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A Good Friday ride

An unexpected evangelist prompts marvel and prayer


On Good Friday, my husband and I were stuck in Washington, D.C., shivering and rubbing our mittenless hands. We had visited at the wrong time: That afternoon, a man had rammed his car into two U.S. Capitol Police officers, killing an 18-year veteran officer and injuring the other. Once again, the area endured a lockdown.

Unsurprisingly, Uber drivers weren’t eager to pick us up. The first three canceled on us after 20 minutes of navigating a maze of barricaded streets and stand-still traffic. So when the fourth Uber driver finally arrived, I could have hugged him. “Thank you so much for showing up,” we gushed as we huddled our Popsicle bodies into the car.

His name was Abudalkader. The first thing he said was how horrified he was at that day’s Capitol attack. I could tell our driver was tense—his name, skin tone, and heavy accent clearly identified him as an Arab immigrant. Even though the attack had nothing to do with him, he wanted to make a clear statement condemning it in case it turned out to be a terrorist attack (police later said it wasn’t).

We talked about the pandemic, and how much he missed his family in Jordan. Eventually, Abudalkader started talking about his Muslim faith. He talked about Musa—Moses—being sent to the Israelites in Egypt to bring revelation from God. Jesus too, he said, was a prophet to the Israelites with a messianic message. Then he said, “Christians believe Jesus is God. No! No! We reject that. How can God take the form of man? Impossible!”

We Christians sometimes forget how astonishing and offensive our faith is.

At that point we had simply listened to him as he talked about Islam. It occurred to me to marvel that we’d meet a Muslim man on Good Friday and have him evangelize to us rather than the other way around. And it also occurred to me to pray—even if just for an instant—for this fellow image-bearer of God who would so excitedly and passionately share his faith with us.

I thanked Abudalkader for doing so. I told him we are Christians. Christians and Muslims share a lot of similar stories and people, I said: “Muslims believe God is all-merciful, most kind, most compassionate, just and righteous, forgiving and loving, correct?” “Yes, yes!” Abudalkader nodded. I said: “And Muslims believe humans sin, no?” “Yes, definitely,” Abudalkader affirmed.

“We Christians believe that too,” I said. “And because of that, how much more awesome is it that the almighty God would put on our skin and walk on this earth with us, to die for our sins? Isn’t that something only a perfect God of otherworldly compassion and righteousness can do—display such incomparable, extraordinary love and self-sacrifice?”

Abudalkader considered what I said for about three seconds, then emphatically said, “No! Impossible. How can God become us? How can He be three? To believe that is an unforgivable sin!”

It was a tough conversation—we were both fully committed to our faiths, and strangely enough, both of us were trying to save each other’s souls. He believed I had committed an unforgivable sin: I desired for him to know Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. As much as we disagreed, I felt moved that this man would so freely share his faith with a stranger—something we Christians often fail to do—on Good Friday, no less. I also felt an aching love for him: an ache because some religions are just so close to the truth, yet so far from it, and the cost is heavy. A love because I saw in him a God-given hunger for the divine.

That Good Friday Uber ride left a deep impression on me. We Christians sometimes forget how extraordinary, astonishing, and offensive our faith is, yet we live in the daily reality of Good Friday and Easter. It took an Abudalkader to remind me of that—and pray for someone like him.


Sophia Lee

Sophia is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute and University of Southern California graduate. Sophia resides in Los Angeles, Calif., with her husband.

@SophiaLeeHyun

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bwsmith

"We Christians sometimes forget how astonishing and offensive our faith is." Thanks -- I needed that. The only way we come to believe Christ is itself a gift we did not deserve, and that it is meant to be given, shared. But I forget the wrappings often look crazy weird to the eyes of one who cannot see . . . yet.

colorpet

Wow. Great story Sophia. I have had similar conversations with Muslims and also with Hindus. They really think a different way. The best you can do is speak truth as you did and pray. Blessings to you. Loved this story.