Missional Living

Big Questions
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Q A good friend at school is Muslim. Her parents are really hard on her. How can I help?

A I commend you for befriending someone from a different religious background and culture than yours. It must be really tough to see your friend experience trouble in her family and the cultural factors that are in play. Although you may feel a sense of helplessness and concern, you can support your friend.

First, let her know that you are there for her. You can’t change things in her home. But when she comes to school, let her know she has in you a listening ear. You are not there to replace her parents but to be a friend and peer who understands and supports her.

Second, pray for her. Bringing the entire family before the Lord is the first step in allowing him to change things. Perhaps ask your family to join you in praying “to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20) for your friend’s family. Your friend’s struggle within her family could be an opportunity for them to reevaluate their lives and find the Savior who has been looking for them.

Finally, remain hopeful. Your friend confided in you because she saw in you the raw materials of hope that Isaiah mentioned: “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength” (Isa. 40:31). Continue to be hopeful for her.

By God’s grace, your presence and praying over time just might prompt her to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” Also, I am praying for you.

About the Author

Reginald Smith is the Director of Diversity for the Christian Reformed Church. He attends Madison Square Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.

See comments (8)


Is this the pot calling the kettlle black? I remember very well when I was that Muslim young person. Only difference, I was not a Muslim but a Christian with typical strict Christian (Reformed) parents. We lived by the law. Life was hard. My non Christian friends and more open Christian friends shared the same concern for me as this questioner shares for her Muslim friend. How can we help this poor Christian friend of ours. I imagine this Muslim friend's parents are praying for their son/daughter and her/his friends too. I wonder whose prayers God is listening to, the Muslim or Christian ones?

My oh my, Roger.  Have you considered personal counseling to help heal the wounds of your childhood, whatever exactly they may be?  Seriously.

I really don't think this article was intended to, or purports to, do more than give advice to the scenario questioner as to the scenario fact situation.  It may be that the harshness in your childhood mirrored, precisely or otherwise, that described here, but I'm not sure that is cause to launch into broad brush condemnation ("pot calling the kettle black") of all those associated with you parents in a certain respect (being CRC), or by implication, this author's article/advice.

Thanks Doug for the concern. I wasn't allowed to go to my Jr/Sr prom or date Catholic girls. That hurt. I couldn't play baseball on Sunday afternoons. My friends thought that was weird. Of course, no excuse for missing church (twice) or catechism. What a drag. No movies or cards. I could take a date to church. Whoopee. My friends were monitored closely. That was pretty typical CRC. You too? Of course, that's just the beginning. My parents took lessons from the Pharisees. I'm badly scarred, Doug. Do you think counseling would help? I doubt it. How about prayer? Could you help me out there? I haven't seen much effect there either, but let's try anyway. Thanks, Doug.

Roger: I had something of a "strict" upbringing to (CRC, but that sort of thing was not at all exclusively CRC), but no, I don't consider myself scarred.

Trusting you are not being facitious, I will pray for you.  But the same time, I want to again encourage you to get some counseling.  It may be bold of me, but I might suggest that you consider whether you need to forgive your parents, if only for your sake.

You may want to take a look at (Un)Hurt, by David Snapper.  Link on Amazon is: https://smile.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=unhurt+snapper&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aunhurt+snapper   If you'd like to have that but think it costs too much, I'd be happy to spring for it.  Life is too long to be so scarred, ya know.

Roger: My email address is: doug@vandegriend.com if you'd like to email me privately.


Thanks Doug for your concern. Really. You must realize that I'm a bit of a skeptic and often speak with tongue in cheek. You do realize that this Muslim young person is living under the umbrella of his/her parent's superstition,, even as we did as young people. Legalism is a form of superstition, the reason for Christ's rebuke of the Pharisees. Living under someone else's superstition (like your parents) can be frustrating, hence the concern of this young person for her Muslim friend. I was merely pointing out how both the Muslim and Christian faith can become legalistic and therefore a form of superstition. That's the nature of religion. My parents, although legalistic, were great parents. Who said the Pharisees couldn't be good parents? I forgave my parent's superstition over 50 years ago when I moved out from under their umbrella. And of coarse that was for my benefit. Thanks again for your concern, but no need to worry. I'm far from home and responding by i-phone is difficult. Blessings to you.

Your moderator here: Just a friendly reminder of some of our guidelines. Comments should be directly related to the original post, and contribute something new and positive to the conversation. Personal conversations should be taken offline. Thank you for reading The Banner. 

What I meant by saying that Smith's suggestion was like the pot calling the kettle black is that his suggestion was like the blind leading the blind. How can one form of superstition be helpful to another form of superstition. Superstionis is defined as, "a way of believing or behaving that is based on fear of the unknown or the supernatural." Some would say that all religion is superstition because it is based on supernatural beliefs. The Muslim behavior deemed "hard" by the Christian young person is likely the same hardships Christian young people have endured because of our own superstitions. Hence the pot calling the kettle black or the blind leading the blind. Or is our superstition so much better?