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

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

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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