“I’m not a Christian anymore,” the 12-year-old girl I have been mentoring for four years just informed me.
She tells me she has decided to become a Muslim.
Once in the car on the way to our regular date to the library, I ask her to elaborate.
She has recently had a conversation with her stepfather, who is a Muslim and who is apparently trying to convince her to follow the ways of Islam.
For the past six years, my mentee has attended a Christian school where she has—at least in the classroom—been brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” But this year signaled the beginning of seventh grade and the beginning of her transition from Christian school to public—a transition that is removing her from her lifeline to the Christian community (except for me, and perhaps her grandmother, who occasionally takes her to church).
I kindly told my young friend that she could call herself what she wanted, but as long as she was hanging out with me, we were going to read the Bible together. She nodded her head compliantly.
There are two things I do not want to do:
1) Subvert her stepfather’s authority, or
2) Shove Christianity down her throat.
But when a 12-year-old—who has always been very receptive to teachings about Christ, and even offers to pray (to the God of Christianity) from time to time—suddenly decides that she’s going to call herself a Muslim, there’s something within this protective mentor’s heart that makes me want to believe that it’s just a phase she’s going through . . . either to impress her stepfather, or to prove her independence, or to try to draw attention.
But, what if she’s not?
Aside from making her wear the hijab every time we hang out (to show her that she really does not want to become a Muslim), I’m not sure what to do. Except continue to read the Bible with her and pray that all the seeds I have planted have not fallen on deaf ears.
Any advice for this disheartened mentor on a Wednesday?