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The “New Day;” Norowz Celebration at Salam

IMG_2561IMG_2696 Salam celebrated Nowruz ( or Norooz ) on March 22 , the “New Day” holiday which commemorates the Persian New Year. 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, gave the message in English, with translations in Farsi and Arabic. He called upon the mostly non-Christian audience to open their hearts to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Kaufmann, who lived in Iran during his teenage years , linked the “real” Norooz to regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. He said that by confessing that Jesus died on the cross for our sins, we then receive His forgiveness for those sins and are freed from guilt and given a “fresh start.” By Christ’s grace–not our own works–we are saved from eternal punishment and receive assurance of going to heaven when we die, Kaufmann concluded.
The evangelistic meeting included worship songs and was concluded with a sit-down meal of a variety of delicious Middle Eastern dishes prepared by the Salam ladies.

salam Norooz

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.

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