The following story is told in first-person, from the perspective of a personal friend of mine. This is based on a true story; however, some names have been changed for the sake of privacy.
It’s the first day of classes, which also means it’s the first day of group activities. Last year, I low-key got involved with the LGBT community on campus. This support group may have been the best thing to ever happen to me.
As soon as my first class ends, I rush over to Wagner Hall (the cafeteria) and meet the guys and gals outside. Julia is here again, too, of course! We haven’t seen each other all summer; I missed her so much. We aren’t dating or anything, but we may as well have been. If I felt like I could be open about this whole thing, then we would probably be taking everything between us a lot more seriously. It really is my fault; I’m just scared of how my family would react.
We don’t really do anything in most of these meetings, just hang out. But I love it. These faces are the kindest I have ever known. This is my real family. They are the only ones who really get me.
Straight from the meeting to my second class. This class Julia and I took together, so I’m really excited.
Where is she though? The entire class, this is all I think about. I know we signed up together…I wonder if she’s mad at me? Maybe she found someone else? Maybe she–
“Hi! I’m Josh!”
“Okay. I’m Kamala….” This guy is really weird. Who just comes up and yells ‘hi’ to people like he knows them? I should still reply, though. “Sorry, I’m looking for a friend of mine. She was supposed to be in this class, too, I thought.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
This guy sounds really genuine now, when he tells me, “I’m sure she just couldn’t find the class room or something. Were y’all supposed to do something after class?”
“No, no, not like that. I was just wondering where she was, you know?”
“Oh, okay, well we should totally check out our textbooks together then! You free?”
I don’t know this guy at all but he seems nice, I guess. “Well…. I don’t know. You mean on campus?”
“Yeah, we could go hang out at Wagner or something.”
“Okay, sure. Why not?”
This guy is really hyper and weird and will not shut up. But he’s nice and seems really interested in my life. So we sit and talk and before I know it, I start opening up. I tell him about my home, my Masjid, my girlfriend…. I call her my girlfriend. He asks what my family would do if they knew and a few other questions. He just seems so concerned with my life, I can’t help but ask,
“Why are you so interested?”
“Oh. I just love people and meeting people and connecting. People don’t really connect anymore like this, you know?”
“Yeah.” That’s weird. “Why? Why do you love people like this though?”
“Once, at a camp, I sat outside and saw someone getting in trouble but the lady in charge didn’t yell or anything. The scolding turned into a straight love fest. I just made up my mind to be like that.”
“Well, did you ever ask how that lady got like that?”
“Yeah, she just is really connected with Jesus and the Bible. It’s crazy, honestly. I’m still working on becoming that, myself.”
“I have never met a Christian who loves. Why would something that makes so many people hate each other bring her to love?”
“It just comes down to really understanding the Bible, honestly. I would love to show you. I’m thinking about starting a Bible study, actually. You’re more than welcome to join!”
“I actually think I would really like that. Can I bring my friend?”
“YEAH! Bring your girlfriend and whoever else you want, Kamala.”
He gives me a date and time for this and I gather up everyone I can, just like he said. I don’t know why I am so drawn to this guy. I thought he was just strange but I can tell there really is something to this whole thing he was going on about.
All week, my anticipation builds for this. We get there and we greet each other. Most of my LGBT support group came out and some of my friends from the Masjid came out also. This man met everyone and hugged everyone and asked us all why we came.
To my surprise, everyone I invited came for the same reason I opened up to this guy in the first place for – we just wanted to understand how this religion of hate could also bring about love. I never told them about my personal struggles with Christianity and love but they seem to have shared my curiosity. My Muslim friends that I brought all knew about my natural sexual attractions and they all knew they could not tell anyone else at our Mosque.
Before I know it, my friends become this guy’s friends also. It feels even more like a family than my support group did, in just one meeting. He walks us through 1 John and talks about the life of Jesus. He explains that “Allah is love.” I never thought of God in these terms. I never knew the Christians believed this.
Over the next few weeks, Josh comes to become one of us. He eats, drinks, and goes to Mosque with us. We learn a lot about God and love and Christ. Then, one day, my girlfriend asks the fatal question,
“How can Christ be the Son of God when the Quran says there is only one God and so does your very Bible?”
“There is only one God and Jesus is His Son. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,’ that’s what the Bible says…. Christ is the Word.”
I can’t explain why but I fall to my knees and weep right here in the park. Josh stops and prays with us. Both Julia and I accept salvation right here.
Over the next couple weeks, Josh and I explain that Bible verse to others in my Mosque and more and more of my friends come to accept salvation. Julia and I even come to the decision to break up so that we can live holy lives for Christ.
Then, it happens. We all knew it would. Josh is asked to stop coming to the Mosque after a few months of regular attendance. He doesn’t want to go, but we convince him that it is time for him to let us take over this ministry. He agrees.
Josh and I work it out so that I can even run the Bible study and he can focus on other ministries. He types up lessons and goes over them with me on the phone, then I lead the Bible study.
And I do just that–I run this study smoothly for a year and God blesses it. We grow in spirit as individuals, as a family, and our numbers, too, grow as more people come in. I see so many accept salvation – Muslims, homosexuals, transgenders, and many others from many other communities here in Charlotte, NC. We have been truly blessed by the Spirit.
Then there is the shooting in Orlando, FL. People begin to ridicule my family and our extended Muslim community. My friends from the LGBT support group on campus also feel the pain of this event. We are discriminated against, once again. It’s the Christians blaming us, Muslims, for the actions of the radical believers, once more. For my family, this becomes the final straw. Through the early part of this salvation process, I came out to my parents as a Christian who was attracted to both sexes but made the decision to live holy before both Jesus and Allah, the Father. Now, my family will make me choose between them or Christ.
My Masjid, my family, even some friends tell me that if I decide to remain a Christian, then they will treat me like the Christians treat them. They plan to excommunicate me. This is all I have ever known. How can I choose to abandon my whole history, family, and identity?
I call Josh, sobbing, “They’re going to cut me off, Josh.”
“What’s happening, Kamala? Who is cutting you off? Do you need me to come to you and talk?”
“No, no that would just make it worse. My Masjid, family, friends, everyone, Josh.”
“I am so sorry. Is there anything at all that I can do?”
“No, no, just talk…. Tell me, would it be wrong to just live as a secret Christian so that I don’t lose my family?”
“I can’t tell you that, Kamala. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a simple answer that’ll make everything okay again. Jesus once asked, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Then He answered Himself, ‘Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’
All I can tell you, Kamala, is that these are the words of Christ and that ‘all things are lawful for you but not all things are beneficial.’ Basically, the decision is yours but this is what the Bible says about it. Whatever you decide, I will walk this out with you. You are my sister and I am here with you through whatever happens with this.”
“Thank you so much for caring. I still just don’t know what to do. They think they are doing God’s will. They are trying, they are just blind, but they are still my family, you know?”
“I know…. I know.”
I continue to rant to Josh for some time about my family, my identity crisis as a Muslim, the pain that my old LGBT group and I feel and more, and he listens well – only occasionally cracking the corny jokes that have come to characterise him to me. I know he is there for me; I know Christ is there for me; I know this is all part of Allah’s plan; but, I don’t know what I am supposed to do. We hang up and I just keep bawling. A few days transpire and I keep in contact with Josh, but I just feel like I haven’t stopped crying for the last two weeks.
I go out to get ice cream, ’cause that’s just what you do when you’re crying and need to make huge decisions. And there, at Baskin Robin’s, I run into you and I stop you to talk.
What do you say to me? What do you do?