…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

You meant for evil, .. God turned it for good .. saving lives

As a six-year old boy, Brother Nathan witnessed an unthinkable attack on his father, a Christian pastor.  After the attack Nathan sought revenge and vowed to avenge his father.
His mother was left with six children under the age of twelve to care for, with no income, no home. Like the prophet’s widow in 2 Kings 4, God’s faithfulness sustained and provided for the needs of this family, through His divine favor and the kindness of the generous caring Christian community around them; a testimony of God’s faithfulness.
Around his twelveth birthday, he invited Jesus into his heart.  He received the love of God to forgive those who killed his father, and washed away the hatred … from revenge to Jesus.
By God’s incredible grace & provision, Nathan ministers in the village where his father was targeted, as well as in countless other cities and villages across Egypt and throughout the Middle East.  From revenge to redemption, … ministering the love of Jesus.
Brother Nathan was a veterinary surgeon, before he followed the call of God he felt on his life in 1986.

Joseph’s brothers brutally sold him off to Egypt, and got rid of him. (Genesis 37)  Years later, after the family was reunited,  Joseph reply to his brothers:
Don’t you see,
you planned evil against me

but God used those same plans for my good,
as you see all around you right now — life for many people
Genesis 50:20 (MSG)

As we trust Him, … Jesus redeems the situations of our lives, and turn them to fulfill His purposes.

 28 And we know that in all things
God works for the good
of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Romans 8:28, 29 (NIV)

Brother Nathan:

… my father told me something I have never forgotten.  He said.
“Latif, if you will always go wherever God tells you to go and do what He tells you to do,
God will take care of you, just like he took care of Abram.
He will always bless your life
and I promise nothing will happen to you
that God does not allow.”


… Finally in the quiet of that sanctuary, I quietly whispered,”  Jesus I invite you into my heart tonight.  Please wash me in your blood and heal my inner wounds.  Change me, dear Jesus, and make me just like you.”

.. The hatred I had been hiding in my heart for five years was gone, and it had been replaced with a true spirit of forgiveness.  I remembered the words of Jesus as he was hanging on the cross:
Father forgive them;  they don’t know what they are doing.”
I asked Jesus to give me that same kind of heart.

Somewhere on that the long flight home, I realized as never before that the love of Jesus truly is the answer, not simply for violence, but for all the evil in our world.

I have returned many times to this place that was my home more than fifty years ago — so many times, in fact, that these visits all seem to run together.  In the early years they always triggered sad and painful memories.  The little village church was still on that narrow street right next to Ibrahim’s shop, and the pastor’s home was still upstairs.  When I stood and looked out my old bedroom window I was reminded of that night fifty-plus years ago, the night when I shook my fists towards Dark Mountain and vowed to kill the men who had killed my Baba.

Years have passed, and all that has changed.
Not because the village has changed,
but because I have been changed — radically and forever changed — by the power of God and the love of his Son.  You see, when Jesus moves into your heart and make it his home, there is no longer any room for hatred or revenge.  When Jesus moves in, he wants to occupy your whole heart.

I will always remember this particular trip to Karya Maghola for a very special reason.  In some ways it was almost as emotional for me as Black Friday.  Now that the dark days since 2011 were behind us, the faces of people in the village held a bright message of hope.  …

… it was a great day of celebration for the believers, and they lifted their voices in thanks to God for bringing them through three long years of terror and trials.  When it was time for my sermon, I opened God’s Word and shared the message he had given me for that day.  The Scripture was from 2 Timothy 1:7, where it says God has given us a spirit of hope, not one of fear.

At times like this, my mind takes me back to those early days, and I begin to dream again just like I did when I was a boy.  But now I don’t dream so much about the future; I dream about a past that was never meant to be.  I wonder what my life might have looked like if there had been no Black Friday.  I ask myself.  If Baba had lived where would I be today, and what would I be doing?

Of course, there is really no way to know that, is there?
Maybe I would be living in some small village like Karya Maghola.  Perhaps I would be a shopkeeper like Ibrahim, or just a simple farmer, or maybe even strawberry merchant.  Who knows where my path would have taken me?

Instead, I have been privileged to minister for the Lord in so many ways and in so many far-flung places — places I had only read about in books, never thinking in my wildest dreams I might go there some day.  I have preached in churches all over the world and been involved in a variety of ministries throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia and North America.  I have shared my story before world leaders and prime ministers and proclaimed the message of Jesus Christ in more places than I can remember.  God has poured blessing upon blessing on my life.

Please don’t misunderstand — I’m not telling you these things in a boasting way.  I only want to show how the God of the universe can use a simple man, one who was onces a little boy in the tiny Egyptian village of Karya Maghola, to bring glory to his name.  And I must tell you one more thing, something I hope you will never forget:  if the Lord can do this for me, he can do the same for you, if you will trust him to take control of your life.

Whenever I reflect on the events of my life — both the good and the bad — I thank the Lord for the way he has directed my path.  And it is clear to me now that Baba’s untimely death was an important part of my journey.  Although he was snatched from me when I was only six years old, he had already planted some important seeds of God’s truth in my heart.  And I can testify that some of those seeds have borne fruit for many years, while others are just now starting to sprout.

Sometimes it makes me sad to think that Baba left our family with almost nothing — nothing, that is, in worldly terms.  He didn’t own any property, and he left Mama with no resources to care for their six dear children.  All we have are warm memories of a loving father who taught us to love each other, to love those around us, and most important of all, to love God above everything else.  And when I really stop to think about it, I don’t believe Baba could have given us anything better.

I do have one treasured keepsake from Baba, though, and I have held on to it ever since that terrible day he died all those years ago.  That day, as we stood in front of the church with Ibrahim and Youssef, I didn’t care about the hot sun or the dust clouds stirred up by the desert breeze.  I just knew I was with my Baba, and nothing else mattered.  That was all swept away when those two  t     swooped down our narrow street and shot my father.

As Baba started to fall that day, I reached out to him but all I could grab was his old walking staff.  There I stood beside my bleeding Baba, waiting for the ambulance to come, and for the next two hours I clung to that staff as if I were holding on to Baba himself.

When the ambulance drove away and Ibrahim took me inside, I took that walking stick with me, and I was still holding it on Sunday when Mama came home.  That’s when I decided nothing and no one would ever take it away from me.  It was the only thing of Baba’s I had left, and I still have it today.

Over the years Baba’s staff has become a symbol of the goodness and grace of God to me, but it means so much more than that.  It is a vivid reminder of the path Baba began walking back in Shotb and those other obscure places.  I remember the way he would let me tag along like his little shadow, until his journey was suddenly cut short with so much left undone.  And I am thankful every day that our loving Lord, in the perfect plan he designed for me before time began, is allowing me to complete Baba’s journey.

It is easy sometimes to think we are the first ones who have ever walked through some dark valley of sorrows;  but generally speaking, this is really not the case.  Often, we can find a person in the Bible who has experienced something similar. In my case there is a man from the Old Testament whose story is somewhat like mine — but much worse, to be sure.  It is interesting to remember that he was also a dreamer, and that he once lived in Egypt too.

The book of Genesis tells us about Joseph, who suffered many painful things in his life.  No doubt there were days when he thought God had forgotten him, when he wondered why he had to suffer so.  And Joseph’s story has helped me put the pieces of my puzzle together, especially when I get to verse 20 of Genesis 50.  I have even changed the wording of the verse a bit to described what happened that Friday in Karya Maghola.  My version goes something like this:  what the t      meant for evil, God intended for good.  And with that Scripture in mind, I just continue the journey the Lord has laid out for me, knowing that his ways are the best ways no matter where they may take me.

So now you have heard my story … the story of how a little boy became a man, and how a loving God reshaped his young life from one filled with hatred and anger to a life filled and controlled by the love of Jesus.  And the last chapters of my story have not even been written.  I have no idea what they will say.  But I know Someone who does, and I know I can trust him to help me write them.

Again, let me say that I don’t want to claim any credit for the things you have read here.  They are simply an example of what God will do for anyone — including you — who will invite the Lord Jesus to come and live in their heart.

And there is one final truth that I believe today more than ever:  God’s only Son Jesus is the answer for everything we face — both for today and for all of our tomorrows.  He will always be the answer …
for you …
and for me …
and for our entire world

… in six short years Baba taught me how to live, then he taught me how to die.
For me to live is Christ, to die is gain”  (Phil 1:21)

for more than eighty years, Mama has shown us how to trust God … for everything.
“My God shall meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”  (Phil 4:19)

Brother Nathan

Source — Brother Nathan, Love casts out fear, Baker Books, 2015, pg 55, 84, 86, 170, 183-189.

Radio interview — Brother Nathan shares his story (click here)
(highly recommended)

Your people declare their faith
and hold on to Your promises

When the war gets tougher
Your Holy Spirit within us is manifested
Who else can be our sufficiency 
except you, our Savior
Emmanuel, Emmanuel, God is with us
(Egyptian praise song)

Where God’s love is,
there is no fear,
God’s perfect love drives out fear.

It is punishment that makes a person fear,
so love is not made perfect in the person who fears.

1 John 4:18 (NCV)

Now the goal of our instruction is

that comes from a pure heart,
a good conscience,

and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5 (HCSB)

A heart that forgives

For if you forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins],
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
Matthew 6:14 (AMP)

Then he (Stephen) fell on his knees and cried out,
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.
” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 7:60 (NIV)

For Christ also suffered once for sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
to bring you to God.

He was put to death in the body
but made alive in the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:18 (HCSB)

Psalm 146:5-10 (NIV)
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.

He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,

    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

Karya Maghola – The name the author gave to his hometown is adapted from an Arabic word,  meaning “any place” or “unknown place“;  a place just like countless villages scattered all across the ancient part of the world, where the people and the culture have hardly changed for centuries.

Further Reading:

Suffering/Hope | Persecuted

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
February 5, 2017

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License



This entry was posted on February 5, 2017 by in Daily Rice, Faith, Inspiring Lives, Life Stories, Middle East, Missions and tagged , , .

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