Hussein, Nasrim and Mustafa are young men seeking their calling in the context of a 3rd world mega-city. They are alternatively passionately optimistic and woeful, buzzing with ideas of how to change their country and dreaming of moving abroad. What they lack in experience they attempt to make up for with energy. Teeming with ambition, these three emerging leaders jumped at the chance do a book study on the topic of business leadership.
New to the country and looking for an opportunity to engage with young leaders on character issues of significance, I decided on hosting a book study. In my year of listening, I came to the realization that there was a dearth of conversation among peers about character and leadership issues. At the same time the political, social and religious leaders were all providing spectacular examples of moral and professional failure. I asked myself, “How will this new generation grow up to be any different than their parents?” As a partial solution to this massive problem, I decided to experiment with a provocative book study giving a few young adults the chance to discover a solid ethical foundation for business. Our evening discussions were fantastic!
Over Nescafe and Oreo’s we discussed their visions of success—at first defined by money, fame and status, but expanded through conversation to living out ones values. Mustafa being a practicing Muslim would take a twenty-minute break during our study to say his evening prayers. The other two participants were followers of Jesus but from Muslim families. They were gracious to Mustafa and together engaged in lively discussion about the hypocrisy in their country. As a “Muslim Country”, together they lamented the fact that corruption and dishonesty were rampant despite the aurora of religiosity. Often as a quiet observer and sometimes as a socratic questioner, I heard their previously unchallenged values being tested. As a result of our discussion each participant devised an action plan to meet his values. The modest aims of the book club were succeeded by the outcomes afterwards.
As our book club was drawing to a close, Nasrim asked for help in finding tools for studying the Gospels on his phone. It had been 10 years since he had read his Bible. We began discussing what he was reading in the book of Matthew over Facebook. This fall I hope to invite him to study Scripture weekly. Hussein initially sounded confident and self-assured. But, as discussion unfolded he shared vulnerably and taking me aside asked for prayer for deep fears that were keeping him from sleep at night. Mustafa, my neighbor and the sole Muslim in the group confided to me on a walk home one night that he was really enjoying the discussion with the other men. He asked me what book we would do next. I assured him that I would invite him to our next study. He promptly told me that he would like to study the Koran with me and asked if I might be interested. I told him I would. I look forward to moving further into the realm of spiritual conversation with him this fall, looking at the instances where Jesus is described in the Koran.
God is truly at work in the midst of these young men. I’m looking forward to the next chapter with these fellas this Fall.