God Story
Loving his enemies

In the early 2000s, Haytham and his wife, Mary, moved from Lebanon to Mosul, Iraq, to share the gospel. Though they were immediately met with challenges — they were shunned by neighbours, spied on in their home and denounced by the local mosque — their work was bearing fruit. Their church was growing.

But pressure from the community also grew. And before long, a sheikh from the local mosque issued a fatwa, a legal opinion from an Islamic religious leader, demanding their expulsion from the community. In response, their landlord forced them and their thriving church to move.

On the morning their church was scheduled to gather in a new building, Haytham and his mother were driving to a nearby town to pick up some church members. But before they could get there, a car raced up behind them and the men inside began shooting at them. Even before hearing the gunshots, Haytham felt the air leave his lungs. Then everything went white as the car stalled and rolled to a stop on the roadside.

“I felt I was dying,” Haytham said. “Lord, please accept my spirit and please take care of my family,” he prayed.

Then he sensed a voice inside him saying, “Just move. I don’t want you to die. I want to use you.” Haytham opened his eyes and tried to move, but his body wouldn’t respond.

Haytham had been hit several times. One bullet had passed through his body from shoulder to shoulder, leaving him paralysed.

Haytham’s recovery was long and difficult, but he and Mary saw God use even his suffering to bless others. Today, Haytham has returned to church ministry in Lebanon, where he leads a growing congregation and hopes to continue proclaiming the gospel, no matter the cost.

Source: VOM

 

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