Hikmat Kashouh is the senior pastor of Resurrection Church Beirut (previously Hadath Baptist Church), a vibrant and growing missional church located in the suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon. He is a Langham Scholar, gaining his PhD in Textual Criticism from the University of Birmingham, UK. Hikmat was previously the Academic Dean at Arab Baptist Theological Seminary, which is a member of Langham Literature’s college programs. He is still a research professor there. Last month, Hikmat’s book Following Jesus in Turbulent Times was published by Langham Global Library.
Hikmat Kashouh was born in November 1975, at the start of the 16-year-long Lebanese civil war. His mother could not reach hospital because of the shelling, but by God’s grace Hikmat was born safely. During the years of Syrian occupation, Hikmat’s people were killed, women were raped, national resources were plundered, and their dignity was stolen. He writes in his book:
“I remember how frightened we children were of the Syrian army at checkpoints. Our hearts would be in our mouths. Our stomachs were always upset from anxiety. Our house was bombed a number of times, relatives lost their lives, and beloved friends went missing. Ultimately, my father died as a result of the war.”
War, displacement, a lack of parental supervision, conflicts at home, a shortage of resources, and a lack of encouragement all contributed to Hikmat failing academically. But by 16 years of age, Hikmat’s uncle had helped him set up a small business in Beirut selling car parts.
Life Changed Forever
He was hugely influenced by his father’s friend Brother Anthoon who “followed Jesus passionately”. One day Brother Anthoon invited 17-year-old Hikmat to a church service, which changed his life forever. The preacher gave an invitation to follow Jesus and he accepted.
Since then, Hikmat was a different person – at 21, he was called to the ministry and he studied theology. He gained his masters in Prague where he met his wife Krista. In 2004, he received a Langham scholarship and moved with his family to Birmingham, UK to study for a PhD.
He returned to Beirut where he was appointed Academic Dean at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. Soon he was also pastoring Hadath Baptist Church (now Resurrection Church Beirut), and over time this became his primary role.
“My personal journey – growing up during the civil war, studying and living abroad, being a husband and father – has helped me tremendously in leading and shepherding my church. Praise God that in his economy nothing is wasted. I am also very aware that I am where I am today because of the people who believed in me, and it is my desire to do the same for others, creating opportunities for them, especially if they are underprivileged.”
Purpose of Hikmat Kashouh’s Book
In his book Following Jesus in Turbulent TimesHikmat uses the powerful testimony of how Resurrection Church Beirut has followed Jesus by showing compassion to refugees.
He said he wrote the book “to share our miraculous story of transformation. I want the whole world to hear what God has been doing through our church and how we have been serving refugees from Iraqi and Syrian backgrounds. It’s sharing how we are making disciples, and how the refugees have transformed us too.”
He hopes the book will “encourage churches in the West to be more proactive in serving their communities especially those of different backgrounds to theirs”.
Serving Our ‘Enemies’
His church welcomed in Syrian refugees, despite the 16-year civil war when Syria were their enemies.
“We have experienced the tragedy of the war, we were refugees ourselves. Our house was hit six times, we moved from one place to another, and when the Syrians came to Lebanon we took the bold step of obeying our Saviour to serve those who had persecuted us, you could call them our enemies.
“As a result of that, we provoked the community to ask the big question: Why are you doing this? Why do you love us? Why are you serving us? Why are you willing to put time and energy and resources into helping and serving us: and the answer is Jesus!”