Hassan startled awake to a rough hand clamped firmly over his mouth. Heart racing, he felt the cold muzzle of a gun in his right temple.
“Don’t say a word.” A masked voice whispered the command in the dark. “Get up, and come with me.”
For several minutes, Hassan rubbed sleep from his eyes as his kidnapper shoved him through the streets of Cairo’s old city. Hassan had no doubt he had been discovered as one who leads Muslims to faith in Christ. Despite his best efforts to tell people about Jesus without raising suspicions, the government had found him out. It was one of the riskiest places in the world to share Jesus with Muslims.
Hassan had moved to this section of Old Cairo two years earlier. Gifted at bringing Jesus into conversions with Muslim friends, he had yet to see anyone in this neighborhood become a Christ follower. But he had tried daily.
Stumbling through one quiet block after another with a gun in his back, Hassan cried out to God, Isn’t anyone awake to help me? But two hours before the morning call to prayer, Cairo still slept. Not that anyone would care, of course. An imam pushing a Christian through this place wouldn’t garner any sympathy for the victim.
The rough grip on Hassan’s right arm shoved him along quickly, jerking him intermittently for course corrections deemed necessary by his captor. As his death march progressed, Hassan’s thoughts drifted to his rapidly concluding mission here in Egypt. He had studied Islam for years—learning the Qur’an, the Hadith (sayings of Muhammad compiled several centuries after his death), and the teachings of most leading Islamic scholars—all for the purpose of knowing the adversaries he hoped God would transform into brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord had birthed a passion in Hassan to reach Muslims, but all of his preparation didn’t matter, it seemed, on his way to becoming another Egyptian martyr.
“Up the stairs.” The harsh voice interrupted Hassan’s musings.
Hassan wondered how his secret had been revealed, and by whom.
Blood pounded in his veins from fear and the exertion of a five-story climb with his captor up the back steps of an aging building.
“We have to jump off this building onto the roof of that one over there. It’s the only way to get in.”
For the first time since leaving his apartment, Hassan looked squarely at his abductor’s face. Only then did he realize the man had blackened his face to obscure his features. Hassan glanced into the gaping space at which the man now pointed his gun and then stared back at the intense eyes spewing from the dark visage.
“There’s no way I can jump from this building to that one!” Hassan blurted.
“You can, and you will. Get a running start.” His captor pointed the muzzle at Hassan. “You go first.”
Whether death would come from a bullet or a fall to the pavement fifty feet below, Hassan didn’t know, but he believed his companion would use his weapon with the slightest provocation. At least the jump—even if it failed—would extend his life a few more seconds. And if he made it across the gap, who knows what might yet save him?
Adrenaline—and angels, perhaps—yielded the most magnificent leap of Hassan’s life. He landed with room to spare, and his obviously practiced kidnapper thumped beside him, pistol still in hand, two seconds later.
The assailant seized Hassan’s right arm again and forced him toward a hatchway in the abandoned warehouse. Hassan was sure he would never again see the night sky. He whispered, “Jesus, into Your hands I commit my spirit.”
The man flinched almost imperceptibly at Hassan’s prayer. Hassan noticed the fleeting cut of the man’s eyes toward him. The grip on Hassan’s arm tightened.
“Open the hatch door, and climb in quickly.” The gun again pointed the way.
Hassan saw himself struggle through the opening as if he were a player in a movie thriller. He hoped the scene wouldn’t end too quickly, and once inside the gloomy structure, the plot took a startling twist. He recounts what happened over the next several incredible minutes.
“I stepped into a foreboding room, lit with a single candle, fully expecting my immediate execution. Ten obviously Muslim men stood in a circle and stared at me as I entered. They ordered me to sit down. When I complied, the menacing atmosphere changed instantly. The mysterious group smiled at me.”
The man who had kidnapped Hassan spoke first. “We are imams, and we all studied at Al-Azhar University. During our time there, each of us had a dream about Jesus, and each of us has privately become a follower of Christ. For a time, we didn’t dare tell anyone about this. It would, of course, have been our own death sentences. But finally, we could hide it no longer.
“We each prayed to Jesus for His help to learn what it means to be His follower. Over time, He brought us together, and you can imagine our amazement when the Holy Spirit revealed that there are other imams who have found Jesus as well. Now we meet here three times a week at night to pray for our families and for the people in our mosques to find Jesus too. We know you follow Christ. He led us to you.”
Hassan recalls, “I was speechless. Then I was so relieved, I laughed for several minutes while the group watched.”
The kidnapper finally explained the point of this clandestine encounter. “I’m very sorry I had to frighten you with the mask and the gun, but I knew it was the only way to get you here. It was just too dangerous any other way. I apologize. But now our question is, will you teach us the Bible?”
Want to read more? Find the whole story and more in the new book Dreams and Visions, by Tom Doyle . Click here to get the book.
Stories of people declaring, “I am Second and Jesus is First” are happening all around us and around the world. Muslim, Jew, or agnostic, whatever your background, wherever you are with God, Jesus offers hope. Watch the stories of dozens of people who have found that hope at www.iamsecond.com.