Listen: Pastor Sami Youkhana in conversation with Stephen O’Doherty
One of the first people groups to embrace the Way, the Assyrians can trace their Christian heritage back to the first century AD.
Their civilisation goes back much further, to Ancient Mesopotamia in 2500 BC.
The language of the Assyrians was Aramaic, the language spoken by Christ. It is still spoken by Assyrians today, albeit in a modern form.
Like many ancient people groups the Assyrians have faced long term dislocation, disruption and persecution. In recent years hundreds of thousands of Assyrians have fled Iraq and Syria as a consequence of the ongoing wars in the Middle East, from the Iraq war through to the current conflicts with ISIS in Syria.
Sami Youkhana was one of the multitude of Assyrians seeking refuge in Jordan, hoping for resettlement in the West.
It was in a refugee church in Jordan where, despite having been an observant member of one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions, that Sami first grasped the personal significance of the gospel. It was among the refugees in Jordan that he planted his first church.
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Today, just a decade and a half later, Sami is planting church in Australia and working among fellow refugees, serving their temporal and spiritual needs.
It was a genuine delight when I recently sat with Sami to hear part of his story. This feature also includes the music of Ghassan Potros, a popular worship and gospel singer.