The Missing Piece connects a Christian and a practicing Muslim – It MUST be a God thing

When I began writing The Missing Piece – Our Search for Security in an Insecure World, I had no idea what I was doing. It was 1990, I was 39 years old, and I had never written a book. Some published articles, sure, but a book – never! I wasn’t even sure what I was going to write about but over years of writing, editing, re-writing, etc., it all came together. In the end my totally cathartic writing experience yielded a short story about a grandfather spending a special day with his grandson, a dissertation on the different ways we all try to find our ‘security’ in life and ultimately, three insights on what I believe anyone can do to find what I call ‘the other missing peace’. More than anything, I like to think it is a book about the hope for a better tomorrow.

With the support and help from a willing publisher (Thank you, Lucky Press LLC) the book became a reality in 2003. When I saw the book in its finished form (the original cover had a man in a business suit standing on a floating puzzle piece in the middle of a lake – a really cool picture), I somehow knew then that God had played a major role in helping me complete this life-long dream (to write a book). Several weeks later when I, as a ‘no-name’ author sold 45 copies of the book at my first book signing, I knew God had a hand in it!

In that first year of distribution, I received many complimentary e-mails from readers. One, however, really shocked me. It came from a practicing Muslim and this was just 2 years following the 9/11 attacks on our country. It read as follows…

Dear Harold,
Just finished reading your book, “The Missing Piece”, and thought I would
write you a quick note to say that it’s a powerful piece of work that moved me.
I am a 40 year-old Muslim and I found it very touching. I will treasure this book
forever. Your book has changed my life. I wish I had read this book 20 years back. In parts of your book I literally cried.

Thank you for such a wonderful piece of work. Please let me know if you
should decide to write another book. God bless you and your family!

-Salah Mirza

Now, I had received some very nice reviews and e-mails about my book but this one, from a practicing Muslim, struck me in a much different way. For one, at that point in my life I had never met a practicing Muslim nor did I have any Muslim friends. The only thing I knew about Islam and Muslims was what I had seen and heard on the 6 o’clock news. In addition, I was very surprised to read such a glowing review from him since in the last chapter of the book, where I talk about the importance of having a spiritual foundation in one’s life, I openly confessed that I am a Christian, a man of faith who has accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Yet, here I was reading an e-mail from a practicing Muslim who is telling me he was moved to tears by the book and that it had changed his life! So, his positive comments and the overall review really shocked me. I just wasn’t sure what to think of it. But, as I did with many of the book reviews and
e-mails I was receiving then, I printed it and put it in a three-ring binder. For the past 16 years, it has sat there in that binder.

Fast forward to 2019. Much has changed in the world and much has remained the same. Technology has continued to advance, changing our lives in countless ways. We now find ourselves living in a polarized world where the primary forces of good and evil, love and hate are as prominent, if not more so, than ever. It’s not a pretty picture.
I, too, have changed. I am now a grandfather (almost 68 years of age) and am seeing the world through a different lens. My faith in God is stronger than it has ever been in my life and the love and compassion in my heart for others, even strangers, is beyond words. I have learned much over the years and I continue to learn new things every day. I am so very grateful for the many blessings in my life. I have lived a blessed life.

Just several weeks ago, I picked up that binder with those old e-mails I had received back in 2003 and read through some of them. And then I came to the one from Salah Mirza. As I read it, I wondered, Who was this person? He was 40 years old then, is he still alive today? A lot can happen in 16 years. If he is alive, I wonder where he lives? I wonder if I could ever find him?

Being that I frequent Linked-In, that seemed like a logical place to start. And so, I did a search on the name Salah Mirza. There was more than one, but one picture caught my eye and I boldly sent the following message…

My name is Harold “Bud” Boughton. I am the author of a book called, “The
Missing Piece – Our Search for Security in an Insecure World.” In Aug. 2003, I
received an e-mail from a Salah Mirza and he was very complimentary of my
book. Was that you? Please let me know. If so, I’d like to connect.

The response….

Hello Bud, Yes, it was me, and I remember reading the book and feeling
inspired. I guess it reflected that something was missing in my life, too! Thank

Since then, Salah and I have had several message exchanges. He lives in London and is a high caliber Finance Director for a Architectural Association. In my latest message to him, I told him I wanted to share our story in a blog. Think about it, two men, a Christian and a practicing Muslim from across the pond, would originally come to know one another by of all things – a book, only to re-connect some 16 years later. Then it dawned on me…this book didn’t connect us – God did! Our original connection back in 2003 and now this meeting in cyberspace some sixteen years later is, yes, a God thing! For some reason, God wanted Salah and I to meet and to re-connect as we now have. And why would God orchestrate such a thing? I am not sure why. Maybe just so other people could read our story and find hope from the fact that, yeah, two men of different faiths and backgrounds living on different continents could actually come together to form a friendship, a relationship, that would enrich their lives.

Will Salah and I ever have the opportunity to meet in person? I would hope so but I don’t know. As is pointed out in The Missing Piece, as much as we’d like to think we are the ones in control and that our fate is determined solely by the choices WE make, our world doesn’t always work that way. After all, WE are NOT the ones ultimately in control. And so, the best we can do is live our lives with good intentions, serving and loving others, showing compassion for one another, striving to make decisions that help make this world a better place. If we can set this example for others, being the very best Stewards we can be, then maybe, just maybe, we can and will bring hope to future generations.

As Billy’s grandfather said in The Missing Piece, “Our lives are like puzzles. They come together over time and paint a picture of what our lives look like. The people in our lives are the ‘pieces’ that help make that picture. Some of those ‘pieces’ may be more important than others, but every piece has a role to play just as every person has a role to play. Each of us is a piece in the puzzle. We all have value.” Ah, a wise man Billy’s grandfather. And so it is; Salah and I are now pieces in each other’s puzzle. We are connected and I am grateful to have this man, a practicing Muslim, a man I have never met in person, a man like me filled with love and compassion, as part of my puzzle. Simply put, I think God wanted it that way.

Final note – Yes, The Missing Piece – Our Search for Security in an Insecure World has a different look to it today as the guy in the business suit is gone from the cover, replaced by the puzzle piece that Billy’s grandfather chose to put in his pocket. Oh yeah, you’ll have to read the short story to understand why he chose that particular piece.

Posted in faith, life.

Harold “Bud” Boughton is a husband, father and grandfather who is often referred to as “the teaching coach.” A former senior executive, published author and professional speaker, Bud currently works for Shine.FM radio, a community-supported, not-for-profit Christian radio station affiliated with Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL. He will continue to work for Shine.FM in conjunction with his responsibilities as Co-Director of Team Focus – Indiana. You can reach Bud Boughton by calling 317-258-6372 or click here to leave him a message