George’s Story

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

George was the type of man you would not want to meet in a dark alleyway. George was 6 feet tall and 350 pounds. He was built like a bear, but meaner. He hardly ever laughed and carried a lot of baggage throughout the years. Of course, what do you expect from a man who was shot several times while driving a taxi?

There was a presence that he carried with him and when you sat next to him or stood with him, you were afraid. It was as if there was a warning siren that blared “Leave me alone,” to anyone within a half-mile radius. George lived on the Mount of Olives and he was the only traditional Greek Orthodox Christian out of three families living there.

One summer, George’s family invited him to a Christian conference in the Galilee. He agreed to go because he was told there was be free food and a swimming pool. However, upon arriving they found that the swimming pool was closed.

The three days of the conference were filled with prayer, singing, and worshiping for 12 hours a day. George was not seen except during the meal times.

The final day of the conference included a time of prayer and singing – one could feel the presence of the Lord in that place; joy, peace, and love filled every room. The last forty minutes before the conclusion of the conference there were a few heads at the front bouncing and jumping up and down with joy.

Walking down the aisle, at the very front, you could see that it was George who was jumping up and down. For the first time in his family’s life, they saw George smile – It was the joy of the Lord written all over his face.

George bent down and kissed his nephew’s cheek and said, “Jesus changed my life! I am a new person—I have joy all through my feet!” George’s family jumped and danced right there with him - It was an experience they have said they will never, ever forget until the day they die. If George can be changed, then anyone can be changed. On the bus ride back, there was hardly anybody at the front of the bus; everyone was sitting at the back around George, hearing him tell his stories and the experiences that have held him down for years.

George was never the same. All you had to do was look at his face to see the joy. Upon returning to Jerusalem, George said, “We need a church here in Jerusalem.” A few months later George’s family asked him to help start a new church, which was called Calvary Jerusalem Church, in an unreached Muslim area one mile from Calvary’s cross. George was one of the main leaders. He would stand at the front of the church before every service welcoming everyone who entered. Yet the neighborhood and people in the area did not like the fact that a “Christian cult” church had just opened and they began to see immediate resistance.

The church building was robbed a couple of times, church vehicles were vandalized, and there were a couple of fires on the outside walls of the church. Thankfully, no one ever got hurt, but it was very close on several occasions. Before George lived on the Mount of Olives as a way to isolate himself. Now he saw this as a beautiful opportunity and began to witness to everyone on the mountain.

There were many radical Islamic extremists living there, but that did not stop him. One evening George was at home when a loud bang sounded at his front door. He walked to the door and opened it to find his elderly neighbor out of breath, asking George to help him. Before George’s life was changed, he would have slammed the door in the man’s face and told him he was busy. But now he was a changed man. Seeing that his neighbor was very scared and worried, my uncle decided to invite him into his home. In our culture inviting someone into your home means that you are willing to stand with this person, even laying down your life for him.

As George stepped out into the courtyard, several radical Muslim men attacked him. He was beaten repeatedly with metal bars with sharp edges on his face and head, until he took his last breath. He left behind five children and a hurting, confused wife. He died at the front doorstep of his home, a martyr. People from all around the country and city heard about what happened to George. Even people from the U.S. and surrounding Arab countries heard of his courageous sacrifice.

George’s relatives have said, “I will never forget what the elderly neighbor testified at the funeral. He said, “George was never the same after that conference at the Sea of Galilee. Many people got really angry with him for sharing his faith, especially the radicals in the community. As they were beating him they yelled that this was the Christian man, he deserved it.”

Shortly afterward, the church that George envisioned and helped us start was shut down due to the pressure on the owner of the building and the Islamic radicals’ resistance to our ministering in the community. Through this we learn that great things come at a greater cost.

Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.