Kidnapping a Muslim

In my travels, one of main messages has included the importance of loving people of different faiths. With extremists dominating the news, Muslims have often become ostracized or even judged.

One of the more requested stories I share is the time I “kidnapped a Muslim.” I included this story in my book Not Like Me: Learning to Love, Serve, and Influence Our Diverse World.

Here’s a brief overview of the story:

Desperate to find teenagers to come to our youth event while in Seattle, I convinced a very reluctant 14 year old to ride with me to “Youth Explosion ’94.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that this new friend of mine was an immigrant from East Africa who was also a Muslim.

Remarkably, he continued coming to youth group over the next several years even while he continued going to the mosque on Fridays. He ended up bringing more friends to our church than any other teenager in our group.

Even though he never crossed the line of faith to follow Jesus while I was there, some of his friends did.

Four years later, we were planning to move to Los Angeles. I had to my Muslim friend why he had continued to come and invite his friends over all these years.

He responded: “You were my first friend.”

He also mentioned that he knew his friends would be cared for because he had been. It was as if he was saying that most people don’t befriend immigrants with dark skin, especially those who are Muslim.

When I asked, why he came that first night. With a smile across his face, he responded:

“I thought you were kidnapping me.”

I wouldn’t recommend kidnapping a Muslim, but I would recommend befriending one.

Rather than debate, we should serve, love, listen, and share. Proximity leads to influence.

To hear the full story, listen to Not Like Me chapter 10 -The Mosque Next Door: Building Relationships with the Religious.

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