Editor’s note: Due to safety concerns about the Muslim who accepted Christ and his family, the name of the author has been withheld.
An Arabic-speaking Christian friend brought a new believer to meet me. The man, who I’ll call Alvey, was a former Muslim who wanted to be baptized. My friend thought it would be a good idea to make sure Alvey understood what it meant to become a follower of Jesus.
I listened to Alvey’s story and my interest was piqued when he talked about the shortcomings of the Koran. “I was raised a Muslim and came to the U.S. a long time ago. Because I drove a truck for a living, I listened to tapes of Islamic teaching. The more I listened, the more I questioned. There were so many holes in the teaching.”
Alvey went on to tell how he called Islamic friends during the days of cell phone “free minutes” “I asked them questions about Islam they could not answer.” Eventually, Alvey became an agnostic, yet he continued to listen to the tapes and read the Koran because he had nothing better to do during his lonely days and nights on the road.
He told me that in “the Koran, I read about Abraham and other prophets and then I read about Jesus. The Koran only introduces Jesus, but doesn’t say much about Him. This made me curious about Jesus. At some point I realized the Koran is completely false and Jesus is the way because only He has the ability to forgive sin.”
The holes in the Koran’s teaching along with its weak statements about Jesus drove this man to seek truth!
His baptism was scheduled for the following Sunday afternoon, and at his request, we did it privately with a handful of people, most of them Arabic Christians. Alvey was bold about wanting to be baptized but cautious for his family’s sake. His family would be killed if word made it to his home country that he’d become a Christian. In a day of social media, I understood Alvey’s request.
Before his baptism, I was not prepared for how the Arabic Christians grilled him. I asked someone to translate for me. They challenged Alvey’s testimony and worked to expose any possible phoniness. Alvey had to defend himself like he was in court. For a second I felt sorry for him but then I realized what was going on. These believers wanted nothing to do with “easy believeism.” If he couldn’t articulate a commitment to Jesus then they wanted no part of his baptism.
After questioning his testimony, Alvey was instructed about his Bible reading, his fellowship with other Christians, his need to be discipled. Then came the final word from a woman sitting in the group. The translator told me, “She is telling him if there is any doubt, if there is any reason for him to return to Islam, now is the time to do it, because once he is baptized it will not be possible for him to become a Muslim again.” Alvey looked a bit exasperated and said emphatically. “Jesus is my Savior; He has forgiven my sin; there is no other way than through Jesus!” And with that, Alvey and I went to prepare for his baptism while a man played a lute and sang in Arabic.
I baptized him in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the small crowd cheered. Among the cheering I heard the foreign “YE-YE-YE-YE-YE-YE” like we hear in TV reports about the Middle East.
As I drove home, I thought how much stronger our churches would be if we required hearings like this before baptisms.