7/8/14 Jesús, about 40 Kahil, about 30
Several near-death experiences have left a former gangbanger named Jesús in a place where he wants to help the next generation follow God but isn’t quite sure what that means. He appreciated a clear explanation of the Gospel, since his only exposure to a “Bible” church – a visit to his uncle’s church – had not taught him the Gospel but focused on taking up arms against our “enemies” - Muslims in Arab countries. Because of this negative church experience, Jesús had a test question for me – “How should Christians treat their enemies like the Muslims?” I said, “Well, they are people who need Jesus just like the rest of us, so of course I believe we should share the Gospel with them.” “I am so glad you said that!” he said as he explained why he had given me this “test”. The interesting thing to me is that the very next person I talked to turned out to be a Muslim from an Arab country! His name is Kahil and he is from Algeria. At a grocery store, I had asked about his views on eternal life. “Well, I’m a Muslim so I believe in heaven and hell. In fact, I’m fasting for Ramadan right now.” This meant abstaining from food from sunrise to sunset. We talked a while about his beliefs, and I explained why as a Christian I am interested in sharing mine. “Would I be able to do this in Algeria?” I asked. “It would be against the law” he answered. But he was very interested to know more. He had been impressed upon moving to America how most religions don’t seem that different from each other, but he knew a key difference between Christians and Muslims is our view of Jesus and whether or not he is the Son of God or just a prophet. “Would you like to know why we Christians think it is so important that Jesus is God’s Son rather than just a prophet? He did. This gave me an uninterrupted opportunity to share the Gospel and the importance of an infinitely worthy sacrifice for our sins against an infinitely worthy God. “Islam doesn’t have such a sacrifice, but we have Muhammad interceding with prayers on our behalf.” Kahil said. Let’s pray he understands salvation depends on more than just the prayers of Muhammad, but on the incomprehensible sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary. And let’s pray for Jesús, as he turns from the violence of gangs to the peace that passes all understanding that he can find in Jesus.