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
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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

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