Wingate Faces

Rory Green '11

Written by Kellen Williams (Marketing & Communications Intern)

Rory Green (’11) came to Wingate University from a small market town in the UK (Sleaford, Lincolnshire) for soccer. Though he was working toward an undergraduate degree in Athletic Training, Green said he “wasn’t too fussed about it.” All he really hoped for was to push on to a high level in soccer. “But as time went on,” he explained. “...It was clear that I had to work hard at all that I did after becoming a Christian in June 2010.”

In April 2011, Green came across an online news article in the Huffington Post about Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. At the time, ten years after the attacks, the decision had just been made to prosecute Mohammed and four of his followers before military commissions.

When Green read the article, his newfound religion prompted some questions. “Who is loving this man? Who is praying for him?,” Green wondered. “I felt an overwhelming sense of compassion for him.”

While sitting in his apartment in the Jefferson building at Wingate University (now South Village), Green began writing a letter to Mohammed, who is held at Guantanamo Bay.

Green wanted to write and share some of what he had learned through becoming a Christian. “If it was mere words of religion, hate, fallacy, or even force, it would have carried no true weight,” Green stated. “But I didn’t give Khalid that.”

Green kept his expectations low and said he only hoped, at a minimum, Mohammed would read the letter. “I believed his heart would change and in so, his life,” Green claimed. “He has hope regardless of his past and mistakes.”

It wasn’t until December of 2013, nearly three years after Green wrote the letter, that he received a response from Mohammed. He, again, felt immensely overwhelmed. “I nearly fell over,” Green recalled. “My heart was pounding and my spirit buzzing.”

The response was 27 pages, handwritten by Mohammed and then transcribed and typed by his lawyers. It consisted mostly of theological debate, comparing Islam to Christianity and the Qur’an to the Bible. “We live in two different worlds...” Mohammed wrote. “We have ... many different perceptions and convictions regarding the seen and unseen world.”

Since graduating from Wingate University, Green has worked as a learning disability support worker at a home for autistic adults. He also works as a youth pastor in his church. Both have kept Green extremely busy, so it hasn’t been easy for him to work on his response back to Mohammed, but he is working on it.

Mohammed, born in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province and raised in Kuwait, also came to the United States as a college student in North Carolina. Mohammed went to Chowan University in Murfreesboro, N.C. Coincidentally, Green’s best friend attended Chowan University as well, though not at the same time as the 49-year-old terrorist.

Green reminisced on playing soccer against the small private university in 2007; Wingate won 6-0 and Green plans to send photos of the “drubbing” to Mohammed, although at the time of the match, Mohammed was confessing to planning the 9/11 attacks as well as several other terror plots. “I thought I would have some banter with the man,” Green said. “All in all, it’s a small world; it’s definitely a building bridge for the two of us.”

Green writes many letters of the same philosophical and theological nature as his first to Mohammed. “Naturally I’ve written many personal letters to people..,” Green said. “...whether they be famous to the world or not.” Famous, or notorious in this case, people are no different to Green than a simple man, as he refers to himself.

He added that he never expected the media to get involved, nor did he ask for it. “All this exchange was ever intended to be was purely personal,” Green claimed.

Green firmly believes the letters held power. In Mohammed’s letter to Green, he wrote: “You asked me to repent for my sins. For your own information, I never stop.”

“I absolutely believe my letter impacted him the way I hoped,” Green stated. “I did it in love.”