The call to prayer emanated from Omar's* lips—an eerie sound, out of place in the park. Omar and a group of 15 men bowed in sync. Moments before, Youssef,* an Arab Christian working with Gulf Partnership Outreach, asked if anyone in their group wanted an Arabic Bible. Omar reacted defiantly, saying that Christianity meant nothing.
After their prayers Youssef called to Omar and his friends. "I am from Egypt. In Egypt, when your people pray, they take off their shoes. Why didn't any of you remove your shoes when you prayed?"
"Because we were not in a place of worship."
"I know you were not in a place of worship, but when you prayed, were you in the presence of your god?" Omar readily agreed that he was, so Youssef continued. "But your holy book tells you to remove your shoes when you're in his presence. Why didn't you?"
"This is not a problem."
"Yes, it's a big problem. Your holy book says you're unclean if you do not remove your shoes in the presence of your god! How can you come into his presence if you're unclean? How can you do such a thing?" Youssef's bold words to Omar hung between them in silence.
In that moment God opened Omar's heart to the gospel. His companions gathered closer to hear their conversation. Left speechless by Youssef's questions, they were ready to listen.
"So how do you Christians do it?"
Youssef explained that Christians are accepted by God not because of anything they've done, but by the blood of Jesus that cleanses them. Eventually, Omar and all his companions asked for a Bible and a "JESUS" DVD. Omar later accepted Christ.
To learn more about grace versus good deeds read this short devotion.
*Some names and/or locations have been changed for confidentiality.