Twice Ransomed – A Story of Risk, Rescue & Redemption
*Details have been omitted and names have been changed to protect those still in prison and in danger of being imprisoned.
For English speakers, words like “freedom,” “redemption” and “ransom” can sometimes lose their effect. For Asad and Akbar, young Muslims from Iran, those words resonate deeply because they have experienced them on a far more personal and more significant level than most Americans.
Asad encountered Jesus through the pages of the Bible while living in Iran. His desire to become a Christian alienated him from family and friends. One of his greatest opponents was his uncle, a high ranking official in the Iranian government. In fear for his own safety, Asad fled his home to Austria. His status was reduced to “refugee” and he found himself a stranger in a strange land; but he continued his study of the Bible. Soon he was baptized.
Back in Iran, Asad’s brother, Akbar, and his wife, also began reading the Bible. They knew, however, that giving their lives to Christ was a decision that could be quite costly. In Iran, submitting to baptism is equivalent to embracing a death sentence. When the opportunity to visit Asad in Austria presented itself, Akbar and his wife made the trip and found the perfect environment to put on Christ in baptism.
When Akbar returned to Iran, he started a Bible study group that grew to more than 12 people in just a year. With growth comes the risk of discovery by the secret police. So, the group began to rotate their meeting locations. In spite of their precautions, they were later discovered by the authorities. Two of their members mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again.
The remaining group went into hiding for several weeks but continued their meetings. One Sunday morning, the secret police raided their meeting place, beat all of the members, interrogated and imprisoned them.
In a moment of divine irony, the uncle who had caused such misery for Asad years before became God’s instrument to rescue Akbar and his wife. Upon locating his nephew, he and the family were able to raise over $100,000 to ransom Akbar and his wife out of prison. God’s irony continued; this moment of rescue made them “twice ransomed,” first, through God’s love on the cross, and secondly, by an unbelieving uncle.
Akbar and his wife eventually escaped to Europe where they have applied for asylum. Unfortunately their friends are still missing.
” These two brothers became transformed followers of Jesus Christ through the power of God’s word: both the written word and the embodied Word, Jesus. “
Your financial partnership in this ministry has had a direct impact in the lives of many like Asad and Akbar who have received Bibles in Arabic and Farsi. We praise God for the passion to follow Jesus in places most hostile and lethal toward Christians.
We ask that you please pray diligently on behalf of the believers still in prison, as well as for Asad, Akbar and their families. We mourn, hope, and pray for believers around the world who are persecuted for the cause of Christ.
God’s Word is a gift that keeps giving. It has transformed my life—and because we share the Bible freely with others, I know it can help change their lives too.
EEM Coordinator for Central Europe
Slovakia. He received his first Bible from EEM in the mid-1990s, and it was then that he developed a passion for God. He is a former teacher and assistant professor, who now serves as one of the lay leaders in the Prague Church of Christ. For many years he has served as a song leader at church retreats around Central Europe. He has also composed a number of songs commonly sung by the churches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He is currently a non-residential student in the final year of the Master’s program in Christian Ministry at Abilene Christian University while working for EEM. Jaro and his family reside in Prague, Czech Republic.
God’s Word, A Gift
For many years, the Bible was not allowed in schools of Hungary . A couple of years ago, the Hungarian government decided to allow religious bodies to operate the formerly state-run schools. The government sought to decrease state spending and to improve the quality of schools since the government could no longer effectively manage the system needs. Christians in Hungary rose to the challenge. They made inquiries with the local populace, and when parents voiced their approval, the Christians started working in schools. Schools retained a largely non-believing student body and faculty, but programs were established to provide spiritual care and guidance for both. Bible classes were introduced and, wherever possible, school chaplains were hired. There are two examples of how the Lord is using his people to bring light to schools in Budapest.
Established in 1910, time has taken its toll on the historic school building, with restorative work in recent years. This school is called a gimnazium—a highly selective high school whose graduates often earn advanced degrees and enter promising careers. Many in the local elite want their children to attend this school for its academic record. Religion is tolerated, but believers are in the minority. Over the last four years, out of 500 students, 40 have put on Christ and so have a number of the faculty members.
There is great demand for Easy-to-Read Bibles, says David, the school chaplain, who uses them to introduce all students to God’s message of grace.
Another school demonstrates a contrast of how the Lord works in a different environment. This school still close to the nation’s capital, a city of nearly 1.8 million, and yet the landscape has changed significantly. You have to drive down a country road with a sign that reads “Úthibák” (lit. “road flaws”), meaning “bumpy road.” It is bumpy indeed, with not just bumps, but also cracks, potholes, and bits of surface chipped away on the side. The accepted state of affairs surrounding this village and school fits the Eastern European stereotype. There is a high unemployment rate and no industry to speak of. The vast, empty field right next to the elementary school serves as a metaphor that describes the lack of promise of the area. However, the school is well-maintained and the principal very professional. Her school, though small and lacking in resources, is a safe place of learning for the local children.Several of the faculty members, including the principal herself, are Christians and want to give these kids a chance for a better life.
The Christians in Hungary continue to do His work, knowing that they will not always have the opportunity to openly speak His truth. Every day that they are given the opportunity to distribute Bibles and Biblical materials. They are given the chance to show the communities the compassionate heart of Christ through the gifts. There was once a time where religious organizations could not work freely and Bibles were not welcome.
God has provided another window of opportunity to offer the Bible, and the needs are urgent. EEM is prepared to work with these Christians and thousands of other schools that are seeking to educate and inspire a love for Jesus and God’s Word!
History Made in Slovenia
June 8, 2017, was a historic moment for the small nation of Slovenia for two reasons. First, it was the national holiday honoring Primoz Trubar, the father of the Slovene language and Reformation preacher–during the 500th anniversary of the Reformation movement. Secondly, it marked the roll-out of a contemporary Slovene-language New Testament by EEM.
On that day, EEM presented Borut Pahor, president of Slovenia, the first of 50,000 copies that would be completely distributed within just six months‘time.
Now, “it’s the book everyone is talking about,” according to a national publication.
The New Testament is a thoroughly contemporary revision of the 1584 Dalmatin translation. Taking advantage of the Reformation’s anniversary, local church volunteers and missionaries distributed copies of the New Testament free to all in a variety of venues, from concerts to fairs. The book has quickly gained significant attention.
A retired local preacher gave away several copies of the New Testament to classmates at their 58th high school class reunion.
“We arnism. Some former communists are now reading the Bible,” he exclaimed.e all 74 or 75 years-old, the generation of socialism and commu
Steve, a missionary in Slovenia, writes, “The Secretary General of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry stopped by our booth. He was amazed that this historical and cultural pearl had been produced and was being offered as a free gift to the Slovenes. The Secretary General is part of the team that produces the largest book fair in Slovenia. He asked, ‘If we gave you free space at the upcoming book fair, would you be willing to come and pass out these Bibles?’” Taking advantage of the free space, Steve and his volunteers distributed over 3000 of the final 5000 New Testaments.
Christian, a missionary in another town, writes: “One sister from our church has been taking the New Testaments to her workplace. She remarked last week that she had been working with a colleague for many years—in fact, they had studied together—but she had never been able to discuss the Gospel with him. These New Testaments gave her an opportunity to not only present the Gospel, but also to give the Word of God to her coworker”.
With nearly 50,000 copies distributed in just six months, the impact is in progress. In the words of Darko, a local missionary, “The seeds you have sown in Slovenia will bear fruit for generations to come!”
A Letter from Romania
EEM distribution partner and local children’s minister in Romania sent us the following letter to thank EEM for the opportunity to give children their very own Bible. This letter represents the countless messages and letters we receive weekly, and we are continually humbled by what God has invited us to be a part of. The demand for Bibles continues to increase, and with your financial partnership, EEM is able to supply the need to feed those who are hungry for God’s Word.
We are thrilled to work among the most passionate Christians who seek to inspire a love for God and His Word to children, while teaching a message of hope and transformation.
We have given all the children’s Bibles to local ministries. Upon hearing of the possibility of giving Bibles to children that they work with, countless ministers have asked if more are available. I told them that I will speak to EEM and see if this is possible. They see this as a beautiful opportunity to introduce Jesus and God through his word in the engaging children’s Bibles. There are some small churches in the villages that have older people, but God has sent young preachers in this area with a vision and they have started several children’s ministries. Some time ago, I started a ministry outside of church with children who come from parents who do not believe in Christ. These children visit every Tuesday and we were able to provide EEM Bibles to them.
God be praised for the ministry we do together with you and other local ministries. If possible, please send more children’s Bibles. There is a great need.