TJ Student Participates in Reality Show
by Christina Danek
An excursion to Hawaii held more in store for one TJ teen than just sunshine and surf.
From January 8th –13th, 2008 TJ Senior Jasser Mohamed participated in the making of a reality show called Gospel Journey Maui, put on by Dare to Share Ministries International. The trip involved getting together six young men and women between the ages of 18 and 23 of all different faiths, and encouraging them to talk about their beliefs. Mohamed explained, “It’s a show where we go down and live in Maui for seven days, and do activities every day, and they ask us a question of the day. How did life start? Is there a universal God? Why do you believe what you believe? The message of the show was not to prove that Christianity was right, or Islam was right, or Mormonism. They just wanted us to come together in the environment of Hawaii’s beauty, and have us sit down and be ourselves with each other.”
Dare to Share (D2S) was founded in 1991, and is headquartered in Arvada, Colorado. The Maui expedition was the second Gospel Journey of its kind, and the original Gospel Journey was nominated for Outreach Magazine’s 2006 Best Outreach Resource. Dare to Share’s ministry is that of bringing faith and the gospel to teenagers. Since teens are often at home watching MTV and different reality shows, a proposal was made to make a reality show that involves religion. “On those shows there are always people doing challenges and fun activities, and in a way that’s what GJ Maui was. Every day we’d ask a question, and we’d talk about God and challenge ourselves to understand one another, but in the end we were ziplining, rappelling, snorkeling and surfing, too,” Jasser recalls.
The opportunity to participate presented itself to Mohamed one day at TJ. “I was in Ms. Castillo’s room working on my college planning, and out of nowhere this guy came in from Media Tech—the group that videoed the whole thing—and asked her if she knew a black Muslim teenager.” From there, everything fell into place. Jasser’s parents met with the producers of the show, to find out more about it. “My parents wanted to make sure that they weren’t going to try to convert us,” he explained. Once his parents were comfortable with Jasser participating in the excursion, the necessary arrangements were made. Less than two weeks later, Jasser was on a plane to Oakland, California where he would meet the rest of the cast, and then fly to Maui.
The cast consisted of a Buddhist, a Mormon, a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian, and a New Age religionist, all of whom came from various locations in Colorado. Despite the differences in beliefs that each member held, the group developed a special chemistry throughout the week. “The big thing was, we didn’t know each other, starting off…the way our friendship built up just amazes me,” Mohamed reminisced. He says that he felt a connection there that he’ll never forget. “Being at that airport…I knew—I sensed, in a way, that that show was going to change my life.”
Mohamed reflects that Gospel Journey Maui impacted his life by strengthening his faith and changing his perspective about religion. “I think, in a way, it showed me that my faith was right. I believe my faith will always be my strong base, because I think religion is a relationship between you and God. Religion is not just going to church on Sunday; it’s not just doing lent and all of that…it’s a relationship, and how you practice your day-to-day life with God,” he shared. One thing that Mohamed took away from his experience with the multi-religious cast was the importance of respecting other faiths. He expressed with sincerity, “Even though they have a different faith than me, I still need to have that open mind. First, we are human beings. We need to sit down, talk to each other, share the differences, share the similarities, and pick out the goodness in each other.”
After only one week in Maui, Mohamed had formed a number of deep, lasting relationships. One distinct friendship that resulted was with Zane Black, one of the leaders of the excursion. “I really love Zane because I picked up so many things from him. He’s the backbone, I think, for why I came back and got involved talking to teens and going out to different groups. He inspired me to always have faith in God, and to love religion and to work for religion,” Jasser recognized. Black and Mohamed have their differences, but Jasser believes that their open-mindedness has strengthened the relationship. “At first it was hard, because he was the Christian, and I was the Muslim, and we have different views about religion,” he explained. “But we could sit down, without being at each other’s throats, and talk. We were able to say, ‘I’m your friend, and I want to understand your religion, so I can learn more about you. I don’t want to fight about it…let’s sit down and talk about it.’ The understanding we have between us is irreplaceable.”
The editing process is currently underway to create the final show. The estimated production time is six months, and in the meantime the cast is spreading the word around their communities. To view the teaser trailer for the upcoming show, click here.
Looking back, Jasser believes he had a calling to go on the trip. “I felt so gifted and so thankful and so blessed to get the chance to go to Hawaii for God. I felt in a way it was my duty or my way of giving back for God.”
Jasser is now involved in speaking at youth groups around his community, daring to share his faith with others.