Former Saudi Arabian prisoner
speaks on Christians in crisis
HLG Booster Banquet
hears unbelievable, inspiring testimony
of Wally Magdangal
By Brandy Campbell
HLG public relations
November 29, 2005
Hannibal – Wally Magdangal doesn’t look like a representative for the persecuted church. His clothes are impeccable, his smile is quick and his laugh is contagious. But his story is one of fear, torture, pain and, ultimately, hope.
Magdangal, who spoke at this year’s Booster Banquet at Hannibal-LaGrange College, began his ministry in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the early 1980s. By 1992 Magdangal and his wife, Mathilda, were leading the largest underground church in Saudi Arabia, with 300-500 people in attendance each week, often under the cover of darkness in desert caves. Because of the Muslim stronghold and religious persecution in the country, Magdangal was named one of the most wanted men by the Saudi government, and in October 1992 he was arrested for the crime of blasphemy. He was sentenced to death by public hanging; the date for his hanging was December 25th.
“On the night of my abduction, my captors took my possessions, they tore me from the arms of my wife and daughter and they destroyed my hope,” recalled Magdangal. “I woke up to a nightmare.”
Magdangal’s nightmare would last for nearly three months, during which he was beaten, mocked, shamed, and asked to renounce his faith. However, his faith was the one thing that never wavered.
“In times of crisis and persecution I learned that a Christian is forced to unceasing prayer, and at the same time on equal note, unhindered praise and worship,” explained Magdangal. “[When asked] to renounce my faith, my only response was: how can I give up on my Savior, He who died for someone like me.”
One particular time of persecution involved beatings that lasted nearly three hours straight. But instead of feeling anger towards his persecutors, Magdangal said he felt only pity.
“My torturers were delighted in flogging me…and thrilled to beat me up from the top of my head to the soles of my feet,” he recalled. “I watched the horrific effects of religious fanaticism in front of me…and amazingly my heart broke for my torturers and I shed tears on their behalf, feeling sorry that this people had been in bondage and had been led to believe a lie… It is the grace of God that would enable a person like me to be able to look at them from a different perspective and feel nothing but pity and grief on their behalf.”
Magdangal was released on Dec. 23, just two days before he was to be executed. He and his family were forced to leave the country, and they now reside in California where Magdangal serves as the founder and president of Christians in Crisis, a ministry that seeks to challenge and encourage the church to focus on the plight of the persecuted Christians of our world.
“We need to reach the world with the Gospel message so the world will know. So the world will know that there are Christians under persecution. The world will know that there are persecutors blinded and oppressed by religion and oppressive governments. The world may know that beyond all this knowledge there is a God who so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes shall not perish but have everlasting life. The world will know there are Christians that are willing to pay the price, that we will live for the Christ who died for us. So the world will know there is a Christian college like Hannibal-LaGrange that can stand out in the midst of a crooked generation…”