Jean-Louis Kassis of London City Mission
Transformed from Captivity to Liberty.
I was born in Beirut, Lebanon, into ill health and poverty. My dad took to drink which caused him to be angry and he physically and emotionally abused me. My godfather also sexually abused me for many years though at the time I thought he was giving me love.
Then my dad started attending the Baptist church and his behaviour changed. He became a deacon and then a pastor in a church on the Muslim side of Beirut. His change in behaviour confused me. At the outbreak of the civil war in Beirut my dad moved to a church on the Christian side of Beirut; but as the war intensified our home was hit by two bombs causing my dad to lose his hearing. I was very pleased when he left the church.
At the age of 14 I saw murder for the first time when a shop keeper was shot on refusing to hand over his money to two intruders. I saw blood gushing out of his belly as he shouted and screamed for help. This had a deep effect on me for a long time and led me to join the Christian militia and I permanently carried a pistol.
By the age of 17 I was into meditation and black magic. I was trying to forget the pain and be strong so I started drinking heavily, smoking 60 cigarettes a day and taking hashish. I seriously considered taking my life. However, I decided to join the army where I became a sergeant and was responsible for 300 recruits. I was searching for real love, truth and joy so I became a Muslim, fasting at Ramadan and praying five times a day.
In the army I was unjustly imprisoned for 45 days where I was badly tortured every morning, lunchtime and evening. This made me pray more to Mohamed but to no avail. I then remembered the story in the Bible of the prodigal son who went away from his dad and did a lot of wrong things until he came back home again.
On 3rd April 1986 I prayed to Jesus and asked Him to come into my life and take away the case against me. The following day the prison door opened and I said to God, ‘Please I cannot handle any more’. The captain came to me and told me that I could go home because everything was OK. But he did not give me my documents so I thought he would shoot me in my back and then say I was trying to escape. It wasn’t until I was on the bus that I believed I was really free and I went straight to the Bible Society bookshop and bought a Bible which is still with me now.
I continued to search for love and respect. One day my close friend was killed and at his funeral I hugged his crying mum and she told me I was now her son.
I went back home and drank until I lost my senses. A Christian friend saw the condition I was in and prayed for me. From then my life began to change. I stopped smoking and drinking and in 3 months I was like a new man. I was a new baby. I started going to church and I haven’t looked back. God slowly took me on a journey to the point when I was ready to serve Him.
My first mission trip was to the borders of Iraq, Syria and Turkey to help the Kurdish people who were running from the war and from Saddam Hussein. Next I joined the discipleship training school (DTS) with YWAM (Youth with a Mission). During this time we had a week of forgiveness. It was very hard for me to write down the names of all the people I needed to forgive and then to forgive them. I had to travel for five hours to go and forgive the man who was responsible for my arrest and imprisonment. On my release from prison I had promised him that one day I would kill him. When a man from the Middle East says such a thing he means it, it is not a joke. So when I met him he was very afraid. When I forgave him it felt like a hundred tons fell from my shoulders. My next difficult task of forgiveness was to forgive my godfather. I visited his grave I declared before God that I had forgiven him. Finally I went to my dad and told him how much I loved him and was so sorry that I had been so arrogant. This brought tears to his eyes.
I continued studying with YWAM and God taught me His way for my life and is still teaching me. I came to England with YWAM and then on to minister in Morocco for 5 weeks.
In 1994 I with YWAM was then led to minister in Amsterdam, in the red light district amongst the sex workers and drug addicts. After further training I became a full time missionary with YWAM in Beirut. God opened the door for me to minister in a prison in Lebanon for 3 years.
I had been continually giving out with no input to my life and I needed to recharge my batteries. God opened a door for me to return to London for further study for 3 months with YWAM. I spent the next 3 months on a placement with Teen Challenge. This led to me staying with them for 7 years until I was made redundant because of lack of government funding.
In 2006 I joined London City Mission and I am working at the Webber Street Centre for the homeless to minister to the needy people who live on the streets and I also work amongst the Arabic people in Ealing Broadway.