Friends Can Take Many Forms

As I’ve traveled the world and back again this semester, I’m reflecting on all of the friendships that have been forged through the crucible of the journey.  The one friend I’d like to write about today has probably influenced a lot of the way I see the world.  He’s a gentleman, a statesman, and a friend to many; and last week I got a chance to hug his neck again and just say thanks for being a part of my life.

Dr. Mounzer FatFat is a Lebanese statesman.  He worked for the US State Department as the head of Youth and Sports in Iraq during the Bush Administration, and has since developed youth programs across the Middle East to encourage students in relationships.

In 2003, I accompanied another friend to Harvard’s Kennedy School.  He was speaking about Jesus, and invited Dr. Mounter and I to be his wing men.

When he called me and said, “So, you’re going to room with Dr. Mounzer Fat Fat  in a house we’ve rented” I immediately said, “I’m not staying with a Muslim.”

I could hear nervous Laughter on the other end of the line.

“I’m serious.  I’m not staying with a Muslim.”  to which my friend curiously asked, “Are you serious?”

“Of course I’m serious.  What if I fall asleep and he decides to kill me?” I said out of total fear and serious as a heart attack.  .

If you Remember, 9-11 happened just two years earlier, and I was caught up in the idea that ALL Christians were under attack, and ALL Muslims were aggressive killers.  Little did I know, my world get flipped upside down.

We met in a little home outside of Boston, and I ultimately agreed to stay in the same room with Dr. Mounzer.  After all, how in the world could the Bush Administration hire a terrorist, right?  At least that was my thinking.

For the next three days, when we weren’t speaking to groups, I sat with Dr. Mounter and asked him all kinds of questions.

  • I know not all Muslims are terrorists, but why does it look like all terrorists are Muslims?
  • Can you explain Jihad and the idea that you’re allowed to kill the infidel?
  • What do you really think about Jews and Christians?
  • And tell me how you think about Jesus.

He was so gracious.  He sat with me for nearly three days.  He told me how there are bad people in every culture, and every religion.  He showed me the difference between JIhadi interpretation of the Quran and the idea that Jihad was the idea that darkness and light are at battle with one another.  He explained the prophet Mohammad and the genesis of the Quran.  He helped me see how people interpret verses to agree with their agenda, and ultimately how geo politics have played into the state of the extremist mind today.  It was quite a retreat.

The Climax of the Journey,  the part I was most impressed with his ideas about Jesus.  He told me how he believes in Jesus.  He believes Jesus was born of a Virgin.  He believes Jesus lived a sinless life.  He believes that Jesus is the answer for all faiths to center their ideas around.  And ultimately if we all just Loved God and Loved our Neighbor, many of our global dissonance would simply just dissolve.  Because, how can you kill your neighbor if you’re loving them?

It would be the beginning of the most interesting friendship, and I’ve been running into Mounzer ever since that day.  I’ve watched as he continues to speak about his love for Jesus, and his commitment to helping people find peace around the nature and character of Jesus.

Of course we have differences.  We’re not exactly the same.  We do hold to some pretty big significant theological quagmires with one another.  But it’s so inspiring to watch a man who is committed to Jesus like Dr. Mounzer.  He even showed me an entire chapter the Quran dedicated to Jesus.

In this trying times, I would just encourage my friends to take a break from the rhetoric in our nation today.  Sure there are bad people in the world, but when men like Mounzer take a stance for Jesus, and you explore what it might look like to connect with someone different from you, you can watch an amazing friendship grow and develop around the person and mission of Jesus.

Thank you Dr. Mounzer.  I’m thankful for your friendship, and look forward to how we can together bring hope to the world.

 

An interview with Dr. Muzour explaining what it’s like to be a Muslim in America today

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