Several years ago I sent my only daughter off to college. My sweet Christian child who had withstood peer pressure in high school had not had many dates because she would not put out. An honors student, 6% of her class, the French club President, she was also involved in drama and a variety of fields. She’d received a full scholarship and a job on campus without us having to fill out one form for financial aid. It was a great answer to prayer because the market had dropped badly and the amount of money in her college fund was significantly less.
I knew she would party at college, but she had worked during high school and had paid for her own dance lessons for big band music. She had shown the ability to watch out for herself. She had chosen to study French. I did not worry too much while she was gone, because she kept in touch. During her sophomore year there were two hurricanes and she got scared.
The next thing I knew, she’d dropped out and had moved in with a guy in Houston. She had met him at one of the family oriented dance clubs. Originally he had told her he was French, and they enjoyed chats in that language beyond what others at her college could do. But when we congratulated him on Bastille Day, he did not know what we meant. Eventually it came out that he was, in fact, Moroccan, and his name was not Sebastian.
Needless to say, I was having conniptions. We could not afford to pay for her college, and she would just throw away the scholarship? No, she had checked it out. The school promised if she returned the next semester, she could keep it. But I’d had sisters who’d dropped out with every intention of returning as they could afford it, and sometimes it took twenty years before they returned. My husband calmly believed her.
I met the young man’s brothers and they encouraged me that things were not as bad as they seemed. “Not Sebastian” returned with her to Baton Rouge and got two jobs to help pay for her so she did not have to work. (That only lasted for a while, but he did work to help her finish her degree.) His commitment to her helped him to grow on me. Still, he was not a Christian, and they were living in sin. She promised she would not give up her faith even as she was impressed with their commitment during Ramadan.
Strangely, the Lord led me to buy them kitchen equipment to help set up their first apartment there. I felt weird as it seemed like I should be condemning them, but God asked me to be gracious. Except she said it was obvious that I was trying to be, and that it wasn’t coming spontaneously. Yes, I guess I had my cultural stereotypes and prejudices, though he seemed like a nice man. (He was about the age of her older brother.)
By and large he and his brothers showed respect to me and we had many interesting conversations. They also introduced me to their friends in Louisiana. I started practicing my French and studying their country, in addition to reading several comparative religion books by Christians. I thought this was a mission field and that perhaps the Lord had brought these people to America so they could hear the gospel. Over the next several years I did meet many of their friends and have interesting discussions. However, it seemed the more I prepared, the less they liked to talk. In addition, the couple started having kids, and so long discussions around a meal were no longer possible.
One weekend she came home and we talked until about 2 a.m., when I addressed her about the situation head-on. “You know this is not how I raised you,” I said. (It had been said before, but this time she did not ignore me.) She said she knew. She asked me if I would rather have her living in sin or married to a Muslim. “That is what I have been debating for the last year,” I explained. She had informed me of their adjustment issues, the clashes from differing social expectations. I had hoped that if I just waited it out, they would break up without any ultimatums from me. Then she dropped the bomb. “Well, we have been married for several months. His brother would not let me move in with them unless we were.”
I went to the justice of the peace to verify the marriage and had a long discussion with one of them about what they could be thinking letting a minor marry a foreigner. (It was only a few years after 9-11.) He was not the last politician I spoke to about the issue, but he was the only one who took the matter seriously.
Since then, I have prayed over every aspect of this: Praying for people groups who are forbidden the knowledge of the gospel, reading and equipping myself with information about their culture, history, religion, and geography. Sobbing over my daughter’s blindness to the horror of denying Jesus, still I understood that she was learning about seeking holiness, modesty, and not to serve herself. I went out with her as she decided to wear hijab and saw how people treated her. I was proud of her courage while I was hurt by her choice to convert.
My sons also stood by their sister, treating her as if it were perfectly normal to address another American who had her hair covered with a hijab. Though they had made a joke of calling him Bob behind his back at first, because of the disingenuity of giving us a false name, they also treated him with great dignity and respect. And while both served their country in the military, neither got sent overseas. I was blessed. We already had our hands full trying to understand both sides. Mostly we tried not to discuss politics, and they were not involved in the religious discussions. But holidays continued, some years with my daughter’s family participating, other years they did not.
Since that time, we have conversed less. I went to meet his parents and sisters and saw his country. Most of my attention now is taken with my grandchildren, who have tried to engage me since the eldest took their father’s prayer rug and tried to instruct me how to pray in the proper form. She was about 18 months old. I promise. The only thing I could do was say “No, that is not how I pray.” So I sat on the rug, lifted my hands, and prayed looking up, and stood, showing her how to sing to the Lord. When Christmas came, I showed her a neighbor’s crèche. She was almost two then. She liked jewelry, so I bought cross necklaces to instruct her with concrete objects. Then I got a crucifix so she would learn what went on them, not just beautiful sapphires. By then she was three. The baby also liked to play with grandma’s cross, and learned the word. They both knew about grandma’s Jesus.
By that time I’d read the Koran so I knew what it said about Jesus. A children’s book told about the angels and showed a veiled woman riding a donkey, so she knew Mary was a respectable woman. (It did not cover most anything not included in the Koran.) All women my granddaughter knew except me mostly wore hijab. She asked me to read this again and again to her. But then, her parents had left her with me at Christmas while they took a vacation. They should have known better as it clearly was a holy time, not only a holiday for me. After that she started getting in trouble if she asked about Jesus too much. I think she got one serious spanking after that, so now she is diligent about not talking to me about Him.
When you’re a Christian, how do you excise speaking about God from your life? It is not possible. Even when I do not deviously plan on how to witness, things come up. Sometimes the girls bring it up, like when I only tried to tell them about rainbows. Then the youngest, who would not even speak to tell us what she wanted to eat, at three years old finally got the courage to tell me I served Shaitan. Her sister told her not to try to talk to grandma because she had tried and it just didn’t work. She had begged me not to burn in hell, and I assured her I would not. That is when I went home to contemplate how to answer their questions.
Most of my writings had been for adults. Not published, I sometimes wondered if they were merely for maintaining my sanity. But now I find I not only want to communicate with adults and older children, the little ones need to be warned. Christian children need to be equipped because they will grow up and enter the world unprepared. (The schools are adopting Imam devised curriculum while they will not allow the schools to teach about Jesus. Cair is working to change laws.) Muslim children are being brainwashed in their private schools, if three-year-olds are learning these things there. These are not only my trials, but are spreading throughout America and the West.
If you have not been touched, rejoice, but pray for those of us who have been. Pray for our families and our churches that the next generation will not take for granted what it has been taught. But if it is time for the Church to be judged and the Lord to return, pray His will be done, and us obedient to Him.
Carolyn James is a pen name for a writer who is passionate about her family, her faith, and apologetics. You may email her at: email@example.com