The power of forgiveness

After losing his childhood home in Haifa to a Jewish family, George Kazoura turns to the bible and prayer to help him forgive.

George Kazoura (photo credit: Courtesy)
George Kazoura
(photo credit: Courtesy)
George Kazoura has as much reason as any Arab to hate Israelis. After all, he lost his childhood home in Haifa to a Jewish family. Yet he assures with no hesitation that the land he lives in belongs to and should always belong to Israel.
“You cannot deny the truth of the Bible,” says Kazouza. “You cannot argue with God.”
George Kazoura was born in Haifa during the British Mandate times to Catholic Arab parents. As a young boy, he witnessed thousands of Jewish immigrants arriving from Europe at the port of Haifa. But nothing prepared him for the turmoil which developed between the two peoples, which erupted into full-scale war in 1948. He and his family escaped the fighting and stayed with relatives in Nazareth.
A month later, when it seemed safe, they returned to Haifa, only to find a Jewish family squatting in their home.
Since all their personal and household belongings had been previously burned, they had no way to prove this used to be their family residence. Homeless and bitter, Kazoura wanted the destruction of the Jewish people. Back in Nazareth, the whole family of eight had to squeeze into a single room their relatives had built for them. Those 25 square meters served as their living room, bedroom, dining room and bathroom all in one.
This left such a tragic impact in his life, Kazoura grew up rebellious and headstrong and even rejected the faith of his parents.
“I wanted nothing to do with neither Jews nor Christians,” he recently recalled for The Christian Edition, though with a sense of regret.
Along with several peers, he joined a communist youth group in Nazareth.
The gang enjoyed causing trouble throughout the city. Meanwhile, his parents kept him in prayer. They had become genuine, God-fearing Christians and never gave up on their son. They tried relentlessly to bring him to church, not getting discouraged by his aggressive and violent behavior.
Finally in 1961, Kazoura gave in and decided to come to a Christian revival meeting in Nazareth. Little did his parents know that he agreed to attend because he planned to disrupt the service. Yet instead, he found it deeply moving and was greatly affected by what he had heard and seen.
That night, Kazoura gave his life to Jesus, and started praying and reading the Bible. Yet after having read the entire Bible in 10 months, he found himself frustrated that he, in fact, did not understand most of it. For years he had fed his mind with the tenets of atheism and communism, and it was hard for him to see the Bible as more than just an antiquated historical book.
Yet one evening, a light shone through in a most unusual way.
Kazoura then heard a voice inside telling him: “I forgave you all your sins and I don’t remember them. Now you have to forgive your Jewish brothers as I forgave you.”
This was not something Kazoura would have ever expected. His heart was still hard from all the pain he and his family had suffered at the hands of the Jews. He tried to ignore this voice in his heart and move on, but his life soon became empty. Kazoura knew he could not go any further if he did not do something about what was revealed to him.
What happened next turned this young Arab man’s life around completely. Kazoura returned to his old family house in Haifa, stood along the street outside and prayed a blessing for the Jewish people who had lived there since he had been made homeless. He made a decision to forgive them and to bless them from that day on. He gave up all the bitterness and hatred, and – amazingly – his anger was turned into compassion.
As a result of this sudden transformation, Kazoura was able to start a whole new life. From that moment on, the Jews were no longer his enemies but a beloved people. To forgive and to forget was the hardest yet most rewarding thing he had ever done.
“Ever since that year, in 1961, I have not experienced any hardships from the Jews… I have not experienced anything bad,” Kazoura now insists with a smile.
Still, there are new hardships he has to endure as a result. Sadly, they now come from fellow Arabs, and not only the Muslims. Today, Kazoura is an Evangelical pastor, and the fact that he blesses Israel is not well received among some Christians in the Galilee. It is treason, his detractors say, expecting him to be a true Arab by standing up against Israel.
For almost 20 years, Kazoura has run an orphanage called the House of Love and Peace in the village of Rama, in northern Galilee. Muslim children who had previously been taught to hate and kill infidels have been taught to love their Jewish neighbors and have received a better chance to succeed in life. Yet today the home has fallen into disuse as many in the Arab community have shunned the Arab Christian family which dares to be different.