Could friendship be a Christian witness in a Muslim community? For Martins, a 2008-09 resident at OMSC, that question came out of a real life situation. Martins is a Christian missionary living in a predominantly Muslim community in Nigeria. He applied for a sabbatical at OMSC in order to have an opportunity to become both physically and spiritually invigorated for his ongoing work, and to meet new friends who challenged his Christian life. Blessed with a personality that radiates joy, he makes friends easily. But, was befriending the son of a very wealthy Muslim chief testing the bounds of friendship?
One day Martins was summoned before the Chief and questioned about his friendship. As Martins explains, “the Chief was agitated about the relationship between me and his son, who is married and a senior officer in the ministry of education. He asked his son if he intended to become a Christian and the son replied ‘no.’ But, the father kept questioning him about why he wanted to be friends with me.” Martins recalls that the father said to his son, “you will soon become a Christian.”
Now it was time for Martins to be questioned. He assured the Chief that he had never preached the Gospel to his son, they were just friends. But the father replied, “You are a Christian. Christians do not have to preach to convert people, their lifestyle is message enough. Decades ago our city was only Muslim, now many have watched the way Christians live and they have converted.” The father looked directly at Martins and made another prediction. “If my son continues to look at the way you live, he will want to be like you.”
After the two men left the meeting, the son confessed that he was beginning to love the way Martins conducted his life.