Hussein grew up in Afrin, Syria, a city of 900,000 Kurds, with another 360 Kurdish villages surrounding Afrin. The region is located near the ancient city of Aleppo. You’ve probably seen pictures of the hellish destruction of Aleppo, which actually lays claim to being the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the world.
Hussein was raised in a very devout Muslim family that obeyed the strict rules of Sharia which his father had taught him along with his four brothers. For many years, he thought that the God of Islam is the one true God.
Their lives were simple. Hussein married, had children, and he and his brother Mohammed made their livelihood by leading a band of musicians and themselves playing the traditional drums for Kurdish weddings.
They also had a shoe-shine kiosk. Hussein’s oldest son went to school, and the small girls looked forward to when they, too, would start their education. To the Kurdish people, education is essential. But most importantly, they always had enough to eat, thanking Allah with all their hearts.
But, as the war in Syria crept towards this Kurdish region, a number of villages were overtaken by ISIS, which hates the Kurds. Turmoil and disorder interrupted their lives. No jobs, no money, no security.
As the country broke up into different fighting factions and the Syrian air force bombed whenever and wherever, they saw their country disintegrating with hundreds of thousands dying and injured. One day Hussein and his wife and children boarded a bus and fled toward the Turkish border. That was four years ago—when the border was still open. He and his family eventually made their way to Istanbul.
After arriving in this huge city of 14,000,000 people, he found himself and his family in a desperate situation. In Turkey he learned there wasn’t even any possibility of sending his children to school! (For four years now, his children are without school.) He found a job as a night watchman, and with that they eat.
In his misery he began to think the unthinkable. Why were Muslims always fighting each other? Could it possibly be that something is wrong with his religion? Could it mean that Islam is not the true religion?
He began watching the well-known Egyptian Christian, Father Zakaria Botros, who for years has had a regular television program from America where he skillfully and with great anointing, exposes Islam for what it is.
But as Hussein began to question his faith, he simply could not come to the conclusion that the religion he had followed all his life, the faith of his father and grandfathers and ancestors, could be wrong.
Then one day he watched on TV as ISIS executed the 21 Egyptian Christian Copts in Libya. Hussein became furious.
He began to shout at Allah saying, “Why did you allow these innocent people to be murdered? If you allowed this to happen, does this mean that you are a God of Murder? Are you the true God?”
At 43 years of age, Hussein was deeply confused and bewildered as he mulled over this terrible act of terror perpetrated by Muslims on those Egyptian Christians.
Three days later, in March 2015, while he was asleep, Jesus appeared to him in a dream and said, “Hussein! I am the True God that you have been searching for!” Hussein got out of bed and said to Jesus, “I believe in you as my Lord and my God.”
Hussein told his family of his encounter with Jesus. He encouraged his four children to follow Jesus and leave the religion of Islam. It took only one month, and all four of his children gave their lives to the God of the Bible.
In June 2015, Yusef (pen name) an Israeli Arab evangelist (with whom Maoz partners) travelled from Israel with a team to Istanbul for meetings to evangelize Muslims and mentor new Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). He baptized one of Hussein’s children, Assad (meaning lion). What an emotional event that was when Hussein boldly declared to him, “Son, just as I led you to become a follower of Jesus, my wish and will for you, is that in the future when you marry, you will do the same with your family.”
Amina, Hussein’s wife, has not yet received Jesus as Lord. Let’s pray for Amina to have a revelation of the true God and His only begotten Son, her true Savior Jesus!
REACHING OUT TO MOHAMMED
Shortly after his encounter with Jesus, Hussein began to share his faith with his older brother Mohammed, who was also a devout Muslim and had practiced Islam since childhood. Even Mohammed’s dream of making a pilgrimage (Haj) to Mecca while he still lived in Syria had finally been realized when he was able to take his two wives and children with him.
Now, as a helpless refugee in Istanbul, Mohammed, 55, also became skeptical of Islam as he watched the horrific bombings of ISIS in Istanbul. He began to listen and learn about the Christian faith from Hussein, and, as he compared it to Islam, he knew that Jesus was the True Way. Sadly, his Arab wife, Samira, from a very fanatical Islamic family, could not accept what was happening to her husband, and abandoned him and their children and went back to Syria to her parents.
His Kurdish wife, Jehan, is now taking care of the children, but, of course, they are very heavy-hearted to have lost their mother. Nevertheless, Jehan not only remained with Mohammed but she and the three children said they were ready to follow the true God and His Son Jesus.
Arriving from Israel, Yusef prepared to baptize all five of them. But first he shared the basics of the Gospel again just to make sure they understood completely what they were about to do. He pointedly asked Mohammed and his family, “Now, are you sure you want to leave Islam and follow Jesus regardless of the consequences?” Mohammed said, “Yes, and all my family wants to follow Jesus, too.”
As they prayed together that day with their eyes closed, Mohammed cried out that he saw a great light and angels surrounding him, and when he opened his eyes, he was crying.
Through his tears he said, “I feel sorry for all the years of my life I wasted being a Muslim. I have Jesus now and I have great joy! I regret all the years I have lived my life with that name Mohammed! I have decided to change my name!” Then he looked at his family and said, “From now on, my name will be Saeed (for security reasons, this is not the real name he chose) because my hope is in Jesus.”
On July 10, 2016 Saeed, his wife and three children gave their testimony before the church of former Muslims, and then all five were baptized in water.
It is no accident that when 21 Christians were martyred, and their last words heard on the ISIS video were “Oh Lord Jesus!” the heavens were opened for Yeshua to appear to Muslims who are genuinely seeking the truth. Through the blood of Martyrs His growing church of MBBs (Muslim Background Believers) is expanding in the camps and hovels of displaced persons throughout Europe.
The movement to leave Islam and follow Jesus is accelerating to a degree not seen since Islam was birthed in the 7th century. The turning point came as the refugees and migrants from many different Arabic-speaking countries who, in the last three years, have fled to Turkey and Europe.
It is well known that among these recent four million displaced persons, there are many terrorists moving into place across Europe. But there is a counter-movement. Arabs and Muslims who having lost everything, are breaking away from their Islamic religious chains which have bound their hearts and minds. In their distress, many are now becoming free to seek Truth.
In this generation we have already seen massive conversions to Christianity in Muslim countries such as Indonesia. Egypt, too, is seeing great numbers turning to the God of the Bible. But only since this movement of fleeing asylum seekers took off after the “Arab Spring,” have we seen the numbers turning to Jesus really explode.
Now, tens of thousands, says evangelist Yusef, are being saved—especially among the Kurdish people, whose hearts seem particularly open. Dreams and visions are chronicled regularly among their community.
In fact, numerous MBB churches are growing in Turkey and Europe. The emerging church is growing faster than the indigenous churches in the Middle East. More converts are joining the MBB churches in Turkey and Europe than those converts in the Middle East churches which evangelize among the traditional nominal Christians.
For 25 years, Yusef has evangelized in Jordan, Yemen, Iraq and across North Africa, and has seen many Muslims come to faith. The upheaval taking place now throughout the Middle East has caused a new and intense skepticism of Islam, leaving a huge hole in the lives of many Muslims. Therefore, they search for the true God.
When a Muslim from the Middle East receives Jesus, wherever he is—among Palestinians or in Europe—he is consumed with his new faith. Everything is new—religion, culture, friends, purpose in life and relating to his or her relatives.
Often when these MBBs (Muslim Background Believer) make the leap, sometimes even before baptism, they read the Bible as if it is their only lifeline and they find themselves deeply in love with their new loving God. They are also studying His Word to keep from drowning in the sea of opposition they face.
And to these MBBs, water baptism means literally risking your life, if you are living in the Middle East. But as God would have it, these poor refugees in Turkey and Europe are so completely over-whelming their host nations, that even the Turkish government doesn’t occupy itself with what refugees believe or don’t believe. And so they have been “freed” to seek the true God.
Interestingly, these new MBBs really have no problem with Israel or Jews. They have never been taught Christian Replacement Theology. And when they leave Islam, they leave it all behind. As these new Christians begin to mature and continue studying the Bible—New and Old Testaments—they naturally empathize with the Israeli nation.
Moreover, Yusef, an Arab from Israel who brings teams of Israeli Christian Arabs and sometimes Israeli Messianic Jews with him—along with team members from the U.S. and other countries is a great testimony to the plan of God to use Israel to be a light to the nations.
Of course, who can be better evangelists and servants to these refugees than Arab-speaking Christians—from Israel! Again, little Israel is beginning to be a bright light to the nations.
Records show that less than one percent of world missions are focused on the Muslim World. But right now, the Arab people in the Middle East are suffering their worst time in all its history.
And right now, God has provided a tremendous window of opportunity to reach Muslims, especially Kurds who have fled their homes.
Even though their poverty is beyond imagination, yet, amazingly, most refugees have managed to obtain a smart phone! They are listening to the Gospel in Arabic on their smart phones!
Yusef believes that soon there will be more former-Muslim Christians in the Western World and the Middle East than there are Christians who were never Muslims.
Islam, says Yusef, is the last frontier for the Christian church. This is a chance of a lifetime—to help bring Eternal Life to Muslims who are intensely looking for truth.
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?
And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:
“How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”