Originally published in The Christian Post
A persecution watchdog group has shared the story of a Muslim extremist who upon witnessing a church service led by Christians in war-torn Syria decided to abandon his radical lifestyle and turn to Jesus Christ.
Open Doors USA’s Emily Fuentes shared in an article for Mission Network News on Monday the story of a pastor in Syria who witnessed the conversion.
“One of the pastors who chose to stay there talked about how he was hosting a church event, feeding the community who was remaining in this city, and they would feed the community and have a sermon where they shared the Gospel message,” Fuentes said.
“And as he’s preparing to do it, he and the other pastor saw a Muslim extremist man with a beard without a moustache, which is an indication of a more fundamental, extremist Muslim, so they were concerned,” she added.
“They prayed about it, but invited the man in and just kept an eye on him, fed him, and he heard the sermon and he gave his life to Christ.”
Christians and other minorities forced to flee
Christians in Syria and Iraq have suffered heavily, alongside other minorities, at the hands of the Islamic State terrorist group, which has been committing genocide and forcing millions to flee their homes.
While some Christians have stayed in their communities despite the heavy dangers from IS, many others, such as families from Mosul, have had to flee to safety.
Now that IS has been pushed out of Mosul and much of Iraq, some of these families are taking the opportunity to come back, only to find the city in ruins.
“One of the families that we’ve heard from, their whole house was destroyed, gutted, because ISIS had broken in and stolen everything that they had left, and then it was burned, and then anything that was left remaining was destroyed after a bomb had hit the water tank, and so everything was destroyed,” Fuentes described.
“There was barely any structure left of the building. There was nothing. So they returned home to be homeless.”
Christian pastors continue ministry in Mosul
Despite the hardships, some Christian pastors continued their ministry in Mosul, refusing to allow Christianity to be eliminated from the region.
Fuentes noted that one pastor remained to ring the church bells in Mosul so that the people can maintain a semblance of hope.
“So I think it’s an encouraging time for pastors like him and others who did choose to remain to see that it’s coming to fruition of people coming back home, that Christianity was not destroyed,” she said.
There have been a number of stories of radical jihadists converting to Christianity in the region in recent years, such as one IS fighter in 2015 who dreamed of a man in white.
A life-changing dream
Youth With a Mission Frontier Missions, Inc shared the story of the IS fighter who had killed “many Christians” before he experienced the life-changing dream.
“He told this YWAM leader that he had begun having dreams of this man in white who came to him and said, ‘You are killing my people.’ And he started to feel really sick and uneasy about what he was doing,” YWAM Director Gina Fadely said at the time.
“The fighter said just before he killed one Christian, the man said, ‘I know you will kill me, but I give to you my Bible.’ The Christian was killed and this ISIS fighter actually took the Bible and began to read it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow him and he was now asking to become a follower of Christ and to be discipled.”
Isik Abla, an award-winning former radical Muslim that has since become a Christian evangelist, told The Christian Post back in March that the “peaceful presentation of Islam” is “an incredible deception.”
“I don’t understand how the Western world doesn’t get it. I want to say [it’s] naïve, but it is idiotic to not understand how Islam has nothing to do with peace. Islam can only bring peace with sword. They will behead you if you [don’t] give up your faith. If you give up your faith then they allow you to live under their rule and dictatorship,” Abla argued back then.
“There’s no peace in Islam. Let’s get this straight.”