I was greatly encouraged to have 6 co-labourers this past Saturday! Two brothers and also two married couples from our church! Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon with your spouse!
Though we had many good conversations, I was especially encouraged by one that I had with a Muslim lady from Albania (her teenage daughter was there too).
I approached the bus stop, introduced myself and why I was out talking to people on the streets. What follows is an abbreviated summary of our conversation. P stands for me; and M for the Muslim lady.
P: Do you have a religious background?
M: Yes, we’re Muslim.
P: Oh, what kind?
P: And where are you from?
P: Ah, yes, I’ve been to Bosnia; I know that Bosnia and Albania are predominately Muslim nations. So, how long have you been here?
M: 12 years.
P: Well, let me ask you, what do you think of Jesus?
M: Well, I don’t know. I’m not really into religion much.
P: Oh, so do you not go to mosque?
M: No, we don’t really do that. Were not really practising.
P: Well, I’m not sure what you’ve heard about Christianity, but I’d like to share a bit about Jesus.
M: Okay, but the religions are all similar.
P: Well, actually the Bible teaches something very different about how to receive the forgiveness of sins. In the Bible, there is a letter written to a group of Christians in what is now called Turkey.
M: Oh yes, we know Turkey. It is because of Turkey that Albania is Muslim.
P: Well, there were Christians living there 2000 years ago, and Paul, who was one of Jesus’s followers wrote: “It is by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” So, the way to be saved from the punishment for our sins is not by trying to be good or going to church.
(She looked very interested and somewhat surprised).
P: It is a free gift. That is why God sent Jesus to die on the cross. He was being punished in the place of sinners so that we could receive forgiveness by trusting in Jesus and in what he did for us. The way to receive forgiveness is not what we do, but trusting in what Jesus has already done.
M: Then you can just go on and live however you like!
(At this point in the conversation, I couldn’t help thinking of Romans 6:1 as I spoke to her).
P: No, we always seek to please those we love. For those who really believe in Jesus and love him, they will truly seek to live for him. There are false Christians who say they believe in Jesus, but they are fake; they really don’t follow him.
M: They would be like us! (she chuckled, admitting that she is not really a true Muslim, but merely one culturally).
P: Have you ever heard this before? Or did you know that the Bible teaches that people receive forgiveness not because of what they do, but because of trusting in the work that Jesus has done?
P: This is true Christianity. And it shows God’s love for us, sending His own Son to die for us.
M: You say that Jesus is God’s Son; that’s not right.
P: Well, I know it may sound crazy to you, but have you never had this experience before – where you thought something sounded crazy, but later you found out it was true? (She looked contemplative). Look, please consider these things. And thank you so much for taking the time to let me speak with you. Here, please have this little booklet that explains what the Bible is about and why Jesus came (Two Ways to Live booklet).
M: Okay. Thank you.
That ended our conversation. I pray that she took me seriously and did take time to consider the things we spoke about.