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They Desperately Need Your Help

January 15, 2013

The news  from far-away Niger, on its southern border, is as heartbreaking as whatever you see on CNN. But in Niger no cameras were rolling to catch the tears of those Africans who saw their loved ones cut down by the Islamic group,  Boko Haram. My friend Pastor John Ramey, the only American within hundreds of miles, was there to see and interview the survivors. Here’s the thing: these people need help; they need shelter, and you can help them. My wife and I gave $120 to the Aslan Children’s Foundation. To provide shelters for one family.

See what I mean:  Watch this video:

Won’t you give $120 to provide tent shelters  for one of these 57 families? My wife and I gave; I hope you will give too. Here how you can give:

Click on and give by credit card

Or make your check to Aslan Children Rescue and sent it to:

1110 Rudger Way  Sacramento, CA  95833

Note the gift with a memo of  “Niger Shelters.” And thank you very much. This is an emergency. The winds are blowing hard and these survivors need shelters.

Sincerely, Bob Blincoe

P.S. I just learned that there is a matching fund; if you give before January 31 a donor will match your gift! Please give! Let’s provide  shelters for all 57 families.

We’re Not There Yet, But We’re Heading in the Right Direction.

January 10, 2013
Patrick Johnstone

Johnstone paved the way for tracking religious movements around the globe.

For most of history, writers guessed at the number of religious adherents in the world. Today, we see more clearly the state of the gospel in every country because one man started collecting the numbers and checking and rechecking them and correcting them. He did this so that we may pray for the further advance of the preaching of the gospel everywhere.  I honor the man who got the whole world of statistics in his hands: Patrick Johnstone. All of us owe Patrick a debt we cannot repay. Patrick collected his scraps of paper and typed them into eight pages in 1964, so that he could lead a week-long prayer meeting in Kenya.

Later he added some hand drawn graphs and printed a thin paperback called Operation World. Seven editions later, Operation World runs to nearly 1,000 pages and includes growth trends for all the major religions, and all the versions of Christianity. It is also online at: I was privileged to edit the entry on Iraq in the latest edition.

From Seed to Fruit

Johnstone’s work details how far we have to go to fulfill our mission.

We salute you, Patrick Johnstone, for gathering in one place all the statistics and getting them into print to help us know where to put the pushpins into the maps of where the preaching of the gospel has begun. Only then could we know what we needed to know: all the places and peoples in the Muslim world where the Gospel work has not begun, “where there are no push pins in any missionary maps.”

At the March 2007 meeting in Pattaya Thailand, Patrick Johnstone presented a fairly discouraging picture of the state of the Gospel in Muslim countries. You can read his remarks in the opening chapter of From Seed to Fruit, the collection of 30 valuable presentations made by field practitioners at the Thailand meetings (Note: the presenters were addressing 800 field workers, all church planters among Muslims—this conference was no mere academic exercise).

In his sobering report on the state of the gospel work in Muslim countries, Johnstone noted:

  • Militant Islam was battering the ancient churches of the East in Egypt, Iraq, and Iran and Palestine. There are actually fewer Christians in these countries than a few decades ago.
  • Muslim population growth. “Over the period 1900 to 2050, the world population will have grown nearly six-fold, but the number of Muslims will have grown more than twelve-fold and increased in population from 0.2 billion to 2.5 billion.”[1]
  • Massive decline in the number of Christians in Europe during the last century.

However (however!) Patrick had one hopeful fact to report as well:

  • Evangelical Christianity is growing far faster Islam. Moreover, while Islamic growth is almost exclusively biological (the number of converts to Islam is exaggerated), large numbers of new Evangelicals are declaring their faith in Jesus Christ for the first time.

Patrick then turned our thoughts to the question of whether some Muslims, or perhaps many Muslims, have come to faith in Jesus Christ—true faith that obeys—that go unreported and are in fact unknown. (What is known, all too well, is that numbers of Muslims who once declared faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord found the pressures too great, and returned to Islam. Don’t think it couldn’t happen to you.) “It is difficult to know,” Patrick concludes, “how many Jesus-centered believers there are who have come out or remain within Islam to one degree or another. We may never know until Christ returns just how many there are, but one day we may be surprised at the number of disciples of Jesus who rise from Muslim graves.”[2]

[1] Patrick Johnstone, “Look at the Fields: Survey of the Task,” in From Seed to Fruit, ed. J. Dudley Woodberry(Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2011). 3

[2] Ibid. 8

Book Review – Bridges to Islam by Phil Parshall

October 26, 2012

This book is Phil Parshall’s classic introduction to “folk Islam,” that below-the-surface off-the record version of Islam that Muslims don’t talk about with outsiders. “One can be surrounded by certain dynamic situations,” Phil Parshall writes, “and still be quite unaware of what is happening.”[1] What was happening around him, the author now realizes, was “folk Islam,” an unorthodox faith system that most Muslims practice—70%, he says—but never learn in the mosque. “Formal Islam is in tension,”[2] Parshall writes, with the animistic, saint-worshipping, power-seeking, fortune-telling, miracle-working practices of folk Islam.

This classic study of folk Islam offers insight as to how Christian missionaries can relate to Sufi Muslims.

Some words characterizing folk Islam:

Pir, a spiritual guide, a member of the guiding community to which followers attach themselves. “The pir should be worthy of imitation.”[3] In fact, “the pir is to be followed in blind faith.” [4]

Dhikr—from chants to trance, the importance of words which, when repeated rhythmically, lead to emotional crescendo and the silence of unconsciousness. The reading and chanting of the Qur’an may lead to ecstasy in Sufi orders, while music is often forbidden.

Using everyday words (Parshall cites perfume, wine, and Allah) express the mystic’s superior (gnostic?) knowledge.

The person of Mohammed may appear in dreams; such an encounter carries great important to the Sufi.

Steps to Enlightenment

The Sufi is on a journey of seven steps to enlightenment: Service to God; Love of God; Seclusion from the world; Contemplation and knowledge; Ecstasy; Truth; and finally, Union with God. “At the point of so-called union with God, the Sufi no longer is just a man, but is transubstantiated into “God.” He then declares “Ana ‘il-haqq” (“I am the real”), which utterance is blasphemous to the orthodox Muslim and Christians alike. [5] But there is a Christian parallel: “The Christian who also seeks illumination and closeness to God speaks of God dwelling in him and of being possessed of the Holy Spirit, but he does not go on to the excesses of Sufism.” [6]

What about the actual practice in folk Islam?

Animism, that “remnant from the days before Islam,” [7]continues virile in many Muslim areas—Parshall cites his experience in the Muslim region of the Philippines. Curing the sick by calling out the spirits, superstition surrounding graves, blood sacrifice, magical use of the Qur’an in healing.

Miracles are attributed to the Sufi saints, deliverance from jinn as well. Saints have also “willed” the presence of fruit, people, and objects. [8] “No proof of their assertions are ever advanced,” quotes Parshall, “but they give you wonderful illustrations and beautiful stories. Their words come straight from the heart.” [9]
Devotees seek favor from God by visiting the shrines of holy men. Many women visit the shrines for favors in this life, such as the birth of a son, financial success.

Steps to holiness for the Christian worker

Gateshead Bridge

Like England’s Gateshead Bridge, a non-linear approach is a method that should be considered by missionaries in spanning the chasm between Christianity and Islam.

Folk practices may reveal a desire to know God in a more personal way. The desire to know God’s power, God’s presence, and God’s answer to prayers may be a bridge to Christian faith. The church has always held seekers of the deeper life, the “yearning for personal communion with God.” [10] It is the Sufi, Parshall says, who carries the flame of mysticism within the Islamic faith. The Sufi wants that “mystic sweet communion” which many followers of Jesus have found. The mystic also wants deliverance from his fears; “his world is dominated by the evil eye, by sickness, death, sorcery, and curses.”[11] He also seeks fellowship; hence the tie between the pir and his devotees.

Parshall lists seven possible bridges between Sufism and Christianity:

1. The Sufi view of God. Allah is above all and totally in control of His creation. Parshall lists the 99 Muslim names for God[12]and encouraged their contemplation and missionary use.

2. The Sufi stress on personal relationship with God.

3. The de-emphasis of the value of ritual and form.

4. The necessity of a hunger for God.

5. An awareness of the working of God’s grace in the lives of men and women.

6. A community goal of being with God one day, a desire that is unrealizable in formal Islam.

7. A belief in intermediaries between God and man. This is a natural bridge to an effective presentation of Jesus as mediator for estranged mankind. “I never met a Muslim,” writes Parshall, “who could assure me that he knew he was going to heaven when he died.”[13]

The book of Hebrews as a bridge is detailed on page 132. The “mystery of the Gospel,” especially Colossians 1:25-27, 2:2-3 is cited and its use explained. Also, the wisdom passages of I Corinthians 2 and Ephesians 3:8-11.

Parshall encourages the worker to adapt, adapt, adapt; make concessions to allow Islamic customs and traditional forms.

[1] Phil Parshall, Bridges to Islam: A Christian Perspective on Folk Islam (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 1983). Introduction

[2] Ibid. 15

[3] Ibid. 54

[4] Ibid. 57

[5] Ibid. 62

[6] Ibid. 63

[7] Ibid. 72

[8] Ibid. 84

[9] Ibid. 86

[10] Ibid. 24. Parshall is quoting Arberry.

[11] Ibid.120

[12] Ibid. 123-26

[13] Ibid. 129

2 Corinthians 1:15-24 (ESV) – From Memory

October 9, 2012

Bless the Lord for my friends at Scriptures in Use[1], who helped start me on the road to Bible memorization again.

2 Corinthians 1:15-24 (ESV)

Because I was confident of this, I planned to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. I planned to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. When I planned this, did I do it lightly?

Luther created his seal as a pictorial representation of how our souls are secure in the down payment of the Holy Spirit given to us.

Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner, so that in the same breath I say, “Yes, Yes,” and “No, No?” But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached to you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in Him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now, it is God who causes both us and you to stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, He set His seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy. Because it is by faith you stand firm.

Book Review – The Gospel of the Kingdom by George Eldon Ladd

September 26, 2012

“Does mankind have a destiny?” asks George Ladd, “Or do we jerk across the stage of time like wooden puppets, only to have the stage, the actors, and the theater itself destroyed by fire, leaving only a pile of ashes and the smell of smoke?”[1]
Such is the way the world will end, Ladd says in The Gospel of the Kingdom, unless the Kingdom of God as presented in the Bible is really there. What is the kingdom of God? Ladd reviews the several answers given by European theologians: God’s kingdom is an “inward power” (Adolf von Harnack), the “wholly other” in Jesus Christ (C.H. Dodd), and an altogether future reality (Albert Schweitzer), or the Church itself (Augustine and many Protestants).

One Kingdom, Present and Future

However, Ladd’s own view is “none of the above.” The kingdom, as Ladd explains it, has two components:

  • The kingdom of God is a present reality; it has begun in our world in the teachings and works of Jesus, “If I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).
  • The kingdom of God is a future consummation, a righteous end of history. The present kingdom is only partial—there is some justice, some forgiveness, some victory over the demonic. But still to come is a greater ending when history is brought to a righteous conclusion. This is what we are to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer. There is an Age to Come, to be inaugurated with the Second Coming; it will commence with a general resurrection of the dead, a healing of the cosmos, the forgiveness of sins, and the judgment of sins and of the devil.

The mystery, so often referred to in the kingdom parables, is this: the kingdom is present in a small but absolute way. The prophesied “Day of the Lord” came in two stages: the first and second Advents of Christ. It is this two-stage entry which is the mystery, a thing never revealed through the Old Testament prophets, but revealed in the Gospels.

The kingdom “is more than promise; it is realization; we look forward to the glorious consummation of that which we have only tasted.”[2]  In preaching Jesus Christ, in healing, in the binding of Satan, in the love which forgives, we witness to and advance the kingdom of God. The kingdom asks of us a new righteousness—this is embodied not in a written law so much as in a daily practice of the Kingdom righteousness (the Sermon on the Mount and  1Corinthians 13).

Mystery of the Kingdom Graph

According to Ladd, the kingdom of God has come in portion but is yet to come in fullness.

Repentance and faith are a “violent” turning from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God’s beloved son (Colossians 1:13). That is to say, repentance is not natural; one must decide to “violently and by force” (Matthew 11:12) turn from puffed up self-righteousness and strive to believe in the kingdom.

The Meaning of History and the End of it All

In preaching, we hasten the day of the Second Coming, the consummation of the Age: “The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations; and then the end shall come” (Matthew 24:14). This is our mission as well as our message. “This verse is one of the most important in all the Word of God to ascertain the meaning and the purpose in human history. The meaning of history is a problem which is today confounding the minds of thinking men . . . In a former generation, the philosophy of progress was widely accepted; but modern interpretations have been utterly pessimistic. Someone has suggested that the most accurate chart of the meaning of history is the set of tracks made by a drunken fly with feet with with ink staggering across a piece of white paper. They lead nowhere and reflect no pattern of meaning. This what Rudolf Bultmann believed: “Today we cannot claim to know the end and the goal of history. Therefore the question of meaning in history has become meaningless.”[3]

Endless Stairs

Rudolf Bultmann believed that apart from comprehending God’s end goal, understanding of history is an unanswerable pursuit.

Ladd concludes, “Someday when we go into the archives of heaven to find a book which expounds the meaning of human history as God sees it, we will not draw out a book depicting The History of the West or The Progress of Civilization. That book will be entitled, The Preparation for and the Extension of the Gospel among the Nations. For only here is God’s redemptive purpose carried forward.”

“I do not know when the end will come. And yet I do know this: When the Church has finished its task of evangelizing the world, Christ will come again . . . My concern is not with closed doors; my concern is with the doors that are open which we do not enter . . . To us it is given not only to wait for but also to hasten the coming of the day of God (II Peter 3:12). This is the mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom and this is our mission.”

Ladd, George Eldon. The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959.

[1] George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959). 13-14

[2] Ibid. 41

[3] Ibid. 120

Deliver us from Evil — the Cost of Believing in Christ

September 14, 2012

Grandfather Hanun is the only believer in his family in a village in North Africa. He endured a lot from his grandchildren, who were grown up and now had their own families. His grandchildren would tell Hanun to go to the mosque and stop meeting with the believers. He refused to stop and continued to join with the gathering for fellowship.

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer

Jean-Leon Gerome’s 1883 depiction of The Christian Martyrs’ Last Prayer testifies to the struggles believers in Christ have endured through the ages. Today’s atrocities against Muslims coming to faith in Jesus are no less awful

One day, his adult grandchildren took him far away, to the fields. Ali, a five-year old neighbour boy who came from a believing family, joined them on the journey. He loved Hanun like his own grandfather. When they reached a group of trees in the middle of the fields, Hanun’s grandchildren hung him with a rope, tying him to a branch up in a tree. After doing this, they left him. Ali, however, stayed with grandpa Hanun and called out to him, “Grandpa, come.”  Grandpa Hanun didn’t move or respond. After a time, Ali returned to his mother. When he arrived back, his mother was already searching for him.

“Where have you been Ali?” Mother asked.

“I have been with Grandpa Hanun,” responded Ali.

She asked, “Where did you go with him?”

“Far up to the little forest in the fields.”

“Who did you go with?”

“I went with Grandpa Hanun and his grandchildren.”

“Where’s Grandpa now?” Mother asked.

Ali responded, “He’s tied to a tree.”

Upon hearing Ali’s response, Mother understood there was a real problem. She immediately went to inform some of the other believers. Two men rushed on a horse out to the little forest. They found him hanging in the tree, but still alive. They took Grandpa Hanun down from the tree. He was very weak. They promptly took him to the hospital where he ended up staying for several months. Finally, he was released to return home and his grandchildren treated him better than before. Eventually, one of his grandchildren came to know the Lord.

This is just one example of how believers are called to suffer. Other believers have been persecuted for their firm belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

People’s stomachs have been sliced open.

Some have survived, some have not.

Some have lost one leg by having it cut off because of their faith.

Some have been divorced from their spouse.

Some have had their hair shaved off, shaming them.

Some were inflicted with injury to the point of death.

A mother with her four children was burned alive in their straw hut.

Believers are tortured and precious lives are taken by evil men, but the believing brothers and sisters persevere. Despite the cost, the growth of the church continues.

Report from a Frontiers worker in North Africa.

What the World Needs Now

September 6, 2012

A Tribute to Hal David

We awoke one August day in Amman, Jordan to a phone call, informing us that Saddam Hussein had invaded the little neighboring country to the south, Kuwait. The United Nations reacted by voting to remove the Iraqi army from Kuwait by force. Saddam responded by arresting all American citizens in Iraq and busing them to military bases around Iraq and threatening to use these American men, women and children as human shields.

Hal David

Hal David provided the powerful lyrics to the 1965 hit, What the World Needs Now Is Love. The need for those lyrics to be fulfilled has not faded with the years.

In the end Saddam let them go. Meanwhile his elite guard looted Kuwait of its money in the banks, its Mercedes in the villas, and oil in its refineries; this historic robbery required months to complete. Then, when the last Kuwaiti villa had been plundered, the Iraqi elite drove home to Baghdad, while poor drafted Iraqi soldiers were ordered to hold their positions in Kuwait and fight to the death. It was an absurd order and the clock was ticking; the UN had imposed a January 15, 1991 deadline for the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait.

My family and I left Jordan the day after Christmas 1990 and we did not know if we would ever go back. When the Gulf War began on January 16, 1991 I was speaking at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Fresno.

I can’t remember how long I cried or if I had to pull the car over when I heard the oldies station play the song, “What the World Needs Now.” It broke me up pretty good.

“Lord, we don’t need another meadow; there are wheat fields and cornfields enough to grow.”

It seems a good prayer to me today as well. And love is still the only thing that there’s just too little of.

This week, lyricist Hal David died at the age of 91. He wrote the words to “What the World Needs Now.” [1]I would like to thank him for writing this song. I listened to the song again today, and just for the moment I was back in California in 1991 praying for love, not just for some, but for everyone.

[1] Click here to listen to the song on YouTube.

The Youngest Mullah (Part 2)

September 5, 2012

We continue to examine the life of Dr. Saeed after his confession of belief in Christ and his brother’s subsequent determination to kill him.

Sa’eed’s brother, Muhammad Rasooli (known as Kaka), at first took seriously his responsibility to kill Sa’eed for renouncing Islam. Sa’eed fled from Sanandaj, and Kaka vowed to hunt him down. Kaka himself, after several years of study, came to Christ as his Lord. In the town of Hamadan Kaka, along with a missionary, J. W. Hawkes, opened a medical clinic and a school for boys and girls.[1]There Sa’eed settled, and met and married Rebka, an Assyrian woman.

Dr. Saeed Of Iran

Jay M. Rasooli and Cady H. Allen convey a thrilling and revealing account of how a former Muslim Mullah responded to the message and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Sa’eed impressed all people with his remarkable knowledge of the Bible. He equally impressed them with his boldness; called to practice medicine in a camp of nomads, a patient asked, “If you are a doctor, then tell us what’s wrong with us.” “Physically, nothing, spiritually, sin, which brings you under the judgment of God.” “Do you know God?”, asked the patient. “Yes, I rejoice to say,” Sa’eed replied. On another occasion, Sa’eed asked, “Suppose you were to die tonight: are you sure you would go to Paradise?”  “No. But who can be sure?”  “Haji, a religion that gives me no assurance of salvation I wouldn’t buy for a penny.”

Dr. Sa’eed, as a Christian, Discusses Islam

Sa’eed became a doctor, married a Nestorian woman, and set­tled in Teheran. His medical skills, his bold wit­ness, his piety, and his generosity made him widely known and respected. In later years, Dr. Sa’eed reflected on Islam in these words:

Islam is a system of stolen truths. There is not a thing of primary importance in it which would be claimed as origi­nal. I have come to the conclusion that it is a system of apostasy and heresy. I assure you it is worse than heathenism. Mohammed said: “If Jesus had not gone too far in the religion of God, I could have accepted his relig­ion.” Now, that shows conclusively that he understood Christ well, and knows that Christianity would not give him a license for the things of the flesh that he himself indulged in. So he gave it up and became a renegade, yet availed himself of Chris­tian religious phraseology and gladly put it in the Arabic garb.

In his plagiarism, Mohammed was helped by Jews and Chris­tians whom he had compelled to become Moham­medans and who, to gain his respect and to please him, put Biblical phrases in Ara­bic form and attributed them to Mohammed, just as the sugar sto­len by the brigands resold in the market will still be sugar. The pity of it is that all such stolen truths from the Bible are mis­quoted and garbled.

Any honest seeker after divine truth who can empty his mind of partisan prejudice and religious bigotry, by com­par­ing the Koran with the Bible, will positively reach the same conclusion.[2]

Jay Rasooli writes that Sa’eed wrote the whole story of the Gospels in Kurdish poetry, a labor of love spread over thirty-five years, that he might reach his own people. Sa’eed died in 1942, the most famous Kurdish believer of the 20th century.

Rasooli, Jay M., and Cady Hews Allen. The Life Story of Dr. Sa’eed of Iran; Kurdish Physician to Princes and Peasants, Nobles and Nomads. Grand Rapids, Mich.,: International Publications, 1957.

Yonan, Isaac Malek. The Beloved Physician of Teheran; the Miracle of the Conversion of Dr. Sa’eed. Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1934.

[1] Kaka’s son, Jay Rasooli, became a medical doctor and moved to San Pedro, Califor­nia, where he and I became acquainted. His wife, Helga, was from Norway.

[2] Yonan. 108

The Youngest Mullah (Part 1)

August 17, 2012

Dr. Sa’eed of Iran by Jay M. Rasooli and Cady H. Allen

Sa’eed was a Kurd born in the city of Sanandaj. His was a Kurd mullah in the nearby mosque. While still a young boy, Sa’eed developed a proud intolerance against the Jewish and Christian minorities living in his town. When on an errand to such a home, young Sa’eed was known for passing close to a shelf, and with his elbow sending a dish or two crashing down, and then offering profuse apology for the accident! He hoped that the damage would be to Allah’s glory, and would thus merit a later reward for himself.[1]

The Youngest Mullah

As early as his ninth year, Sa’eed was giving the call to prayer and reading with the mullahs at the mosque. He spent many hours a day reading Kurdish poetical works about Mohammed’s life. At 13 his father died; at 14 Sa’eed was elevated to the place of mullah, and unprecedented honor for one so young. Moreover, Sa’eed was initi­ated in the Naqshibandi order, the youngest member the order had ever taken. His mother and brothers and sisters felt proud of his ambition and accomplishments.

Dr. Saeed Of Iran

Jay M. Rasooli and Cady H. Allen convey a thrilling and revealing account of how a former Muslim Mullah responded to the message and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Exposure to the Bible and to the church did not influ­ence Sa’eed except to make him more content in his Islamic faith. Sa’eed describes his first reading of the Per­sian New Testament:

As I had never seen a Christian Bible before, from mere curiosity I read and read, but could make nothing out of it. It was such a strange book. Through one of my Chris­tian pupils I made an engagement to meet the Catholic priests, to whom I sent and asked for an explanation of certain passages in this strange book. But he could not solve my difficulties, nor explain the passages that puz­zled me. So I cast away the book with disgust. Through my pupils I also visited some other Christian homes and even went into their church and saw their worship. The image worship and adoration of pictures, both at home and in the church, the mode of their worship, the vest­ments, of their priests, the curtain and the holiest place, candles, incense burning and bowing to the Eucharist—in fact, the whole service gave me the impression that these poor men and women were nothing but idolatrous. I did not wonder why, in all the Kurdish poems I had read, Christianity and idolatry were synonymous. Disgusted and hateful more than ever, I left these Christian gowers (heathen). I came to the con­clusion that Islam was the only true religion of Allah; and how grateful I was to my ancestors who suffered and at the point of the sword were compelled to become Moham­medans, centuries ago, and I owed my orthodox faith to them.[2]

In 1879 an Assyrian pastor, Kasha Yohanna, and two col­porteurs trained in Urmiah came to Sa’eed’s city, Sanandaj. The pastor wanted to improve his Farsi, and Sa’eed was recom­mended as a teacher. Through Yohanna’s friendship, Sa’eed understood the Christian faith for the first time. Sa’eed gave up the practice of “cutting the Koran,” that is, opening it at random for divine guidance. Sa’eed had to wrestle with the growing con­viction that his father’s Islam was wrong. Due to Kasha Yohanna’s virtuous life and compelling faith, Sa’eed at last placed his own faith in Jesus Christ, and turned from Islam.

Accordingly, the young mullah was no longer able to mount the minaret for the call to prayer. Isaac Yonan records the drama:

You can imagine the scene before you. It is sunset time; the muez­zins from a dozen minarets of Senneh have begun singing solemnly the familiar Arabic phrase, Allahu Akbar, God is great. But Sa’eed’s voice was silent; he did not even show up at the mosque. There was a stir of anxiety among his kinsfolk who daily had listened with pride to the melo­dious voice of their pious Sa’eed when he uttered the phrase Allahu Akbar. While they were thus pondering his fate, Sa’eed came home; but before explaining the cause to the excited groups of relatives, he handed to his brother a letter which he had prepared.

The contents of the letter were as follows:

In the one only God’s name. My brother. You know that the dangers to my life grow greater every day. To remain in my paternal home is impossible. I am a Christian, and confess it openly to you. If you will murder your brother, my life is in your hand. I cannot escape you; yet death is also a gain to me. If you spare my life I shall be very thankful, and will all my life respect you, and serve you as much as I can. My wish is to flee from here so that you may get more peace. Your brother, Sa’eed.

Jay Rasooli writes, “A sudden explosion of a bomb could not have terrified the fam­ily as these words did. ‘Blasphemy!’ they all shouted frantically. All agreed that Sa’eed had been duped by the stranger, the Christian to whom he had been giv­ing lessons in Persian in the past years.” [3]

Sa’eed was baptized April 10, 1887, in public, with Muslims present. (to be continued)

[1] Jay M. Rasooli and Cady Hews Allen, The Life Story of Dr. Sa’eed of Iran; Kurdish Physician to Princes and Peasants, Nobles and Nomads (Grand Rapids, MI: International Publications, 1957). 24

[2] Isaac Malek Yonan, The Beloved Physician of Teheran; the Miracle of the Conversion of Dr. Sa’eed (Nashville: Cokesbury Press, 1934). 24-25

[3] Ibid.

By Whom Was David Taught?

August 10, 2012

Here is a fine poem by William Cowper. It is called By Whom Was David Taught. What do you think of it?

Calvary Charge

Our various battles in life are ultimately not won through our guile or weapons, but rather by the One who has given us victory over even death. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. Author: U. S. Army)

By whom was David taught
To aim the deadly blow,
When he Goliath fought,
And laid the Gittite low?
Nor sword nor spear the stripling took,
But chose a pebble from the brook.

’Twas Israel’s God and King
Who sent him to the fight;
Who gave him strength to fling,
And skill to aim aright.
Ye feeble saints, your strength endures,
Because young David’s God is yours.

Who ordered Gideon forth,
To storm th’invaders’ camp
With arms of little worth,
A pitcher and a lamp?
The trumpets made His coming known
And all the host was overthrown.

Oh! I have seen the day,
When with a single word,
God helping me to say,
“My trust is in the Lord,”
My soul hath quelled a thousand foes
Fearless of all that could oppose.

But unbelief, self will,
Self righteousness, and pride,
How often do they steal
My weapon from my side!
Yet David’s Lord, and Gideon’s Friend,
Will help His servant to the end.

William Cowper, 1731-1800

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