Al Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad is a special place. Named after the 10th century Iraqi poet, the street rests on the banks of the Tigris River. Amongst its many alleyways a famous book market flourishes, there since the 13th century.
It was here that Mohsen* discovered a book called the Bible.
“I saw it in a book stall,” he explained, “but I knew nothing about it.” Mohsen, who was raised a Muslim, has wrestled with questions of faith since childhood. “In the city I was raised in, there were no Christians or churches,” he said. “The word ‘Christian’ was used to describe someone unclean. But I was not convinced.”
Different Perspective on God
“I always thought of God as being great in His love. Adults would tell us that God would send us into the fire for doing wrong. But I thought, ‘No, God is a loving God.’”
Mohsen was also an aspiring artist. But his career ambitions, like his questions about faith, distanced him from his family. “I asked to the go to the university to study art,” he explained, “but my family vehemently opposed it. They felt it disrespected our religion. But I viewed art differently and I moved away to pursue my dreams.”
For years, questions of faith nagged at Mohsen. When he began reading the Bible, he felt the truth fall into place.
Safe in Christ
“In 2003, I was living alone and immersed in the study of the Bible. I had also built a workshop In my home. After completing the New Testament, I felt so close to Christ that I made an image of the cross in clay and placed it on the wall above my fireplace. When my family saw it, they insulted and threatened me. Others threatened me as well. For the first time, I felt like a stranger on this earth but at the same time, I felt safe in Christ.”
Since then, the journey hasn’t been easy, but Mohsen has found strength in Jesus. “Finding a church was very difficult,” he explained. “There is enmity and fear between Muslims and Christians here. But I come to church to please God. Christ has changed my live. I can do all things because of God’s grace.”
It was through church that Mohsen became aware of FEBC’s FM station in Iraq. He joined the team three months ago as a writer and producer.
Radio’s Role of Changing Hearts
Reflecting on his new role in radio, Mohsen says, “I am sure there are many people like me, and they need a voice to reach them. That’s why I’m working in radio – it’s a medium that reaches people and gives them a voice.
“Radio can change hearts – it is changing hearts here as people learn about love, forgiveness, and hope. At our station, we don’t speak to listeners as Sunni or Shia or Christian. We speak to people as people,” he says. “We encourage people to listen to one another. We must work together to see positive change come to our country.”
Mohsen’s programs focus on culture in Iraq and promote peaceful dialogue among its conflict-ridden communities.
“My dream is that our broadcasts will one day reach all of Iraq.”
* Name changed to protect identity