Death Threats, Cancellation and a Last Minute Miracle
6 PM. Still in my room. The meeting has just started, but I don't leave the hotel until 7:15 to start preaching at 7:55 PM. Suddenly Marius Nicolaisen, our Gospel Campaign Director, messages me that our local coordinator has received word of a grave threat from a 'high official' in the President's office and we must immediately shut down the Gospel Festival. A militant religious group, maybe Al Quada is behind this, At first I argue against this. What if someone is just trying to fool us, to make us fearful? After repeated calls to numerous authorities asking for one more night is met with stone walling, it becomes clear that this threat is very real. If we don't obey there will be "serious damage to our coordinator and his family". We all know what "serious damage" means in Pakistan; burned houses and churches, beheadings, etc.
6:15 PM. Marius, Nazir (our local co-coordinator), and two other key workers come to my room. The mood is grim. These brothers have worked with me tirelessly for seven months to impact Hyderabad with the Gospel. I am thinking of my partners, who have sacrificed for this historical outreach in the Sindh province of Pakistan where the Gospel is virtually unknown. We all want the impact of a full 5-day event. The Gospel advancement, we all believe in, is at stake. After half an hour of more phone calls, we feel the situation is hopeless. Meanwhile we are receiving messages from the Gospel festival ground. The service has not started, and while people are pouring in through the metal detectors there is a sense of chaos. Fear is spreading; some are leaving while thousands of Muslims are waiting, hoping that there will be a meeting.
6:55 PM. Once again, I'm alone in my room. I've asked the team to head to the field to love the people and let them know that I'm ready to come and minister. The people, especially the thousands of Muslims, need to know that we will only give up if we are forced; we will never quit voluntarily. This is not my work. It is Jesus' Gospel and Jesus' ministry, so I'm practicing resting in Jesus. I have been in many of these battles through the years. Sometimes there is a seeming chance, but I don't see one this time.
7-8 PM. Marius and I are text messaging back and forth. He is on the grounds while I'm sitting with my Bible open, just softly praying. No hope it seems. Some officials have taken Mr. Nazir from the grounds in a car, and I'm a little concerned. Other officials are checking all our permits from the police, mayor's office, Homeland Security, etc
8:05 PM. I go down to the hotel lobby with my Bible [just in case]. I want to be with our team when they return from the field to encourage everyone. I'm reminded that the apostle Paul suffered setbacks; just read the book of Acts. Once he had to escape from a city in a basket.
8:10 PM. Suddenly I receive word that an inexplicable reversal has occurred. Singing has started. Within minutes I'm in the car sending text-messages so the translator will have my scripture verses in hand. We don't have a minute's time to waste.
8:30 PM. I'm on the platform and the people are excited. Time to get right to the task at hand, giving the people the Gospel. Guards with drawn pistols are all around me. I try not to notice. My text is Acts 14:7-9, about the lame man who heard the Gospel in Lystra. Well, the people are about to hear it tonight. I know my preaching time is limited. The police have told us we must be done by 9:30 PM so I give four simple Gospel points: God made a perfect world, Sin destroyed it, Jesus fixed it, You can receive it. At 8:55 PM. thousands join in a prayer of salvation, receiving the free gift of the forgiveness of sin. Then 35 minutes of healing testimonies for a wrap up at 9:35 PM, five minutes after the police told us. I can't explain the reversal that happened tonight. More tomorrow. I will try to find out how God turned this around for us.
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