Monthly Archives: December 2017

7 Hopes for Muslims and Us in 2018

Adobe Spark (81)

The sun broke pink and orange and beautiful over the plains and onto our mountain here in southern Colorado this morning. It was stunning. As I look out past our homestead to the expanse of the world and inward to my heart, there is much that is beautiful and much that is not. Can I share seven things I pray we’ll see in 2018, among Muslims and in our own hearts?

  1. I hope that 2018 brings the beginning of a massive reconstruction effort in Syria. Along with tons of money, may God send bright, hard-working people, motivated by his love to come along side, build businesses and bathrooms, teach, train and love.
  2. I hope that 5% of my broader tribe, American Christians, will make at least one Muslim friend. If that really happened, every last Muslim in the U.S. could have three Christian friends!
  3. I hope the situation changes dramatically for both the Rohingya, who have fled for their lives to Bangladesh in the 100’s of thousands and for similar numbers of Africans marooned in Libya with little hope of going home or forward to Europe.
  4. I hope the U.S. will understand and implement God’s best in terms of welcoming refugees.
  5. I hope we who love Jesus will dream God’s dreams and hope God’s hope for ourselves and Muslims around the world. May our hearts delight in the things that delight God’s heart.
  6. Jesus said the thief came to steal, kill and destroy, but that he came to bring abundant life. I hope this abundant life will be known in new, wonderful ways for Muslims from the end of our block to the ends of the earth.
  7. I hope you get to share at least one amazing meal with a Muslim in his restaurant in your town or her home far away. Jesus will join you.

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Responding to Islamophobia #1

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For most of us, our encounters with Islamophobia will be in the form of words by non-Muslims to other non-Muslims. “Those camel jockeys. . .” “Those rag heads. . .” And worse.

But what if you actually see someone giving grief to a Muslim? You’re there. You could do something. But what? What does a normal person do?

In popular U.S. culture, you deliver a single, head-snapping, concrete-fisted blow that nearly knocks out the oppressor, leaving him only enough consciousness to shamefully slink away. Two problems with this: 1. Unless you’ve practiced it a lot, you’re punch will connect with his upper arm and leave at most a light red mark, not even a bruise! And 2. Jesus, even though he knew how to make whips, only used them in church.

Maeril, a freelance art director and illustrator, living in Paris, has drawn a brilliant and practical comic to show how normal, caring people might respond to a situation of islamophobic harassment.

She stresses two main points:

1. Do not, in any way, interact with the attacker. You must absolutely ignore them and focus entirely on the person being attacked!

2) Please make sure to always respect the wishes of the person you’re helping: whether they want you to leave quickly afterwards, or not! If you’re in a hurry escort them to a place where someone else can take over – call one of their friends, or one of yours or the police.

I haven’t personally tried this, but it seems like a wise, non-passive response. It has a bit of the feel of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery. May God give us loving wisdom and courage should we be called upon to engage in a situation like this.

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Mary, Baby Jesus and a Major Misconception

Adobe Spark (76)

Her name was Noor. She was curious, compassionate and smart. She was pursuing on a Phd in math in France, far from her Damascus home. She and my wife, Ann, had talked about family, faith, the growing fear in Syria and hope for the future. Having asked her a number of questions, Ann backed off a bit and said, “Do you have any questions for me?”

Noor paused, maybe wondering if it was ok to possibly shame her new friend with what she was really wondering, then decided it was worth the risk, “Do you guys really think Jesus is the son of God?”

This was no theological smackdown. No apologetic challenge. Rather, a brow-furrowed, cautious inquiry. “Can someone as kind as you, think something as gross and terrible as what I’ve been taught you think?”

Ann replied brilliantly, “Yes, we do. But not the way you think we do.” Noor’s raised eyebrows invited her to continue. “We believe it was a miracle. The Holy Spirit came over Mary. There was nothing sexual.”

You could almost see the weight lift from Noor. “That’s what we believe. That it was a miracle!”

Like many Muslims, she’d been taught that Christians think God and Mary hooked up and had little baby Jesus. Can you imagine how that colors what they see at Christmas? What they might think of people who claim to love and follow Jesus?

Muslims and Christians have deep and important differences in how we think about God, but on this we concur: Jesus was miraculously born of a virgin. We also agree that this little Christmas baby grew up to alter the course of history. And that he’ll return someday to consummate the purposes of God.


For further evidence of Ann’s brilliance, check out her new blog on life, hospitality and rehabbing houses.

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