He Had Mercy on Me
By: Collins Etchi Ako
29But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35The next day he took out two denarii[a] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ 36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” - Luke 10:29-37
Abderamane Mahamat and I have known each other for close to two years now. We me while taking a course in international cooperation, humanitarian action, and sustainable development at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon. Abderamane is a Chadian foreign student at the Institute; he is a Muslim and a very welcoming young man. At the start of every class, I would walk up to Abderamane and his small group of Chadian counterparts and greet them in Arabic, “as –salaam ‘alaykum” (peace be upon you). I had learned some basic Arabic as part of a course on Islam and this was a golden opportunity to improve my Arabic.
Eventually, Abderamane and his other friends started teaching me some new words and, in return, I taught them some basic English expressions. During my language practice time with Abderamane and his friends, I would also ask them questions about different beliefs and practices in Islam. He had asked me one day why I was so interested in understanding Islam and learning the Arabic language. I told him that I am a theologian with special interest in world religions and interfaith dialogue. I also shared with him the different ways I am in service in the United Methodist Church and in the world. He seemed impressed by my interest in his Muslim faith and my service to our global church and the world. I remember him saying in French “felicitation Collins” (congratulations Collins) and I remember responding with an “Allah wabad” (God is great).
Very often after classes, I would stay back to study for an hour or two before going home. Abderamane and a small group of other students would also do the same. One evening, an event occurred that marked me positively and improved my understanding of Islam and love for Muslims. We had been studying after class and every other person had left except for Abderamane and myself. I had arrived late for class because my son had been very sick and I had to take him to the hospital. On his way out of the classroom, Abderamne stopped at my desk to say goodnight. “Collins you were late for classes today and you have been very sad today, is something disturbing you?” I told Abderamane my son was very sick and he promised he was going to pray for him to get well. Often times, as Christians, we say “I will pray for you,” as a formality. I did not expect to find him still praying thirty minutes later as I left the classroom.
Abderamane prayed for my son to get well. He had mercy on my son and me. A foreigner, a stranger and a Muslim had mercy on my son and me. My son got well and I am so grateful Abderamane said a prayer for us.
Prayer: O God, creator of all humankind; Jews, Christians, Muslims and people of all other world religions. Thank you for revealing yourself to me and for helping me see You in all other persons, independent of their religion. In Christ name I pray. Amen
Discussion questions: How do I relate to people of other religion? What does the bible say about who is my neighbor?
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