A long time ago I lived in a town where almost everyone was white. They were really nice, just all white. One day we heard that students from Saudi Arabia were coming to our local university. “How cool,” I thought. Some of the guys at church, not so much.
To their credit, they came by their thinking naturally and for the most part weren’t malicious. But they were nervous. “Weren’t Saudis flying the planes that wreaked 911 havoc?” (Objectively true.) “Aren’t they Muslims who want to take over the world?” (Debatable.) “Won’t they try to blow us up?” (Astronomically unlikely.)
Here’s what I told our church, “Saudi students are coming here. One day soon you’ll round an end cap at Walmart and see a covered Muslim woman in the aisle ahead of you. Your eyes will get big. You’ll want to run. Don’t panic. She’s not going to blow up the Walmart. She’s probably just trying to buy diapers for her baby. Maybe she could use your help choosing among options she’s never seen before.”
This is true: In America we’re in very little danger from Muslims. Almost every Muslim here, including, most likely, every single one you personally cross paths with, is simply trying to make the best of life. No global domination aspirations. No devious plan to make us live under sharia law. Just a hope, sometimes dim, that their family will prosper and their kids do ok.
As a followers of Jesus then, we’re good to go. We can say “hi,” “welcome,” “do you need help?” Sometimes they’ll be nice. (Like a family was to me today.) Sometimes they’ll be dopes. (Like a guy was to me today.) Either way, can I invite you to trade fear for adventure. . .and maybe love? Give it a try.