Written by Sherry
Saturday, 16 August 2008 22:46
Here's an amazing story via CNS:
Masab-Joseph Yousef, a son of prominent West Bank MP Sheikh Hassan Yousef, has discussed his conversion to Christianity in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. Praying that his family will “open their eyes to Jesus,” he expressed love for his enemies and claimed Muslims’ conversion to Christianity is the only way to have a chance for peace in the Holy Land.
Yousef, 30, said his first exposure to Christianity came in Jerusalem about eight years ago, when he was invited to learn about the faith. He converted four years ago, but did not tell his father.
“For years I helped my father, the Hamas leader, and he didn't know that I had converted, only that I had Christian friends,” he said to Haaretz.
His father, Sheikh Yousef, was a founder of the extremist group Hamas in the West Bank and was imprisoned for several years for his membership in the organization.
Yousef, who now lives in California, described how an invitation to learn more about Christianity led him to convert.
“I was very enthusiastic about what I heard. I began to read the Bible every day and I continued with religion lessons. I did it in secret, of course. I used to travel to the Ramallah hills, to places like the Al Tira neighborhood, and to sit there quietly with the amazing landscape and read the Bible.”
“A verse like ‘Love thine enemy’ had a great influence on me,” he continued. “At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name of religion by those who considered themselves 'great believers.'”
He explained that further study of Islam did not satisfy him.
This fascinating story is especially interesting in light of the pre-discipleship thresholds we studied during Making Disciples. There was a 4 year journey from the time this unlikely young man first heard a Christian presentation in Jerusalem at 22 and his baptism at 26. But the initial trigger seems to have been his exposure to the less savory elements of Hamas leadership in prison when he was 18.
Something happened during the four years after that experience that made him trust Christian friends and curious enough to actually attend a presentation on Christianity. And the image of Yousef escaping to the hills around Ramallah to read the Bible brings back memories for me of walking in those same hills among the olive trees and watching the setting sun glint off the Mediterranean far away. Ramallah was a historic majority Christian town before 1967 although that is no longer the case.
I must say that telling his story to an Israeli newspaper seems an extraordinary move and unnecessarily provocative, if he hope was to influence his family and friends I wonder why he choose to make his conversation known in this way and at this time? It seems most unlikely that he will be allowed home anytime soon and he will be extraordinarily fortunate of his family doesn't not simply cut him off - as Yousef expects with good reason.