This is the fascinating story of a remarkable man, Mazhar Mallouhi, who was born in Syria as a Muslim and who became, as a young man, a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. After an initial period of hostility and separation from his Muslim community, he chose to live within the Arab Muslim community as a follower of Jesus. He has lived in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and especially Lebanon, and he has been kicked out of several countries.
He is also a highly regarded novelist in the Arab world, writing novels to help Arab Muslims understand who Jesus is and the personal impact he can make. He has written other works also, including a biography of Jesus. His biggest writing project is an extensive project translating the Bible into Arabic using language that Muslims use today. The project also includes articles and commentary and is already having major impact as individual books come out.
Two stories that give some indication of Mallouhi’s impact today.
“Once in the Arabian Gulf as Mazhar was walking in a street during the late evening, a young man walked out of the Mosque’s evening prayers who, as Mazhar describes, ‘had the light of God on his face.’ Mazhar approached him, introducing himself as a writer, and asked the man if he could be of assistance by reading An Eastern Reading of the Gospel of Luke to let him know if he was communicating the message of this Gospel effectively. The next day the young man came to Mazhar, who he believed to be Muslim, and said, ‘God told me last night that you are the spiritual guide I need.’ Over the next several days, the young man and Mazhar discussed the publication together during many sessions, and he not only became a follower of Christ but also led his entire community to do likewise.”[i] (p. 154)
“There are numerous and often remarkable stories of Muslims recounting how upon reading these publications they understood the message of Christ for the first time. One Arab sheik recalls a reading in the Qur’an that says, ‘If you have questions then go to the previous scripture’ [translated from the Arabic]. Having many questions, he felt pulled to do what that passage said. However, he wondered how this might ever be possible as his religious tradition also taught that all ‘previous scriptures’ had been changed, and therefore were corrupted. Years passed and then at the age of seventy he came across the book that he thought he had given up hope of ever seeing. With great excitement he purchased An Eastern Reading of the Gospel of Luke. He began to read it both at home and while at work in the small shop he owns. When at home he would put it on the ‘holy book’ stand (a wooden stand for the Qur’an) next to his Qur’an in the living room. One day as he entered the room he was astonished to see a bright light radiating from the Luke publication. His family did not believe him when he shared this occurrence with them, thinking that he was just getting old and senile; it happened a second time late one night. However, the third time the light appeared happened to be when his large family was all gathered together in the living room. Together they decided to find out, according to their interpretation of this experience, why ‘God was honoring this book. Did it have something to do with the prophet Isa [Jesus] which the book was about?’ With considerable effort, he contacted a Christian pastor who wrote a column in the local newspaper. The pastor went to visit the sheik at his shop and found him reading what looked to him to be the Qur’an, only to be astonished to learn from the sheik that it was actually An Eastern Reading of the Gospel of Luke. He likewise went and purchased the publication and the two began to meet together to discuss the teachings of Christ. As a result, the sheik and all his extended family of over seventy persons became followers of Christ. The message of Jesus continued to spread through family alliances, and eventually over 1,500 people spread over several countries now consider themselves Muslim followers of Christ.” (p. 154-155)
[i] Chandler, Paul-Gordon. Pilgrims of Christ on the Muslim Road. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008.