I met Steve a few years ago when I was shooting broadcast programs for a very well-known Christian television ministry. He was providing limo service for many of the network’s TV hosts & guests; our paths crossed.
Every Thursday I would be down in the “green room” (where guests wait before going on a program) shooting promos. Steve would be smoothly delivering guests to the studio. Many times we would both be waiting around for people, so we eventually struck up a conversation and, later, developed a good friendship.
Steve (who is from Syria) and his lovely wife, Nassima (from Tunisia – who also drove a limo), are two of the nicest people I have ever met. Sweet, funny, intelligent, sincere, unpretentious…just absolutely great people. We’d talk about the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, culture, travel and life. Nassima was a proud, new Mom and we spoke often of their growing family.
One night, while we were shooting the breeze, I asked Steve if he’d ever picked up a guest that had been truly difficult. His eyes flashed immediately as he said, “yes.” He explained in great detail about a very famous African-American speaker/singer who was not only repeatedly late for her pickup with Steve, but that she and her husband were constantly scratching-up his limo doors plus arguing loudly; they proved to be a very difficult and demanding couple. These were ministers who were about to appear on international TV, grab a microphone, look into a glaring camera and share the Gospel with millions of worldwide viewers.
I sensed as he talked that Steve, a Muslim, was not very impressed with Christians. I don’t blame him. Who would be?
About a year later, I called Steve to see if his limo could take our whole family to the airport for an overseas vacation. (It actually turned out to be cheaper with 6 people to travel by limo than to book a shuttle van.) Catching-up with each other’s lives, Steve told me that, just a few months before, the TV ministry he had been working with had cheated him out of limo fees, cancelled pickup assignments and eventually dropped his limo service as a vendor. In one case, nepotism from inside the ministry was used to give a limo contract to a staff member’s relative.
They abruptly parted ways. It did not finish well. Steve was awfully ticked.
Listening to him, I felt sad, hurt and very embarrassed for Steve – and the Gospel. Because this was his ownly tangible, first hand example of what Believers in Christ looked like to a non-believer – redeemed people behaving badly while Steve watched their deplorable behaviour up close and very personal: Slamming doors, arguing loudly, a famous minister & her husband acting like petulant toddlers in a playpen. Then, afterwards, a notable Christian TV network – one that loudly preached prosperity on-camera – cheats him financially behind-the-scenes, while giving insider family deals on transport contracts – thereby cutting Steve’s company out of any future work.
This was not, cannot be, how to treat people. Especially those serving and helping you. Talk is talk. But it’s the Walk that people truly respect. Every action we take either points to Christ…or away from Him.
That famous speaker/singer & her husband? Divorced. Very nasty. Lots of headlines. The breakup news went both national and worldwide. The ex-husband was later convicted of spousal abuse.
That Christian TV network? Today it’s embroiled in a big, fat, nasty scandal. Sex. Money. Cheating. Lies. Family feuds. Dirty secrets.
Steve & Nassima – Muslims – were shown little that might ever convince them that Christ – and Christians – are worth following spiritually.
My take? Jesus Christ deserves much better.
So do Steve & Nassima.