Monday, August 6, 2012
She hated Muslims, then God changed her heart
By Mark Ellis
Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (ANS) -- As a Christian growing up in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, she hated Muslims with a passion. But the power of God’s Word broke through her bitterness and she discovered a love she never knew.
“I came to know the Lord when I was five-years-old in Sunday School,” recalls Samya Johnson, cofounder of Call of Love Ministries. Her parents were first-generation born-again Christians. At a summer Bible camp program, she learned the crucifixion story.
The account of Jesus’ death on the cross gripped her heart. “For the first time I realized Jesus died for my sins and that it’s not enough to belong to a Christian family,” she says. “I knew that if I didn’t open my heart and accept him as Savior and allow Him to wash my sins away, then I’m going to hell.”
Before she entered elementary school, Samya opened her heart to Jesus as Savior and Lord. “From that time on I knew my name was written in the Book of the Lamb.”
In 1975, a sectarian civil war erupted between Christians-Maronites pitted against Muslims in various factions aligned with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. “Lebanon was 70% Christian,” Samya notes. “Lebanon was the only Arabic country with a Christian president and a high population of Christians. The Muslims wanted to take over and control Lebanon.”
Samya’s family sought shelter in their Beirut basement during the heavy fighting. “We spent weeks in there because of the shells and bombardment,” she recalls. “It became our shelter for the next 15 years.” Their basement was dark and humid, with no electricity or water, a perfect environment for mice and cockroaches to thrive.
“We had to walk a mile to get water,” she recalls. Her father, an interior designer, lost his job during the conflict. After two years, they exhausted their savings and the family lived by faith. “The Lord provided in amazing ways that none of us expected.”
During cease-fires, Samya attended school. One day as she walked home from school a battle broke out nearby. A shell exploded only 30 feet away from her.
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