Fleeing the keynote speaker’s address, I found a quiet room where a few people were visiting. The frustration of trying to convince others that my message was timely overwhelmed me. We were at a Christian writer’s convention, after all. Instead of what is your major, the common introduction in college, the question on everyone’s lips was, “What do you write?” I explained that I wrote about Islam, whether as an adult apologetic, a historical novel, or my children’s stories, which were also apologetics. Most people do not think children are ready for such a thing. But I told them about my grandchildren who were being raised as Muslims. One has repeatedly engaged me, begging me not to burn in hell, or asking why I will not believe. Having answered her questions about my cross necklace since she was a toddler, or what Christmas is about—Jesus’ birthday, I have not been shy about proclaiming who I am or why I believe as I do. But the need to be discerning has also been on my heart, because threats to their safety, whether real or imagined, and the possibility of being cut off from them concerns me.
When the youngest informed me that I served Shaitan, I knew I had to offer a response. But at the time, only a “No, I don’t,” “Yes, you do” conversation ensued. These children were very little, yet they were being trained. Possibly by my daughter and son-in-law, but most likely by their teachers at the Muslim daycare and school they attend. I returned home to pray and seek the Lord over how I might answer them, in a form in which they could understand.
Not that I have shared these stories yet, for they may not be age appropriate, but the needs of all the kids of a variety of ages at that school burdened me. In addition is the need to equip our children being raised in Christian families, as mine were, who might be swept away by an impressive legalism and devotion when they left their parents’ home. What I had not prepared for was for someone to ask me to tell my story. It was private, and what good would it do anyone else? Would I warn you of international students who come here and look for vulnerable females who will provide them green cards, and possibly citizenship? Personally, I believe they should change the laws to protect minors. How can someone between 18 to 21 who cannot buy a car, sign a contract, or even get a hotel room without someone co-signing for them, promise they will protect and provide for this person so that they will never be a burden on the tax rolls? How can someone who has only been away from home a little more than a year know what they are getting into?
The first time I spoke to my congressman, he evaded the issue saying it was a state level decision. Though it seemed like a national security one to me, he did not grasp the importance of having people come in who are set upon changing our laws and our culture. Neither did my state senator or state representative seem intent upon pursuing the problem. (There was not a lot they could do anyway other than change the laws to protect other children.)
They are happy to send me their newsletters and call me to endorse them at election time. But they might care a bit more if it were their child that were sidelined, or their grandchildren whom they are limited in being able to share their faith. This was my first line of defense, since I had personal acquaintances with several of these. Let me state this led nowhere.
As the problem developed, I had thought my daughter “merely” living in sin. We prayed for her and hoped that she would break off the relationship if we did not give her an ultimatum. But he moved to her college town and worked hard so she could attend school. He grew on me, and I appreciated the sacrifices he was making for her. He seemed a decent young man and I decided it was not his fault if he were born on the wrong side of the world and had not heard the gospel. Yes, this sounds intolerant, but I was working at trying to be understanding.
I met his brothers, who also seemed nice, and kept reassuring me it was going to be alright. I brushed up on my French because they spoke it some of the time, and I wanted to be able to communicate with them. They started switching to Arabic. I have since found that they speak English just fine. Eventually we were informed that they were married, but by then I liked him. At this point she was claiming she would keep her Christianity. But one time she tried to calm her husband by saying the shahada in Arabic. (That is, the statement that there is only one god, and Mohammed is his prophet.) She did not know I had seen it presented in books and knew what she was saying.
A few years later, but before their first child was born, we made a trip to meet his family. He was happy to take me all over his country. Taking time to study his history, culture, and the important places to visit honored them and let them know I cared. They were a respectable family and their home luxurious. I hated to leave.
My bookshelf grew fuller, learning what I could from a variety of authors. They covered the vastness of Christian comparative religion tomes, the history of Islam by both Christian and Muslim sources, a few copies of the Koran so I could look up verses to ensure no one had taken the statements out of context, as well as travel guides. A couple of seminars and the Perspectives course on missions also provided a better understanding. But the more I prepared, the less they would talk about it. I even tried a blog.
One thing I found was that the more I read the Koran the more I wanted to argue, so I do not recommend it for those who want to minister to Muslims. You should probably read the Bible, and focus on loving them. Then read the Christian manuals that discuss the differences. Though after you have read a few of them, it seems like they all say the same things, but that is alright. You did not get all the details the first round through, so you remember them better after you have read the information five or six times. (I did try to present arguments in a new way when I wrote my apologetics, but as yet they are not available.)
The good side to all this is to see how your family sticks together and shows respect for one another, even when they think their sister has lost her mind, or at least gone off on a wild goose chase. I would have to state that for the most part, all parties have been spectacular in their tolerance and love. Though I did consider telling someone off who I thought was about to make comments about seeing my daughter in hijab at a restaurant. They did not say anything, but it was difficult to see people treat your child as if she were a leper, or a traitor. They were total strangers. I could not know whether any of them might have children at risk in the military, or ones who might have died, so I tried to be aware of both sides of the equation.
I wanted to shout, “If you are concerned with her conversion show her the Lord’s love rather than judgment.” While it was difficult watching her dress this way, I was aware it was as a sign of modesty that motivated it. We had had issues of how she might dress as she was growing up, though not as bad as some. But she had been stared at as a busty woman, so I knew she also had some reason to desire to be left alone. Watching your child develop greater consciousness of the importance of not serving themselves but of seeking to serve God, is encouraging even if it is the wrong god. (I have had the peace of the Lord in believing that she will return to Him eventually.)
Other family and cultural issues have been worked through by the couple. They have different social standards that affect their perceptions of the roles of the sexes. They have grown from young adults into adults who function in the world and as parents. We all try to give each other as much space as possible, and so far it has worked to allow for peaceful interaction. I certainly have grown in my concerns for others.
Rather than looking at this as a tragedy, it has in fact been a training ground to expand my horizons. But the problem of our invasion is still there, felt most painfully when I cannot explain freely to my grandchildren my most deeply held values. I hope that at some point my writings will be able to prevent others from enduring the same problems, or will equip them as they do.
In the meanwhile, pray for my daughter, and the other mostly Christian young women who have been seduced into this heresy. Pray for the men who come over, that it will lead to the Lord’s glory rather than to the subjugation of our culture. They might not have had the opportunity to hear in their own countries. Pray for their lands that the economies will improve so they can stop sending their sons over here. And for the gospel to go out over there so that they will not have to be afraid of being rejected by their families if they respond to Him. And pray for your own family that your children will not misunderstand the nature of grace and be attracted by this legalism.
Carolyn James is a pen name for a writer who is passionate about her family, her faith, and apologetics.