Kaduna is a city of about 750,000 in northern Nigeria. It is majority Muslim, but a sizable Christian population calls the city home as well. In the 1990s, Imam Ashafa and Pastor James each led rival, warring militias, each intent on protecting their people from the abuses and encroachment of the other. In one skirmish, Imam Ashafa's spiritual mentor and two close relatives were killed by the Christian militia. In another, the Islamic militia cut off Pastor James' right arm.
In 1995, a mutual friend brought Imam Ashafa and Pastor James together and told them that they could end much of the violence if they would just get to know one another. The imam and the pastor decided to give it a shot. Heroically, they forgave one another and began to build bridges of friendship and trust.
Now, Imam Ashafa and Pastor James spend their time working together. They have launched the Interfaith Mediation Centre, which focuses on promoting peace between Muslims and Christians. Because of their work, peace is beginning to break out in parts of Nigeria, and the two clerics have assembled a team which is taking their message of love and forgiveness to other troubled, African nations.
Kenya is one of the places where Imam Ashafa and Pastor James are working. Here's a great clip highlighting their Kenya project (graphic images warning):
You can order copies of the "The Imam and the Pastor," an award-winning, 39-minute documentary at http://www.iofc.org/imam-pastor.
Imam Ashafa and Pastor James are living monuments to the power of reconciliation and love. They are promoting peace in the way of Jesus, and that makes them heroes in my book!