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Jeff Benedict: Christian convert's beliefs hold up through violence, threats, imprisonment

Published: Monday, Nov. 11 2013 8:30 a.m. MST

“Now that I see you,” his father whispered, “Allah has answered my prayer. I asked Allah that if what you believe in is true, I should see your face before I died. Allah has shown me your face. So I believe in whatever you believe in.”

Tito wondered if his father was senile.

“Is it too late for me?” his father said.

He sounded so desperate, so pathetic.

By that point Tito was an emotional mess. His father had made him cry so many times in his lifetime. But this was the first time the tears were born of sympathy. He could see the fear in his father’s eyes.

“It’s never too late,” Tito told him. “Father in heaven is a God of mercy.”

He squeezed his father’s hand. “Christ died for everyone,” Tito continued. “Everyone can be redeemed, father.”

“The Lord you’re worshipping will take care of me?” he pleaded.

Too choked up to speak, Tito nodded affirmatively.

They spent two hours together that day. Tito’s father died later that afternoon.

I remember the day that I helped Tito write the closing chapter of his memoir. The emotions were so raw that writing was physically exhausting. But these words about Tito’s father and redemption emerged on the page: “The next time I see him will be on the other side. I do believe he’ll be there. At that point he won’t be a Muslim and I won’t be a Christian. We will simply be children of God.”

If you go ...

What: Jeff Benedict and Momen Tito lecture

When: Wednesday, Nov. 13, 1 p.m.

Where: Utah Valley University Student Center Room 206B, Orem

Also ...

What: Jeff Benedict and Momen Tito book signing

When: Thursday, Nov. 14, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Deseret Book downtown, 45 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Web: deseretbook.com

Jeff Benedict is a Sports Illustrated special features writer and author of 12 books, including the N.Y. Times best-seller "The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football." He co-wrote "My Name Used to be Muhammad" with Tito Momen.

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