This afternoon, I stopped by to visit my Arabic language teacher. Wow, what a wonderful time together. We went a step deeper in building our friendship and sharing our hearts, some jokes, but most of all our faith. You all should know, by the way, that it is much, much easier talking about God with my Muslim friends than anyone I have spoken with before about spiritual things. My teacher is passionate about his faith in Allah. We actually share many things in common, different than what my culture had prepared me to believe. We have a growing friendship. I know we will diverge from each other at significant points over what we believe. But I have a sense that we will both be able to handle that, that we will regard each other with respect. To my Muslim friends, friendship is a value that is cherished, held high and upon which I can build as we go forward sharing our faith. By the way, my Muslim teacher called me a believer. What he meant by that I am not fully sure but I think I will find out soon enough. He did say that fellow believers have a tighter bond than blood relatives.
Today we talked about the story of Joseph, Jesus Christ, materialism. I shared with him about my dissertation work on Christian spirituality and my basic thesis that the inward disciplines like prayer, solitude and contemplation must be integrated with the outward fruit of action and mission in the world. He agreed and cited some verses from the Qu´ran. We talked further about the country of Egypt, where he is building a language school to teach Arabic to foreigners. He also told me a new joke about 3 people from his home town in Syria. It was really quite good. When I got up to leave, he asked me if I had had coffee yet today. I always have coffee! He invited me down the street for a cafe con leche and that next time I could treat him. After about 2 hours of visiting, I finally left. Wow.
I know God is doing something and that eventually we will open the “Holy Books” together. I can hardly wait.