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Tonight Chris and I went to Lakemba Mosque to hear a Muslim evangelist.

I picked Chris up at about 5 and we drove slowly over to Lakemba in masses of traffic. Despite the extraordinary automobilical turn-out we arrived early. We parked a long way from the mosque and walked up the road to meet Waleed. I was worried that I wouldn't recognise him because I haven't seem him in nine months and everyone outside the mosque seemed to have a black beard and flowing robes. Happily he recognised me and came over before I had seen him.

When going in we had to take our shoes off and put them on a shelf in a little room off to the side where you enter. In the room there were bits of scaffolding and lights lying around. They're renovating the mosque. They were doing that last time I was there too, but it's looking a lot better now.

Chris and I sat down the back and talked a little to Waleed. Ahmed came over too, who I had met before, and we chatted. At prayer time Chris and I were left alone while the guys prayed. We were joined by a young guy who wasn't praying. He told us that he was a Muslim but a bad one. He wasn't praying because he was too sinful. He didn't want to pray and be a hypocrite. It was very sad to meet him. I really wanted to get the chance to talk to him later. I would have loved to have told him about grace.

After prayer we were taken down the front to hear the evangelist talk. We met Ali again who we hung out with last time we were there. The speaker was a Texan man who used to be a Christian preacher. He was giving us a teaching about rights and limits. He said every Muslim has rights which are good. But all these rights have limits to give them balance. When he told us about the rights I thought they sounded more like laws, rather than rights ("Every one has the right to worship only one God", or something like that). So I was a little confused as to where the rights ended and the limits started. They all sounded rather similar to me.

But it was all interesting. And he was a good speaker, except when he spoke in Arabic, I didn't understand a word of it.

After the lecture I asked Waleed that if I could talk to the speaker. He told me to go and line up. There was a huge crowd of people wanting to talk to him, so Chris and I just stood near the back. Word got around, however, that the Christians wanted to meet the Sheik and we were ushered into the Imam's* office so we could have a private meeting. I felt like a celebrity.

The office was very plush it had big leather couches, a big desk, and a huge book shelf with many books with Arabic titles. After a little while the room filled up with 6 men and the Sheik who spoke. It was rather intimidating.

The Speaker warmly greeted Chris and I and then continued a conversation he was having with a new Muslim who had converted last night. Then he turned to us and asked us why we were here.

I told him I was interested in hearing his story about how he became a Muslim. But he told us it was too long to tell. Instead he went on to tell me that the Bible has been changed and is inaccurate. He quoted 1 John 5:8 and told me that that was changed in the 16th Century.

I agreed that the Bible has not been free from human corruption and told him also of Mark 7:16 for example, just to back up his point. I figure the best way to moot a point is to agree with it. But I made the point that the Bible translators are working to get rid of these additions not propigate them.

He asked me how people are saved if they haven't heard of Jesus. I told him that Romans tells us that God will judge people according to the law that is written on their hearts. He asked me what this proves about God. I was about to say "That he's gracious" but I didn't get a chance because I was told that it proves that God doesn't need Jesus for salvation, that God will save who he wants.

There was more to the conversation, and it was rather stressful. I was feeling like the minority. But I enjoyed it none the less. Being one of two Christians in a room full of Muslims talking about faith with an international Muslim speaker, in the office of the head Muslim for the whole of Australia and New Zealand, you can see how it would be both intimidating and exhilarating at the same time. Unfortunately, we didn't have long enough to talk. Just as I was getting my confidence up, the Sheik was told he had to go by his minder, so off he went.

When we went back to collect our shoes we were pulled aside into a darkened stairwell by a big guy who asked me "Do you know about the Bible?"

"A bit" I replied

"What's the deal with the bit when Jacob wrestles God? I've always wondered about that."

I told him how it was the story about how Jacob had to learn to submit to God to receive blessing, not wrestle the blessing from God, like he had been doing all his life. I felt like was conducting a clandestine Bible study in the dark, back corner of a mosque. Which I guess I was, except for the clandestine bit. If only he had asked me, "What's the deal with Jesus dying for our sins?"

After this Ali drove us to the local youth hang out where we were fed masses of food. We ate at a big table with the Sheik and the Imam (who's office we sat in before.) Everyone there was very good at greeting us. They all came over to shake hands with us and make us feel at home. They are a really lovely bunch of people. Waleed told me about his family and I got the impression that he was related to almost everyone in the room.

When we were done there Ali gave us a lift back to our car and we drove home. Just as we were leaving I invited Ali and Waleed if they wanted to come visit my church. They didn't sound excited but I'll keep working on them.

I had a fun night. I would have liked the chance to say more, but the opportunities didn't really present themselves. I might go back tomorrow night when the guy will tell his story about how he converted. Maybe then I'll get the chance to say more.

*I hear the Imam is the head for all the Muslims in Australia and New Zealand. And he was also the guy who flew to Iraq to negotiate for Douglas Wood's release. I was introduced to him tonight, so I'm feeling rather famous.