Son of Hamas

If you were to evaluate who in your family is most likely to become a Christian, who would you choose? Would it be your uncle who is a liberal college professor or your cousin who is into emo rock or your aunt who grew up Mormon or your brother who is president of the local chapter of Young Republicans?

Obviously this family isn’t real and yet what is very real is that we tend to assess who in our sphere of friends, neighbors, and co-workers will be most receptive to the message of Christ. There are some people who because of temperament, personality, lifestyle, religious background, or political affiliation that we think are more or less likely to respond to the gospel.

Son of Hamas will explode that kind of thinking. Mosab Hasson Yousef is the most unlikely Christian that you will meet. As the eldest son of one of the seven founders of the terrorist organization Hamas, Mosab has seen things that the rest of us have only read about in newspapers or watched on the evening news. In his book he shares that when he was growing up he didn’t know that his dad was such a powerful man but only that the Israeli military repeatedly arrested him for reasons that he didn’t share with his six children.

Mosab, like a lot of Palestinian youths, grew up hating Israel and all that it stood for. He joined the rock throwers during the uprisings and was headed down a path of violence when he was arrested by the Israeli army. While he languished in prison in very uncomfortable circumstances, he was able to see what he refers to as the “real” Hamas motivated more by power than religious conviction.

Shin Bet came to Mosab while he was in prison and offered him release, protection, and money if he’d work for Israel as a spy. Eventually Mosab agreed and was given the code name The Green Prince. Given his dad’s position in the Hamas organization, Mosab was privy to all kinds of information that he quietly passed onto Israel. He was easily Israel’s most helpful informant between 1997-2007 helping them capture and kill terrorist leaders and prevent countless attacks against Israeli citizens.

A chance encounter between Mosab and an English Christian led him to attend Bible studies motivated by a chance to meet new friends. Mosab started reading the Bible and was deeply moved by the teaching of Jesus. For a long time he tried to use Jesus to help him become a better Muslim but eventually saw the inconsistency of that and put his faith in Christ. Here’s what he said in a recent interview with Haaretz.com

How were you exposed to Christianity?

“It began about eight years ago. I was in Jerusalem and I received an invitation to come and hear about Christianity. Out of curiosity I went. I was very enthusiastic about what I heard. I began to read the Bible every day and I continued with religion lessons. I did it in secret, of course. I used to travel to the Ramallah hills, to places like the Al Tira neighborhood, and to sit there quietly with the amazing landscape and read the Bible. A verse like “Love thine enemy” had a great influence on me. At this stage I was still a Muslim and I thought that I would remain one. But every day I saw the terrible things done in the name of religion by those who considered themselves ‘great believers.’ I studied Islam more thoroughly and found no answers there. I reexamined the Koran and the principals of the faith and found how it is mistaken and misleading. The Muslims borrowed rituals and traditions from all the surrounding religions.”

Tiring of the demands associated with living a double life (Hamas leader and Shin Bet spy) for 10 years, Mosab persuaded the Israelis to let him leave the Middle East and move to California where he now lives.

I found this book to be an fascinating look into the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. In addition it helps remind me that it is no more difficult for God to save a Muslim boy in the Middle East than it is for him to save me. Maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to label people as “beyond God’s reach.”

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