It can be tough to promote a Bible study at a public school when you aren’t allowed to use the word Bible. After the high school administration rejected her third design attempt for a promotional flier, my daughter settled on a quote from C.S. Lewis.
“What draws people to be friends is that they see the same truth. They share it.”
We agreed that sounded Christian enough.
Her main hope was to connect with other Christians through Tribes, the “unofficial group” she founded her sophomore year, since she also wasn’t allowed to form an “official club.”
Turnout the first semester was slim, but she kept baking cookies and holding meetings until junior year, when she and another young woman with the same vision combined their efforts.
But the group ended up looking more different than they could have imagined. In addition to Christians, several Muslim students began to attend. Each week, the teens discussed the tenets of their respective faiths, asked each other questions and discussed Scripture over chocolate chip cookies, the great mediator.
And they became friends.
For our family, this experience has generated deep discussions. Her stepfather and I have had to answer the question: how do parents support their children’s efforts to spread the Gospel once they’ve actually reached out to do it? Here are a few things we’ve learned:
How do parents support their children’s efforts to spread the Gospel once they’ve actually reached out to do it?
1. Live out loving your neighbor. Years ago, over a cup of spice-heavy tea, I sat with the mother of my daughter’s first Muslim friend. She asked me why people were cruel to her following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I began to explain fear and prejudice, then I decided the best I could offer was sympathy toward my new friend and my personal belief in Christ’s command to love our neighbor.
2. Pray for your child, and pray with your child for those they’re reaching.
3. Search Scripture together, not in anticipation of winning a debate but in helping them more deeply grasp their own beliefs.
4. Educate yourself. Since moving to the southwest suburbs of Chicago, we have learned more about the Muslim faith from our interactions with my daughter’s friends and their families. Our recent reading has included both the Quran and the book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, by Nabeel Qureshi, with the goal of better understanding those we live, learn and work beside.
5. Trust the work of the Holy Spirit not only to transform the hearts of others but to work in our hearts.
Toward the end of the school year, Tribes met at the home of my daughter’s co-leader. When I arrived to pick her up, five teenagers - two Arabic Muslims, an Indian Baptist, an Asian Lutheran and my white, non-denominational daughter - were still standing inside the front door, apparently reluctant to part ways. An open box of Dunkin’ Donuts sat on the dining room table, which looked like it had been set for a 16th birthday party, not a microcosm of Revelation 7:9.
This was no child’s party, no simple “unofficial group” of religious high school students. This was something bigger than school rules and censored fliers, bigger than misunderstanding and prejudice. This was about open doors that - once entered - are hard to exit because the conversation is just that good.
These young people don’t exactly fall under C.S. Lewis’ definition of friendship. They don’t see the same truth in many regards. But maybe what they do see is a call to seek truth. And, “they share it.” They may not share the same religious beliefs, but they share their beliefs with each other, as well as their questions, their doubts and their desire to love their neighbor.