SMALL GESTURES, CHANGED LIVES
By Karen Bejjani
Have you ever avoided a Muslim because you assumed they wouldn’t want to talk with you, or that you might say something that’s offensive? Has it ever felt like you needed a PhD in Islam before you reached out?
The answer was yes for me and many Christians I knew. Then I realized it wasn’t rocket science. I could engage with Muslims in small ways in my everyday life – ways that could be life-changing!
Let me tell you about Sara, a Muslim woman whose life was forever changed by a small gesture.
Sara’s story began like many other young Muslim girls in her country. She worked hard to please Allah by memorizing the Quran, wearing a full burqain public, and making a pilgrimage to Mecca with her father at age 12. When she was 17, she and her family moved to the United States to flee war in her country—and that’s when everything changed.
She found herself living in a strange country with a culture she didn’t understand. She was curious about Christians and curious to attend a Christian church service – something she could never do in her home country. Yet she believed she needed an invitation to attend.
Over the next 8 years,that invitation never came. She drove by countless churches and wondered what went on inside. At Easter, she wondered about the Easter Bunny, and at Christmas-time, she wondered about Santa Claus. She wondered what their connection was with Jesus. She wondered if Christians were idol worshippers.
Lonely and Afraid
Sara was afraid to initiate a conversation with a Christian. As a foreigner, she felt lonely, and as a Muslim, she felt hated by strangers. Then one day, Sara’s beloved grandmother planned to visit and Sara looked forward to it with anxious anticipation. But when her grandmother arrived in the U.S., she fell ill and died within days. Sara was devastated, and her sadness was visible when she returned to work.
A Small Gesture
Sara’s co-worker, Jane, noticed Sara’s grief. Filled with compassion, Jane impulsively hugged Sara. And Sara was grateful and surprised that Jane’s hug felt unlike any other hug she’d received. Jane promptly invited Sara to her church, suggesting that she might find peace there, and Sara accepted. Jane had always been curious about engaging with Sara, yet she assumed Sara wouldn’t want to talk with her, or that she might say something offensive.
As their friendship grew, Sara’s curiosity about Christianity grew as well. Jane gifted Sara a study Bible and after eighteen months, Sara accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. Sara is now living out God’s purpose for her—to make Him known—and is living with more freedom and joy than she’d realized possible.
Jane’s act of love and a simple invitation to church changed Sara’s life. That decision continues to have a ripple effect. By overcoming fear of uncertainty and awkwardness, Jane had an incredible influence—the same influence that is possible for you.
Don’t Regret Chances You Didn’t Take
Think about this story and consider: What did Jane do that I can do?
Here are 3 ideas:
- Ask God to help you operate from a place of boldness rather than fear. God has given us a spirit of powerto be ambassadors for Christ.
- Like Jane, look for opportunities to love a Muslim friend well.
- Consider inviting your friend to your church, as your guest. Then gift them a study Bible.