PRISON BREAKTHROUGH FOR KURDISH MAN IN JOURNEY TO FAITH

“They put me in a 90×90 cm cell. Out of six months in prison, I spent 55 days in solitary confinement. I regard them as the best days of my life because in this place I was comforted and knew the Lord.”

Pastor Nihad Hassan, a Kurdish man from Syria, had a long journey of coming to faith in Christ, which culminated in his experiencing God’s presence and healing while in jail as a political prisoner. He shared his powerful story on SAT-7 ARABIC program My Life Journey, in an episode that attracted 26,000 views and over 900 comments on Facebook alone.

Nihad came from a non-Christian background and went through a number of difficulties in his childhood, which caused him to start asking questions about faith from the age of 12. He shared how he first heard God’s voice as a young man in the Kurdish militia. He was listening to a Christian radio program that was discussing the woman caught in adultery, and it made him realise that none of us is without sin.

Nihad’s journey towards faith in Christ continued as he became more involved in the Kurdish cause. The Kurds are one of the world’s largest people groups without a state and have been embroiled in a century-long fight for rights, autonomy, and ultimately an independent Kurdistan.

“I felt I didn’t have a home country, identity, or dignity,” Nihad said. “All countries are toying with us politically. At this stage I thought I wanted to belong, to have a home country. At that time, someone got me a book about how to become a new person. It discusses the troubles a person goes through, and at the end of the book there’s a small prayer. I prayed this prayer and found some words that I needed.”

BEHIND BARS

Nihad was imprisoned twice when he attempted to escape Syria to Europe. The first imprisonment was for just 12 days, while the second was for a period of six months. It was during this second spell behind bars that God revealed Himself to Nihad in a special way and worked powerfully in his life.

“At that place, I heard the voice of the Lord,” Nihad said. “He told me he loves me. In this place, I was filled with the Holy Spirit… I was comforted and found a friend who is closer than a brother.”

He shared how he received physical and emotional healing, and how he started witnessing to other prisoners.

“They accused me of being an apostate, but I told them that Jesus is my saviour. He is alive when all other prophets died. I told them it is like being stranded at sea trying to get the crew of a large ship to notice you, but they don’t and then a man comes in a small boat holding a light and coming to save me. I asked them, ‘Should I choose to continue trying to get the attention of the crew or go with the man in the small boat?’ This is Jesus,” Nihad said.

Eventually the prison warden helped him get out of jail, and Nihad went to Lebanon, where he started studying to become a pastor.

When the civil war broke out in Syria, Nihad’s family also moved to Lebanon, and they were critical of his Christian faith and theological studies.

“Today my father is asking me to return to my religion. My uncles rejected me, but a year ago one of them called me, saying, ‘Nihad, I am going to Europe and the first thing I am doing is to become a believer’. My cousins also believed. One of my sisters believed and got baptised. I know many members in my family are proud of me.”

A CALL FOR PEACE

Pastor Nihad raises the Kurdish cause around the world, and he has travelled to South Africa, South Korea, Egypt, and Thailand to speak for his people. During his interview on My Life Journey, he made an emotional call for peace:

“I hope that all the wars end because the war separated us. It hurt us. I pray for peace in this country and the Arab world. I pray that we wouldn’t have conflicts because I have a sister in Germany, my parents in Switzerland, a brother here, and a sister in Türkiye. Politicians are still in conflict and hurt their countries everywhere. The one who tasted war knows how horrible it is. We miss our country; we can only go as far as the borders… Our family and many Kurdish families are separated from one another because of political conflicts.”

The episode prompted a flood of phone calls and social media engagement as viewers responded to Pastor Nihad’s story. One of them was a man called Antoun from Lebanon, who called to share the impact Pastor Nihad had had on him: “I came to faith because of my brother Nihad. I saw him in some pictures, and he was the first Kurd I knew who had received Christ. Seeing him greatly encouraged me. Please ask him to pray for me and for my family. Pastor Nihad is a blessing, and may God use him as a light to the whole world.”

My Life Journey is a new program on SAT-7 ARABIC that started airing in December. It gives a platform for Christian leaders and influencers to be vulnerable about their struggles and share how God’s grace has helped them to overcome trials.

 

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