Drug Addict Finds Hope in Christ

Matthew 25:36-40 English Standard Version (ESV)

36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’

Last month, Salam Christian Fellowship received an appeal from a Middle Eastern family whose daughter, Zahra, 17, tried to commit suicide.
Zahra came to America when she was 9. Zahra loved America and was a happy child.

But, Zahra, in her teenage years, ran with the wrong crowd that got her hooked on drugs. She went through a few rehab programs, but every time she failed to stay sober. She did not have enough support.
Pastor Hesham took her to a rehabilitation center in Rockford, IL, for treatment. After her discharge, Zahra needed to be in drug anonymous meetings daily, but her family had no means of transportation. Pastor Hesham and Salam volunteers drove her daily to her meetings, and encouraged her to stay the course, and prayed for her.
Today, Zahra is an active attendee of Salam, and come with her family every Saturday.
Zahra was re-admitted to her high school, and is now looking forward to finish high school and go to college. Her dream is study criminal justice and with the law enforcement in order to serve the America that she loves.
Salam is a faith ministry with very limited resources, but Christ’s love compels us. We give out of our poverty and trust God to provide for this mission. – Rev. Hesham Shehab

Nowruz, the Persian New Year

Salam will celebrate Nowruz ( or Norooz ) on March 24th , the “New Day” holiday which commemorates the Persian New Year, with a dinner and entertainment. Dating back 3,000 years, Norooz is rooted in Zoroastrianism–an ancient Iranian religion that influenced later religions. It is considered by Iranian and Persian people of all religions as one of their largest annual celebrations.
The Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, pastor of Risen Christ Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Michigan, and a professional entertainer will be joining us, in addition to two Syrian singers. Please book the dates. It will be held in one of the Western suburbs of Chicago. The venue will be announced soon.Norooz-postcard

The Washing of Regeneration

baptism-header“he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,” Titus 3: 5
Thanks be to God, a Palestinian, 37 years old, was baptized this month. He took six months of teaching, and he would like to become an evangelist. Please pray for Mo as he lives a new life in Christ and he is separated from his family.

The Prince of Peace; the Only Hope for the Middle East

The war between Iran and Iraq lasted from 1980 to August 1988, making it the 20th century’s longest conventional war. The war cost both sides half a million Iraqi and Iranian soldiers, with an equivalent number of civilians, and the conflict was compared to World War I.
But the Prince of Peace brought both Iranians and Iraqis together at Salam Christian Fellowship in Chicagoland.
On Christmas Eve service, we baptized an Iranian and an Iraqi together. The Iraqi was transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit from a hateful and depressed person to a forgiving and loving follower of Christ (read her story at http://salamchristianfellowship.org/?p=845).
The Iranian had a supernatural experience like that of St. Paul had. He had ignored Jesus for eight years, attending Salam on and off. Driving from work at night, his car was jolted to a stop by a flash of lighting that morphed into a cross. He came back home weeping like a baby until sunrise. In the morning, he called me (Hesham) asking for an explanation. I told him: You have ran away from Jesus for eight years, but the Hound of Heaven hunted you down, and caught up with you.

More and more Muslims are found by Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Only the Prince of Peace could mend the hearts of those suffering in the Middle East. Jesus is the only hope for this sin-torn world.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5Cross lightning
Hesham Shehab
All donations payable to Salam Christian Fellowship are tax-deductible.
Salam Christian Fellowship
21W500 Butterfield Road, Lombard, IL 60148

A Muslim Woman Found by Jesus

“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
double for all her sins.”- Isaiah 40:1-2 (ESV)

We are often reminded, at Salam Christian Fellowship, of God’s Grace and the comfort that Jesus brings to this sin-torn world. Sometimes it is visions and dreams of Jesus that point the Muslims who attend Salam to the Word of God, where they find hope and comfort. Other times, it is a slow, but dramatic change of heart, where we could see how the Word of God, planted by the preaching of the Gospel, is watered by God.
Last week, driving Banar, an Iraqi single mom who joined us for our family Thanksgiving dinner, she shared with me the comfort Jesus brought into her life.
“I was blind, but now I see,” Banar stated. “My hate towards my ex has turned into forgiveness. My fear of the future has been transformed into hope and trust in Jesus Christ,” she added. “My son, who is the apple of my eye, is in the hands of Jesus, whom I trust,” Banar said confidently.
Banar came from Baghdad, Iraq, in 2010, with great expectations, as a bride, wed to an American Iraqi. She thought that she would find love, peace, and happiness in America, after she had left her war-torn country behind.
Banar found herself in a “nest of vipers,” as she explained, under an abusive husband supported by callous-hearted relatives. “I was treated like a slave, or a piece of property. My ex and his family made fun of me, as I struggled to express myself in public departments with very little English.” When Banar tried to complain against their abusive treatment, she was threatened to be thrown in the street, she moaned.
“I felt that I was a stranger in a foreign land, facing an unknown gloomy future,” Banar said. However, she was told that if she gives birth to a baby that would change her ex’s heart. Also, she was told that it would give her some worth in the eyes of his condescending relatives.
Even though birthing Ali, was the most precious and happiest moment in her life, the abusive treatment did not stop. “I felt that, for my ex, I am only a breeding machine, to be used at his own convenience.”
“I had to leave that abusive relationship, and take my baby with me. I did not want Ali to see me, in the future, humiliated, and learn how to abuse me, from his father and relatives, or abuse any other woman, ,” she explained.
Facing life alone, in America, proved to be more difficult than she thought. Banar struggled with the basic needs in life. She had no friends. Most Iraqis turned against her. “In a male-dominated community, Iraqis blamed me for all the problems with my ex and his relatives,” Banar groaned. She found herself lonely, rejected, and hopeless.
“My ex and his relatives started to pedal rumors in the Iraqi community, accusing me of shameful conduct,” she opined. Going back to Iraq as a divorced woman, she knew that her destiny could be death in an honor killing.
Sitting at her small apartment is a suburb of Chicago, burdened with a toddler, and having no hope, Banar thought of killing her ex and committing suicide.
But the Gospel is the power of God, and in all things Jesus “works for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)
“After two years of attending Salam, I am reconciled with God, and reconciled with the world. Jesus is walking with me, and giving me comfort, amid all the trouble. The Word of God is my guide. I am not afraid,” Banar concluded.
“The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.” Amazing Grace, John Newton

Hesham Shehab


Bibles for the Thirsty; Using our Freedoms to Spread the Gospel

Thomas, a convert from Islam who fled Yemen for his faith and joined Salam two weeks ago told me a touching story. “It took me six years to find a hard copy of the New Testament in Yemen. Before that, I used to read bits and pieces online, but I had not held a Bible in my hands until then. It was a time of euphoria for me. I kept reading it again and again for days…barely catching some sleep,” Thomas said.
We take our freedoms for granted and should be more aggressive in sharing the Gospel to the lost.

Since we founded Salam Christian Fellowship in 2007, we have distributed thousands of Bibles to Iranian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees, in addition to college students.
This Christmas season, we have run out of Bibles and we need you urgent contribution to spread the Word of God so that we could offer Muslims the Spirit of Life this season.
All donations are tax-deductible. An arabic/ English, or Farsi/ English, bilingual New Testament costs, with shipping, costs $ 10.
Checks should be payable to Salam Christian Fellowship and sent to:
21W500 Butterfield Road,
Lombard, IL 60148
Hesham Shehab

Islamic Fatal Identities; the Paris Attacks

“90 percent of French citizens who have radical Islamist beliefs have French grandparents and 80 percent come from non-religious families. In fact, most Europeans who are drawn into jihad are “born again” into radical religion by their social peers. In France, and in Europe more generally, more than three of every four recruits join the Islamic State together with friends, while only one in five do so with family members and very few through direct recruitment by strangers.Many of these young people identify with neither the country their parents come from nor the country in which they live. Other identities are weak and non-motivating. One woman in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois described her conversion as being like that of a transgender person who opts out of the gender assigned at birth: “I was like a Muslim trapped in a Christian body,” she said. She believed she was only able to live fully as a Muslim with dignity in the Islamic State.”- France’s Center for the Prevention of Sectarian Drift Related to Islam (CPDSI)
The quote above reminds me of a book written by Amin Maalouf, a Lebanese French author, who published his work in French with the title, “Les Identités Meurtrières” (The Murderous Identities) in 1998, explained this phenomenon before the attacks of September 11, 2001. Maalouf says:
“Whoever claims a more complex identity becomes marginalized. A young man born in France of Algerian parents is obviously part of two cultures and should be able to assume both. I said both to be clear, but the components of his personality are numerous. The language, the beliefs, the lifestyle, the relation with the family, the artistic and culinary taste, the influences — French, European, Occidental — blend in him with other influences — Arabic, Berber, African, Muslim. This could be an enriching and fertile experience if the young man feels free to live it fully, if he is encouraged to take upon himself his diversity; on the other side, his route can be traumatic if each time he claims he is French, some look at him as a traitor or a renegade, and also if each time he emphasizes his links with Algeria, its history, its culture, he feels a lack of understanding, mistrust or hostility.”

This is why I believe that we need to reach out to them with love, and help Muslims feel that they are welcome and part of the West, as long as they are ready to integrate into the American, European, or Australian societies. But insist on our right to expose the Medieval Islamic values that violate human rights. In addition, we need to educate the Church on the perils of apathy towards the Islamic challenge.- Hesham Shehab



Facing the Islamization of the West! What Is the Role of the Church?

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Tim 1: 7
Islam is anti- Western and anti-Christian, but Muslims may not be. We need to reach out to them with love, but insist on our right to expose the Medieval Islamic values that violate human rights. In addition, we need to educate the Church on the perils of apathy towards the Islamic challenge. We need to speak the truth with love and respect, but insist on the freedom of speech and the right to criticize Islam.
The West is naive and unprepared to face the problem of Islamist extremism, because it misunderstands Islam. Even counter-terrorism experts have bought into a theologically illiterate view that all religions are the same and that Islam’s problems today are just a twisted ­distortion.

Last Thursday I gave a presentation at a local church. After a few days, I was disinvited from giving the Bible Study, the next Sunday.
The topics discussed were Jihad, Sunni, Shia, and ISIS, NOT Muslims.
There is a difference between Islam and Muslims.
After the presentation, in the Q& A, a guy stood up, and presented himself as a Muslim.
The Muslim guy wanted to confuse the audience, and said: ” I am a Muslim, and Syrian. If you want to meet Muslims, come to the mosque a few miles away” He turned his back and left. he did not give anybody a chance to respond.
1- Maybe 90 % of Muslims are peaceful. He did not let us work it out.
2- By saying he is Syrian,he was confusing the audience again. We were not discussing Syrian refugees. My presentation was not against Syrian refugees. Syrians are victims of ISIS and the Assad regime…This was in the presentation. He took the whole thing as against Syrian refugees..which is a shame. I am with welcoming the stranger among us so that they could hear the Gospel. Please go to my www.SalamChristianfellowship.org and read my Sunday sermon, Nov. 15, sermon on this.
Finally, many Muslims use demagoguery to intimidate any frank talk about Islam.
Strict adherence to Islamic values is incompatible with Western Society. Indeed much of what we value in western society today is opposed by Islam. The Islamic culture has no legacy of democracy. The spread of women’s rights was, and still is, opposed by the Islamic culture. Fair treatment of people irrespective of gender identity or sexual orientation oppose Islamic values.
Islam is anti- Western and anti-Christian, but Muslims may not be. We need to reach out to them, but insist on our right to expose the Medieval Islamic values that violate human rights.
That lecture was given before at that church, and no one complained..I believe the leadership, at the church, is now afraid of Muslims coming and shooting me…happened to me before..at another church in Michigan. The safest place is in God’s will.

Hesham Shehab
* Tariq Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He is dubbed the Martin Luther of Islam. He was elected by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the top 100 Global Thinkers

Sharing Jesus, Shining Like Stars

Sharing Jesus, Shining Like Stars
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
It is always a pleasure to be at St. Mark.
I was driving back from St. Louis, MO, when I received the news of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
I was coming back after I did an interview on Islam with the Lutheran Hour Ministries…How fitting hah.…But in a sad way…In addition, I had to re-write big chunks of my sermon in the car, while my helper drove to Chicagoland.
What I am going to say may not be popular in the Church.
A knee-jerk reaction to the Paris terrorist attacks is not Christian. We need a Spirit-filled reaction.
Let me start from home; Chicago!
On Friday, a Middle East political analyst was asked about the suicide bombing in Lebanon that killed 43 people and wounded 200. You know what he said! This is not a chaotic round of killing, it is part of the tit-for-tat bombings and killings going on between ISIS, which is Sunni, and Hizbollah, a Shiite terrorist group supported by Iran, for about the last two years. Then he said, “It is like the gang wars in Chicago.”
That statement reminded me of an incident. Some years ago, when I moved to Chicago from Michigan, I saw a black man stranded on a highway. His car was on the shoulder of the road, he had a gas can in his hand. I pulled over, and gave him a ride to a gas station, and back to his car. On the way, I introduced myself, and was witnessing to him, sharing my story, and how God called me to faith from a civil war, after my brother was killed by a Christian militia in Lebanon, and how the words of Jesus about loving our enemies were instrumental in calling me to faith…Could you imagine what he said: “Nothing will change for you… We have a civil war going on right here in Chicago.” This maybe an exaggeration…but, last month, a 3-year old black kid was shot in the head in Chicago, execution style.

Black lives matter… Hispanic lives matter… French lives matter… American lives matter… Muslim lives matter.
They are all created in the image of God… whether we favor westerners or not.
The tragedy in Paris highlights our selective grief and selective outrage.
Terrorists kill Muslims everyday more than all the French victims that were murdered on Friday.
Muslims, both Sunni and Shiites, are targeted by radical Muslims more than Westerners.
It is estimated that there are 12 million Syrian refugees out of 23 millions, and many million Iraqi refugees are scattered around the world. Imagine if more than half of the American people become refugees.
We should not take out anger on refugees. The immigrants streaming across Europe are trying to escape the radicals, they are not the enemy. The Paris attacks certainly remind us of the importance of security in this immigration crisis, and terrorists may very well try to infiltrate such refugees. But almost all of these people are just trying to live and protect their families—as you and I would do. If we start placing blame, and drawing quick conclusions from that, then we are saying that innocent people should have been denied protection. This is not ok. The gospel frees from fear and makes us people of compassion. We need to walk by faith, not by sight. Hate comes out of sinful flesh. Love comes from the Holy Spirit. We are commanded to love God and love our neighbor. All the Mosaic Law and the Prophets hinge on these two commandment.
The Bible tells us to welcome the stranger among us.
When Jesus comes in His glory, he will reward those who welcomed the stranger, and say I was a stranger and you welcomed me. After all, baby Jesus and His family were refugees in Egypt.
I am not talking about politics here, but morals. You would notice that what I would say would get Americans on both sides of the isle.
We, in the West, have made friends with dictators and corrupt Islamic leaders who oppress their people, like the Saudi family. We are bed fellows with the Saudis that pedal Radical Islam all over the world.
We have compromised with dictators who gassed their people like Saddam Hussein and Assad of Syria. If you do not believe me, you could find footage that shows Donald Rumsfield received by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. Imagine that the State Department once called Assad of Syria a reformer.
We are compromising on human rights when we receive a Chinese dictator in the White House and honor him, while his government throws Christians in jail and torture them.
We are supporting Radical Shiite governments and militias in Iraq, and striking deals with enemies of the American people, like the Iranian regime.
We are applying double standards when dealing with almost every issue.
We have lost the moral high ground.
I am not calling on America to be the policeman of the world, but the leader of the world.
Turning a blind eye to those dictators I mentioned is a blunder like that when the Free World turned a blind eye to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. I am not vindicating the terrorists, and condoning terrorism here. But I am saying that Islamic terrorism is a symptom of deep-rooted malady in the Middle East, and our lame policy towards that region.
I say it again, I am not talking politics here at all…but I am talking about the survival of the Free World. This is an existential issue. Empires collapse, when they lose their morals.
Today, I believe we need to find a new way of managing our nation, our lives, and our relationships with others; whether they are friends or foes. From now on, wishy-washy solutions won’t work. Sweeping the dust under the carpet won’t work anymore.
But as Followers of Christ we have a burden…
Today, we need another Martin Luther…
Today, we need another Dietrich Bonhoeffer…
We need Christians who stand up for Jesus against all odds, and never compromise on the Truth.
It is our vocation, as Christians, to defend our country against all enemies. A Christian soldier, or a security officer, is serving God like a pastor does, but outside the walls of the Church.
Maybe some of us do not know that Martin Luther, in 1529, was calling upon the Church to take her responsibility in defending Christendom against the Turks, which was another name for Muslim Ottomans who conquered most of East Europe and were trying to storm the gates of Vienna. But at the same time Luther was writing on how to reach those Turks with the Gospel, and discussing the best way of doing it. Luther translated parts of the Quran, the book of Islam, to German, in order to equip the Church, so that Christians would understand Islam more, and would be able to witness better, if possible.
A knee-jerk reaction to terrorist attacks does not work. We need a Spirit-filled reaction.
As Christians, we have to love our enemies.
We need Christians who shine like stars, so that men would see their good deeds and glorify their Father in Heaven.
We need Christians who would do this with humility, not with self-righteousness.
What a powerful argument for God, if we confound the expectations of enemies, and come to meet them, not with a sword but with a towel and basin.
Looking back at Daniel 12:2-3 says this, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”

The verse before this talks about eternal issues. “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame….”

That’s why it’s so important to share Christ with our neighbors. There are two eternal destinations: everlasting life, and everlasting shame.

You and I can have a vital role in which destination it will be for the people we know. If we share with them the source of righteousness, we’ll shine like the stars forever and ever. People you influence for Christ will be the lasting legacy of your life.
Today, if you are excited about what God is doing, and come to the Bible Study hour, you may hear the testimony of an Iranian lady, a new sister in Christ. Sama was looking for God and for peace in Islam, but she could not find it there. A friend of the family who is Armenian Christian invited her to church. Sama says in her testimony: “When I went to church for the first time, I discovered that God in Christianity is kind and merciful. He died on a cross to save his people. Christians call Him their Savior. When they pray, they address God as Father. Christians have a close relationship with God. God is the Father that teaches us how to be kind, compassionate, and friends with one another.” Sama was baptized three months ago.
Note her words: “God is the Father that teaches us how to be kind.”
Sama is here today, in God’s Kingdom, because a friend shared Christ with her. I am here today, because a retired Lutheran pastor from Northern Minnesota gave me a business card in a bank building, in an elevator, in Lebanon. On Wednesday, suicide bombers hit there… Pastor Lutz risked his life to go there…God honored that and watered the seed he planted…and those seed gave fruits..We have baptized 30 people at Salam..so far.
Nobody will find peace in the Middle East. It is impossible. But through the Prince of Peace it is possible.
We have a ministry of reconciliation.
Making disciples is our commission in this world.
The problem is that we get distracted from the eternal, don’t we? We spend most of our time and our energy on earthly stuff. We are, in this, like someone trying to leave lasting footprints on a sandy beach.
But the tide will one day come along and erase all those footprints we left in the sand. Someone else will get your position, they’ll get your money, and they’ll get your house. There’s a verse of poetry that puts it in a very eloquent way:

“Only one life, ’twill soon be passed, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Daniel affirms that the lasting thing you can do with your life is sharing the source of eternal life with your neighbors.
How are you doing on witnessing for Christ?
Could it be that you’ve misplaced your priorities? Are most of the marks of your life in the sand or in the cement of eternity?
You may not have made many tracks in earth’s sand… but marks you have made in cement for Christ/ will be there for a billion years/ and more – people who are in heaven BECAUSE of you!
Witnessing may need guts, but loving your enemies needs more than guts. It needs trust in Christ.
If we are in Christ, the Rock, our supposed weakness is infinitely stronger than the strength of Jesus enemies. Jesus gained the ultimate victory for us on the cross. We need to believe in what Jesus says: “…the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Amen
Hesham ShehabHicham Alb