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John Newton’s Contribution to Anglophone Protestant Hymnody

May 28, 2024
By Bassam Michael Madany

Introduction

John Calvin greatly influenced anglophone (English-speaking) Protestant worship by making the Psalms the unique source of praise. This practice became the tradition of the Church of Scotland, where the Psalter was sung a cappella. That was followed in the Presbyterian churches elsewhere. In the Church of England and the Anglican churches abroad, the Psalter was chanted somewhat in monotone, reminiscent of Gregorian chants.

Early in the nineteenth century, anglophone Protestants began using Hymns in their worship services. Most of the credit goes to John Newton. The following excerpts are based on the information provided by https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Newton:

“Newton was born to a devout… mother and a father who was a merchant ship captain. His mother died… when Newton was almost 7 years old, and by age 11, he was accompanying his father on sea voyages. At age 18, he was pressed into service with the Royal Navy… Newton later served as a sailor aboard several ships involved in [the slave trade].

“Although the Christian instruction from his mother stayed with him, Newton had largely abandoned the faith of his childhood until March 10, 1748, when he felt the first stirrings of a renewal of faith in God while steering a near-foundering ship through a fierce storm. …Newton continued working as a trader of enslaved persons and captained three voyages trafficking captive Africans to the West Indies… In 1754 poor health forced him to find a new occupation.

“Back on land, Newton… became an ordained Church of England clergyman in 1764. He accepted a post as a curate at a church in Olney, Buckinghamshire. Newton took his duties seriously, preaching tirelessly to his large poor congregation. In 1767 the poet William Cowper settled in Olney… Together they wrote the Olney Hymns (1779), which contains 68 hymns by Cowper and 280 by Newton.”

Newton authored “Amazing Grace,” “Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken,” “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds,” and William Cowper composed “God Moves in a Mysterious Way.”

"As his faith matured, Newton’s remorse over his involvement in the slave trade surfaced and galvanized him. In 1785, he met with William Wilberforce and counseled him to remain in politics rather than pursue a religious life. Newton would remain a spiritual mentor for the prominent abolitionist for the next 20 years. In 1787, Newton helped Wilberforce found the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade, more commonly called the Anti-Slavery Society.”

As part of his ministry at Olney, John Newton, with the financial help of his wealthy friend and supporter, John Thornton of London, increased the number of services on Sundays and during the week. Some of these meetings were held near the Church, where he used some of the Olney Hymns for praise. (It is to be noted that in the official services on Sundays, which were held in the sanctuary, only the chanted Psalms could be used.)

As Newton’s popularity grew, he received several calls to service in prominent parts of England. He left the Church of St Peter and St Paul at Olney in 1780 to serve as Rector of St Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street, London, where he officiated until his death on 21 December 1807. His 25 years of service at a prestigious Anglican church in London, where the Olney Hymns were sung, paved the way for the normalization of hymn-singing beyond the Church of England, impacting anglophone Protestant churches everywhere.

Furthermore, it spurred the composition of hymns by Anglican clergymen like Reginald Heber (21 April 1783 – 3 April 1826), who served as the first Bishop of Calcutta, India. He authored several hymns such as “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,” “From Greenland Icy Mountains,” and “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning.”

Catherine Winkworth (13 September 1827-1 July 1878) was the daughter of Henry Winkworth, of Alderley, near Manchester, England. Her knowledge of German enabled her to translate several hymns into English. These are some of the Hymns she translated: “Praise to Lord, the Almighty,” “Now Thank We All Our God,” “Comfort Ye My People,” “From Heaven Above, I Come to You,” “Jesus Priceless Treasure,” “God that Madest Earth and Heaven,” and “Out of the Depth I Call to Thee.”

Another prolific hymnwriter was the English Congregational minister, Isaac Watts (17 July 1674 – 25 November 1748). He authored historic hymns, like “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” “Joy to the World,” and “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”.

Charles Wesley (18 December 1707-29 March 1788) wrote over 6,000 hymns during his lifetime, many of which are still sung in churches worldwide. Here are some of his familiar hymns: "And Can It Be That I Should Gain?" "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today," “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus," "Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," "Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending," "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing," and "Rejoice, the Lord is King."

While the list of anglophone hymn writers included not just John Newton, but four other writers, it was Newton who took the initiative of composing hymns that were instrumental in ending the exclusive Psalmody in the Churches of the worldwide Anglican Communion, as well as the Church of Scotland and the worldwide Presbyterian Churches.

The changes in the conduct of worship services that took place in anglophone Protestantism impacted the young churches of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. During the Church Year, they celebrate in their native languages with hymns translated from anglophone sources.

I can never forget hearing the Arabic version, “O Sacred Head Now Wounded,” sung during the Good Friday service, at the Evangelical Church in Beirut, Lebanon!

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Reflections on Missions to Muslims by a German Parish Priest - Father Christoph-Sperling

May 18, 2024
By Bassam Michael Madany

Introduction

Following the end of WWII, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and other Western European countries sought to revive their industries, aided by the United States’ Marshall Plan. The lack of a labor force prompted them to welcome workers from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.

Initially, the plan was that the guest workers would eventually return to their homelands. That didn’t happen; and before too long, their families joined them. The demographic scene altered radically, with new social and religious factors impacting European societies.

Christian churches faced the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel to their new neighbors. A German parish priest took up the task of bringing the Good News to his Muslim neighbors. He wrote a book about the challenge of Christian missions to Muslims in Germany. A summary was posted on the website of the French Catholic organization: Jésus Le Messie - Le forum (jesus-messie.org).

The following are translated excerpts from his book.

“I don't remember receiving any teaching about Islam, during my theological studies. I had general and vague information about the subject. Having been a priest for a few years in my parish, a Catholic discussion group asked me to give a lecture on Islam.

“One Sunday, during the celebration of the Mass, I noticed a foreign-looking gentleman among the worshippers. Following the Mass, I sat down with him on one of the back benches. He took a German translation of the Qur'an out of his pocket and gave it to me! He turned out to be a Muslim missionary who had come from Braunschweig, an hour's drive away. What an astonishing commitment!

“How I wish there existed a similar commitment among Christians, to bring the Gospel to the Muslims in Germany!

“I visited West Africa several times and found its culture strongly impacted by Islam. During my stay in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, I visited the largest mosque in Sub-Saharan Africa. It was built in 1982 under President Ahmed Sékou Touré, with help from Saudi Arabia, and accommodated 2,500 women and 10,000 men.

“In 2014, I met a young girl in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, who had converted from Islam to Catholicism. She went through a three-year preparation for baptism. In Africa, candidates for baptism must come to catechism every week for three years. The girl told her parents that she was attending an adult education center. It was only at the end of her studying the Catechism, that she told her parents that she wanted to be baptized. At first, she met strong disapproval from the family. Eventually, her parents relaxed their opposition. She was baptized taking Gertrude as her name.

“Having grown in my knowledge of Islam, I wrote a book on Missions to Muslims. It was published in German, Arabic, French and English. Here are the main points of my book:

The Primacy of Grace

“There is a notion that conversions depend on our own skills and initiatives. But we must remember the primary role of God in the process of conversion, as our Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘I have sent you to reap what you have not worked for, others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.’ John 4:38

“Quite often, it seemed that my efforts bore little or no visible fruit. And then, suddenly, unexpectedly, a harvest moment arrives. A high school student surprised me by asking me to baptize her. She wasn’t a Muslim, but the daughter of unbaptized parents in an extremely secular environment.

“The Muslim converts I was preparing for baptism were called by God, not by me. My role was to cooperate with the grace that God had given. This is explicitly taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in John 6:44, ‘No one can come to me except the Father who sent me draws him.”

Our Cooperation with Grace

“St. Paul set forth the process by which conversions take place in his Letter to the Romans 10:13,14:

“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

“It’s a sad fact that in much of the Catholic Church, Christ's mission to proclaim the Gospel is dormant. This topic is addressed in a book by Father Henri Boulad.i (See endnote for details)

“Furthermore, there is widespread naivety about fanatical Islam. For example, in our small town, some kilometers walk from my home, lived a 20-year-old Iraqi man who was arrested on November 2023 in Lower Saxony, for planning to attack a Christmas market. Then, on April 12, two teenagers were arrested in North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg for planning attacks on Christians and police officers.

“In his book ‘Lord, Stay with Us,’ Cardinal Robert Sarah, the impressive African shepherd, wrote:

“‘The best Europe should offer the world is its identity, its civilization deeply irrigated by Christianity. Instead, Europe offers Muslims, irreligion, and unfettered consumerism? Is it any wonder, that young Muslims take refuge in Islamic fundamentalism?

“The tragic fact is that at present, Europeans are ashamed of their Christian heritage. Immigrants, after settling in Europe, end up despising it, because they do not discover anything sacred in it."

Islamist Terrorists have been in Europe for several Generations

"Many of the Islamist terrorists have been in Europe for several generations. They are children of the consumer society. Disoriented by European nihilism, they throw themselves into the arms of radical Islamism.

“The causes of terrorism are largely religious. We can only combat this phenomenon by offering young people from immigrant backgrounds a real spiritual perspective. Who will have the courage to propose to them a Europe proud of its Christian heritage? Who will invite them to embrace an identity that is based on Christian morality and values? The evangelization of young Europeans of Muslim origin should be a pastoral priority. They expect us to give a clear and firm testimony. But, in the name of a misunderstood interreligious dialogue, we are pusillanimous and timid in proclaiming Christ.”

Concrete and specific Needs

“The Catholic philosopher Ferdinand Ulrich, who died in 2020, told me that during the student riots of '68, a Communist student leader came to see him at the University of Regensburg and questioned him about the content of his lectures: ‘So, what you are saying here is exactly what we want. But I must ask you now: do you know people who live as you say? Then I would go to that place.’

“But the professor didn't know where to send the young man. It’s often our distress. What do we do when someone comes to us and says, ‘I have read the gospel. Where can I find people who are living what I have read? Where can I join them?’ Praise God there are many strong believers and loving Christians in our parishes. But it is difficult to show those who are looking for places where the Gospel is being lived in small communities; where it is not only studied but practiced. Such places exist, but there are too few of them. Where they would be welcomed and accepted in an authentic Christian community that is not closed in on itself?

“I would like to quote here another great cardinal of our time: Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht. In his book of interviews with Andrea Galli, he expressed himself as follows: ‘The Gospel must be proclaimed to all the inhabitants of this world. However, to evangelize the world again, the Church must also put her own house in order.’

“According to him, these lessons must be drawn from the painful experience of the almost total collapse of church life in the Netherlands in the 1960s and 1970s. First, there is a need for instruction that leads to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Secondly, an unambiguous teaching that does not put water in the wine of the Gospel.”

God’s grace is given when He wills, to whom He wills, and how He wills

“He loves all men. He loves our Muslim neighbors. We Christians must not regard them with suspicion and as strangers, but above all as people loved by God. In this love, we must not deprive them of the Gospel, which has been entrusted to us without any merit on our part. Because of the great crisis of the church and the state of our society, this enterprise may seem to us impossible. But our goal is not primarily numerical success. It is a question of bearing fruit. Jesus said, ‘He who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit.’ (John 15:5) ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’ (Matthew 9:37)

“It’s wonderful that this Forum took place, and for the first time in Germany. I want to thank the couple Xavier and Anne Alloy and all the others for their great commitment. May God make this commitment bear fruit for His glory and the salvation of souls. Thank you for your attention.”

Postscript

The information in the end note refers to a little-known phenomenon that impacted the lives of several Christian families in Syria and Lebanon, during the nineteenth century. Taking advantage of opportunities for work in Egypt, they moved there. The Jirjis Zayden, an Orthodox Christian family from Beirut, established a publication company in Cairo, including the daily Al-Ahram, a weekly pictorial magazine, Al-Musawar, and a monthly journal, Al-Hilal, with literary, political, and historical articles. Growing up in the Levant, I appreciated reading vowelled Arabic Children’s Stories published by this institution.

i According to Wikipedia: Henri Boulad, SJ (Egyptian Arabic: هنرى بولاد; 28 August 1931 – 14 June 2023) was an Egyptian-Hungarian priest in the Jesuit order, author, and commentator who lived in Egypt. He was a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Henri Boulad was born in Alexandria, Egypt on 28 August 1931. His father came from a Syrian Christian family originally from Damascus, but settled in Egypt in 1860. The Boulad family belongs to the old Damascene bourgeoisie and has produced many clerics including Father Abdel Massih (Damascus) and Father Antoune Boulad (Monastery of the Holy Savior, Lebanon).

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The Legacy of Tidiane N'Diaye An African Scholar and Historian

May 09, 2024
By Bassam Michael Madany

On 22 May 2018, I published an article about the Slave Trade in East Africa. It was a review of “Le génocide voilé: Enquête historique.”i (The Veiled Genocide: An Historical Inquiry) The book was published in 2008 by Editions Gallimard in Paris, France. The author, Tidiane N’Diaye, is a Senegalese anthropologist and economist, living in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, West Africa.

The book was introduced with this summary:

« Les Arabes ont razzié l'Afrique subsaharienne pendant treize siècles sans interruption. La plupart des millions d'hommes qu'ils ont déportés ont disparu du fait des traitements inhumains. Cette douloureuse page de l'histoire des peuples noirs n'est apparemment pas définitivement tournée. La traite négrière a commencé lorsque l'émir et général arabe Abdallah ben Saïd a imposé aux Soudanais un bakht (accord), conclu en 652, les obligeant à livrer annuellement des centaines d'esclaves. La majorité de ces hommes était prélevée sur les populations du Darfour. Et ce fut le point de départ d'une énorme ponction humaine qui devait s'arrêter officiellement au début du XXe siècle. »

The following is a translation of the summary:

“The Arabs have raided sub-Saharan Africa for thirteen centuries without interruption. Most of the men they deported have disappeared, due to their inhuman treatment. This painful page of the history of Black people does not seem to have been completely ended. The beginning of this treatment of the Blacks began when the Arab Emir and General Abdallah ben Saïd, imposed upon the Sudanese a “Bakht” (an agreement) in 652, forcing them to furnish hundreds of slaves annually. Most of them were men who were taken from the people of Darfur. That became the point of departure for an enormous human operation that continued officially until early in the 20th century.”

Philippe Triay, a French writer, sent questions about this subject to Mr. Tidiane N’Diaye, who graciously answered them. They were posted on 30 April 2015, under the title « L’autre esclavage : un aperçu de la traite arabo-musulmane » “The Other Slavery: An Overview of the Arab-Muslim Slave-Trade.”

The following are excerpts from Tidiane N’Diaye’s response:

“To date, the most analyzed and documented forms of slavery and the slave trade have been the Trans-Atlantic ones. Several essays, novels, and movies have dealt with the subject, allowing the public to learn about this tragic history.

“However, Europe did not have a monopoly on the slave trade. There were others, like the East African and trans-Saharan trades organized by the Arabs. Those were violent and devastating for Africans and their descendants, as were the Trans-Atlantic ones, which were supported by Islam and Christianity for a long time.

“My main concern is with the East African and Trans-Saharan trades. The reason for calling my book “The Veiled Genocide” is due to the massive castration of African captives during the Arab-Muslim slave trade.

“While slavery has been known throughout history among all nations, and on all continents, what is less known is that the African slave trade was inaugurated by the Arab-Muslims; it lasted around thirteen centuries without interruption. It was accompanied by a generalized castration of incalculable numbers of Black captives. Its impact was greater than the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The saddest thing about this historic tragedy is that most of the deported people were deprived of having any descendants, due to the policy adopted by the Arabs.

“The Trans-Atlantic slave trade lasted for four hundred years. Despite its monstrosity and the humiliations that befell the captives, a slave had an inherent monetary value. His master wanted him to be productive in the long term. Thus, the goal was not the extermination of a people. “Furthermore, the Arab-Muslim trade went on for thirteen centuries. Most of the men they had deported have disappeared from history. From the moment Africa had become the main source for the provision of slaves, in the collective Arab consciousness, a Black person also became a symbol, or a synonym, of slavery.

“In the Arab world, the notion of the basic inferiority of Black people took deep root, which explains the acceptance of the ill-treatment of Black captives, and the means used to deny them any descendants. The result is that in our day, they have almost disappeared in Turkey, Yemen, and Iraq; and very few survivors can be found in North Africa and Saudi Arabia.

“To learn about the heavy toll of that slave trade, I compared the archives of these countries with the testimonies of explorers like Cameron, Stanley, Dr. Livingstone, and Msgr. Lavigerie. I read, as well, the horrific descriptions of the Arab slave-traders at the castration centers. I concluded that between 70% to 80% of the slaves perished. Combining the Trans-Saharan and East African trades, we arrive at a total of 17 million who were castrated. Some of them died or were brought alive to the Arab world and beyond.

“The Arab-Muslim slave trade was a veritable genocide of Black people. By way of comparison, around 70 million African descendants of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade now live in the Americas; mainly in the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean islands, while only a tiny minority of Africans have survived in the Arab-Muslim lands.

“While there are no degrees in the classification of horrors, or a monopoly of cruelties perpetrated on human beings, the Arab-Muslim slave trade was far more devastating for Black Africa than the Trans-Atlantic trade.

“It is unfortunate that the Arab-Muslim slave trade is little known or studied. It is puzzling that many would like the subject to be covered up under a veil of forgetfulness, for religious or ideological solidarity. It’s as if a virtual pact had been concluded between the victims’ descendants and their tormentors, leading to this denial. This silence, or the underestimation of the extent of the Arab slave trade, results in unique attention being focused on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

“Furthermore, Arab-Muslim intellectuals attempt to erase the very memory of this infamy, as if it had never happened! They fail to consider critically their own history and to debate such issues with their compatriots. African Americans who convert to Islam, seem to be oblivious to the Arab-Muslim slave trade, as if any mention of this subject is an attempt to minimize the evils of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade!

“Thus, a veil of silence has for a long time covered up a dark page of our common history, as we also observe this strange amnesia on the part of Black elites. They are wrong to ignore the memory of this genocide. Equally, it’s unscientific when they concentrate their attention on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. By writing my book, I lift the veil over this dark page of our history. My book is a memorial to this martyrdom of Black people; their descendants must no longer remain hypocritically selective, focusing exclusively on Western crimes.’’

Le génocide voilé Enquête historique - Poche - Tidiane N'Diaye - Achat Livre | fnac

It was back in 2008, that Tidiane N’Diaye’s book was published in Paris, France. In a sense, the veil has been lifted only in the Francophone world. As I reflect on this matter, I wonder whether the reticence to publish an English translation was to avoid promoting a negative view of Arab-Muslim history. Had the author been a Westerner, such a theory might have been plausible. In fact, Tidiane N’Diaye, several African writers agree with his account of the horrors of East African Slavery, like Salah Trabelsi, Muhammad Ennaji, and Ibrahim Thiabe. They presented well-researched lectures in impeccable French; a testimony to the sophistication achieved by Francophone Africans, since the end of French colonialism, in the early 1950s.

Having listened to the presentations several times, I was impressed by the passion and sincerity of the African scholars. Their goal was to give a truthful narrative of one of the most shocking events in African history. Their professional standing coupled with the zeal to unveil a historic tragedy, could be felt in the delivery of their papers.

For me personally, publishing this information is a sacred duty. Having grown up in the Levant as an Eastern Christian, whose ancestors lived as Dhimmis under Islamic colonialism for centuries, I welcome the publication of this book and hope many people will read it. The humiliations and deprivations inflicted on my forefathers pale into insignificance when compared with the sufferings of Black Africans! The least I can do for the memory of East African and Trans-Saharan captives is to share this information, gleaned from French-language presentations of trustworthy, honorable, and brave African scholars!

 

Postscript

There is an interview on YouTube with Tidiane N’Diaye (dated 17 January 2015) where the author refers to the main points of his book. The audio is in French and lasts 9 minutes. 

  
i: Éditions Gallimard is one of the leading French publishers of books. The Guardian has described it as having "the best backlist in the world". In 2003, it and its subsidiaries published 1,418 titles. 
 

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A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO THE ISLAMIC DENIAL OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST

April 25, 2024
By Bassam Michael Madany

Compared to the Bible, the Islamic tradition, based on the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sirat Muhamad, presents an entirely different and antithetical account of the Person and Work of Jesus, the Messiah. The New Testament relates the story as written by the disciples of Jesus Christ, Matthew and John. Paul, a convert from Judaism, became an ardent missionary and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean World. He sent his Epistles (Letters) to churches he had founded and dealt with doctrines relating to the work of Jesus and with ethical matters.

For the last 1400 years, Christians have responded to the Islamic version of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The following are translated excerpts from an article posted on the French Catholic website, Jésus Le Messie (Jesus the Messiah).

Biblical and Logical responses to the Islamic account.

The Biblical Argument:

“Several people who suffered and died as martyrs had actually seen the resurrected Jesus. (1 Corinthians 15:6; Matthew 27)

“Jesus prayed for his executioners ‘Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34). His mission was to suffer and die, revealing that there was no limit to God's forgiveness. Had Jesus not died and risen again, how could we understand the historical testimonies reporting the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the Gospels and the Epistles? Had Jesus Christ not died and risen again, how can we explain the very existence of Christianity?”

The Logical Argument:

“Neither Jewish nor pagan authors denied the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. There are numerous testimonies from non-Christians, starting with the Jewish historian Flavius who wrote ’Jesus who was a wise man, if indeed we must consider him as a man, so admirable were his works. The leaders of our nation, having accused him before Pilate, had him crucified. He appeared to them alive and resurrected on the third day…’

“How could God have manifested Himself, other than by the Incarnation of His Son?

“How could Muslims, six centuries before the birth of Muhammad, know what happened in Jerusalem around 33 A.D.? Should we refuse to believe in the fulfillment of God's Promises by the ministry of Jesus Christ, simply because the Quran contradicts them?”

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OBSTACLES TO A MUSLIM’S PILGRIMAGE TO CHRISTIANITY

April 15, 2024
By Bassam Michael Madany

The pilgrimage of Algerians from Islam to Christianity is taking place in our times. Converts confront several obstacles that must be surmounted to accomplish their journey.

The obstacles to Muslims leaving Islam are based on the Qur’an and the actions of Abu Bakr, the first Muslim Caliph. Upon learning of the death of Muhammad in 632AD, several Arab tribes, who had accepted his claims as Prophet and leader of the Umma (the New Islamic Community), decided to return to their previous tribal status quo. Immediately, Abu Bakr led punitive campaigns against them, forcing them to return to Islamic rule. These campaigns are known in history as Huroob al-Ridda (Wars against Apostasy). From then on, the Umma believed that 'once a Muslim, always a Muslim,’ i.e., there is no going back; al-Ridda is not tolerated.

THE TESTIMONY OF AUGUSTIN, AN ALGERIAN CONVERT

The following Is translated from Témoignages - Augustin (jesus-messie.org):

“My name is Augustin. I am Algerian, I am 33 years old, I am married, and I have two children. I am a convert from Islam.

"I lived all my life in Algeria as a moderately practicing Muslim. Around the age of 17, I became a very conservative Sunni Muslim. I lived during this period for two years, which was followed by the rise of several questions about my religion.

“In August 2015, I met an Englishman at my work. He began to speak to me about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. He suggested that I read the Bible. I installed an app on my phone and read some Bible verses; I found them helpful as they spoke to me personally!

“So, I began to question my faith. Why the multiplicity of the prohibitions and the laws and practices in Islam? I consulted the most reliable sources, hoping to get answers and deepen my faith in Islam.

“That didn’t happen in my spiritual pilgrimage. I was led to Jesus Christ on January 17, 2017.

“As a converted Algerian, I experienced several problems in Algeria; I suffered pressure from my family. In our neighborhood, an ex-terrorist turned radical Muslim threatened to kill me. I managed to leave for France with my wife and my two children on October 11, 2017. We settled in the city of Rouen.

“The first thing I did after our arrival in France was to meet a priest and ask for baptism. The priest explained that for converts, it's a journey that requires at least two years for the instruction in the Christian faith of the family members. Gradually, we began to attend Mass and met many parishioners. Our baptism took place on May 6, 2019, at the Easter Vigil at Rouen Cathedral.”

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