Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat might have converted to Christianity before his death in 2004, suggested Christian writer and speaker RT Kendall, a close friend of his. Kendall revealed that Arafat wept while watching Mel Gibson's epic "The Passion of the Christ" a decade ago, and said that he would not be surprised to see his friend in heaven.
"It wouldn't surprise me to see him in heaven,' Kendall said in an interview with Premier. Christianity magazine. 'I'll tell you why. I prayed with him five times, anointed him with oil, I gave him a [salvation] prayer … I'm not saying I know that he's saved; I'm saying I wouldn't be surprised."
Kendall talked about how he initially met Arafat in 2002 during a visit to Israel and Palestinian territories. During the meeting, which went on for longer than planned, the two discussed the nature of Jesus — whether He died, was resurrected and ascended to heaven, as Christianity teaches, or whether He did not die, as the Quran suggests.
The Christian writer met Arafat on a number of other occasions, and in one instance he managed to obtain an early copy of "The Passion of The Christ," the most successful movie based on the life of Jesus ever made, and watched it with the Palestinian leader and other members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Kendall says that Arafat wept during the film, and after it finished, the Christian speaker took the Palestinian leader's hand and prayed with him.
"He took my hand and squeezed it," Kendall said. "He was sending me a signal and I knew I was getting through."
Despite Arafat's translator warning Kendall against trying to convert the Palestinian leader, Arafat had reportedly expressed interested in learning more about Christ from the Christian perspective.
In other meetings, Kendall encouraged Arafat to proclaim that Christ died on the cross, and to inspire other Palestinians to follow suit.
Kendall alleged that after Arafat's death on Nov. 11, 2004, he received two separate phone calls, one about a vision of Arafat in heaven, and another one where a man felt suddenly called to pray for Arafat — unknowingly at the hour of the Palestinian leader's death.
Arafat, who died in Paris, was initially suspected by French doctors to have suffered a massive stroke. His wife, Suha Arafat, has insisted that he was assassinated, however, and had a forensic team run tests on her husband's corpse in 2012.
A year later in 2013 she revealed that the tests showed that Arafat was poisoned with radioactive polonium.
"We are revealing a real crime, a political assassination," she told Reuters at the time, but did not accuse any country or person.