September, 2008. It was the first time for my friend, *Hama, to take part in communion. And I was excited. Five or six months after Hama had professed faith in Jesus we had driven several hours to another city in order to pick up a box of Bibles in the local language. The timing of our trip coincided with the Friday service of one of the first churches to organize and meet openly among Hama’s people group. So we had dropped in, inviting along one of Hama’s musician friends who was interested in learning more about Jesus. Or so we thought. This friend quickly excused himself after observing the first fifteen minutes of the service, clearly feeling awkward and skeptical. Hama, however, was spellbound. Multiple men from a neighboring country were being baptized in front of a packed room, proclaiming Jesus as Lord and savior. Everyone present, with the exception of myself, were open seekers or former Muslims now professing faith in Jesus. While we had attended a local house church in our city off and on together, the openness and size of this meeting (maybe 80 strong) was having a powerful effect on Hama.
The time came in the service for communion. As they passed around the grape juice and naan flatbread – from which we tore off a piece and passed it along – Hama leaned over to me.
“I’ve done this before.”
His statement surprised me. “No, Hama, this is the first time you’ve done this. I know because I’ve been with you every time you’ve attended the house church. I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
“No,” Hama said. “I’ve done this before… with Jesus.”
I shot Hama a furrowed-brow sideways glance. “What?”
Hama continued, “Remember that day when you told me that according to what I had told you, you thought that I had become a true Christian? Well, that night I had a dream. In my dream Jesus came to me and gave me some bread to eat and something red to drink.”
Hama was looking down now at the elements in his hands. Though we had done regular Bible study together, this was the first time he had heard the meaning of communion explained in his mother tongue… and the pieces were coming together. I must have still had a confused look on my face because Hama went on to clarify.
“You didn’t think I became a Christian because of you, did you? No, I became a Christian because of Jesus. That night with the dream, after that is when I truly believed.” Hama grinned in his typical mischievous way. “My friend, I am a Christian because of Jesus, not because of you.”
“Well,” I replied. “Thank God for that!” And we ate the bread and drank the cup, remembering what Jesus had done for us.