Friday, June 02, 2006

GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ: Iraqi General Says Record Number of Muslims Turning to Christ

this is from
Joel Rosenberg's blog, and it's Copyright to him (Powerful stuff):

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
GOOD NEWS FROM IRAQ: Iraqi General Says Record Number of Muslims Turning to Christ

Unprecedented religious freedom has finally come to Iraq because of U.S. military action there, and more Iraqi Muslims are becoming followers of Jesus Christ today than at any other time in the history of the country.

That was the message delivered by retired Iraqi General Georges Sada last night at a private dinner just outside of Washington, D.C., and then at McLean Bible Church in northern Virginia where Sada spoke to more than 1,000 people.

Sada and I first met by phone in March when I interviewed him for EPICENTER, the non-fiction book I'm writing about the future of the Middle East. Intrigued by his remarkable personal story, I invited him to come to Washington to share his experiences and perspective with our congregation. It was an extraordinary evening.

Sada described in detail how Saddam moved stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to Syria in the summer of 2002, a story that is now being closely analyzed by the CIA, DIA and Congressional intelligence committees. He received an emotional ovation when he described how he refused to execute U.S. and British prisoners of war in 1991, despite direct orders by Qusay Hussein, Saddam's son. That move led to his dismissal from the military in February 1991, though -- thank God -- not to his own execution.

Just as moving were the stories Sada shared about what God is doing in Iraq today. Such stories are rarely told in the American press, though the Washington Times, to their credit, covered Sada's visit, and ran an excellent front-page story this morning.

The Kurds in the north of Iraq, for example, are especially receptive to the gospel message and are converting to Christianity "by the hundreds," Sada reported. One evangelical church recently started in Kurdistan now has more than 800 people worshipping there every week, most of whom are new converts from Islam. Sada told me that some 5,000 Iraqis have publicly identified themselves as new followers of Christ since Iraq was liberated, and that an estimated eight out of ten Iraqi believers say they converted because Jesus appeared to them in dreams or visions.

In a new and very positive development, Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Kurdistan Regional Government in Irbil, has vowed to protect the ancient Assyrian Christian community there as well as new believers from persecution and violence. Sada and Dr. Terry Law, president of World Compassion, a Christian relief organization based in Oklahoma, met with Barzani last week. "I would rather see a Muslim become a Christian than a radical Muslim," Barzani told them, an absolutely remarkable statement by a Muslim leader in a land wracked by sectarian violence,

One of the things I found most inspiring was when Sada said that Saddam Hussein's throne room in his main palace in Baghdad had been turned into an evangelical church after the war. Once Saddam used that room to order thousands of people to be executed, but now the name of Jesus Christ -- the King of kings and the Lord of lords -- is praised there instead. Sada also said tens of thousands of Bibles were being printed in Iraq. Thousands more are being shipped into Iraq, and Christian programming is now available to Iraqis on satellite television.

Sada, a former air force fighter pilot who once served as a senior military advisor to Saddam Hussein, became the chief spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi during the interim government, just after the war. Now he serves as a senior national security advisor to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and has been helping redesign the new Iraqi military, along with his efforts to strengthen the Christian church in Iraq. His recent best-selling book, Saddam's Secrets: How an Iraqi General Defied and Survived Saddam Hussein, is an absolutely fascinating description of how Sada became a follower of Christ, rose through the ranks of the Iraqi Air Force, ended up working so closely with Saddam, and now works for peace and reconciliation in the name of Jesus.

Sada concluded the evening with a heart-felt message of thanks to the American people for liberating his country and said all peace-loving people should "kneel down and thank the [American] mothers and fathers who have sacrificed their sons and daughters for the sake of freedom in Iraq." He asked for patience as Iraq's fledgling democracy builds a foundation and finds its way. But he also said there is far more good news in Iraq today than is being reported by the national news media.

Why is he taking such risks to share the good news? I asked him. "There is an Arab proverb which says, 'Don't be a mute Satan,'" he told me. "If you know the truth, you have an obligation to tell everyone."


and the Washington Times article (Copyright to them):
'Good news' from northern Iraq
By Julia Duin
Published May 23, 2006

Retired Iraqi Gen. Georges Sada, a former fighter pilot-turned-Christian evangelist, says Kurds are converting to Christianity "by the hundreds" in northern Iraq.
Gen. Sada earlier reported that he had been told that Iraqi pilots, flying private planes, took weapons of mass destruction to undisclosed locations in Syria in 2002.

The "good news" from Iraq's turbulent religious scene, consisting mainly of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim militias battling each other, is from the Kurds, he said. Kurds are creating a constitution that does away with Shariah, or Islamic law, a move counter to trends in other Muslim countries such as Afghanistan and Iran, where leaving Islam is a capital offense and Christian converts are often killed.
"No Christians in the Kurdish territory are persecuted," he said yesterday in an interview.

Gen. Sada, 66, who lives in Baghdad, cited growing numbers of evangelical Christians in the Kurdish city of Irbil and a recent church conference of 854 Christians at the city's Salahaddin University as demonstrations of the Kurds' willingness to protect religious freedom.
He added that Nechervan Idris Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish regional government in Irbil and nephew of former Iraqi Governing Council President Massoud Barzani, was extremely positive about evangelical Christians' efforts among Iraq's 4 million Kurds.

"He told me he'd rather see a Muslim become a Christian rather than a radical Muslim," the general said.
He spoke last night at McLean Bible Church, Northern Virginia's largest congregation, about his new vocation as director of the Iraqi Institute for Peace and president of the National Presbyterian Church in Baghdad.

"My foundation for peace is Christianity," said Gen. Sada, who was born an Assyrian Christian. "We must learn to love. Muslims will say they've got love and forgiveness, but I want to emphasize what Jesus Christ has said."
Gen. Sada has his work cut out for him. Outside the Kurdish areas, "Christians are in a very tough situation," he said. "Their children are kidnapped, and their money is taken by terrorists."

A fighter pilot like his father, Hormis Sada, Gen. Sada rose quickly in the Iraqi military in the 1960s and 1970s and was made a general in 1980. During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, he was responsible for interrogating U.S. and allied pilots shot down over Iraq.
The foreword to his recent book, "Saddam's Secrets," is written by retired Air Force Col. David Eberly, whose plane was shot down Jan. 19, 1991. Col. Eberly evaded capture for three days before he was found and taken to Baghdad.

"Suddenly I found myself in the presence of a man who, despite the power he had over me, still seemed to respect my human dignity," Col. Eberly wrote of Gen. Sada.
When Saddam Hussein's younger son, Qusay, demanded that the 24 pilots in Gen. Sada's custody be killed, the general refused. He was imprisoned for a week, released, then discharged from the military on Feb. 5, 1991. But he kept his extensive military contacts, who told him of Saddam using private planes to fly weapons of mass destruction to Syria in 2002.

But it was not until April 2004, when Jordanian intelligence reported foiling an al Qaeda plot to unleash 17.5 tons of explosives, including sarin nerve gas, in downtown Amman, that he decided to go public with what he knew.
"I thought, 'Wait a minute,' " he recalls. "The weapons must have fallen into the hands of terrorists." About the same time, he encountered Terry Law, the Tulsa, Okla., founder of World Compassion, a Christian aid group, who put him in touch with a book publisher.

"God had brought this together," the general said, "and I prayed about this and decided to go ahead. But this decision was not easy, as there's a vacuum of security in Iraq."
A week after the general's book came out in January, he was summoned by Rep. Peter Hoekstra, Michigan Republican and chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to talk about weapons of mass destruction under Saddam. No one knows where they are in Syria, the general said, because the men who flew the lethal weapons into Syria aren't talking.

"It's not easy for pilots to say, 'Yes, I transported weapons of mass destruction,' " he said.

No comments: