The “New Day” Celebration at Salam

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)

On March 22, 2014, we celebrated Nowruz or Norooz, at Salam. This holiday means “New Day,” and commemorates the Persian New Year.
The holiday, which dates back 3,000 years, is rooted in Zoroastrianism – an ancient Iranian religion that influenced later religions. Norooz is considered one of the largest celebrations of the year with Iranian and Persian peoples of all religions taking part in the festivities.
Rev. Rennie Kaufmann, pastor of Risen Christ Lutheran Church, Plymouth, MI, gave the message in English, with translations to Farsi and Arabic.
Pastor Kaufmann called upon the audience, that was mostly non-Christian, to open their hearts to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Kaufmann who lived in Iran during his teenage years linked the “ real” Norooz to the regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. By confessing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Pastor Kaufmann emphasized, we receive forgiveness for our sins, freedom from guilt, and a fresh start. By His grace – not our own works – we are saved from eternal punishment and receive the assurance of going to heaven when our life on earth is finished, Kaufmann concluded.
After the evangelistic meeting that included worship songs, everyone enjoyed a variety of delicious Middle Eastern dishes prepared by the Salam ladies.IMG_2561IMG_2696

Hesham Shehab

Hicham [pronounced HESHAAM] grew up in a world of bitter animosity between Muslims and Christians, which he experienced personally in a physical attack when only about 7. By age 13 he was recruited by an extremist Muslim group and later fought against Christians in the 1975 war in Lebanon. He was preparing to become a Muslim Preacher (Imam) when a car accident laid him up for a year. In 1980, in his first semester in college, his brother was killed by Christian militia. Hicham's response was to study by day, and by night take out his revenge in attacks on Christians. However, hearing the Sermon on the Mount, in a course of cultural studies (in college), brought him to faith. Later, Hicham earned an M.A. in the history of the Arabs and did Ph.D studies in the history of Islam. Hicham finished his pastoral education at Concordia, Fort Wayne, IN, and is currently in the Ph. D program there. Presently, Hicham, and ordained LCMS minister, pastors Salam Christian Fellowship and works as a missionary to the Muslims with the Lutheran Church in Illinois.