Mosab Hassan Yousef, the eldest son of a founding leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, told a church in Illinois Sunday how Christ changed his life of terror and violence to one that advocates love and forgiveness.
“To be honest with you, I’m still figuring out who I am,” Yousef, author of Son of Hamas, told the congregation at Christ Community Church in St. Charles during the Sunday worship.
Senior pastor Jim Nicodem had warned his members that the story of Yousef, now known as Joseph, was controversial and could possibly upset some, according to Kane County Chronicle.
Yousef was born to Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas, in Ramallah, West Bank, in 1978. He was preparing to become a freedom fighter, as Hamas leaders see themselves, to continue his father’s legacy, but the Bible changed his life.
Since he was a child, Yousef had seen Hamas killing and attacking Israelis in the name of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state. He was walking in his father’s footsteps until his life took a turn in the 1990s when Israeli forces arrested him, he said.
Yousef struck a deal with the Israeli intelligence Shin Bet and began to work for it, while his real intention was to help Hamas with information about their enemy. But he soon realized that Hamas tortured its own people in search for collaborators, and that created doubts in his heart about its sincerity, Yousef said. He was not sure if his own father was a good man, he said. “I had to think. I had to know the truth.”
Yousef said his enemies became his friends and his friends his enemies. But Jesus, he added, solved his problem. He began to follow His teaching to “Love thy enemies.”
Yousef began to study the Bible after he met a British tourist by chance in Israel in 1999. Six years later, he accepted Jesus as his God and savior. It was not about religion, Yousef said. It was about Jesus, who liberated him from “feelings of fear, shame and guilt.”
He said he took the decision to follow Jesus despite knowing that it would make him a “traitor in the eyes of my people.” As Yousef predicted, his family disowned him.
Yousef, who was granted political asylum in the United States in July 2010, said that Jesus’ teachings can bring true peace in the Middle East, especially between Israel and Palestine.
At a teleconference with Christian journalists in March 2010, he said he wanted Israel and Palestine to follow the principle of forgiveness and unconditional love. “I am not saying that Palestinians love Palestinians and Israelis love Israeli. No. The unconditional love [is for] our enemies. This way, if we learn we have enough strength to love our enemies to forgive them, there will be a way to move on.”
Nicodem told the Christ Community congregation Sunday that Yousef had a message for them, too. The price he paid for openly following Jesus, he said, should encourage people to put their trust in Christ.
“Put your hope in Christ. Let him be your prince of peace.”