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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.)

Christians Attacked in Libya

Boys playing on a tank in Libya

Some Christian men from poor families in Egypt went to Libya to find jobs. (Libya is next to Egypt in Africa.) The men sent money they earned from their jobs back to their families in Egypt.

Ezzat Bishri Naseef, one of the men, was told by his Muslim boss, “You’re so clever. You’re a waste to Christianity. You should convert to Islam. I promise you prosperity and ownership of land.”

The offer for land of his own must have been tempting to Ezzat. But he refused to deny Jesus. He told his boss, “I would never give up my Lord even if I were killed by the sword.”

Months later, Muslim ISIS terrorists attacked a group of the Egyptian workers. Ezzat and 20 other Christians stood firm in their faith, and they lost their lives in the attack. Weeks later, some of their children still did not know about what happened to their fathers. Their mothers did not know how to tell them.

Even though the families of the men are very sad, they want to forgive the ISIS attackers. “[I would tell them] from all my heart, ‘May God forgive you and removed the scales off of your eyes and place you on the right path, the path of light,’” said the mother of one of the men. “Our Christ taught us love and peace and forgiveness. He didn’t teach us to take revenge. He didn’t teach us to curse if we’re cursed or kill if we’re killed.”

To Talk About

  • What did the mother say that Christ teaches his followers?
  • What did she say that Christ does not teach?
  • What did she mean when she said that she wanted God to “remove the scales” from the attackers’ eyes? (See Acts 9:1–18.)

Pray for the families of the Christian men. Ask God to comfort their parents, wives, and children.

Always Free in the Lord

Sherif's family
Sherif and family, with their eyes covered to protect their identity

An Egyptian Christian, Sherif Ramses, was the manager of a bookstore in Libya, where more than 95 percent of the people are Muslims. Sherif was arrested in February because he had some Arabic Christian books in his store. He allowed Arabic-speaking immigrants in Libya to read the books.

Sherif was in prison for more than two months. He was treated harshly while he was imprisoned.

But, praise God, Sherif was then freed, and he returned to his family.

“I am happy to see our brother Sherif released from prison, yet he is always free in the Lord (John 8:36),” said a Christian in the area.

Learn how to write letters to Christian prisoners who are not yet free at Prisoner Alert.






Slightly larger than Alaska.

Main Languages

At 6:00 a.m. U.S. Central Standard Time, it is 1:00 p.m. in Libya.

Many groups have controlled Libya over the centuries including Romans, Arabs, Italians, and British. Libya declared independence from Britain in 1951. An army officer named Muammar al-Qadhafi took over the government in 1969. In 2007, Qadhafi said, “Christianity is not a faith for people in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.” He also said those who do not practice Islam are “losers.” Qadhafi died in 2011 after ruling for 42 years.
Mostly Muslim.

Islam is the official religion of Libya. The government often does not investigate or respond to attacks on Christians or their property by radical Muslims.