Salah lived in Algeria where nearly everyone is Muslim. In Koranic school, he learned to read the Muslim holy book. He also heard his teachers denounce Christians. They told how Christians had fought and killed many Muslims to claim the land of Palestine in those wars called the Crusades.

His teachers said, "Christians believe there are three Gods! They believe that Jesus is Godís Son! How can God have a Son? The Koran tells us that Jesus is only a great prophet."

This made Salah curious. He wanted to find out more about Christianity. Once he found a Bible and read it in secret, beginning in Matthew. He read Matthew 5, where Jesus talks about the poor, the peacemakers, and the persecuted being blessed. When Salah read this, he believed that the Bible was God's Word, not the Koran. But he knew of no one who could help him understand the Bible. When he came to the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6, he prayed it to God. Then he added, "O God, send me someone to help me understand your Word."

Nothing happened. Some time later, his father was ill and sent Salah to a Christian hospital for some medicine. There he heard the doctor speaking from the Bible. He went back on Sunday, and the doctor took him to the hospital chapel where Salah heard people singing and praying in his own Arabic language. That day he received the Lord into his heart.

When he was older, he began to work for the Bible Society as a traveling Bible salesman. His job was to go from village to village selling Bibles. Sometimes he would set up a little stand at the weekly markets.

At one village, someone bought a New Testament and took it directly to the mosque. The leader, the imam, and the man who had bought the New Testament hurried toward Salah with angry looks on their faces. Angry people began to crowd around them, ready to do whatever their leader asked them.

Salah told God he was ready to die if necessary. Then he began to explain the books he was selling. He pointed out that the Koran accepts parts of the Bible, such as the Law, the Psalms, and the Gospels.

Finally, the imam told the people it was all right to buy them. In seven minutes Salah had sold all the books in his two suitcases!

Salah's real troubles with the police began after the war in 1967 between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Being an Arab country, too, Algeria didn't trust any foreigners who might be friends of Israel. Salah, of course, was an Arab, but people distrusted him because they thought that Christianity was a foreign religion which had no place in a Muslim land.

Many times the police questioned and arrested him. Often he used those times to talk about his faith. Once the police asked if he sold his books to Jews, Christians, or Muslims. Salah answered, "I am introducing you to the Bible as something for everyone--not a Jewish book or a book on politics. I sell it to all who feel their need of one."

The police tried to get him to tell them the names of other Christians. They said, "You are an Algerian citizen. You must help your country!"

Salah answered, "I am an Algerian citizen and a Christian. I want to help my country, but as a teacher."

They told him, "If you won't cooperate with us, we will take away your bookselling permit and keep you from getting any other kind of work. Come back tomorrow and turn in your permit.''

Salah did as he was asked, but the police inspector said, "Salah, you're a good man. We only wanted to scare you because you were obstinate and wouldn't work for us. You can continue selling books."

Another time when he. was arrested, they asked him, "If Israel attacks us, would you fight with us or with the Jews?"

Salah replied, "I'm not for either side; I'm for Christ. War comes from Satan."

Then the Algerian police inspector sent for some Muslim religious leaders to try to persuade him to give up his Christian faith and become a Muslim again.

Salah told these leaders, "If I wanted to lie to you, it wouldn't be hard for me to say that I am a Muslim. But I am a Christian, and I can't be both at the same time. I can't follow two paths. There is only one path to God.''

The police inspector then asked Salah to repeat the Muslim creed, "There is no God but God, and Muhammad is his prophet." These words would make him a Muslim.

Salah refused.

The inspector told one of his officers, "Place your machine gun at his head and fire if he will not say the creed." The man placed his gun at Salah's head.

Salah answered, "I am not afraid. I will be happy to leave this world and be with God."

Instead of commanding the officer to fire, the inspector asked Salah if Christians prayed. When Salah said yes, the inspector asked him to pray so he could listen. Salah prayed for the poor and the sick, for the Algerian government, and for God's help in his own difficulties. Salah was not shot, but he was kept in jail.

The next day they questioned him from morning till night. They tried to trap him with trick questions. Then they prepared a false report which spoke against some missionaries. They promised him money, a job, and influence if he would sign it.

Salah answered, "I have never met anyone richer than Jesus Christ. Working for him is better than any job you can offer me."

The police finally let him go. But they made it impossible for him to work in Algeria and impossible for him to leave the country. So he fled by a secret route and went to France, knowing he would never be able to return to his native land.

Now Salah is witnessing among the hundreds of thousands of North Africans who live in France where they have gone to work. Although far from his home, he is still helping Africans to find their Savior.

 

From: They loved their enemies by Marian Hostetler, pag. 90-93, 1988, Herald Press,Scottdale, Pa, USA.

 

 

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