March 30th, 2011 by Christine Colbert

Hussein “Steve” Mashni is a Palestinian Arab who has published the website jesusdied4mohamed2.com, as well as authoring books and other content.

Mashni grew up in America in a home with a Muslim father and a Catholic mother. He says that his mother wasn’t religious, so the Muslim culture was emphasized in his home. He was devout even as a child, and as he grew older he pleaded with “Allah” to show up in a way that he could comprehend. Nothing happened, and this was of great concern to Mashni.

In a recent interview he said that as a teenager he was watching an Oral Roberts event on television. He said that suddenly he knew beyond a doubt that Jesus was right in the same room with him, “that He is the Son of God, and that He is Messiah.” These perceptions are in direct opposition to tenets of his Muslim upbringing.

Like other former Muslims who are finding the courage to “come out” with their stories of finding Christ — or more accurately, as in Mashni’s case — with their accounts of Jesus’ coming or appearing to them, Mashni’s conversion was not without difficulty. His life was never the same after his conversion experience.

As we listened to him describe his experiences and perceptions about Arab nations, we were increasingly convinced of his sincerity and devotion.

We visited Israel last year. It is an exceedingly precious Land. Our guide talked with us about the antagonistic graffiti we saw in some of the Palestinian Arab communities. Antagonistic toward Israel, of course.

He said that it’s all about “a kind of one-upmanship” or rivalry.

As we read Scripture with its prophecy about the nations that will “come against Israel” in latter days that is being fulfilled before our eyes, the ugliness of this rivalry and its most appalling manifestation in acts of suicidal terror, often on the parts of young men — and even women — came to mind.

But Mashni has opened our eyes to a new perspective on the Arab experience.

Most of us know the remarkable ancient story of Abraham and Sarah, Hagar, Ishmael, and Isaac.

Mashni says that the pain of Ishmael — of being sent out of his father’s house — is still the source of deep “woundedness” in Ishmael’s Arab descendants today.

Mashni says this deep cultural wound “creates anger and jealousy,” — and that we see this borne out in Arab cultures.

But Mashni reminds us that just as in the old scriptural story God continued to care for and about Ishmael and his mother — Jesus is appearing to many Muslims today and working to heal this woundedness of the Arab people, whose forefather Ishmael was so painfully close to those who were “chosen” to be the forebears of the Messiah — even living under the same roof with them! — yet he, and through him the Arab people — were not the chosen!

Increasingly reports are coming in about people throughout the Arab world having dreams and visions of One they often describe as “the man in white.”

As we come to more fully understand a primary cause of the longstanding strife in this area from Mashni’s personal experience and perceptions, this fuller understanding motivates us to continue praying and working for the end of all division between the Arab and Israeli cultures and the increasing presence of the “one new man” (or humanity) in Messiah that Ephesians 2:15 foretells.

 

Christine Colbert is a writer and editorial consultant, and is part of Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation in Overland Park.

Posted in Featured Articles, Islam & The Middle East Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

February 23rd, 2010 by David Harwood

Abraham fell on his face and laughed…
Sarah laughed to herself …
(Genesis 17:17a; 18:12a)

Many are happy to overlook the way God has revealed Himself in the sacred histories. They prefer to view Him through inspired statements made about Him. Then they define His actions in view of those holy declarations. This is a good principle, but we should not neglect to watch carefully to see how He interacts with people that He loves. Perhaps statements about God might be seen through the revelatory record of His relationships. For example, look at Abraham and Sarah’s unbelief. First, look at Abraham:

Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. “I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples will come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh that Ishmael might live before You!” But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:15-19)

At least Abraham kept his derision to himself. He only spoke “in his heart.” God didn’t reprove him. God continued to declare His purposes for Abraham. Yet, look at Sarah. Really, this couple just goes from bad to worse…

He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.” (Genesis 18:9-15)

Here’s a woman who actually laughs in disbelief at God’s promise. When she’s called on it, in fear and disbelief in God’s goodness, she lies to God’s face. Why wasn’t Sarah turned to ashes where she stood? In the very next chapter (the inexorably severe judgment upon Sodom and Gomorrah) we read of Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt for disobeying the word of an angel. Here, we have the inspired record: Lot’s wife’s Aunt Sarah secretly mocking God’s word. She laughed!

Not only did God not destroy Sarah, but He didn’t rescind His promise to her. Not only did God not respond in wrath, but Sarah didn’t disqualify herself from His purposes for her. In fact, the gentle reproof He offered did not even receive a penitent response. What did she say? “I did not laugh.” So, Sarah not only laughs at God’s word, but when convicted by the audible voice of God she doesn’t even have the reverence to humbly confess her fault. She denies, she maintains her righteousness. And this woman lived? What did God say? “No, but you did laugh.” I have been familiar with this story for years, but still can’t quite get over this.

This is as poignant and merciful an interaction as anything we read about in the New Testament. In fact, where else in the Sacred Text do we see this type of behavior? (I’m not just writing about Sarah, but Sarah and God!)

Have you ever received a promise that you believe was from God, but now, if it is mentioned, the very sound of it brings pain? If the LORD, Himself, was to draw near to you and restate His purpose, would you bitterly laugh? Would you mock? Have you done that? If so, take heart. He is the God of Abraham, yes, but He is also the God of Sarah.

Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” (Genesis 21:5-7)

What an incredible display of the God of Sarah’s faithfulness. Before we leave this story, let’s read the way the writer of Hebrews tells this story:

By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)

Are you kidding? That’s the apostolic verdict? I am tempted to laugh…

Posted in The Kingdom of God Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,