Robinson, Stuart with Peter Botross. Defying Death – Zakaria Botross, Apostle to Islam. City
Harvest Publications: 2008, 152 pages.
A life of child-like boldness, strong obedience and submission, resulting in an unprecedented, global response – this could be a brief summary of the life of Father Zakaria Botross. An estimated 50 Million Arab viewers daily watch the latest episode on Satellite TV; an average of 3000 letters from Muslims are received per month leading to about 1000 decisions to receive Christ as saviour; every month over 7 Million hits are recorded on his website … and, we are told, that a considerable price money is set on his head by Muslim extremists – God is using his servant in remarkable ways. Who is Father Zakaria? Born in a small village near Alexandria, Egypt, in 1934, Feyez Botross stood out as a bright student. Nurtured in the Coptic Church he received his call to serve God as a priest when he was 24 years old and was renamed Father Zakaria Botross. On request of the Coptic Church leadership he perused some 38 volumes of the Early Church Fathers on their view how salvation is to be obtained. This transformed his life and teaching, and he soon became one of the most powerful public speakers of his day. Through many trials and persecutions, brought about by both political and church opponents, he grew in his faith and boldness to confess Christ amidst incredible hardships, which both he and his family had to endure. Eventually the threat on his life forced them to leave their home country and serve within the Coptic Church in Australia, England and eventually USA where he is still based today. As you read these lines he will celebrate 75 years of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Father Zakaria estimates that out of 100 listeners 20 are radicals, 60 are nominal Muslims, and 20 are genuine seekers of the truth. Is it worth all the effort? A letter from one of his listeners gives the answer: “I have been watching this program and I cannot deny the tremendous impact it has had on me. I desperately needed this program in my life to help me and other Muslims to see the truth clearly. I feel as if I’ve just been born again and become one of God’s children.” And author Stuart Robinson contends: “Through his love, zeal, courage, example and ministry, he increasingly reflects Jesus.” One would wish that this book would find many readers who are questioning the effectiveness of an apologetic approach in ministry among Muslims. For certainly within the Arab-speaking world this apologetic/evangelistic combination has had an enormous impact throughout the Middle East and indeed around the globe. Robinson muses: “If God has done such extraordinary things through an ordinary person like Zakaria, He can certainly do the same through you!” After reading through this fascinating biography of such a truly extra-ordinary personality in the hands of Christ one wonders however whether this is a helpful assessment. – For more insight visit <www.fatherzakaria.com>