Monday, October 15, 2012

When Muhammad met Jesus

A couple of Saturdays ago I was working with our local outreach mission. On Saturday mornings several people gather in a parking lot behind a business to minister to the needs of the homeless and the down-and-out. We have our regulars who show up week in and week out and we have new faces show up as well. We also have the needy and the greedy showing up. One of my favorite things is seeing the new people the Lord brings out there week after week. A couple of weeks ago was no exception.

There was a new guy wandering around the parking lot just checking things out. He was not asking anyone for anything, he was just observing what was going on. I walked up to him and said hello. He responded with a somewhat heavy accent that made me realize he was not from South Carolina. I mentioned that he did not sound like he was a local and he said he was originally from West Africa. We chatted for a minute about his home town and then I asked him what his name was. He hesitated for a moment, looked at the ground and then looked at me and said "my name is Mohammad". I smiled and said it was nice to meet him. I then asked him if he was a practicing Muslim. He looked at me with a big smile and said "I love Jesus!" I guess he saw the confused look on my face and shared his story with me.

Muhammad was born in West Africa and eventually moved to New York. Through a series of events he became a drug dealer and controlled a couple of city blocks. He said he was doing well as far a being a drug dealer was concerned. He was making a lot of money and had a growing business. Eventually, however, he was arrested and sent to prison. Mohammad ended up in a prison cell with a guy who seemed to be very upbeat and positive despite his situation. He began observing this guy and through a series of conversations found out the guy was a Christian. He asked him if he could read his Bible and his cellmate was happy to let him. He said he started with the Old Testament since he was Muslim. However, after some time and through a series of events he walked away from his Muslim faith and started following Christ. He now keeps a copy of the Bible with him and is not afraid to tell anyone and everyone about his faith in Christ.

As I thought about this I realized I had nothing to do with his conversion and neither did any pastor in a church. God used a set of "unfortunate" circumstances to draw Mohammed to himself. He used a prisoner in a cell to share the Good News of Christ with Mohammad. As I listened to Mohammad and though about his story over the past several days a few verses came to mind.

I Corinthians 1: 26-31 - 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
God did not choose a wise, well educated pastor to lead Muhammad to himself. He used a "throwaway", a "reprobate", someone most of us would not even associate with a "criminal" to witness to Mohammad. Not that there is anything wrong with being a wise, well educated pastor but I think we need to realize the truth of I Corinthians 1: 26-31.

A couple of other verses came to mind as well:

John 6: 44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 12: 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.”
God used a series of events to draw Muhammad to himself. Muhammad was not in youth group, he did not attend a Bible study. He had no interest in God or Christianity and in spite of this God drew him in.

As Believers we need to be actively sharing the Gospel to those around us but we also need to remember that we cannot convert anyone, we do not need to put pressure on anyone to believe. God will do what he does best and we need to be willing to serve as his messengers whether we feel qualified or not.

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