What are the odds that a son born to a Muslim father, raised for more than a decade in Saudi Arabia, schooled in western philosophy and psychology, and then trained in eastern mysticism, should become a resolute Christian and ambassador of the gospel? Small odds indeed, when counted by human probability. But Dr. Mateen Elass sees this prelude to his  ministry as witness to the amazing power of God to find and call His children to service-regardless of the odds.

Mateen was the second of four children born to a Syrian Muslim who had married an American while studying at the University of Wisconsin. Some years after Mateen’s birth, the family moved to Saudi Arabia where his father worked as an oil company executive. During his early teens Mateen began a search for God, largely through reading. For six years he focused on eastern mysticism and meditation including a stay at an ashram in India. Yet his nagging questions, Who is God? How can I know him? remained unanswered.

God guided Mateen toward an answer to those questions by bringing him into contact with genuine Christians. They repeatedly pointed him to Christ and challenged him, “Read the four gospels of the New Testament. Get to know Jesus.” He took up the challenge. After days of reading, study, and prayer, at the age of twenty Mateen became a follower of Christ. As is common in Middle Eastern families, he soon paid a high cost for his newfound faith: isolation from his father for more than a decade.

By the end of his college years, Mateen sensed God’s call to Christian ministry. After completing a B.A. at Stanford University he graduated from Fuller Seminary, earning M.Div. and M.A. degrees in Biblical Studies and Theology. After several years of pastoral work he returned to school earning a Ph.D. in New Testament Studies from Durham University in England, studying under the world-renowned NT scholar James D. G. Dunn.

Mateen’s prior ministries include an associate position for a small-town Presbyterian church in Wyoming, solo pastor of a young suburban church in Arizona, and Minister of Adult Education at First Presbyterian of Colorado Springs, a church at that time of more than five thousand people. He then served as senior pastor of Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Illinois for seven years prior to completing his pastoral work as senior pastor of First Presbyterian, Edmond, OK, from 2007 to 2015.

In the fall of 2015, Mateen took up a new calling with Voice of the Truth in Colorado Springs, a ministry dedicated to reaching the Arabic-speaking peoples with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Mateen’s particular work is with churches and Christian groups eager to learn about Islam, its claims and challenges, and how to share the gospel winsomely and effectively with Muslims. He is eager to respond to opportunities for teaching and training Christians in these timely matters.

Mateen and his wife Cindy have three children: Brittany and Strider and Kendall, all now adults carrying on productive lives of their own.

His heart is for those who walk where he once walked, those who search but have not yet found the love of Jesus, especially those feeling trapped in the religious strictures of Islam. Mateen sees his experience on both sides of the Christian-Muslim divide as providing a unique opportunity to create bridges of understanding. His great hope is that God will use him to reveal the love of Jesus to those ruled by hate or fear. “God will provide mercy and guidance to those who seek him, and will equip his people to win the world with the love of Christ.”


30 Responses to About

  1. Kory Burel says:

    I am enjoying your book “Understanding the Koran.” I am a baptist pastor in Alabama and have been ignited for the Muslim people or to be ready to share in season or out of season. I recognized my weakness in speaking to Muslims when I took my youth to Six Flags over Georgia. Come to find out and by divine providence, it was Muslim Family Day. I saw a field white for harvest and wanted to prepare myself in every capable way of witnessing or discussing with Muslims. I agree with your book…When are going to win the Muslims by the love of God. I was wondering if you ever do seminars for churches on Islam andI would covet your prayers in my “studies.”

    God Bless You.


    • mateenelass says:

      Thank you for contacting me with such encouraging words! I will pray for you as you study and prepare yourself to engage effectively with Muslims in your part of the world. I do indeed speak to churches and other organizations on a wide spectrum of topics linked to Christianity and Islam, and would be delighted to work with you in any way that might fit your schedule and mine. Wishing you every blessing in Christ,


  2. Jim Cohick says:

    Mateen – great to see your continued blessings on your work and ministry. Hope you and your family are well. I’d love to be able to reach you by e-mail.


  3. R. Sanchz says:

    Dear Pr, I was in Mexico when I got your book Undertanding the Koran, It s the best Book I read in this matter..
    I am Latino.. Worker among the muslims, I was living in Middle east now back in Brazil.
    I really enjoyed the book and it helped me to understand more deeply about this Book.
    God bless you
    R Sanchz


    • mateenelass says:

      Thank you for tracking me down to let me know how helpful my book has been for you. You’ve made my day! May God bless your ministry!


      • Henry says:

        Dear Pr. Mateen Elass,

        I have enjoyed while I was reading your book. It has many good information about Islam. However, I have found out that there are some doubts about whether Koran is God’s words in your book. However, when I have shared this information with my friends they suggested me to read whole Koran and especially pay attention to scientific facts which could not be proved even not possible to think at that time are coming through today. For example, Big Bang theory, how baby is formed in mother’s womb, life of animals such as ants and bees, the shape of earth, how sun moves around earth and how earth turning its around and moon, earth and sun moves on a orbit (Ya-seen 36: 35, 36, 37, 38 versus). and many so facts. I really went through all mentioned versus and facts. They are real. And Even if Mohammed was genius, I started to believe that he could not write these scientific facts such a correct way 1400 years ago. Because Big Bang, formation of child in womb, movement of moon, earth, and sun are all proved after 14,15, and 20 century. How they are all mentioned in Koran. I started to think that 7 ways of recitation of Koran which you mentioned in your book, display different facts. I will be very happy if you go through all mentioned facts from Original Koran (Arabic version) and provide us the real information about them and write a book or send me an e-mail. I will be very happy because I am very confused. As you mention even if the Koran which is Zaid’s copy, which is mentioned your book also and which was written in 7 century, how the Koran includes such facts in a correct way.
        Thank You


  4. rhology says:

    Dear Brother Elass,

    I talked to you on the phone some weeks ago, having been referred to you by Morgan.
    I just wanted to let you know that I bought your book and am about halfway through it. To be fair, I have not dozens and dozens of books about Islam, I have read around a dozen, and yours is by far the best one. So thank you for writing such a good book! I’ll definitely recommend it to others when I get the chance.

    I learned a decent amount from Caner’s “Unveiling Islam” about 10 years ago, but of course since it has become clear that both the Caner brothers are compulsive liars and lovers of power and status, I discount that book to a very large extent.
    And even if they weren’t the liars they are, your book is still better than theirs.

    So, anyway, thanks so much for your help and for writing the book. May the Lord greatly bless you.
    Grace and peace,


    • mateenelass says:

      Thanks for your kind words concerning my book. I hope the second half proves as helpful to you as the first! And may God smoothe your pathway as you seek to serve him in spreading the good news of Jesus to the Muslim world….


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  6. Ted says:

    Great comment on “heaven” by OAR. I heard it pumped in at a store, and the refrain is repeated w/diabolical vengeance.


  7. Cassandra says:

    Please pray Buhari S Buhari. He is a muslim , he came over to my house and saw your book and said he was wanting to read it. Please pray for His salvation.


  8. Laurie says:

    Dr. Elass,

    Thank you for the bravery and honesty of your words. I think as a population (of the United States) we do really want to see Islam as a religion of peace, because to think otherwise is untold fear and we have no idea whether we may stand up under it for we are not “the greatest generation”. Until recently, I would have read your blog and believed that this was only one man’s version of truth and that because he came from a Muslim background he was more condemning than necessary. I read Terry Hayes fiction book, “I Am Pilgrim” a few weeks ago and was completely struck by how a young boy’s thought life and witness of his father’s beheading could be so twisted that he would become an instrument of destruction no matter the cost of human life. Now, I believe it was God’s way of gently telling me my thoughts and opinions are not always correct. Again, thank you for telling the truth and doing so in a manner that is worthy of the name Jesus.


  9. Heidi Palmer says:


    I have really enjoyed your book but I do have to say that when I reached the section “similarities between Christian and Muslim views of God” I was quite surprised of your description of Mormonism. That you didn’t classify it under Christianity while the official name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS”. Our scriptures include the Bible and therefore that is the God we worship. I realize that people sometimes get confused but I would think that if you were going to reference a religion that you would understand it better. So the question to me is that if you are so unaware of Mormonism are you correct with the other information in your book? I would hope so, but I’d suggest you reach out to people that actually belong to the Mormon church to better understand it.



    • mateenelass says:

      Heidi, thank you for your kind comments on my book. Let me suggest that you do some deeper study on what Mormon presidents and apostles have actually said and taught historically before you conclude that I don’t understand Mormonism. Simply because the name “Jesus Christ” is used in the title of the religion does not make it Christian. Islam for instance, considers Jesus to be one of Allah’s greatest prophets — he is spoken of repeatedly in the Quran as Jesus the Messiah, among other titles. And the Quran accepts the Bible as God’s revelation to the human race, as well. It simply is seen as fallible, and so as secondary (correctible) by the Quran. LDS teaching accepts the Bible, “but only insofar as it is translated correctly.” This means that anywhere it conflicts with LDS teaching, it is considered wrong. Doctrine and Covenants in particular teaches a world view that is contrary to the Bible: e.g., that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different beings, not one. The doctrine of eternal progression, that the God you worship as Father was once a human being on another planet who lived an upright (Mormon equivalent) life obeying his heavenly Father of that planet, and upon his death was exalted to the stature of a god himself, now ruling over this planet, that Mormon men in this world, if they follow the Mormon path well enough will progress to become gods themselves over their own worlds, populating them by celestial sex with their heavenly wife/wives to produce spirit children to be born into that world and follow the same process toward godhood themselves, and so on. These are teachings well known to scholars and those deeply schooled in LDS teaching and practice. They are inherently unbiblical. Early Mormon teaching stated that the heavenly Father in his “flesh and bones” body came and had intercourse with Mary so that the conception of Jesus was different from all others — whereas all (in LDS teaching) are spirit children of heavenly Father, including Jesus, only Jesus is also the literal earthly progeny of heavenly Father through physical sexual relations with the “virgin Mary.” Islam believes that this is what Christianity maintains when it speaks of Jesus as the “Son of God,” and rejects such a view as blasphemy, arguing that God has no literal offspring. Orthodox Christianity also rejects this, saying to Muslims that we do not teach a physical union between God and Mary to produce Jesus. Yet this is precisely what Mormonism has historically taught.

      If you would like specific quotations from “orthodox Mormon source material” to corroborate these things and more, please let me know and I’ll be happy to provide them. Thank you again for your comment.


  10. Bashir says:

    Dear Rev. Dr. Mateen Elass,
    Greetings to you in the most precious name from our Lord Jesus Christ!
    I am very glad to share with you that our Living God has filled my hearts with His burden & vision in in my life to reach specifically to the Muslims by The Gospel of Jesus Christ & plant House Churches inside Muslim community. While Muslim terrorist groups such as Islamic state , Taliban, Al Qaeda and Boko Haram are killing Christians in different countries, He is leading me to reach out to the Muslims for His own glory and help them to know that Jesus Christ is The Only Living God and Saviour.
    I am facing lots of challenges and oppositions by the Militant Muslims but God has protected us and the believers for His own glory. The believers at our fellowship from Muslim background are constantly facing opposition from their own family members, relatives and Militant Muslims for their new faith in Christ.
    The Militant Muslims tortures, beats, mocks, spat, try to burn believer’s houses for their new faith in Christ. The believers are reaching to their Muslim neighbors, relatives and militant Muslims in the midst of persecution & oppositions by His grace & mercies.
    However, I humbly request you kindly pray for God’s protection in my life, family and the new believers from the hands of militant Muslims. Pray also for His wisdom and guidance in all our lives and ministry.


  11. James Glenn Bryant says:

    Please let me apologize for my wife’s outburst during your get together in Colorado Springs on July 27th. It really surprised me, and I took her home as soon as I could get her in the car.
    Jim Bryant


    • mateenelass says:


      Thank you, but everything is already forgiven. I was taken aback that she interpreted my words in ways so contrary to my heart’s intent, but I’m grateful that gave me the opportunity to clarify for everyone else to understand, even if your wife wasn’t in a place where she could process any further thoughts at that point. Thank you for taking the time to come to BJs in the first place, and I hope I’ll have the chance to sit down with you over coffee sometime after we’re settled in the Springs! All the best.


  12. Winfield Jones says:

    Mateen, I am trying to send you an email. Could you email me at wrjones2002@gmail.com.
    Rev. Winfield Casey Jones


  13. Keith Gibson says:

    when you get a chance give me some info so i can stay in touch.I left word at the church but they must not have given it to you.


  14. Jana Fristoe says:

    What is your opinion on allowing the Syrian refugees in to America? I have many Christian friends who want to show “God’s love” to the refugees using Luke 6:26-37 as their mantra. I’m fearful that while showing Gods love is what we are called to do, specifically to our “enemies”…in this case are we not “asking” for trouble instead of addressing trouble?


  15. Syler Thomas says:

    In the wake of the Wheaton College brouhaha, chapter 6 of your book comes to mind. It should be required reading for all Christians, as far as I’m concerned. I wonder if you’d be willing to write something and see if it can get published– perhaps by CT or something similar? Your example of the 6 categories was very helpful for me, and for the students I pastor.


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  18. Clynell Reinschmiedt says:

    Dear Mateen, as always Larry and I think of you often and miss your illuminating sermons. We often walked away from your preaching wondering at how you had helped us understand in a totally new way scripture we had read hundreds of time since we were children. I have read several of your archived articles, and am drawn to them now because I am working with a Muslim documentarian, helping him write the documentary’s narrative about Persian art. I am an art enthusiast and have taught English and American literature, as well as Western Humanities. Learning about Persian art is a totally new and exciting experience for me. What I have learned thus far about Iranian history has put me in the center of a controversy which seems to be one of the themes of your blog: I am inclined to think that love is love, and the only way to truth. So….do not all people who seek love, seek truth? Are we not bound by Christ to love one another, whether Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and on and on. I am very confused. I have always been taught that Jesus Christ is the only path to God, and that God is love…..not like love, but love itself. So….how do I reconcile the talks about religion I have with my Muslim friend without insisting on Christ’s truth? I have now been exposed to a Muslim friend who is peaceful and tolerant, and the Persian art I am learning about is likewise. I’m a confused Christian!
    Sincerely, Clynell


    • mateenelass says:

      Clynell, you have asked one of life’s fundamental questions: how are love and truth related? It seems to me the key to answering this question helpfully is to focus on defining “love” correctly. You are right in quoting 1 John that “God is love.” But what that means is that the love we experience and share with others is more or less authentic as it is related to God Himself. “Love” is not a reality that stands by itself, but which finds its source in the Trinitarian God of love who created all that is, and whose love infuses His creation. So I would not say “God is love itself,” but “God is love Himself.” His love permeates the human race since human beings are stamped with His nature and likeness, regardless of what they believe or what their race/gender, etc. In your talks with your Muslim friend, I don’t think you need to insist on “Christ’s truth;” instead, you can ask him if he agrees with the premise that true love (agape — self-giving love for the welfare of another) finds its source in God. If he does, you can ask further where he sees that kind of God — in Allah or in the God made known to the world in Jesus Christ. He may not know much about the gospel, but may be willing to learn as you offer to read the Gospels with him and answer his questions!

      You are absolutely right that we are bound by Christ to love all people, not just Christians. But I hesitate to affirm that “love is love, and the only way to truth.” As it turns out, people routinely define love in a variety of ways, and many have never known the kind of love God shows lost sinners — agape love which gives with no strings attached. True love may lead to Truth, as Truth may lead to agape, but neither is a certainty. In my opinion, the one certainty is this: In Jesus Christ, Truth and Love find their fullness and unity, so the way for human beings to discover them more deeply is to pursue a relationship with the Jesus who has revealed himself in and through the Scriptures and is available through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

      I hope my ramblings are of some help. Write me back if I’ve just added to your confusion!


  19. Debbie corwin says:

    I would love to know your strategy for teaching the Muslim about Christ. I have a desire to do just that. I am waiting for God to lead me.


  20. I take pleasure in reading through your blog site. It was unbelievably interesting. 🙂


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