I first met Peter in a Charlotte parking lot where he and two other fellows were selling perfume to passersby. When I saw a sign with letters eight inches tall that read “Jesus” in the back window of his car, I wanted to know who the driver was. Who is this guy who is so unashamed that he isn’t content with the fish symbol that most other Christian owned cars’ sport?
Peter has cerebral palsy and walks with the characteristic dragging of the right foot and the limp. All of this however, did not stop him from reaching many of his goals. His father, Mike told me that when Peter was six years old the doctor told him that his son would never achieve academic goals or play sports and so forth. Peter now has a Master’s degree in Mental Health and played nose guard on his high school football team. Even when jobs are hard to come by he was out there trying to make a living until he could land on something better. Peter still doesn’t have a REAL job.
On our first meeting I stood in the parking lot as Peter forced me to lot listen to his story. He explained his disability and how he came to Christ through the influence of a “black sheep” cousin who found the Lord first. We exchanged cards and I didn’t hear from him for another four months until after I returned from trips to Europe and Canada. When I returned home Jeanne said, “Some guy named Peter left a message about meeting him in a parking lot.” I knew right away who he was and returned his call.
Peter is second generation Egyptian and grew up in the Coptic religion. The Coptic religion is very old and similar to Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions. Peter and I have gone on to build a friendship and once a week we meet for personal discipleship. Peter is incredibly winsome and will overtly share Jesus with anyone who will listen… actually, he will overtly share Jesus with people who DON’T want to listen. It is my intention to help him learn how to do this more effectively. Like Aquila and Priscilla I am attempting to make “the Way” more clear. After all, the gospel must be explained. Peter is an appreciative and fast learner.
One evening, Peter’s dad and mom, Mike and Magda called our house asking me to return the call. Right away I got in touch to hear them express their thanks for caring for their son. In this call they asked if we would come to Raleigh to meet them personally and have dinner in their home. It is hard to turn down mediterranean hospitality and food.
We were warned by Peter, that Magda is an exceptional cook. We know now his claim to be true. In Arabic fashion she pulled out all of the stops from Greek salad, to stuffed grape leaves, to Kish, to beef roast, to some spinach casserole to my favorite, baklava (incredible) . We were so stuffed we could hardly get up from our chairs.
While we sat around the table, they had many questions regarding Peter and how it was that he and his cousin had such a change? They wanted to know our story so we gave our testimony. When I said that I had become a Christian at thirty after being raised in Christian home – my father a Pastor. Magda wanted to know, “But aren’t we born Christians?” This gave opportunity to explain the conversion experience as it occurred in the Bible. I pointed out that no one is born a Christian and that baptism does not a Christian make. All of those who became Christians in the New Testament did so as adults and in an instant. The evidence that baptism will not make people into Christians is all over the world, Italy, France, Quebec where ninety-five percent of the millions have been baptised but the majority of people remain atheists or agnostics at best.
It turned out to be a wonderful afternoon and evening. We have bonded with the Boghdadi’s and have opened our homes and hearts as they have opened theirs to us.