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Suppose someone from a Muslim country visited a local church this weekend. How would he or she be greeted? Warmly? Or with suspicion? Sadly, I think the latter is more common.
My friend Abraham Sarker found this out the hard way. He gladly shook hands with a church greeter. The greeter’s ready smile quickly disappeared, however, when his hand brushed against something hard in Abraham’s suit jacket pocket. Immediately, the greeter led Abraham to the side of the foyer and frisked him. The hard object in Abraham’s suit turned out to be a cell phone. Still, Abraham felt embarrassed and humiliated. If this had happened a few years ago, Abraham would have walked out of that church and never returned.
Abraham was born into a devout Muslim home in Dhaka, Bangladesh. At age thirteen he joined the Jamati Islamic Party, trained to be a Muslim leader, and successfully began evangelizing people in his own country. At age fifteen, however, Abraham had a terrifying dream about hell, prayed all night, and then heard God tell him: “Go and get a Bible.” Abraham’s Muslim faith was shaken. Still, at age nineteen Abraham was sent to the United States on a student visa to help convert Americans to Islam.
Upon arriving in America, Abraham received a Bible in his own language as a gift. Later, an American named Peter befriended Abraham, heard his claims about Islam, and over time introduced Abraham to the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. At first, Abraham was skeptical, but he earnestly prayed, “God, lead me in the right direction.” Like many Muslims, Abraham wanted to know more about Adam, Noah, Moses, and Jesus, but he was not familiar with their English names (he knew Jesus as “Isa”).
Abraham wanted to hear what Peter and others did (and didn’t) believe about God, but he reacted negatively if anyone referred to Jesus as “God” or as “the Son of God.” Peter realized he had to choose his terms carefully and build on the truth that God is One (as Jesus did repeatedly with the Jewish people).
Eventually, Abraham surprised his friends by committing his life to Jesus Christ. He went on to earn his doctorate at a prestigious Christian university.
Unfortunately, as the story of the cell phone illustrates, this doesn’t mean Christian churches always welcome Abraham—or others from Muslim nations—with open arms. Our anger over what a few people did to America has affected our view of an entire people group. It’s also affected our relationship with God. In many ways, we’ve pushed the real God out of the picture.
posted 2 years, 6 months ago
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