Monday, February 08, 2016

Lessons learned in prison

Daniel Waheli, with his wife and children, was serving as a missionary in a predominantly Muslim country in Africa. One night, six men came. Four of them had guns. They took him and put him in a small cell with a thin mattress.

He had been questioned by authorities before. He would tell them that he loved their country and he had started a successful business there. Then he noticed the writing on the wall of the cell: "Oh God, it has been more than five months. Please, help me to get out of here." He realised this might take longer than he had thought.

Work had kept him busy. Here, he had time to listen to God's voice. He prayed for hours at a time. God began to speak to his heart. He could barely keep up with all the things God told him. After they gave him his Bible back, he pulled strings from the mattress to serve as bookmarks. He looked at the places he had marked each day to remember the things God had told him. Eventually, he had more than 120 bookmarks.

He was released after almost three months. The presence and the voice of Jesus were clearer to him than ever they had been before. 

Waheli says God taught him five principles about suffering that every follower of Jesus should remember:

1.  Be ready for persecution. Suffering is promised for every person who seeks to live a holy life before God, regardless of calling (2 Tim 3:12).

2.  Rejoice in your sufferings. Suffering can help us develop character which can lead to a hope that does not disappoint (Rom 5;3 - 5).

3.  You are blessed by God in your suffering (1 Pet 4:14; Matt 5:11).

4.  Seek to "bless those who persecute you" (Rom 12:14). The power of love and forgiveness in action helps suffering Christians to bless their persecutors. Pray that God gives you eyes to see your persecutors as people who know not what they are doing and who deeply need Jesus.

5.  Suffering will help you comfort others. God often allows something to happen to you so that you can learn and "be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor 1:4).

God intends to build our character to help us better serve Him in love and perseverance. Waheli says his suffering induced indescribable peace, joy and hope in God and in His promises that with and through Him, we will lack nothing.

May we endure hardship with joy and perseverance.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

Law chief intervenes in 'gay cake' case

An appeal in the Ashers "gay cake" case in Northern Ireland was halted at the last minute this week after an intervention by Northern Ireland's Attorney General.

The McArthur family, who run Ashers Baking Company, was asked to bake a cake bearing the slogan "Support gay marriage." The McArthurs, who are committed Christians, declined. They were taken to court by the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland (with £40,000 of public funds).

Judge Isobel Brownlie decided the McArthurs had unlawfully discriminated against homosexual activist Gareth Lee on grounds of sexual discrimination and they were ordered to pay £500 compensation.

They arrived at court this week expecting their appeal to be heard before Northern Ireland's Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, but the appeal was postponed after an intervention from John Larkin QC,  Attorney General of Northern Ireland, apparently on the grounds of a potential conflict between Northern Ireland equality legislation and European human rights laws.

The Court of Appeal will meet in March to hear legal arguments on the compatibility of Northern Ireland law with European law, and the appeal will now not be heard until May.

Homosexual campaigner Peter Tatchell, who originally supported the claim against Ashers, announced this week that he had changed his mind. He said the claim against the bakers was well intended, but was "a step too far." The request to bake the cake was refused not because Mr Lee was homosexual, but because of the message that was asked for on the cake.

"Should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs?" There was a difference, he suggested, between discrimination against people and discrimination against ideas.

He's right. There's a big difference between having the legal right to do what you want and forcing everybody to like it.

Monday, February 01, 2016

'Oldest hatred' js increasing

Antisemitism in Europe has reached an unprecedented level. 

Last year antisemitic incidents in London rose by more than 60 per cent. Jewish emigration from Europe had a record year, with 7,000 French people arriving in Israel. In Germany, according to an EU agency, 64 per cent of Jews avoid the public display of symbols which would identify them as Jewish.

In American universities, three quarters of Jewish students had witnessed antisemitism on campus, with a worsening of incitement and hatred.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said antisemitism was not merely growing among immigrant communities, but gaining traction across Europe. "Even respected Western opinion leaders have become affected with hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state," he said.

"Islamic extremists incorporate the most outrageous antisemitism into their murderous doctrines. We see this in Gaza; we see it in Raqqa; we see it in Teheran.

"The Palestinian terrorists don't want to build a state; they want to destroy a state, and they say that proudly. They want to murder Jews everywhere and they state that proudly. They don't murder for peace, and they don't murder for human rights.

"While across the region, Islamist militants brutalise entire populations, enslave and rape women,  murder Christians and gays, the UN Human Rights Council repeatedly condemns Israel. More than North Korea. More than Iran. More than Syria. More than all of them put together. Some things just don't change.

"When a state like Iran and movements like ISIS and Hamas openly declare their goal of committing another Holocaust, we will not let it happen. But Europe and the rest of the world must stand up together with us. Not for our sake; but for theirs."

●  What is the reason for the world's "oldest hatred"? People won't understand antisemitism until they recognise it is spiritual in origin. The enemy provoked Pharaoh to kill the Israelites in Egypt and Haman to kill the Jews in the Persian empire in an effort to prevent God's promises being fulfilled in the birth of Christ. He failed. He had Herod kill all the young children in Bethlehem in an effort to destroy the Saviour. He failed. He is now trying to prevent Christ's second coming, for it signals his doom. He will fail there too.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psa 122:6).

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Were Sodom and Gomorrah man and wife?

It has been said that Christianity in the United States is "miles wide and inches deep." There's some truth in that. But can it be even worse than we have supposed? The facts quoted by leading American evangelical Al Mohler, if true, are profoundly shocking.

He says that, according to researchers:

●  Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels.

●  Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples.

●  Sixty per cent of Americans can't name five of the Ten Commandments.

●  Eighty-two per cent of Americans thought "God helps those who help themselves" is a Bible verse. (Born-again Christians did better - by one per cent.)

●  At least 12 per cent of adults believe Joan of Arc was Noah's wife.

●  Fifty per cent of graduating high school seniors thought Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife.

Americans revere the Bible, Mohler suggests, but they don't read it.

Churches must recover the centrality and urgency of biblical teaching and preaching. We will not believe more than we know, and we will not live higher than our beliefs.

But parents, he says, are to be the first and most important educators of their own children. They cannot franchise their responsibility to the congregation. Children must see their Christian parents as teachers and fellow students of God's Word.

God help us. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The life of Neriyah Arabov

Neriyah Arabov was the only Jewish pupil at his school in Uzbekistan. "The name Neriyah stuck out against all the Mashas, Sashas and Pashas," he says. When he was 17, he and his family emigrated to Israel. He grew to love the country, and rejoiced that he would never again be called a dirty Jew by his own countrymen.

He got a job with the Tel Aviv municipality, where he met  a man who read the Bible and said Jesus was the Messiah. He realised the man knew the Bible better than he did, so he began to read the Bible in order to prove him wrong.

What he saw in Isaiah 53 shook him. He realised the prophets were speaking about Jesus. As he read the Bible one day, he asked God to show him the truth about a personal matter no one else knew anything about. God answered.

He prayed a second prayer. Again, God answered. Unable to resist any longer, he fell to his knees and accepted Jesus as his Saviour.

Now he had opposition from his family. "How could you do such a thing?" they said. "Why do you believe in Yeshua? Is the synagogue not good enough for you? What are you looking for with the Christians? Why are you getting into something that is not Jewish?"

Neriyah went to Bible college. While at Bible college, he began to suffer from severe headaches, and found that something was wrong with his kidneys. But God, it seemed, had a plan for that too. . .

Neriyah and his wife now lead a messianic fellowship in Israel. They distribute food packages to needy families, do free tours to holy sites and care for Holocaust survivors.

For more details of Neriyah's story, see here.

●  Record numbers of Jews from Europe are moving to Israel as antisemitism in Europe increases. This Wednesday, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, is also Holocaust Memorial Day UK. For details of the day, see here.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The church isn't dead yet

According to the latest poll, the number of white Britons who say they have no religion is greater than the number who claim to be Christian.

YouGov did  the poll for Professor Linda Woodhead, co-director of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University, last month. 

Of a sample of 1,500 people, 46% said they had no religion. This was up from 42% in February, 2015, and 37% in January, 2013. This figure rose to more than 50% among white British.

The non-religious trend was most pronounced among under-40s. Among under-40s of all races, 56% had no religion, while 31% said they were Christian. Some 16.5% of those who said they had no religion believed that there was definitely - or probably - some higher power. Only 5% were absolutely convinced that God did not exist.

Andrew Brown, who writes on religion for the Guardian, points out that 95% of children of non-religious parents remain non-religious, while only 40% of the children of Christian parents continue to call themselves Christian. To me, he always appears to criticise the church for standing for what it believes, and seems almost impatient for the church to die and be replaced by "some kind of organised humanism."

I am confident he will be disappointed. We might live in dark days, but the church isn't dead yet.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

GM babies: 'Dangerous' research planned

Permission is likely to be given shortly to UK scientists to perform genetic engineering on human embryos using a powerful new technology whose use has been banned in more than 40 countries.

Dr Kathy Niakan, of the Francis Crick Institute in London, made her case for performing genetic modification to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority last Thursday. The authority will give a ruling later this month. Research could begin as early as March.

Philippa Taylor, head of public policy at the Christian Medical Fellowship, points out that there are two types of genetic editing. It can be done to "somatic" cells in an individual patient where sperm and eggs are not affected - a "one off" cure. Or it can be done to "germline" cells in sperm or eggs or early embryos, which would pass the genetic change down through all future children.

Dr Niakan wants to use the new technique, called CRISPR/Cas9, to edit genes in day-old human embryos left over from IVF. She plans to start with a gene called Oct4, using 20 to 30 donated embryos. If this is successful, she plans to test three or four other genes, again using a further 20 to 30 embryos. The embryos will then be destroyed.

Apart from the problem of destruction of human life, any genetic change would be in every cell, including reproductive cells, meaning the changes would be passed on through future generations.

Work on germline cells has until now been prohibited and widely condemned because of the many unknown risks to future generations. The discoverers of CRISPR say the technique should not be used at this time. American scientists have said that creating gene-edited humans is "dangerous and ethically unacceptable."

Why is the UK keen to do this research? Philippa Taylor says there are plaudits and money involved. An American professor says that since the 18th century the British have been fascinated by breeding. Galtonian eugenics sprang from University College London in the 19th century.  

Ms Taylor says the British rejected eugenics after the Second World War, but IVF developers Patrick Steptoe and Robert Edwards voiced eugenic aims for their IVF research. The discoverers of DNA, James Watson and Francis Crick, were both eugenicists. And there is a group of neo-eugenicist philosophers and biologists pushing a eugenics agenda.

It is not certain that permission for the research will be refused. "The HFEA can never say no to scientists," was the verdict of one doctor.

For a fuller report, see here and here.  

Monday, January 18, 2016

The problem of the universe (1)

The problem for people who want to pretend God doesn't exist is where the universe came from.

Some people say the universe was never created. It has always existed. But that won't do. Scientists have discovered that the world is winding down. It is now generally accepted that the world will have an end. If it will have an end, then it must have had a beginning.

Some would try to say that the universe created itself. This denies the law of cause and effect. Out of nothing, somebody said, comes nothing.

Some would say that the universe was created by chance. But that's not a valid argument. Chance is not an entity, with the power to create.

Some would even argue that the world is not real. Suppose the things of the world are just an illusion. But where did the illusion come from?

Go outside your house on a clear night and gaze up at the millions of stars twinkling above you. You'll find it difficult just then to say there's no God. You really will.

Psalm 19 says "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork." That's much easier to believe.

What do you think? 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Christian persecution on the increase

The persecution of Christians across the world is getting worse - and getting worse fast.

Each January Open Doors publishes a World Watch List of the 50 countries in the world where it is most dangerous to be a Christian - in other words, the 50 countries where persecution is at its most severe. Its World Watch List 2016 is published today.

It shows that well over 7,000 Christians were killed for faith-related reasons in the reporting period - a rise of almost 3,000 on the previous year. This does not include North Korea, Syria and Iraq, where accurate records do not exist.

Around 2,300 churches were attacked or damaged, more than double the number for last year.

Systematic  religious cleansing is widespread across Africa and the Middle East. Every year well over 100 million Christians are persecuted because of their beliefs. Extreme Islamic fundamentalism is rising most sharply in sub-Saharan Africa, where more people are killed for their Christian faith than anywhere else in the world.

North Korea tops the list of offending countries for the 14th successive year. In North Korea there are estimated to be about 70,000 Christians imprisoned in labour camps. Christians who worship in secret face death if they are discovered.

Iraq, where a 2,000-year-old church is on the verge of extinction, is second. Eritrea is third, followed by Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and Libya.

More than 120 MPs were expected to attend a meeting at the House of Commons this afternoon to discuss Christian persecution.

You can read more details here

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Preparing for battle

If, as Barnabas Fund suggests, 2016 will be remarkable for the battle for religious freedom, what's to be done about it?

It's worth mentioning that the religious freedoms we have long enjoyed in this nation were won - and maintained - in a Christian culture. Religions who want to impose alternatives by force are no friends of freedom. And atheistic organisations who want to prevent Christians from practising their beliefs are no friends of freedom either.

John 8:36 says "If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." Gal 5:1 says "Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free."

(Freedom is not freedom to do as you please. That's not freedom. Freedom is freedom to do the right thing. That's freedom.)

There are two things that a Christian can do here. He can compromise, pretending that any religion will do, accepting any sort of sexual lifestyle, or believing that there is more than one way to heaven. (There isn't.) Or he can stand.

Ephesians 6 says:

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.

Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness,

And having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.

Not just words of comfort. Not just words of encouragement. But words of detailed instruction in preparation for the battle.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The battle for religious freedom

Political Islam, an increasingly intolerant humanism and the development of a new civic religion will be the major battleground in 2016 for the future of religious freedom, says Christian charity Barnabas Fund. 

Political Islam in much of the world is the greatest threat in its attempts to enforce sharia law, either through the political process or through violence. Last year ISIS extended to new areas of Syria and Northern Iraq. Boko Haram spread its attacks on Christians from Nigeria to Niger and Chad.

Acer province in Indonesia began enforcing sharia; in Tanzania the government attempted to introduce sharia courts to the mainland, where Muslims are a minority. Brunei and Somalia banned the public celebration of Christmas.

Humanists have campaigned against Christian moral standards, attempting to enforce their own secular version of morality. They have tried to prevent parents from sending their  children to Christian schools, wanting children to attend entirely secular schools that reflect humanists' own belief system. They have sought to prevent schools from including any Christian aspect in Christmas celebrations.

We are seeing, says Barnabas, the emergence of a new civic religion in the West in which all beliefs and lifestyle choices are equally valid, and no one, including churches, is allowed to discriminate against them. It claims to be based on tolerance, but is in fact profoundly intolerant of anyone holding historic biblical Christian beliefs.

One of the results is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold public office as a teacher, social worker, judge or politician without at least nominally subscribing to a particular set of beliefs. Freedom of speech is being undermined, with attempts even being made to prosecute pastors for comments made from the pulpit deemed to be offensive to such as Muslims, as evidenced in a recent court case in Northern Ireland. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Veteran Belfast preacher cleared

There's still some hope for free speech.

James McConnell, 78-year-old former senior pastor at Belfast Metropolitan Tabernacle, was yesterday found not guilty of making "grossly offensive" remarks about Islam.

District Judge Liam McNally said at the court in Belfast that while the words on which the charges were based were offensive, they did mot reach the high threshold of being "grossly offensive."

"The courts need to be very careful not to criminalise speech which, however contemptible, is no worse than offensive," he said. "It is not the task of the criminal law to censor offensive utterances."

Mr McConnell described Islam as "satanic" and "a doctrine spawned in hell" in a sermon at the church. A video of his sermon was streamed on the church website. 

He made a public apology to anyone he might have unintentionally offended, but refused to accept a caution from the police. "The police tried to shut me up and tell me what to preach," he said. "It's ridiculous."

He was charged with improper use of a public electronic communications network and causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network. He denied the charges. "I didn't mean to offend anyone," he said. "I believe in free speech."

Mr McConnell had a Roman Catholic priest, a Muslim cleric and an MP lined up as defence witnesses. After several  preliminary hearings, the case was eventually heard in December, but the judge reserved his judgment until yesterday.

 In a separate matter, the Government is proposing registration and inspection by Ofsted of "intensive education" in out-of-school settings for more than six hours a week. This could affect churches, Christian holiday clubs and Christian camps. 

It could involve censorship of teaching which did not agree with "British values," such as the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, sexual ethics and the sanctity of human life.

Organisations and individuals are invited to send observations to the Department for Education by post or e-mail by next Monday, January 11. You will find details at the website of Christian Concern (

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Happiness one day at a time

When Lillian Weber's husband died at 97 years old, she began to look around for something to keep her busy. She saw a mention in a newspaper of a charity providing dresses for needy children in Africa. She'd been sewing since she was 10, so she decided to help.

She set herself a target of 1,000 dresses, sewing one a day. She's passed the target easily. The remarkable thing is that Lillian is 100 years old.

She works at her home, a farmhouse in the small town of Bettendorf, Iowa. Each dress she makes is carefully decorated to make it unique.

"What would I do if I didn't sew?" she says. "I know I'm making little girls happy. That's important to me."

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A determined prayer warrior

I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year. This next year could be a most important one. There are tremendous needs. And tremendous opportunities.

Do you believe in making New Year resolutions? Have you thought, I wonder, of becoming involved in urgent, desperate prayer for your families? I ask because everywhere I look I see the children of serious, loving Christian parents, carefully brought up in church and Sunday school, beginning to drift away from the Christian faith.

I was reminded of the subject by the true story of a man we will call George. He and his wife had two daughters. He decided to spend an hour every day praying for their spiritual welfare. He continued to pray an hour a day for his descendants until one day he announced he had a promise from God that four generations of his family would all be Christians.

His two daughters - the second generation - both married ministers. Between the two of them, they had one boy and five girls. The boy became a minister and the five girls all married ministers. When it came to the fourth generation, two boys - cousins - were the first to go to college. One announced quite early on that he believed God was calling him to the ministry.

The other decided - a little apprehensively, in view of the family tradition - that he didn't want to be a minister. What's more, he wasn't going to be a minister. He was going to become a psychologist. He wrote a book on psychology, which became a best seller. His name: James Dobson.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A birth like no other

A company of pollsters discovered a number of children preparing for Christmas who had no idea whose birthday they were supposed to be celebrating. How sad.

This birth was like no other. This baby was unique. He was every bit as human as each one of us, but He was also divine. "The Word," says John in his Gospel, "became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

God knew none of us could make it to heaven on our own, so He sent Someone to make it possible for us.

You may feel almost worn out, with shopping, cleaning, cooking and wrapping presents. But do make sure that you have the eternal life He, and He alone, came to bring.

The Son of God became Son of man so that sons of men might become sons of God.

Happy Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Queen and the need for Christianity

The Queen's speech this year will focus on her Christian faith and her belief in the important role of Christianity in modern British life, according to the International Business Times.  It comes at the end of a year marred by terrorist attacks by ISIS extremists.

The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, said the Queen's speech would be poignant, as she reflects on the attacks on British holiday makers in Tunisia and the massacre in Paris.

"Clearly extremism is a backdrop to anything that any public figures say at this time. If people in this country gave greater heed to what the Queen says about the importance of Christianity in our personal as well as our national life," he said, "then we would be in a better place to confront it.

"The Queen will also be aware that Christians and others have faced unprecedented persecution over the last year in parts of the Middle East, and could even face extinction.

"There is pressure for the next Coronation to be multi-faith or no faith. My understanding is that it will actually be a Christian event, but obviously the Queen would want to reinforce that."

A source told the Mail on Sunday: "Over the years we've seen a greater emphasis on the Queen's faith and we're certain to see it in this year's Christmas broadcast. There's a fundamental optimism which, to an extent, is driven by her faith in contrast to the overall gloom. She is driven by a deep and spirited faith."

The content of the Queen's annual prerecorded speech, which last year attracted 7.8 million viewers in the UK alone, is such a closely guarded secret that Palace officials refer to it by the code-name "QXB," for Queen's Christmas broadcast.

The Queen's speech airs on BBC1 and ITV at 3pm on Christmas Day. It is also broadcast across the Commonwealth.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Balm in Gilead

Some months before I found Christ - many years ago now -  I heard Paul Robeson sing an old negro spiritual.

"There is a balm in Gilead
  To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
  To heal the sin-sick soul."

The phrase "sin-sick soul" spoke to my heart. There is only One who can provide healing here. A psychiatrist might shed some light on the need. A psychotherapist might give some idea of its effects. But only Jesus can dispense a cure.

It's like a nasty sports injury. It's painful, and you long for a balm to ease away the pain. Unlike a sports injury, it's not a physical pain. "Come unto Me," says Jesus, "all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

"Come," he says. Don't think it over. Don't philosophise about it. Do it.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Street preacher gets a reprieve

Mike Overd preaches the gospel regularly in the streets of Taunton, motivated, he says, by his love for Jesus Christ and a deep concern for people who don't know His great love.

One day a man who identified himself as a homosexual objected to something that was said about homosexuality and insisted on debating it. Mr Overd was charged under the Public Order Act, which deals with threatening words or behaviour. At Bristol Crown Court he was fined, ordered to pay costs and ordered to pay compensation.

The Christian Legal Centre (part of Christian Concern) took a dim view of a remark by the judge that Mr Overd should not have referred to Lev 20:13 in explaining what the Bible said but could have used Lev 18:22, and decided to back Mr Overd in an appeal.

At Taunton Crown Court Circuit Judge David Ticehurst upheld the appeal and overturned the conviction.

King Solomon High School in Redbridge recently held an "LGBT Week." The pupils were given rainbow badges which they were told they must wear or they would be given detention. 

When one of the sixth form girls went home with the news, her mother, Anna Erickson-hull, wrote a protest on her Facebook page. She quoted 1 Cor 6:9, 10: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Apparently someone complained to Facebook, and Facebook took down her Facebook page.

The Office for National Statistics says that one per cent of the population in Britain is homosexual. Actually, the figure is 1.6 per cent, but that includes bisexuals. That one per cent is holding this nation to ransom, and the nation is helping it do so.

The sooner this nation comes back to its senses the better.  

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

The day Tass became a Christian

Taysir Abu Saada - Tass to his friends - was a Muslim. He was born in Gaza and grew up in Saudi Arabia. He hated Jews. He joined the PLO, trained as a Fatah sniper, and was Yasser Arafat's personal driver.

Seeking a better life, he moved to the United States and got a job as a waiter in a restaurant. He dreamed of poisoning Jewish customers. One customer, an American named Charlie Sharpe, was the first to say "Thank you" for taking away his empty plate. Tass decided to look after him, and the two became friends.

One day Charlie spoke about a "spiritual connection" he had, which brought him peace and wonderful blessings. For weeks Tass wondered what it might be. He decided to ask.

"Tass," said Charlie, "to have the peace I have you need to love a Jew."

"I hate these people. You know how I feel about them," said Tass.

"What do you know about Jesus Christ?" asked Charlie.

"I know Jesus - he's a prophet. As Muslims we believe in him." 

"He's more than that. He's the Son of God. He is God," said Charlie.

"No way!" said Tass, and started to leave. Charlie told him to hold on, grabbed a Bible and placed it between them.

"The minute he put the Bible between the two of us it was like something powerful just took me and threw me away from it," says Tass.

"Why did you jump?" asked Charlie.

"I can't touch that."

"Why? It's just a piece of paper."

"No, it's the word of God and it's God and the name of God is in it."

"Do you believe this is the word of God?"


 Charlie began to read about Jesus from John 1. "In the beginning was the 
 Word. . ."

"When he started reading," says Tass, "I started shaking and I lost control and the next I know I'm on my knees on the floor with my hands lifted up, inviting Christ to be my Saviour. I felt like a mountain lifted off my shoulder and a joy and peace came into my heart I never experienced before." 

 "Do you know what happened?"


"You've become a Christian," said Charlie.

The next day Tass had an unusual burden to pray, and found himself praying for the Jewish people. "Oh God, bless your people Israel. Gather them to the Promised Land." He shut his mouth with his hand to stop himself.

He told his wife and children. They were converted too. They founded two ministries, Hope for Ishmael and Seeds of Hope. They opened a kindergarten in Jericho, where the children learn to be kind to each other and treat each other with love and respect. Enrolment is doubling, and there's a waiting list of over 200. 

They're planning a cultural centre and a youth centre. Young people can play games and watch soccer and basketball - an alternative to hanging about the streets, where they can be seduced by groups like Hamas.

It's amazing how the Lord Jesus continues to work in these days.