By MIKE COPELAND firstname.lastname@example.org
Wissam Al-Aethawi, a native of Baghdad, Iraq, who converted to Christianity from Islam and fled to America under threat of death, will discuss his experiences during a seminar planned Oct. 27 through Oct. 29 at New Road Church of Christ, 3100 S. New Road.
The public is invited to attend the three-part session that will include talks titled: “The Quran or the Bible?” “Evolution of Islam,” “Is Allah God?” and “Islam: Myth Buster,” among others, according to an information sheet provided by the church.
Al-Aethawi “was found hiding for his life on a farm in Pennsylvania,” but now serves as adjunct assistant dean of Arabic studies at the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock and directs a ministry aimed at sharing the gospel with Muslims living in Dearborn, Michigan, said Douglas Hamilton, minister at New Road Church of Christ.
“He spends time leading Muslims to Christ and has become one of the most sought-after speakers in our brotherhood,” Hamilton said. “He speaks lovingly but honestly, not trying to win an argument, but a soul.”
Al-Aethawi speaks English and Arabic fluently and knows the Quran, the holy book of Islam, by heart, Hamilton said. Al-Aethawi learned English by watching American-made movies and converted to Christianity after becoming disenchanted with Islam and securing a Bible on the black market, Hamilton said. He was baptized in a hotel swimming pool.
“He knew he could be executed for leaving Islam,” Hamilton said. “He quit going to the mosque where he lived, and the imams visited his family and said they needed to get him under control or they would.”
A civil engineer by trade who also served in the first Persian Gulf War, Al-Aethawi fled the Middle East when a building he had just left exploded, killing nearly 300 people, Hamilton said.
He ended up taking refuge on a farm in Pennsylvania owned by a Christian he had met online. He later attended the Sunset International Bible Institute in Lubbock, wrote a book and has started a second, and became a popular speaker at events sponsored by the Church of Christ.
“I’ve been to a number of his seminars, and he is very, very good,” Hamilton said. “He has a great sense of humor, and he wants to equip people of faith to reach out to Muslims. He tells Muslims about Christ and Christians about Islam. Anyone would learn a lot by attending.”
Hamilton said Al-Aethawi, whom he described as one of his closest friends, initially did not want to be photographed or filmed while leading seminars. He has changed that stance, Hamilton said. Al-Aethawi “is not hostile to Muslims, rather he’s brutally honest in a loving way,” Hamilton said.
Promotional material provided by New Road Church of Christ says there will be a 15-minute session for questions and answers following the second lesson on both Friday and Saturday evenings of the seminar.
Lessons start at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. on both Oct. 27 and Oct. Lessons start at 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Oct. 29. A potluck fellowship meal is planned for noon. The seminar will close with a final presentation at 6 p.m. titled “For We Do Not Wrestle.”