I sit on the couch and read about Islam as I think about a boy of 13 years with blond hair, blue eyes, a sweet but goofy smile, and a slew of baggage no one that age should be carrying. As a teacher, he made me crazy with his attention-getting behavior. As a mom, he captured my heart, and God gave me a glimpse into the purpose and plan for this unpredictable, unruly young man.

I’ll never forget the day he first called me Mom. In his usual no-holds-barred manner, he interrupted the lesson I was teaching to spout out his affection. “I love you, Mrs. Hines!”

The class fell silent, all eyes on me.  And then, “He’s awfully forward,” one boy muttered from the front row.

In response the boy replied, “She’s my mom.”

Incredulous, they asked, “Is he really your son?”

And in that moment, the answer became “Yes.” An invisible hand stitched a part of this mother’s heart to his forever.

Fast-forward nearly a decade. The boy who took me on as a surrogate mom, who shared his deepest fears and listened to countless “mom talks” ~ the same boy who accepted Christ into his heart in my classroom that year, is now in prison across the continent studying and embracing Islam.

He writes me letters, and we wade cautiously into a dialogue about God. Meanwhile a mother’s heart cries out for answers.

I hear God’s whisper, I will never leave him nor forsake him. No one will snatch him out of my hand.

A sigh of relief and some tearful thanksgiving, then I dig in to study, to equip myself for a lengthy correspondence over the coming months. Who is this Allah? How does he compare to Jehovah? I need to know these things and so much more. As Jesus  grasps one hand, I reach across the country with the other, hoping the boy will reach back and reconnect to the Savior of his soul.

Dear Lord,

You have given me a vision for him. Your plans for his life are powerful and purposeful. Only You can accomplish them in and through him. Open my eyes to understand the thoughts and messages that draw him away from the Gospel, and open his eyes to the only Truth that can really set him free.