I’ve been pondering my conversion to Christianity recently. I wasn’t raised in a Christian home, so I wasn’t indoctrinated with Christian ideas at an early age. When I was very young, I actually thought ‘God’ was a four letter word. The only time I heard the word employed was when my father was cursing about something. It was the influence of the Christians that I knew that brought me into the fold, particularly some very dedicated youth workers. Specifically, the mother (Kathy) of one of my good friends (Joe) happened to be the youth leader at a local United Methodist Church. Kathy was probably the first example of what a Christian should be, to this day I have a great deal of respect for Kathy. She was kind, humble, committed. Though Kathy was not perfect, she was good to me during one of the darker times of my life.
It was really through the compassion and faith of this devoted youth worker that I began considering the claims of Christianity. Kathy was just so nice, and she believed so much, how could Christianity not be true? And so, over time, I came to believe more and more of the Christian message. Understand I was an adolescent and didn’t comprehend everything, nor did I embrace it all at once. But over time through my interactions with Kathy and other Christians, I decided that I too was a Christian.
Granted, my conversion was a bit more complex than that. It wasn’t just my interactions with Christians. But that was a key component. So then is religious conversion really justified by the committed relationship of another to their religion? I’ve been reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s autobiography Infidel about her journey through Islam. One of the parts I found fascinating was her interaction with a Muslim Girl’s School teacher named Sister Aziza. The influence of Sister Aziza upon Ayaan was very similar to the influence of Kathy upon me.
The first thing Sister Aziza asked was, “How many of you are Muslims?” The whole class put up their hands up, of course. We were clearly Muslims, had been since birth. But Sister Aziza shook her head sadly, and said, “I don’t think you are Muslims.”