Mohammad Yamout barely escaped Beirut with his life, so why would he go back into the chaos of Lebanon embroiled in strife four years later and begin witnessing for Christ?
“There was a girl I was in love with. I could have gotten married to her and stayed. I could have taken these job offers,” Mahammad says on a Your Living Manna video. “But somehow I went back and when I went back in 1989 it was war in Lebanon.”
Mohammad’s dad was Palestinian involved in fighting Israel who took refuge in Lebanon and married Mohammad’s mother. When he disappeared, mom had to work two jobs to support the three kids, and Mohammad, lacking parental supervision, frequented the streets.
There was a nearby church that took in the local kids for Sunday school, and Mohammad, who was Muslim, attended for the entertainment and free food. At age 14, he was challenged to receive Jesus, but he waited until he got home in his bed to do it.
There on the plastic sheet he slept on, he asked Jesus into his heart at 3:00 a.m.
“Lord Jesus, please help me,” he prayed. “I am desperate. I’m helpless. I’m hopeless. I cannot take it anymore. I need you and with tears at that time and then within half an hour I slept, and I woke up in the morning excited. I took one of the many New Testaments from Sunday school and put it in my school bag and went to school and started telling people about my experience.”
He was thrilled that he had found the answers to his troubling questions, not where he expected in Islam, but in Christianity, and he boldly told everyone about Jesus. This turned more than a few heads.
“Everybody was wondering why this was happening?” he says. “I was on fire at that time and I couldn’t be quiet. I had to talk. I had to tell people what happened with me. I felt at rest, I felt at peace. All the answers came to the questions that made my life a dilemma and were traumatizing me because being raised without a father is traumatizing to you. God wanted to save me because God had a plan.”
His overly zealous evangelism earned the ire of his neighbors, who pressured his mother to do the Muslim thing: to kick him out. That was no problem for Mohammad. He began sleeping in the warehouse where he worked.
After extremists tried to kill him his pastor hid him for six months in his hometown. When he returned, he continued his bold witness for Christ. He joined an evangelical teacher in street evangelism in Beirut until the teacher got killed.
“You’re next,” his pastor warned him and made arrangements for him to travel to the United States with a student visa to get his undergraduate degree from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina in 1986.
Mohammad graduated with an accounting degree in 1989 and was offered a job by Arthur Andersen to work in New York and another by Price Waterhouse in Cairo due to his fluency in Arabic. He was in love with a pretty girl too.
“But somehow the Lord did not let me take these jobs and did not let me stay in the U.S. I felt that I needed to go back.”
Lebanon was in the throes of armed conflict, and Mohammad’s old church was almost non-existent. The pastor had fled, as had most of the members. Only four older women still met together.
Undaunted, Mohammad began ministering in the streets and visiting the brethren of the church, encouraging them to regroup and the Lord brought the increase to 100 members in 1991 when the pastor returned and took charge. Out of the church, Mohammad married a Christian convert, one to whom he witnessed incessantly at Beirut’s American University.
But now that pastor had returned and took charge of the church, Mohammad felt the desire to prove himself in business. Today, he recognizes that this is the part of his history where he veered slightly off course because God was calling him to full time ministry.
“There was ambition and I wanted to pursue that dream, and I was trying to convince God of that dream,” he acknowledges. “Since the day he saved me, he called me into the ministry. I knew that he gave me the talent, he gave me the burden. He gave me the vision to reaching out to people, but I refused to answer God’s call. I wanted to do it my way.”
At age 25, he quickly accumulated half a million dollars in assets, including a factory and several stores. He bankrolled the church and helped needy people, but he felt he wasn’t at the center of God’s will for his life.
Then in 1995, “God got out the big stick,” Mohammad says.
From $500,000 he plummeted down to nothing. Faced with debts and lawsuits, he went bankrupt and to prison for six months. Read the rest: Christian missionary in Lebanon (Mohammad Yamout).