Zafar just bought a ticket to return back home for a three-month visit last week. He is the mullah of the unofficial mosque in a local bazaar. He is very friendly and sells nuts & fruit. When I first met him a year and a half ago, he politely but adamantly refused to accept a calendar decorated with Scriptures. He has a good reputation and his kiosk is always busy with customers. The one slow day is Monday.
This Monday I called him and told him that I’d like to take him out for tea as a goodbye before he leaves. When I got there, his coworker took over and he led me to a halal cafe. We enjoyed the lagman, bread and tea. After eating, I asked him, “How do you receive forgiveness in Islam?” He told me that if a sinner comes to God and sincerely asks for forgiveness, he will receive it.
He mentioned four sins that were unforgivable, including marriage infidelity and disrespecting your parents. I had just memorized James 2:10, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” This was a great opportunity to use it.
Then, I shared how the Injil guarantees forgiveness for true believers of Isa (Acts 10:42-43). He listened carefully as I described Jesus as “The One Sent Down From Above” (i.e. Son of Man), whose perfect origins meant He could be the Perfect, Holy Sacrifice. I told the story of the paralytic in Mark 2 and how Jesus used that to demonstrate His power to heal and forgive.
Shortly afterward, Zafar had to leave. I gave him some small gifts for his family, but most importantly, he took the Magdalena DVD in his language. As I was taking the metro home from that lunch, Zafar tried to call me 5 times to say, “Thanks.”
I wish I could say that he fell down in tears & repentance and wept as Jesus came into his life, but he didn’t (yet). And looking back on it, there a number of things that he said that I should have followed up on but I didn’t. Most obviously was the question of whether there is any hope for people who commit the unforgivable sins. I often wonder why I only think of these points after a conversation has ended. Does that ever happen to you?
It has taken me a year and a half, and many prayers, to get to this point with Zafar. I have chickened out at times when I could have pushed the relationship along, but I didn’t. All I know is that Zafar is returning home – hopefully carrying the DVD – and hopefully with a better understanding of who I believe Jesus to be. Please take a minute right now to pray for Zafar.
Photo courtesy of http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A2%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B6%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%B8