Recently, I was reminded that love never fails, to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13.
Several years ago, we held a conference in California where David and Karen Davis from Haifa, Israel told how Jews and Arabs recover together from drug addiction through their ministry Beit Nitzachon, the “House of Victory.” At the same conference, Walid Shoebat, an ex-Palestinian terrorist, confessed that he had been like Saul of Tarsus, seeking to hurt God’s people. Then, trying to prove to his Catholic wife the superiority of Islam over Christianity, Walid bought a ten-dollar Bible and began to read. He says that he was confronted with God’s overwhelming love toward the Jewish people and the Jewish people’s imperfect but sincere love for God, and struck by the joy and love that he found in the pages of the Bible, especially the Old Testament. Raised in Bethlehem, he had been taught that Jews only hated, but that is not what he discovered. God’s love began to melt away his blindness and hard heart so that he could see the grace of God. His life is a testimony of God’s ability to transform the spirit of a man.
Because Walid’s unique voice challenges jihadist ideology, conference security was a concern. A young Middle Eastern-looking woman who attended was unknown to conference organizers. Her unusual clothing led to speculation that she might be there to create a disturbance. To our amazement and awe, God had brought this woman to heal her heart. Raised a Muslim in Israel, she was on the spiritual journey that leads to the deeper Christian life. At the altar, God touched her heart deeply and in a moment healed her of the traumas of an abused childhood and of being personally caught in the Middle East conflict. Her testimony now is, “I used to hate ‘the Jewish’ and now I love the Jewish people.” In fact, she has become a friend and is very vocal about Jews having the right to the Land of Israel. Our God is amazing!
I find it important to draw on testimonies like these—of people who do not have just a momentary breakthrough of love, but continue to love and stand with the Jewish people (John 15:9). As Myles and I travel back and forth to Israel, not only do we pray for the Jewish people, we continue to pray for our Arab “cousins” to find their Savior (John 3:16).
ZLM Note: To see Zola Levitt’s unbelievable 2006 interview with Walid Shoebat, click here.