Last weekend I had a wonderful conversation with my friend “Faridah”, but I’m just now getting around to writing about it.
“Faridah” and her husband “Mohsen” own a storefront business here in our city. Faridah and her husband were raised in Persia, but they came to America after they were married, about 25 years ago. Now they are raising teenagers and running their business.
Faridah and I became friends over several months as I would stop into her store and visit. Often her store is empty and she is sitting there alone, so we have the chance to just talk and socialize (while my kids look around). She is such a sweet woman with a gentle, friendly and warm personality. She lights up with a big smile, when I come into her store. I think she is, (like most women I know) longing to visit, talk and have companionship with women friends. I really like talking with her.
A few weeks ago I gave her the multi-language Jesus film DVD (“a gift for you”) that was leftover from the Arabic cultural festival. She was very happy to get the video, since she could listen to the program in Farsi. At that point, we had not talked very much about God, and I really could not guess what religious background she had. I asked God to lead me in how to talk to her about Him, through our visits.
The next week, (last weekend) I walked into her store, and there she was, beaming with a big smile for me. We greeted each other with a kiss and began catching up with each other. It turned out to be a wonderful conversation and opportunity from the Lord. She told me she really enjoyed watching the movie, and that her two teenage sons watched it, as well as her husband and other family members. She said she was going to pass it on to (Iranian) friends who also wanted to watch it! Then she started asking me questions about Jesus, and wanted to know more!
As I began to share, she started telling me about how they are observing Ramadan with daytime fasting, prayers, almsgiving and good works. Now I knew! And I then realized: I finally have my first Muslim friend. I had been waiting for this a long time. I was so blessed by this realization and provision from the Lord- that I was friends with Faridah, and that she was interested in, and open to talking about God.
We talked a bit about Ramadan, and then as I was sharing with her the truth about our ‘good’ works of self-righteousness, which are not accepted by God, versus God’s good work of sending Jesus, whose righteousness and sacrifice is the only thing acceptable to God, her husband walked in!
I had not seen him in a few years, so we greeted and chatted a bit. Then an elderly Persian man came in to talk with Mohsen. He excused himself from talking with me, since he was going to step aside to talk to his friend in Farsi. Faridah and I chatted quietly while the men talked.
Finally Mohsen rejoined our conversation after his friend left and it became very interesting. I explained about the mercy of God: how our good works are worthless to earn salvation, but God in His mercy did the work on our behalf, to give us salvation as a gift. As I began explaining about the justice of God, they both became emotional and recounted in detail, the painful experience they had. They were brought to court and falsely accused (civil court) and lost. They had to sell their house and they lost almost everything. They said it was unjust what happened to them. Their reputation was tarnished in the community and in their Persian social circle.
So after listening to them recount the whole story, I explained why it is necessary for God to judge our sin because it would be unjust of Him (and therefore He would be evil) if God just excused our sin without judgment. (Muslim belief is that “Allah” will accept-or send to hell- at whim, based partially on the person’s good works. If allowed into heaven, the person’s sins are merely overlooked; justice is not served against the sins.) They began to see how unjust and wrong it would be if God let people into heaven without addressing and judging sin. It would be like the judge letting people get away with crimes without any punishment! I explained how Jesus is the Lamb of God who took the judgment and punishment against sin, satisfying God’s righteous justice, and how God did all this Himself, for us, out of love and mercy. They heard about the deity of Jesus, His death and resurrection. They asked many questions about what they heard. They were also silently nodding and thinking. I summarize this story; we talked for an hour about sin, justice, mercy and salvation through Jesus.
Then it was time to go, and I gave Faridah a copy of John + Romans in Arabic/English (left over from the Arabic Festival) and told her it was the words and life of Jesus, like in the movie. I know Farsi is their first language, but it was all I had at the time. I hope to get more Farsi as well as Arabic literature. Mohsen asked if I was religious, and I said no, but I believe Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away our sins. I hope they read the book. I look forward to my next conversation with my friend, Faridah.