The Man Sitting Next to me


One day I took a minibus to visit my family. I heard the driver calling the passengers to come and take their places inside the minibus. So I entered and the man let me sit on a seat that accommodated three passengers-but I was the fourth. Next to me was a heavy, bearded, strict religious man with his veiled wife beside him. The man was unfriendly toward me. He looked hostilely at me and pressed me to a very narrow space. He stretched his legs, leaving me only a few inches. When I saw this, I left the car.

The driver asked me what was wrong. I told him there was no room for me. He told me the seat is for four passengers and he asked the Sheikh to give me some space. But I felt that the man did not want anyone to sit beside him so that no one would bother his wife. So I went out and paid for the fourth "place" so no one would sit beside them. I asked the driver to give them the whole seat so that no one would bother his wife. The man noticed this and his chivalry and courtesy were sud­denly awakened in him. He insisted that I sit with them. I told him there was no need, that I would squash them, but he insisted that I sit with them and he gave me enough space.

After the minibus had moved some distance, the man asked me an unexpected question: "Are you a Muslim or a Christian?"

I replied, "Why do you want to know?" "I just want to know."

I am a Christian.'

He lamented, "Alas, were you a Muslim, your behavior would have been more significant."

I asked, "Do you know me?"

"No."

"Neither do I know you," I pointed out. "But why do you think I would do this for you?"

"Well, I don't know."

I told him that we have a text in the Bible that admon­ishes us to love all people, including those who hurt us. "I noticed how harsh you were with me and I just wanted to show you the type of love that fills us toward all who hate us. I can't help but to behave in like manner."

He inquired, "Do you have a book?" "Yes."

Yes.'

"Do you worship God?"

I answered, "Who else can we worship?"

"I know that you worship Christ, priests, and monks, as the Qur'an said."

"Not all that you know about us is correct. Otherwise, you wouldn't have admired my behavior toward you. I have a suggestion."

He said, "Yes?"

I gave him a Bible and said, "This Book includes the Old and New Testaments. Read it and see what is inside. If you like it, good. If not, you have nothing to lose." I gave him the Bible and we agreed to meet somewhere later.

We met every week to discuss his questions. After that we began to pray together. He started to have arguments with his wife and wanted to divorce her. I told him that divorce was against the will of God. We prayed for his wife, and his family sustained peace and closeness. I explained that Chris­tianity was a type of life that gathered people, instead of scattering them, and quoted to him. "The unbelieving husband is sanctified in his believing wife, and vice versa." My friend was euphoric about the teachings of the Bible. The Lord en­tered his house and brought solidity, peace, and blessing.

Paul

Used by permission In The Den of Infidels The Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com , p. 163-165.

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