My Muslim Friend
It was my first year in a boarding school, and I was afraid. I was surrounded by strangers and felt all alone. I needed a friend. As I chose a seat in my first class, I waited nervously to see who would take the place beside me. Suddenly, a short, athletic-looking girl ran into the class. "Is anyone sitting here?" she asked, throwing her books on the desk next to me, still panting from dashing up the stairs.
Before I could even answer, she had made up her mind, sat down and said, "What's your name? Mine is Sarah."
"I am Aryantungyisa," I replied, looking away. Because my name is so long and sounds strange to people, they always ask me to repeat it, or they laugh at it. I'm always nervous when I introduce myself.
"What?" she asked. My heart skipped a beat. What had I gotten myself into? Was she going to make fun of my name? I had been told all about the way new students were teased, but I didn't expect it from another new girl.
"Aryantungyisa," I repeated, still looking away.
"Oh, that's a long name," she said. "Can I call you Aryantu?" I felt myself relax a little.
"OK," I answered, warming up to her now. "Actually, all my friends call me that."
The teacher walked in, and I was glad I would not be expected to say any more. At the end of the class, I walked off alone to my dormitory.
The next day, Sarah chattered away. She told me all about her family. At some point during the conversation, she said she was Muslim.
I was shocked. All I knew about Muslims was that they were very different from Christians. I didn't expect a Muslim to be so friendly. I had been brought up in a Christian home and gone to a Christian school. I knew that to go to heaven, you had to believe in Jesus as the Savior who died for your sins. I believed Muslims would not go to heaven because they believed in Allah and not in Jesus.
"I'm a Christian," I volunteered to my own surprise, "and I am saved."
I instantly wished I could take my words back. I thought Sarah would be offended, but it did not seem to matter to her.
One day I asked Sarah if she knew about Jesus. She told me that in her religion, they knew Jesus as a prophet, like Moses or any of the other prophets in Christianity.
"But to be saved," I said, "you have to believe Jesus is more than just a prophet. What would happen if you got saved?"
"Saved! If I did such a thing, my dad would refuse to pay my school fees, and he would send me away from home. Being saved is for Christians."
I was very confused. How could I lead Sarah to Jesus if her father would disown her?
I decided to ask Sarah to my fellowship group. But she said no. She didn't think Christians would accept her. It was important to her that Christians respect her beliefs and get to know her as a person, instead of just dismissing her because she was a Muslim. I decided I would remain her friend and keep telling her about Jesus.
During the term, the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan began. Sarah explained to me that it was their month of fasting. Suddenly it dawned on me: This was my opportunity to show Sarah I accepted her and really wanted her to know Christ.