International Week Chapel Service: DBU Welcomes S.A.L.A.M. in the Holy Land Founder Rani Espanioly

Rani Espanioly speaking in Chapel

"Isn't Jesus awesome and worthy to be praised? One day, we will be one big, happy family of every nation, tribe, and tongue in eternity worshiping Him for eternity. I'm looking forward to this day." (Rani Espanioly)

This past month, the DBU Family celebrated International Week, honoring and recognizing the over 50 different countries represented on campus. To kick off the week, Patriots joined together for International Chapel on Monday. Throughout the service, DBU students read scripture and led worship in a number of different languages prior to hearing from Rani Espanioly.

Rani Espanioly is an Arab Christian who was born and raised in Nazareth, Israel. Espanioly attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he obtained his master's in Islamic studies. He now works closely with Texas Baptists churches to help equip individuals to reach out and share the gospel with their Muslim community members. Chiefly, Espanioly and his wife Hannah are the founders of Serving Among Local Arab Ministries (S.A.L.A.M.) in the Holy Land, which mobilizes Arab Christians to spread the gospel in the Middle East.

"I'm Arab, Palestinian, Christian, an Israeli citizen, an American, and I'm married to a Texan," Espanioly shared. "I'm a follower of Jesus and I lead a ministry called S.A.L.A.M. in the Holy Land. I am thankful for the opportunity and privilege that Dallas Baptist University has given a Nazarene. Let me tell you, a great thing came from Nazareth. His name is Jesus Christ, and He is my Lord and Savior."

Espanioly described his rebellion before coming to know Christ, explaining that before he encountered Jesus, he remembers throwing his mother's New Testament Bibles and Scripture cassette tapes in the trash, annoyed by her love for Him.

"Yes, I had rejected Jesus to the point that I couldn't stand my mom and her devotion to the Lord anymore," he shared. "But when I reached a dead end in my life, God showed up to the scene. He started forming a new life for me in Him and on January 3, 2000, Jesus transformed my life and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior."

Jesus Christ gave Espanioly a new heart to love the very people groups he had once hated. Instead of extending hatred towards these people, Espanioly began praying for them and serving them.

"Friends, beloved: Jesus, our Lord, our living and loving God, is the God of abundant chances; He is waiting for us to return to Him," Espanioly said, reflecting upon his own story. "You may still be rejecting Jesus, but Jesus is still waiting for you. Don't turn your back on Him. Jesus extends His Good News to you and is ready to set you free, to bring you back, to love you, and to grant you eternal life in Him."

For his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, Espanioly encourages the Church to be faithful in sharing the Gospel. In the New Testament, Jesus claimed Himself to be the Good News that people had been waiting on for so many years. "Look at the world surrounding us. Look at the nations. Look at Russia and Ukraine. Look at the Israeli–Palestinian conflict," Espanioly urges. "People are still waiting for Good News!"

In closing, Espanioly asked the Patriot family to be in constant prayer for unbelievers in Nazareth and to remain fervent in their love and pursuit of Christ.

"If you are a Believer, don't give up. Keep praying. If you are transformed by the love of Jesus and his gospel, don't compromise, and don't undermine the power of Christ in you," he said. "Now go out from this building and proclaim His Good News."

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.