It must have been incredible to share Christ with Holocaust survivors. Can you tell us a little about that experience? I imagine this was deeply moving, and maybe overwhelming.
When I was growing up in Kuwait, I knew about Hitler. I knew there was a Holocaust. But I didn't know what that meant: what they went through. It was never taught....what he did to the Jewish people. How they were pulled out of their homes, and sent away, sent by trains to Nazi camps and gas chambers...little babies thrown into the oven. These details I've heard in this time of ministry, in listening to their stories....I had never known this when I was in Kuwait. If I had known this, my heart would have been different. I might not have been able to openly express this...but I would have felt it. But I didn't know.
I also didn't know that Jesus is Jewish. I had never known this. As a Muslim, I had never been taught this. I remember reading the Bible, suddenly thinking, "Oh my goodness, Jesus is Jewish? If I love Jesus, I can't...." I started to cry and I got on my knees, and I said, "Forgive me. I hated your people??" And [so many in] the Muslim world hate them too. And I said "God, use me."
When I met Holocaust survivors...that was my first time in front of Jews. Sharing my testimony...in front of Holocaust survivors in Israel.
I prayed...And then I started sharing, and the atmosphere changed. It's like the coldness was leaving the room and warmth was coming, and tears came down my face. And I said "I was raised to hate you. But your Messiah came into my life and opened my eyes. He loves you and he loves your people and he saved you for this time. To hear his good news. I love you overwhelmingly with all my heart. I'm so sorry for the pain and suffering you've experienced." And I told them how Jesus said that we would have life, and have it abundantly, and that God can bring healing.
They would walk over to me and hug me and kiss me, and we would cry together. All of us. All of us were crying. And we were celebrating.
They should have no reason to accept me. Where the bombs come over from Gaza...this is where they live. They're very old. They might not make it to a shelter. I don't know.
Each and every one of them has a miracle story of how they were saved during the Holocaust. Many have lost their children, their whole families...but they survived. And there's a heritage now, because of them. A generation because of their survival.
Last year, 17 accepted Jesus as their Messiah [during that time of sharing the gospel]. This year so far, 3 more have accepted. I'm grateful to be used by God. I'm like Paul, in that I persecuted them with my heart and mouth and my thinking. But the Lord - this is how God is using me. It's not about me. It's about the glory of the Kingdom of God.
My heart's desire is to see them saved.
I [no longer] see race or religion when I see them...I see the love of God. Broken people in need of healing and salvation. It's urgent. They're to the end of their lives.
The question that many ask..."Does this love diminish the love you have for your people?" How do you respond to this line of thought?
I love my people: I don't reject them. But I also love the Jewish people, and it's overwhelming because I'd only known hate before.
The word I had for them was a cuss word - I believed that they shouldn't exist. They should be killed. That's what the Qu'ran says..."Extra credit to go to heaven if you kill a Jewish person." The mindset is in many people for so many generations...they don't see that they're brothers from the line of Ibrahim, and that we have to live together. I didn't want to walk in a spirit of rejection and hatred anymore. Christ supernaturally freed me from that...the love doesn't come from within my physical body. It's from the Holy Spirit.
I'm very sad to see the friction and the struggle between Arabs and Jewish people.
My own people are in spiritual bondage. They're in bondage. They're in chains. Our Lord came to set them free, and our hope is for them as well.
And he's bringing from all these countries - Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan - all these war-stricken countries. And we can share the hope of Christ with them. We need to do this because God loves them.
This love you're talking about...I was struck recently by Isaiah 60, the passage that comes immediately before the one you shared in your testimony. It speaks about Kedar and Nebaioth, the descendants of Ishmael (traditionally, assumed to be the Arab tribes). Places are also mentioned: Sheba, Midian, Ephah, and Tarshish - today, known as the Horn of Africa, the Arab Gulf, and Lebanon. The words and imagery in that prophecy are incredible.
God is doing great things. He's appearing to Muslims in dreams and visions. There are areas where the Bible isn't accessible, and there aren't many believers. This is very common in Arab cultures, in Islam. But the Lord is reaching them. The God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, loves all people.
I come from the line of Ismail. I got grafted in...Romans 11. I got grafted in. Jesus's earthly heritage is Jewish, but he offered grace to all people.
I know God loves me and my people and my land, all the people of my culture. He's reaching all the time. It's up to us... A free gift being given, are we willing to accept? Are we willing to see our lives changed?
Some people view the teachings of Jesus as weak, or insufficient for the complexities of our world. I've heard him described as the "sweet" prophet, with this word used as a pejorative. Teachings like "Love your enemy" are dismissed as naive. How would you respond to men and women who wonder about the relevance of his teachings for today?
There is a reason why all throughout history, Jesus's "love Scriptures" have been so profound and impactful in people's lives.
His message is like no one else's.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God," 1 John 4:7 "The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love," 1 John 4:8.
God's heart is to love His creation. So even if someone does wrong in God's eyes, he is quick to forgive. Because of this, as followers of God, we have no right to hold love from others, because we are the Righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). We should be like God and allow Him to see the heart of the issues and take care of the situation.
As you reflect on your experience of coming to Christ, and your life since coming to salvation...Do you have any final messages that you want to share with the American church?
The first is to not be overcome with fear. God does not give us a spirit of fear. We have to stay strong in who we are and know that God is with us and he wants to use us in a powerful way.
The second...It's very important to hear from former Muslims. Let us be used as instruments to advance his Kingdom. I feel like former Muslims are often under-included. Maybe some people continue to struggle with a fear that remains around us. We're not always viewed as fully a part of this body. I want the church to remember that we have had to give up a lot to follow him.
Many of us are rejected...many have death sentences, and are not able to go back. We've given up a lot. Include us. Use us. For what we've been called by God to do.