By Esteban Orozco –
Chevan* was born in Nineveh, the city where Jonah preached. His father was a sheikh and preached at the mosque, but Chevan never got interested in daily prayers. He wanted to play music and was drawn to the arts – to the chagrin of his father.
He got into journalism and reported on television and movies. A sportswriter friend was killed because some groups were demanding “good” press. They didn’t care that a sportswriter has nothing to do with politics.
Chevan didn’t write about politics either, but after he witnessed his friend gunned down in front of his eyes, he knew not to stick around.
He traveled to Syria, then Egypt, to Dubai and finally to Lebanon. His family was aware of the dangers he faced and funded his travel.
While he pursued an acting career, he found a job selling ads for a magazine and two newspapers. He was getting by.
One day he was walking down a busy street near downtown Beirut when he ran into a pastor handing out Bibles. The pastor reached out his hand and offered a Bible to him.
“No, I don’t take it,” Chevan said. “I am Muslim.”
“You don’t have to be Christian to read the Bible,” Pastor Gergis* responded. “It’s happy news. You just read it like any other book.”
Two days later, the same pastor approached Chevan on another street, without recognizing him. This time, Chevan was annoyed.
“This is the second time you told me to take the Bible, and I told you I don’t want it,” he responded gruffly.
Improbably, the pastor ran into Chevan on the beach a few days later, didn’t recognize him, and offered him a Bible once more.
“You know this is the third time you offer me this Bible. This time I will take it, not because I want it, but just because I want to stop you.”
Chevan took the Bible home and started reading in Genesis. He flipped through to the middle and studied some passages. He also read some passages in Revelation. He spent nearly four hours in the Word. Suddenly he was seized with curiosity to discover the “happy news.”
“I wanted to read it more. I wanted to know what the secret was in this book,” he said. “It was magnetic to me. The next day, I went to the Bible, I don’t even know why. I just wanted to open it again. I felt like something amazing was in this book, but I didn’t know what it was.”
The Sunday afterward, he found an ad in the newspaper about a church and decided to attend. Originally, his plan was to expose the Christians’ false worship.
By “coincidence,” it was Pastor Gergis’ church.
“People were very friendly to me. I thought I would tell them I am Muslim and they would kick me out. But they didn’t. They told me it was God’s house for everyone in any time. I was happy.”
Two months later, Chevan discovered the secret behind the Bible’s magnetism: it’s a living Word. Unlike other books, the words in the Bible are alive and they offer new life to all who believe.
In response, Chevan surrendered his life to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and was born again. He was 29 when he received the Lord.
“It wasn’t easy for me to accept Jesus even with an open mind,” he said.
He loved the pastor and the other believers he met, but he applied for a refugee visa with the United Nations and was allowed to move to the United States.
“I understood that after I became a Christian, it was not okay for me to stay in the Middle East,” he said.
All Christians are exposed to persecution from Muslims, but especially converts from Islam.
He hop-scotched around major cities of America and always got involved in a local church.
“I started to read the Bible on the computer and listen to Christian music and famous Christian preachers like Billy Graham,” he said.
Chevan has been following Jesus 10 years. “My future is in God’s hands,” he says. “I don’t know what He wants me to do,” he said. “But what I want to be is a pastor in Nineveh, the place where I was born.”
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*names changed for security reasons