Our Introduction to Toluwalase,
Toluwalase is from Nigeria and is a graduate research assistant in an academic institution in Iowa. More importantly, he has become our friend.
In November of last year, Deb and I hosted several Nigerians for dinner. It was a nice time of becoming acquainted with Toluwalase and his friends. In February, we invited Toluwalase back for a second visit. This allowed us to get to know our devout Muslim friend better. Toluwalase comes from a middle-class home in Nigeria and has two sisters.
When he visited, I asked Toluwalase what he did earlier that day, and he reported that he went to services at his mosque. This led to a discussion concerning his beliefs as a Muslim. After perhaps an hour of this, and after finishing our meal, we headed back to his home, where I would drop him off.
On the way, as we drove through a rather intense Iowa snowstorm, Toluwalase asked me these questions, “What do you think about Jesus? Is He the Son of God, or is He God? What do you think about Him?” I explained that I could talk for days about Jesus but would instead answer his questions about the Trinity. After briefly describing what the Bible teaches about the Trinity, I said this, “Probably Muslims would agree with Christians that it is impossible to fully understand God.”
I also had the opportunity to clarify an essential difference between Islam and Christianity. In Islam, Allah may exercise mercy, but there is never a removal of our sins. As Toluwalase explained, his understanding of Allah and his requirements for salvation/paradise is that one must do more good things than bad—there is in Islam a very elaborate good works system. I tried to help my friend understand that in Christianity there is no room for even one sin in the presence of God. Just like one drop of poison will spoil a barrel of pure water, so one sin makes the person unclean before God. Therefore, Jesus needed to be fully God and fully man, so that an adequate sacrifice for sin could be made. This is where our witness to Toluwalase rests.
At the heart of our ministry is the desire for evangelism. Everything depends upon this. To repeat, Deb and I will, always, first be consumed with making the gospel known to the nations, speaking the gospel here so that the gospel can be known there. The opportunities in Iowa are abundant.
At the end of these daily communications, we will share our abbreviated ministry plan, but for now, please pray with us, asking God to introduce us to individuals from around of the world, representing the diverse religions and world views that are here. Ask our God to help us engage these new acquaintances with authentic friendships, leading to the sharing of life in Christ.
Tomorrow: The Surprising Demographics of Iowa,
Bill and Deb