"It was a miracle because no one on earth can change bitterness and hatred toward an enemy and replace it with overwhelming love." -Samya Johnson
(Egypt)—As a Christian growing up in war-torn Beirut, Lebanon, she hated Muslims with a passion. But the power of God's Word broke through her bitterness and she discovered a love she never knew.
"I came to know the Lord when I was five-years-old in Sunday School," recalls Samya Johnson, cofounder of Call of Love Ministries. Her parents were first-generation born-again Christians. At a summer Bible camp program, she learned the crucifixion story.
The account of Jesus' death on the cross gripped her heart. "For the first time I realized Jesus died for my sins and that it's not enough to belong to a Christian family," she says. "I knew that if I didn't open my heart and accept Him as Savior and allow Him to wash my sins away, then I'm going to Hell."
Before she entered elementary school, Samya opened her heart to Jesus as Savior and Lord. "From that time on I knew my name was written in the Book of the Lamb."
In 1975, a sectarian civil war erupted between Christians-Maronites pitted against Muslims in various factions aligned with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. "Lebanon was the only Arabic country with a Christian president and a high population of Christians," she said. "The Muslims wanted to take over and control Lebanon."
Samya's family sought shelter in their Beirut basement during the heavy fighting. "We spent weeks in there because of the shells and bombardment," she recalls. "It became our shelter for the next 15 years. We had to walk a mile to get water," she recalls. After two years, her family exhausted their savings and they were forced to live by faith. "The Lord provided in amazing ways that none of us expected."
Samya said many of her school friends perished in the fighting. In 1989, she left Lebanon for Cyprus and eventually she got married and lived in Egypt. "The war caused me to have hatred and bitterness in my heart toward Muslims," she admits. During high school, Samya worked at an Arabic Christian radio station answering questions from listeners. When she accepted the part-time position, she didn't realize she would be getting letters from Muslims in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and other Middle East countries.
When she held one of their letters in her hands, a startling revelation hit her. "For the first time in my life I was able to touch something a Muslim had touched," she realized. "They were yearning for a loving God to feel peace and joy. I could see them as human beings. I was able to see and understand their hearts."
God began to work on Samya's unforgiving, stony attitude. "Before that, I didn't think they deserved to be saved or forgiven," she notes. Over several weeks, God spoke to her through the Scripture. "Something changed in me and I was crying a lot of the time. I realized that Jesus came to save them as well. God replaced the hatred and bitterness in my heart with His agape love. It was a miracle because no one on earth can change bitterness and hatred toward an enemy and replace it with overwhelming love. The only way to win over Islamic terror is through the Word of God. This is the only sword we have."
Click on the link provided to find out about the Call of Love Ministries Samya and her husband have founded.