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RICHMOND, Va. (BP) -- Harry* has a decision to make. A big one. The direction he takes might change history, at least in his town in one of the most rigidly traditional parts of the Muslim world.
It will definitely change his own life forever.
Harry is a prosperous and respected businessman, 50ish, his hair and thick mustache mostly gray. He deserves the respect he commands. Unlike some businessmen in his town, Harry doesn't cheat his customers or gouge the tenants he serves as a landlord.
"Landlords say, 'Yeah, you fix up the place, you pour your money into it, and I'll raise the rent on you,'" says an American Christian worker who lives in a house Harry owns. "But he's not that kind of guy."
With his children growing up and his family well-established, Harry has reached a stage of life when men in his culture grow more introspective and serious about religion. For several years he has talked about going on the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.
In the meantime, however, he has developed a friendship with his American tenant. They've talked a lot about spiritual things -- from the Islamic festival of sacrifice to the supreme sacrifice Jesus Christ made as atonement for humanity's sin.
"He started asking some things about our Scriptures," the worker recalls, "and I just took a shot and brought them out to him one day, the full Scriptures in the local language.
"He took them home. Two months later he was in 1 Samuel. I asked him why, and he said he'd read from the beginning to 1 Samuel. The next time I saw him he was in Jeremiah, and the next time I saw him he was in the Gospels.
"He's asked all the questions of me like, Why do you call Him the Son of God? How do you get your Scriptures? Did Jesus really die on the cross? I told him at least two or three times the crux of the Gospel, about what it takes to get into heaven, that it is repentance toward God and faith in God's sacrifice. I didn't try to 'close the sale,' but he knows everything I could say about Jesus, who He is and what He has done. I've just got to believe he's counting the cost because he's listened to me. He's been very intent. He's got to make a decision about who Jesus is." Continued...