcases with Bibles. I was shocked. I said to them, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing? This is dangerous. You understand this is very dangerous. You should not do that.’ They said, ‘Don’t you understand, Brother Hannu, they need Jesus in Libya.’ In fact, I heard at that time there was not a single known Libyan Christian in the country. There were some other from other countries, but not Libyan Christians. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness what kind of fanatics am I with right now?’ I was not so happy, but I could not return home because the church paid my trip.

Read the next post to find out what happened to Brother Hannu in Libya.

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for clarity, length, and age appropriateness.)

Fifteen Years in Prison

Fifteen years ago today, at 5:00 in the morning on May 23, 2004, police in Eritrea arrested Dr. Kiflu Gebremeskel and Mr. Haile Nayzgi. The men, who were leaders in their Christian churches, did not belong to any of the Eritrean government’s approved religion groups. Eritrea imprisons hundreds of people because of their religious beliefs.

Dr. Gebremeskel and Mr. Nayzgi have been in prison for 5,480 days. In the past, Dr. Gebremeskel earned a degree in mathematics from the University of Chicago. He has a wife and four children.

Dr. Gebremeskel

Mr. Nayzgi used to be an accountant. After his wife was warned that she might also be arrested, she and their four children escaped to a safer country. In a message smuggled out of Eritrea, Mr. Nayzgi thanked The Voice of the Martyrs for helping his family. He is happy that they are safe.

Mr. Nayzgi

Visit to learn more about these courageous Christians and to find out how to send messages of encouragement to Dr. Gebremeskel and Mr. Nayzgi.

To learn more about Christians in Eritrea, download Bold Believers in Eritrea from the Downloads section.