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Middle East: echoes of Philippi

John* arrived at the airport late in the evening. There was only one more hurdle to get through before he was safely with the secret Christians who were following Jesus in this Middle Eastern country.

Open Doors

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photo: iStock

He went to the customs line and he hoped the customs officers wouldn’t ask to see inside John’s suitcase; he hoped they would just wave him through. A customs official asked John to open his suitcase. ‘The man opened several of my special ‘presents’ and asked me who these presents were for or where I wanted to sell them. I told him that I personally wanted to give these presents to thank the people for my being welcome in the country.’ The ‘presents’ were Bibles as John is a Bible smuggler. And he’d just been caught trying to bring God’s word into a place where it wasn’t welcome. The customs officers confiscated all 50 Bibles. John was taken to a police station where he was held and interrogated through the night. ‘Continuously there was someone questioning me, without a break. Some were in uniform, others not. They asked me about my material, who it was for or to whom I wanted to sell it. I repeated that these were presents.’ The guards knew there were too many Bibles to be gifts.