From Scandinarvia, with love

It was very interesting to listen to Tom Hoglind sharing about his vivid experiences he has had throughout 4 decades with fellow Christian sects from one hand and fellow Muslims from the other.

Tom Hoglind, a young Swedish guy, had the vision of finding a country to make it his home. He had heard of the Middle Eastern countries where not many people had any idea of the Good News of Jesus Christ. When he first arrived in Lebanon in the year 1969 and saw the picturesque mountains, the magnificent climate and the hospitable people, he decided to make Lebanon his own home. He was adopted by the late Reverend Vahram Salibian and his wife as their second son after they lost their own son in a tragic accident.

Before the civil war erupted, he asked a young Armenian girl’s hand in marriage and Tom and Annie were married in the year 1974. He began to learn Armenian and Arabic through books and now speaks both languages better than me. He currently works for Bible Society in Lebanon and travels to all the Middle Eastern countries spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ, the savior of the whole of humanity.

The most striking and soul-enriching concept shared by Tom with the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church senior youth team on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 was that people - both Muslims and Christians - want to know that our love for them is genuine and we're not there just to evangelize to them, but to build wonderful friendship with them. It is a great blessing for Tom to have friends from all walks of life - Sunni, Shiite, Druze, Maronite, Orthodox, and others. As it is written in the Bible, our faith is futile even if one can perform miracles, but has no love.

Tom’s information about Jehovah's Witnesses was quite intriguing. I always thought all were being paid to go from door to door to talk to people about their faith. I didn't know that some of them were once Christians who had left the church because of continuous tension and divisions among the believers.

However, tensions and lack of love towards fellow believers are a constant threat for the church. But it is at those very hard moments that one should “stick around” and try to work things out with fellow believers. Growing out of tensions, and not by leaving the church, makes the group of believers stronger and more mature in their faith.