Buzz Up!

Buzz Up!


Published: October 6, 2009
ENID — Thousands flocked to a Southern Baptist church in this Garfield County city Sunday to hear a Gospel message from the son of a radical Islamic group leader.

MultimediaPhotoview all photos Mosab Hassan Yousef, whose father is a member of Hamas, told crowds at Emmanuel Baptist Church that he turned from Islam to Christianity after being drawn to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, among other Scriptures.

A Palestinian who has been living in America since 2006, Yousef said the words were a salve to his soul.

"I saw that Jesus says ‘Love your enemies,’” he said. "I waited and waited and thought about it for a long time.”

The Rev. Wade Burleson, Emmanuel’s senior pastor, said Yousef’s presentation drew about 3,000 people to the church’s three morning services.

An evening question-and-answer session with the former Muslim also drew a large crowd.

"He is refreshing to be around because Christianity has cost him everything, but there is an inner joy that temporal things cannot bring,” Burleson said.

The preacher said the church did not publicize Yousef’s appearance out of concern for his safety and that of attendees. He said he decided to ask Yousef to speak after seeing a Fox News story about him several months ago.

Yousef, 31, said his father is one of the founders of Gaza Strip leaders, Hamas, which some people consider a terrorist organization. He said he grew up amid much death and destruction and watched his father, a teacher, be imprisoned many times by Israelis. He said it was commonplace to see Hamas leaders dragging their dead comrades back from a bloody conflict in an effort to prevent Israelis from taking the bodies.

Yousef said he was enthusiastic about following in his father’s footsteps as a teacher and working hard to get the "God of Islam pleased with my works.

"I believed in Islam as a solution for life.”

But Yousef said he was imprisoned by the Israelis at age 18 for being the leader of the Hamas youth movement. He said he had a crisis of faith as he watched members of Hamas torture other imprisoned members of the organization by sticking needles under their fingernails and burning parts of their body. This, he said, was hate, not love.

"I had a big question. Who’s really my enemy? I was very confused,” he said.

Yousef said a Christian cab driver saw him walking on the streets of Gaza in 1999 shortly after he returned from prison and invited him to a Bible study.

In 2004, he secretly was baptized in the Christian faith. After moving to the U.S., he decided to make his conversion public even though it meant he would be targeted for death by radical Muslim extremists.

These days, he does not disclose where he lives for safety reasons.

Yousef said with his Middle East background, he feels it is his responsibility to spread the Christian message of love with others around the world. He told the crowd at Emmanuel Baptist that the solution to the Middle East conflict is not education or politics, but about replacing what he called the radical Islamic ideology of hate with love.

"It is a conflict between two Gods — the God of the Quran and the God of the Torah, the Bible,” he said.

"We, as Christians, have a great responsibility to replace their ideology with love.”