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Monday, December 7, 2009

Coptic Priest Fearlessly Spreading God's Word

CBN News Senior International Correspondent

Egyptian evangelist Father Zakaria Botros is one of the most controversial figures in the Middle East.

He's a born again Coptic priest who's led thousands of Muslims to Christ via the Internet and television-- and militant Muslims want him dead because of that.

Zakaria is perhaps the most hated man in the Middle East. He's confronting Islam with an "in your face style" of TV and Internet evangelism.

"Muslims are fainting. They are brainwashed," he said. "They believe that Islam is the most beautiful religion in the world."

CBN News spoke with Amani Mustafa, co-host of Father Zakaria's show Truth Talk. Click play for her comments on how the priest's efforts are helping Muslims in the Arab world.

Click here to watch

"You cannot preach to him gently about your beliefs because he rejects all of them," Zakaria explained about his style. "You have to awaken him. And my method is a short, sharp shock. Which means an electric shock."

It's a jolt that's leading Muslims to critically examine their own faith, he added. Then they start posing questions to Islamic religious leaders. When they go unanswered, they begin to question their faith.

That's the story of one woman on a Middle East talk show. She asked her co-host Sheik Jamal why Islam treats women as possessions to be used by men for sexual gratification. Zakaria said that part of her faith is hard to accept.

His weekly 90-minute television program, Truth Talk airs Friday during prime time throughout the Middle East. It's broadcast on the al-Hayat satellite channel and is watched by nearly 60 million Arabs.

Zakaria's Internet discussion show Pal Talk is broadcast online for six hours every Tuesday and Thursday.

He recently celebrated his 75th birthday and says he's faced many hardships and challenges during his life journey.

Perhaps the greatest affecting his spiritual walk was the tragic slaying of his older brother more than 60 years ago.

"He was not only a Christian, but he was a believer-- a true believer," Zakaria recalled.

Zakaria said when his brother was in his twenties he started to share Christ with anyone who would listen-- Coptics and Muslims alike. He was murdered by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood in 1947, They were very powerful in those days and they killed him," Zakaria said. "They cut his tongue and beheaded him. It was very hard."

The priest was a teenager at the time and inherited his brother's Bible. He said the notes written on the pages inside helped him to know Christ.

Zakaria thought good works would help him get into Heaven. It wasn't until he studied the writings of Cyril-- the fourth century bishop of Jerusalem-- that he came to believe in redemption and salvation through grace.

He fell on his knees and prayed.

After that, Zakaria walked into another kind of service-- a ministry to Muslims that led to imprisonment and eventual exile from Egypt in 1989.

He started Pal Talk while living in England and began his television broadcasts in 2003.

Today, he is in hiding. Al Qaeda terrorists have placed a $60 million bounty on his head and that has made him cautious, but unafraid.

"Because I believe that I am in the hands of God and He protects me and there is no fear," Zakaria said. "Jesus said don't fear and there are about 366 promises in the Bible, don't fear.

So, Islam's public enemy number one presses on.

"People see the program on the TV, but I see the hand of God's work among all of them in the heavenly TV," he said. "I see by faith what God is doing among Muslims today.

"I'll be so happy to have my life ended on earth because I will start my eternal life with Jesus Christ whom I love," Zakaria added.

*Original broadcast November 30, 2009.

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