The only thing lacking is the obedience of the church to go out and reach these people. – George Saieg
By MARK ELLIS
ASSIST News Service
May 15, 2007 – TheScroogeReport.com Post
DEARBORN, MICHIGAN — Only a few miles from Ford Motor Company headquarters, the Muslim call to prayer pierces the cacophony of late-afternoon street noise. Outside the mosque after Friday prayers stands a pastor distributing Christian literature, bravely engaging any who will hear him speak.
“I want to see every Muslim in America have the opportunity to hear the gospel,” says Pastor George Saieg, founder of Arabic Christian Perspective (www.ministrytomuslims.com). Pastor Saieg, originally from northern Sudan, grew up in a Christian family caught in the genocidal violence that swept over his native land like a tsunami terror wave.
Desperate for any escape, he won a lottery for a green card, which allowed him to come to the U.S. in 1996. Saieg found work in a liquor store in Anaheim, California, where armed intruders robbed him at gunpoint four times. “I believe God was preparing me, because working with Muslims is no less dangerous,” he says.
In the liquor store, he met several African-American Muslims. “I started talking with them and I found out they didn’t know anything about Islam,” he notes. “I was hurt, because the black people in Sudan were killed by Muslims.”
Like most immigrants, work preoccupied his first few years in the U.S. But after the attacks of September 11, God placed a burden on his heart to reach his fellow Arab-Americans with the gospel. “I saw this big vacant lot, and God gave me a vision for a book fair in a tent filled with Muslims coming to hear about Jesus,” he recalls.
He tracked down a doctor who owned the empty lot, and managed to secure arrangements to launch his book fair. Shortly after that, he opened the first Arabic Christian bookstore in the area. “God opened more and more doors,” he says. His bookstore is in a part of Anaheim known as “Little Arabia,” which boasts a population of roughly 150,000 Arabic Americans.
Later, Saieg organized outreaches to local Islamic centers, where he distributed Christian literature with special messages timed to coincide with American and Islamic holidays.
Last year, he attended the Arab International Festival, held in Dearborn, Michigan. The state of Michigan has approximately 490,000 Arabic Americans, with about 160,000 surrounding Detroit.
Pastor Saieg expected 50,000 people to attend the festival, but was amazed when 300,000 showed up. “The Nation of Islam started in the Detroit area, and this area is really challenging,” he notes. “In Dearborn there are blocks and blocks of streets where only Muslims live, and only Muslims run for political office.”
A few years ago, Muslims won a lawsuit that entitled them to amplify the call to prayer five times a day from loudspeakers atop mosques in Dearborn. “You can hear it loudly a half-mile to a mile away,” Saieg reports.
“They have many mosques in Dearborn, and everybody in the community warned us not to go there after the Friday prayers,” he says. “They will chase you away; they will kill you,” he recalls being told.
Undaunted, Pastor Saieg set out. “I felt we had to go there. After all, we’re not in Saudi Arabia; we’re in the United States.”
When he went to the mosque in Dearborn, he was amazed to discover it wasn’t only the call to prayer blaring over large speakers, but an entire two-hour ‘khotba’ or sermon. “The imam was preaching about jihad in America. He said, ‘Don’t be linked with the infidels; don’t be friends with them; don’t learn from them.’”
“It was a very moving, powerful speech, filled with hatred,” he laments. “This is the kind of speech that could lead to the destruction of America.”
At the Arab International festival in Dearborn, Pastor Saieg distributed the Jesus Film on DVD, as well as tract materials. “I looked at thousands and thousands of people around me, and I was crying to myself,” he recalls. “They were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Pastor Saieg uses John 10:16 to underscore his sense of mission, when Jesus says, “I have other sheep I must bring also.” Saieg believes there are many “sheep” inside Islamic centers that will ultimately belong to Jesus.
“Jesus wants to use us to bring them out of the mosques,” he says. “The only thing lacking is the obedience of the church to go out and reach these people.”
Saieg was physically attacked during one of his outreaches in Southern California, but that doesn’t dissuade his urgent sense of mission. “I know my God is protecting me, and not one hair can fall off my head without his permission,” he says. “Until my job is over, no one can take my life. If my job is over, why do I want to stay even one more day here?” he asks. “I want to be with my Savior.”
Pastor Saieg faced dangers when he worked in a liquor store. “Which one is better, to die for Christ or to die for liquor?” he asks.
“That doesn’t mean I’m not afraid,” he adds. “Sometimes I’m shaking in front of a mosque. But once I start talking to one Muslim and see the value of talking to one Muslim I forget about any fears.”
Pastor Saieg will attend the Arab International Festival next month in Dearborn, and is looking for volunteers to go with him, as well as donations for the purchase of 50,000 “Jesus Film” DVDs and other materials.
“The church must be bold to stand up and share the love of Christ with the Muslim people. We have eternity to enjoy life, but only a short time to reach them with the gospel.”