"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God..." (Romans 8:14-16).
This week I was again at a familiar small business in my neighborhood. It is owned by a Mauritanian (West Africa) businessman. I decided it was time to engage in conversation with the young man attending the register, especially as there were no other customers in the store. On another occasion I had asked him where he was from, to which he responded, "Mauritania." This is one of the least reached with the gospel countries in the world! He came to Philadelphia at age 16.
So I asked, "What is your name?"
He said, "Abdullah."
I responded, "Oh, you're a Muslim."
He said, "Yes, I grew up a Muslim."
I asked, Have you ever learned about another religion?"
He answered, "No, I've never had the opportunity to. All I have known since growing up from small is Islam."
"Do you attend one of the mosques in this area?"
"No, I go to one at 57th and Baltimore."
I inquired, "Why don't you go to one nearby here?"
"I go to the one near my house. I live over there," he responded.
"Oh, I thought you were the son of the owner."
With a bit of a pause he responded, "No, he is a relative, my cousin."
I asked, "Are you in school?"
"No, but I want to attend the CCP (Community College of Philadelphia)."
"What do you want to study?"
"Medical science. But if that doesn't work out, I want to study to be a pilot."
"Nice. Sounds great. I hope it works out for you."
Now I took my opportunity to bear witness. "Abdullah means 'slave of Allah,' right?"
He nodded his head in agreement.
"You know that you can be set free from being a slave of Allah to being his adopted son instead? You can actually be a friend of God, just like Abraham was 'the friend of God.' You can have a close relationship with God."
He looked a bit surprised, but interested.
I continued, "We are all sinners, slaves of sin, Satan, and fear of death. Our sin separates us from God."
Abdullah responded, "Yes, 'Isa was a perfect man, with no sin."
"Right. No one else in the world has been without sin. But through 'Isa al-Masih (Jesus Christ) we can be set free. We can become sons of God, having a close relationship with God. Through faith in the death and resurrection of 'Isa al-Masih we can have new life and be born again."
He looked curious. So I went on, "Have you ever read the Bible, the Taurat (Torah), Injil (Gospel)?"
He replied, "Yes, I have started to. I listen to it."
I was encouraged. "Great. Keep doing that. I encourage you to read one of the Gospels about the life and teaching, death and resurrection of 'Isa."
Signing off I said, "Nice talking to you. See you again soon. I'll be praying for you."
Will you pray for Abdullah, too? I am hoping to be able to continue the conversation....