The men and women of our Field Ministry Team take many great risks to share the Good News of Jesus with people in regions that are hostile to the Gospel. The way that they work and their daily lives are built on a time-tested foundation of faith.
Their devotion to God is marvelous and serves as an example of what a deep, abiding relationship with Christ is like…even in some of the most dangerous situations for Christians.
This is the story of Salam and Samar, two Help The Persecuted team members in the Middle East who were identified, targeted, persecuted, displaced, and ultimately returned and restored to ministry in their homeland.
A private meeting with a prominent terrorist
Salam and Samar are a married couple from the Middle East who lead Help The Persecuted’s Field Ministry Team. Their story shows us that God truly directs our paths, and that He changes the hearts of men and women.
Many years ago, Salam and Samar worked for a Christian radio station in the Middle East. As ministers, they discipled and assisted many Christian converts along their faith journeys. During one radio show, they broadcasted their phone number asking for testimonies. Call after call came through, with wonderful stories of life change and salvation from former Muslims.
Then, a man from a well-known terrorist group called and asked to meet. Salam prayerfully agreed, and at the time of the meeting, six people gathered to talk about faith and God. Among them was a prominent leader of a radical terror organization. Even as unprotected as Salam seemed in the presence of this known killer of Christians, the Lord worked powerfully to guide the conversation and the hearts of the men gathered together.
In fact, one attendee of the meeting went so far as to contact Salam on Christian holidays like Easter and Christmas to wish him and his family well.
Discussing faith with the most dangerous extremists in the world
This activity between Salam and members of the terrorist group came to the attention of authorities. They wanted to know: How is it that this group, which they cannot control, is being controlled by a Christian? Salam explained that the contact was only discussions and visiting, there was no collusion or collaboration between himself and the terrorists.
Over time, the situation became more intense when a member of the group was captured and questioned. During the questioning, the extremist gave Salam’s name to authorities. When Salam learned of this, he asked the authorities if he could visit with their prisoner. He was denied and told that the situation was top secret.
Some time later, the authorities called Salam and explained that they had captured a man who was following Salam’s daughter’s bus to school—he was planning to kidnap her when she was dropped off at school. It was now clear that Salam was denied a conversation with the extremist prisoner because authorities were working to intercept the group’s plan to kidnap his daughter. After this frightening turn of events, the authorities informed Salam that they could no longer protect him and his family. Salam made the heart-wrenching decision to flee the country with his family.
A difficult decision
Salam and Samar’s heart was dedicated to sharing the Gospel in their homeland. God had given them many opportunities for evangelism and discipleship—He had opened many doors for Salam and Samar to serve others and witness God’s work in convicting Muslims to confess their faith in Christ.
At the time, Salam’s parents lived in the United States. With little else but the clothes on their backs, Salam’s family moved to the U.S.
For weeks, Salam and Samar cried every night for the loss of their ministry in the Middle East. They desperately wanted to serve and share God’s Word. Continually, they prayed for God’s guidance and provision as they waited in America for His instruction.
Embracing their new life, Salam and Samar were hired into new jobs, and established their lives by buying a house and cars, and sending their children to school. Over the next few years, each family member received their U.S. citizenship. It was then that Salam and Samar felt an urgency to pray for God to allow them to return to the Middle East and serve Him.
God’s plan to restore a ministry in the Middle East
After one particularly earnest prayer session, asking God to open a door to return to the Middle East, Salam and Samar’s boss at the American television station asked if they were interested in returning to their homeland—the Christian television station there was asking for them.
As they made plans to return to the Middle East, Samar and the children left first, with Salam following two weeks behind in order to complete the sale of all their property. However, even when we are assured that God is leading the way, there may still be barriers and challenges that attempt to thwart God’s work, or diminish our faith.
A surprise awaited Salam at the border of his country. After flying 27 hours, Salam’s name was on the border guard’s roster to not allow him into the country, and to send him to the secret police. Salam was given three days before he had to report to authorities. In the waiting, God prepared Salam’s heart and mind to answer any questions the authorities asked.
After questioning, Salam was released . . . with a statement of warning: “You are an evangelist. We know that well. Watch yourself. You have an eye over you.”
His eye is on the sparrow
Though Salam and Samar have the eye of the secret police watching them, they are more interested in how God’s eyes are watching over them and their ministry in the Middle East. As the classic hymn proclaims: “I sing because I’m happy; I sing because I’m free; His eye is on the sparrow; And I know He watches me.”
Salam and Samar are helping hundreds of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East region. Because of their experiences, they are able to come alongside suffering, persecuted Christians and help them stand on faith in Christ.
Samar attributes her time in the United States as a time of preparation for the ministry she’s in now with Help The Persecuted. Having been displaced to a foreign country, she knows a little of what refugees are going through as they seek asylum far from their homes. She is able to empathize and comfort other Christian women in the same way God comforted her along her journey far from home.
Continue to pray for our Field Ministry Team serving in the Middle East. And if you’d like to be a part of our prayer network and receive prayer requests and praise reports, you can sign up here.