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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. (
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,

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.

Comments (2)

  1. Great letter! Very encouraging to know that faith in Christ is so strong among the Muslim population. Thank you for sharing your wonderful experience in your walk with Jesus Christ!

  2. Thank you for sharing, as you travel to the US to speak we will keep you in our prayers. Could you kindly send your agenda and other places you may be speaking. With the first engagement so close to Easter and my boss going to DC I am not certain I could make it.

    ~God’s Peace~
    Patty Phil 4:13

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