Libya: Pray for Bible Smugglers, Part 2
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.)