Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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There is a woman psychiatrist at our clinic who is a non-practicing Muslim, but labels herself as Muslim. She is very nice and always comes to me and tells me how good my Christian religion is. Today I opened the subject with her and asked her if she ever thought about becoming Christian since she is not a practicing Muslim? She laughed and said that there is a lot of hypocrisy in Islam, but believes in the good God, etc.

I asked her if she would be offended if I gave her a Holy Bible for Christmas and she replied that she would accept any gift from me. It seems like she is open but maybe reluctant because of her family. She is married but has no children. She has many marital problems and is thinking about divorcing her husband as he does not even live in the same state as she does. I am not condoning divorce, but if she divorced her husband, she may be more free to practice Christianity. I don’t know what is the wise way to approach this, especially since her brother is a fanatical Muslim.

She asked me today why do Ibelieve in Christianity?” I told her that a person has to have a personal relationship with God---that although a person may sin, the only One who could accept you is God and He accepted all of us by giving us the Free Gift—Salvation. I encouraged her to pray to God that He may reveal Himself to her.

She has asked me many times to have lunch/dinner with her but I declined due to her belief, but now, should I get close to her as a friend and encourage Christianity with the time I spend with her?

Are there any books Your Grace may recommend that I may give her that may open her eyes to Christianity?

God has placed you in this delicate situation and blessed you with an opportunity to be a light in the life of someone who has lived in darkness her entire life. You have been a good friend to someone in need, which is an important characteristic of Christians. To this effect, St. Peter taught us the following principles to help guide and strengthen us when the blessing of evangelizing in Christ's Holy Name is presented to us:

"And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness sake, you are blessed. 'And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.' But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:13-17).

As believers and followers of Christ, we ought to imitate Him as much as we can. He walked for miles to share Himself with an obscure Samaritan woman. This woman was also estranged from her close relatives, friends, neighbors, previous husbands, and other men with whom she sinfully kept company. He revealed Himself to her, little by little, in a manner according to what she can accept. Like Christ, we too do not impose our belief on anyone; yet, we do not deny our Lord nor confuse the joyfulness with which He fills our hearts unlike the unfulfilling chatter and nonsense of the world. This resonates awe with many non-believers as they marvel at the values and behaviors of the true Christians. You are not interfering with her personal choice, but answering her questions, which are many, because God is shedding His light on her current belief system, one that is laced with arsenals of inaccuracies and violence. The closer she seeks Christ, the more He will reveal Himself to her.

If you are still uncomfortable going further into this friendship because of the repercussions it may have on you and your family, ask one of the priests in your area to assign an appropriate servant for this ministry to accompany you on your visits with your friend. Plan for casual dining or coffee at a public place rather than at your homes. If and when your friend feels at ease with this new acquaintance from the church, you can gradually slip out of the picture.

Perhaps, you may introduce your friend to the Holy Bible by starting to read and contemplate on the New Testament beginning with the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew. Keep your friends in your prayers and may God change all the hearts of stone to hearts full of love.
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