Mattoon, Illinois: Farmers with Christian Chivalry and Hope in the American Dream

mattoonshortyMiller
It was an inspiring and encouraging visit to St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mattoon, Illinois, around an hour east of Springfield, IL (if you were a fast driver).
The visit started with a presentation on Saturday Feb. 23rd, at 1 PM. In the beginning, I was concerned and thought that a few people would show up, because the church was in the middle of the fields. Just a few minutes before 1 PM, scores of people started to arrive, and the fellowship hall was full, with the president of the District, in Central Illinois, Rev. Mark Miller in attendance. That was the inspiring part, with farmers interested in reaching lost souls, and asking good questions on Islam. Mostly elderly people who still carry in their veins the faith in the American dream, and the values of chivalry future generations will miss.
Also preaching on Sunday from a traditional pulpit, like that of Dr. Martin Luther, was an experience in itself, reminiscent of my days, as an interim preacher, at Tabor Lutheran in Chicago, IL, that has almost a similar one. My host, Rev. Rev. Paul Hopkins,
In addition, it was encouraging to visit with a brother and sister in Christ, on fire for the Lord; Rev. Paul Hopkins, and his wife Joan. Mrs. Hopkins made our visit most enjoyable with her generosity and hospitality.
Finally, the small Salam delegation of four drove to the Capitol in Springfield, IL, for an educational tour on American history.
Hicham Chehab

My Visit to “Big Sky Country” in March, Mark Your Calendars

big skyThe Schedule of my Visit to Montana

For more information, please contact Rev. Bob Mitchell at baldy_1949@yahoo.comMissoula
March 17, 20013
Bible Study/Preach at St. John Lutheran Church, Deer Lodge
Preach at Redeemer Lutheran, Anaconda
Presentation at Immaculate Conception Church March 18: Speak at a luncheon for 45 minutes

March 21: Speak on the Campus of University of Montana, Missoula
March 22: Speak at Grace Lutheran Church, Hamilton
March 23: Speak at Mt. Calvary Lutheran, Polson
March 24: Preach at both worship Services and teach the Bible Study between services at First Lutheran Church, Missoula.

With God all Things Are Possible

Early on a Saturday morning, a missionary at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan, called me and said that a former Muslim, Kamal Saleem*, a Lebanese American, was scheduled to speak at the First Arabic Church (FAC) in Dearborn Heights on Sunday afternoon.

“When I heard his testimony, he reminded me of you,” she said. “He was a terrorist, and became a follower of Jesus,” she added.
That Sunday, after attending church in Plymouth, I arrived late at the FAC, and sat on the last pew.
A muscular man wearing an Arabic cloak, Kufieh (a Palestinian head gear like that Yasser Arafat used to wear), and an Islamic white cap, arrived with that missionary who works with Troy.
I thought then that this guy, coming into the church, wearing a Muslim garb; must be just a performer, trying to put a show for Christian Americans. I could only see his back then, not his full face.
After Reverend Wagih Gerges (pastor of the FAC) introduced him, Saleem took the stage, and stood at the pulpit, I thought that his eyes and powerful chin were familiar. “Do I know this man from Lebanon,” I wondered. But he spoke with a perfect American accent, with nothing to show his Arabic origin. Also he was fair… maybe fairer than some Lebanese.
He said that he used to greet people with Assalamu Alaykum; the greeting of Islam that means Allah’s peace be with you, but now he greets people by saying: “Jesus’ peace be with you.”
Then the speaker pronounced the Arabic version of his name, (I cannot not reveal it for protection), and said that he was the cousin of Lebanon’s Mufti (the highest Muslim cleric)!!!!! Then, I immediately recognized him.
Like a flash back, it dawned on me. I recalled his whole family, his relatives who went with my late brother and I to Muslim militias’ training camps, and how I last saw him in Beirut, Lebanon, 30 years ago, in a back street, outside the American University Hospital, where I was treated for my broken legs.
Saleem told the congregation how he, in his childhood, dreamt of killing Christians and Jews for the sake of Allah. When he became a teenager, he added, his dream came true when he received the training he needed, and fought in the Lebanese Civil War, killing Christians (in Lebanon). Then, in the late 1970s, he traveled to Afghanistan in order to fight the “infidel” Russians. He said that he came to the United States of America to make use of the freedom here and transform the US into a Muslim nation: “a dream bigger than 9/11,” he asserted.
Saleem said that he did door-to-door Islamic “evangelism,” and was able to convert 500 Americans to Islam in a short period of time.
In 1985, Saleem had a terrible car accident. An eighteen-wheeler truck swept his convertible, and he landed on his head in the mud next to the highway. He opened his eyes aware that his neck was busted, and his left side was numb. A man stood above him; took off his shirt, and wiped the mud from Saleem’s face. “Do not worry,” the man said, “I will stay with you until this is over,” the stranger added.
Saleem woke up in a hospital room to see that man, with two other people helping him, one of them a doctor there, and they were calling each other with affection, by Christian names. “Is my destiny to fall into the hands of filthy and sissy Christians,” Saleem wondered in disgust!! However, for more than a month, they overwhelmed him with their kindness and love, and paid his hospital bills upon his discharge.
Saleem went back to his apartment, with excruciating pain in his neck, and a numb left side, he could not move much. “Am I going to be partially paralyzed for the rest of my life?” Saleem groaned. He knelt down for hours and cried to Allah in his agony, and asked Him to reveal to him why that calamity befell him, and asked Allah to heal him. “O Allah!! I served you all my life…please answer my prayers” Saleem added. But he had no answer. “Not a stinking word,” Saleem commented.
Saleem, then went to his closet in order to get his gun, a magnum revolver with hollow point bullets, full of venom. “A shot in the head, I thought, would kill me instantly,” Saleem contemplated.
Then a still voice came to him: “Muslims, Jews, and Christians pray to the God of father Abraham. Why don’t you give Him a try,” Saleem said.
He knelt down, reached up with his arms open to heavens, and cried: “God of father Abraham, if you are real speak to me.”
Saleem started to hear a voice talking to his heart: “Do not be troubled.”
“Who are you?” asked Saleem.

“I am that I am,” came the reply. “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and everything in between is mine,” the Lord said, “I have called you by name before the foundation of this earth. Before I formed you in your mother’s womb, I have known you.”
Then the Lord said: “Rise up. You are my warrior, not theirs.”
“Healing took place instantly. I did not ask for it, and knew that I am standing in front of the God of heavens and earth,” Saleem said.
“I am ready to die for you, Lord” Saleem deplored.
“It is not necessary…I died for you,” came the reply.
Saleem was filled with Holy Spirit, and ran out in the streets witnessing to people, without knowing one verse from the Bible, and shouted scaring them off: “I am a Christian…I am a Christian”
At a later time, Saleem visited Lebanon. Through his prayers, God healed his sister who suffered from a neck problem and abdominal hernia.
“God wrought out many miracles in my life through faith in Jesus Christ,” Saleem ended up his testimony.
I (Hicham) edged to the front pew, and as soon as Pastor Wagih wanted to wrap up the presentation, I walked up to the altar, and introduced myself to Saleem…He recognized me.
Saleem collapsed and wept. I held him, hugged him, and told the congregation who I was.
Saleem and I were Muslim militia comrades trained to kill Christians, but we meet, after thirty years, as servants of the Lord. The Holy Spirit is moving mightily, even in the Muslim world.
People broke into tears and applauded us.
Saleem added in tears that he had spoken in another church in the morning, and that a guy openly doubted his testimony, wondering if such a transformation from fanatic Islam to faith in Jesus Christ were possible.
“After witnessing 16 times in 6 days, in Michigan, I was so tired and discouraged, and thought of canceling this presentation at the FAC,” Saleem said.
“But God sent Hicham whom I have not seen for thirty years to verify my story,” Saleem added.
Yes…God is always in the business of miracles.
With God all things are possible.
Amen
Hicham Chehab
Missionary, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Summer 2006

*Author of “The Blood of the Lambs.”
kamal saleemKamal_Book-500x500

After 30 Years, Two Converts from Islam Meet, Both Church-Planters

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During my first semester in college, in 1980, my only brother and sibling was killed by a Leftist “Christian” militia.
I had a plan for revenge. I got a silencer and two pistols, and I started stalking my enemies in the streets at night. Some of them were my classmates; I would befriend them so I could learn their movements simply in order to ambush them easier.
Meanwhile, as a student at an American college in Beirut, I had to take a course in cultural studies, for which I had to read selections from Greek mythology, the Bible, and the Quran. Then, I had known half of the Qur’an by heart, but the Bible was a new thing to me. I had to read a selection from the Sermon on the Mount at the climax of my hate and thirst for vengeance. Christ’s exhortation: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:45) struck me with full force. I felt that I heard the voice of God in stereo. I, who knew what is an enemy, and sought to kill my enemies, felt that Jesus’ exhortation was superhuman and cannot emanate from an ordinary human being, or an ordinary prophet, but from a divine source. I started reading the rest of the Bible on my own.
However, reading the Bible was not enough for me. I wanted to hear how Christians speak about Jesus Christ. I discovered a small church, in the basement of a building, one block away from the American University of Beirut (AUB). The preacher was Rev. Dr. Victor Sadaka, a Lebanese Australian, who preached both in Arabic and English. I attended the English service, because I first read the Bible in English, not Arabic, and did not like the Arabic translation (Vandyke’s) I came across. But I used to sneak out of there, as soon as Sadaka was done with his sermon. I did not want any Christian to know my identity. In that part of Beirut, called Ras Beirut, Muslims intermarried almost exclusively, and they all had the same facial features, because they shared the same genetic pool. You can identify a person from that area by his/ her looks.
One day, a handsome young guy in his late teens, with a dark complexion, was introduced, by one of the elders, at that church, as a new convert to Christianity. His name was Mohammad Y. I was shocked, because his family name showed that he belonged to one of the largest local Muslim families in Beirut. Many of them were Muslim clerics and Muezzins (those whose job is to call for prayers in a mosque).
God called me to faith in Jesus Christ according to his own timing. Twenty four years later, in 2004, I immigrated to the U.S., and settled later in Chicagoland. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pjjTeUC8UQ)
Thirty years passed, and I have not heard anything about Mohammad. But one day, last year, I received a newsletter from a mission organization that included a report on a missionary in Tyre, South Lebanon. I was very excited; in the photo was Mohammad himself, and next to him, his family; a wife and five kids. I recognized his wife immediately. She was a classmate at that American college in Beirut. I went to the email address included in that report, and immediately contacted Mohammad.
Mohammad is coming to the U.S. for two months, and intends to stay with me for a few days. Do not miss his inspiring presentation at Salam on March 30, at 12: 30 PM. Mohammad shares the love of Christ in the “Devil’s Den.” Mohammad was persecuted for Christ, tortured, and jailed, but kept steadfast on the Way. He has a lot to say that would encourage people like us; who got it easy in the West. Below is a brief biography written by Mohammad and edited by me. You can give Mohammad the credit, but blame me for the mistakes.

My name is Mohammad, a former Sunni Muslim. I was born in 1966 in Beirut, during the civil war. I was called to faith in Christ through the Sunday school ministry of the Evangelical Bible Church in our neighborhood, in Beirut, Lebanon. My parents kicked me out when I got baptized, and since the age of 13 I lived under the guardianship of my Heavenly Father. Two times, I was threatened with death by Muslim Fundamentalists, and one time I had to hide for six month in a Christian village in North Lebanon.
God called me to the ministry early on, but I did not answer the call, but rebelled and went after my dreams and ambitions. Even though I was very active in church, from teaching, to preaching, I was not obedient to what God called me to; and that is to serve him full time.
I went to the U.S. 1986 for four years, and earned a BS in Accounting, then returned to Lebanon. At the age of 25, I had half a million dollars in my bank account, I owned my house, my business; and got married. All was going great, and I was going up the ladder… And for 20 years I was running away; but whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and indeed He did. In no time, my Father stripped me naked. I lost everything and was jailed for bankruptcy (that is the law in Lebanon). Then, I had only my family. Yet, I was hard-headed, so when I came out of prison, I went again into business, made money and had four retail stores.
In 2008, God had His way. I realized my hands are too short to box with God. I surrendered to the Lord’s will and liquidated all my business at a loss. Then, I started street evangelism, as well as ministering in an orphanage near Beirut. By 2009, God led us, as a family, to plant a church in the city of Tyre, South-Lebanon; close to the borders with Israel. I have five children: Laya, Selina, Lynn, Peter, and Sarah. God has been blessing us. We have distributed thousands of copies of the New Testament, and tracts of spiritual literature. We have helped hundreds of people in different ways, and we have seen God at work in saving souls. All of this has not been without persecution; for we are in the Devil’s Den: We had the windshield of the church’s van broken, my wife hit, and I was imprisoned. But God is good, with the blood of Jesus, we are more than conquerors.
We ask for your constant and continual prayers, for we believe in the power of prayers and whatever God puts on your heart in way of support, we are more than grateful and thankful.
May God Bless you and Keep you in Perfect Peace.
In Christ,
Mohammad

He Was ‘Stripped Naked ‘ Before Hearing God’s Call in a Lebanese Devil’s Den

He had it all, he said: A beautiful wife and home, a business and $500, 000. And then for 20 years he kept running away from God . But one day, while working in Lebanon in what he would later see as a devil’s den , he was “stripped naked .” It took bankruptcy and a prison term before he surrendered to the call of God.
Mohammad, a member of a large Islamic family that includes Muslim clerics, was now on the streets of Lebanon, daily risking his life by preaching the love of Jesus to strangers .
You can hear the rest of his story on Saturday, March 30th at 12:30 at Salam Christian Fellowship, at the Peace Lutheran Church, 21W500 Butterfield Rd. , Lombard. A Middle Eastern lunch will follow. You’ll also see Mohammad rekindle his childhood friendship with the pastor there, Hicham Chehab, whom he hasn’t seen in 30 years
IS4086RF-00030697-001

Come to Salam for an Update on Outreach to Muslims in Lebanon

Dear Friends,
A brother in Christ from Lebanon, will be visiting with me end of March, and will give a presentation at Salam on Saturday March 30th, at 12: 30 pm. Brother Mohammad grew up Muslim, and he was called to faith in the 1970’s Mohammad belongs to one of the largest Islamic families in Beirut, and his cousins are top-notch Muslim clerics.
We both used to sneak into the same church, in Lebanon, where I first met him. Now we meet after more than 30 years, both followers of Christ and evangelists.
Brother Yamout will brief us on outreach to Muslims in Hizbollah Land, where he boldly shares the love of Christ in Tyre, South Lebanon and will share with us his burden for the Arabs to know Christ in the Middle East
Afterwards, we will have a Middle Eastern lunch, as usual. So please RSVP.
Also, Brother Mohamamd will answer your questions about the influx of the Syrian refugees who have been coming to Lebanon and the big opportunities we have in sharing the Gospel with them.
You will find attached a photo of his family, and his Christmas newsletter.
Hope to see you there.
The event is free, but if you could contribute towards the expenses, it would be a double blessing for Salam.
Hope to see you there.

Peace Lutheran Church

21W500 Butterdield Road,

Lombard, IL 60146

Pastor Hicham’s Cell: 331 645 0650
IS4086RF-00030697-001

yamout

Christ’s Love Even to Terrorists, Preaches the Rev. Chehab

franken 1frankenfranken 2“We need to awaken people to the central theme of Christian love even if some Muslims are terrorists, ” said the Rev. Hicham Chehab , pastor of the Salam Christian Fellowship in Lombard, Illinois.
The Rev. Chehab, once himself an extremist Muslim fundamentalist in Lebanon before converting to Christianity and eventually being ordained in the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod , was reflecting on his recent mission trip to Michigan. There, early February, he proclaimed the Gospel message to the elders and congregation of the Trinity Luther church in Reese, a town of 1,365 residents near the shores of Lake Huron.
In his sermon to an estimated congregation of 450 people, the 52-year-old pastor, now a U.S. resident, stated: ” Jesus commanded us to go make disciples of all nations . That means the Hispanics, Somalians, Arabs, the Greeks—yes , Jesus meant all nations. ”
Rev. Chehab was accompanied by two converts from Islam who were baptized at Salam. The two converts, Iraqis who live in the U.S., gave their testimony for Jesus Christ and His power in saving souls.
As he preached, Pastor Chehab was quite aware that his audience was a mission-minded group residing in a region with a heritage of Christian pioneering no less dramatic and nor less inspiring than that of the Pilgrim epic at Plymouth Rock. Nearby Frankenmuth (pop.4,803 ) was the beachhead in 1854 for a colony of 15 German immigrants who braved many hardships before founding this site as an exclusive German-Lutheran town. (http://www.frankenmuth.org/aboutus/history ). Their mission had the dual purpose of giving spiritual comfort at the time to the German pioneers in the Midwest and to show the native Indians “Wie gut und schŏn es ist Jesus zu sehen ” ( ” How good and wonderful it is to see Jesus ” ) . This mission was instigated by a letter sent in 1840 from a German missionary in America to all the Lutherans in Germany; his letter asked for their help.
Commenting on these early German Christians as well as today’s pilgrim Christians, the Rev. Rick Richter*, former senior pastor of St. Peter Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois and a friend of Pastor Chehab ” Faith and perseverance saw them through. ”
Shortly before embarking recently on a mission trip to southern Illinois to relate his personal conversion story and to preach about the Great Commission, ” Pastor Chehab commented, ” We Christians are little Christs and therefore should be daily on the mission of saving souls.”

Robert R. Schwarz
rrschwarz7@wowway.com

* Rev. Richter is author of “Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible: What They Really Say about Jesus, Jihad, and More”

Come to Salam for an Update on Outreach to Muslims in Lebanon

yamoutDear Friends,
A brother in Christ from Lebanon, will be visiting with me end of March, and will give a presentation at Salam on Saturday March 30th, at 12: 30 pm. Brother Mohammad Yamout grew up Muslim, and he was called to faith in the 1980s. Mohammad belongs to one of the largest Islamic families in Beirut, and his cousins are top-notch Muslim clerics.
WE both used to sneak into the same church, in Lebanon, where I first met him. Now we meet after more than 30 years, both followers of Christ and evangelists.
Brother Yamout will brief us on outreach to Muslims in Hizbollah Land, where he boldly shares the love of Christ in Tyre, South Lebanon.
Afterwards, we will have a Middle Eastern lunch, as usual. So please RSVP.

Also, Brother Yamout will answer your questions about the influx of the Syrian refugees who have been coming to Lebanon and the big opportunities we have in sharing the Gospel with them.
You will find attached a photo of his family, and his Christmas newsletter.
Hope to see you there.
The event is free, but if you could contribute towards the expenses, it would be a double blessing for Salam.
Thanks

Preaching and Teaching on Feb. 17, 2013

I will be preaching this Sunday at Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church in Winfield, IL. O S 501 SUMMIT DR. WINFIELD, IL 60190. Worship service with communion is at 9:00 a.m. – Following worship we have a potluck brunch and it would be an opportunity to show some slides and/or answer informal questions about the ministry. Three converts will come with me and share their testimonies, albOur SaviorHassan and aisha

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