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The Life and Death Stories of Two Converts from Islam

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Both Men to Share Salam’s  Altar March 30

During my first college semester in 1980, my brother was killed by a leftist ” Christian” militia. I wanted revenge. So, I got a silencer for two pistols and started stalking my enemies in the streets at night. Some were my classmates; I befriended them to learn their movements so I could ambush them.
Meanwhile, as a student at an American college in Beirut, I was enrolled in a cultural studies class in which I read selections from Greek mythology, the Bible, and the Quran. I already had memorized half of the Qur’an, but the Bible was new to me. While reading the Sermon on the Mount, I was at the height of my hate and thirst for vengeance. But when I read Christ’s exhortation to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:45), I was struck hard. I felt that I was hearing the voice of God in stereo. I felt that Jesus’ exhortation was superhuman and could not emanate from an ordinary human being or an ordinary prophet, but only from a divine source. I read the rest of the Bible in my free time.
Reading the Bible, however, was not enough. I wanted to hear how today’s Christians spoke about Jesus Christ. In the basement of a building one block away from the American University of Beirut (AUB) I discovered a small church. Its preacher was the Rev. Dr. Victor Sadaka, a Lebanese Australian who preached both in Arabic and English. I attended his English services because I had first read the Bible in English, not the Arabic translation (Vandyke’s), which I didn’t like. I used to sneak out of Dr. Sadaka’s services as soon as they ended because I did not want any Christian to know my identity. In that part of Beirut (called Ras Beirut), Muslims intermarried almost exclusively; sharing the same genetic pool caused them to have similar facial features.
One day at Dr. Sadaka’s service, a handsome young guy in his late teens was introduced by one of the elders as a new convert to Christianity. His name was Mohammad Y. I was shocked; his family name indicated that he belonged to one of the largest local Muslim families in Beirut, many including Muslim clerics and Muezzins (those who call Muslims to daily prayer in a mosque).

Yes, God had 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 eventually in Chicagoland. (For more information about this, go to: ) .
Thirty years have now passed, and I have not heard anything about Mohammad Y. But one day last year I received a newsletter from a mission organization with a report on a missionary in Tyre, South Lebanon. I got 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 I attended in Beirut. Noting the newsletter’s the email address, I immediately contacted Mohammad.
This month 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 p.m. My friend will share his love of Christ, as he particularly experienced it in the “Devil’s Den” of Beirut. Because of that love, Mohammad was persecuted, tortured, and jailed. But he remained steadfast in the Way! He has a lot to say that will inspire all Americans of all faiths. Below is a brief biography written by Mohammad.
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. I 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,

Edited by Robert Schwarz

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. Yes!

    1. You mean Yes…we are coming to the presentation!!

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