Monthly Archives: April 2018

Today is a Good Day to Pray!

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You know what I have in common with White House staff? This: I have no way to control what President Trump will or will not say in his upcoming meeting with Kim Jung Un, the leader of North Korea! On the other hand, I do know the one who thought up the idea of Korea and the Bible is clear that he’s fond of listening to what I have to say. And to you too!

I mention this because I have long prayed and hoped that I would live to see re-unification of the Korean peninsula, see 35,000 North Korean Christians released from prison, watch as tens of thousands of South Koreans head north with hope and help. Will you join me in prayer as Kim Jung Un and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, are meeting right now? And pray that a productive meeting would actually happen between President Trump and Kim Jung Un in May or June.

This emphasis on prayer today washes over into the Muslim world. Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting, starts in a couple of weeks. Given the spiritual intensity of Ramadan, including the honest seeking of God on the part of many Muslims, I want to invite you to join a gazillion Christians all over the world who will focus dedicated prayer for Muslims between May 15 and June 14. (Tweet this)

The best thing I know to help you do that is 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World. The print version, which is beautiful, will set you back $3, the pdf is $2.50. Of course, setting an alarm on your phone to pray each day is free! But if you’re like me, it’s helpful to have some daily content and prayer guidance. 30 Days is the best for that.

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Can’t I Just Stay Home?

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I’d put it off as long as I could. I had to go. This couldn’t wait another day. If I didn’t make it to the grocery this morning, the kids would have nothing but pancakes for dinner. Literally. No eggs, no fruit. Simply pancakes.

The store is only one bus stop away, but it was all I could do to get out of the house. I had looked futilely for excuses: The weather was fine. The house picked up. We have money for food. Thankfully that’s not a worry.

But the grocery is huge, the language still puzzling. And this hijab. This honorable head covering. This damn scarf. I honestly want wear it. For God, for my husband, for the ummah. But I’d be lying if I said I don’t resent the stares, the averted looks, the odd treatment. I’m a Muslim woman for Heaven’s sake. There are nearly a billion of us. Just let me be.

I’d made it through produce. Happily, carrots are pretty much carrots both where we come from and where we now find ourselves. Bread was ok: Get what’s soft. Cereal was fine: Get the kids something colorful.

Now I’m at the meat counter and I’m lost. I have an undergrad in computer science. I speak four languages, have born two children. I am not dumb. . . or weak. Yet it’s all I can do, standing here, waiting my turn, not to cry and run away. What meat is what? What, if anything, is halal? What can I do to not hold up the line and bring more stares?

“Hello,” her voice says softly. “Can I help you with this?” I turn. She is white as snow. Kind as the first day of spring.

I nod mutely. She takes my hand. Really, takes my hand, smiles and asks, “What do you need to get?”
If you’re female and wondering how someone like you can befriend Muslim women, may I heartily recommend “Without Borders,” a women’s conference that supports and equips Christians in building new friendships with Muslim women. It happens May 4-5. Find more info here

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Wait? What? It’s Not All Rainbows and Unicorns?

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Confession time: (Don’t get excited. It’s nothing juicy!) I have a tendency toward exaggerated optimism. Or maybe the ouchier and more honest way to say it is that I avoid and minimize problems and hard stuff. Reading Muslim Connect you might be led to think, “Wow, connecting with Muslims is easy as eating donuts and comfortable as a hot shower.

I’m quick to share great stories, like Hannah’s, but don’t spend as much time on the challenges.

A dear friend recently relayed some of the struggles she faces as she diligently welcomes Syrian refugees into her community.

“I had my friend over for tea to celebrate passing her driver’s license. She didn’t like my tea, ‘Is it Lipton’s? Syrians don’t like this kind of tea, just Jordanians, Egyptians, Turkish people, but not Syrians.’ Then she had a couple bites of my coffee cake and pushed it aside, saying, ‘Sorry, not going to eat.’ Then she also didn’t want any oranges that I offered her right off my tree. I smiled and will persevere, but its not always as easy as it seems it might be.”

She went on to say how her Syrian friend “schools” her in hospitality, an activity to which I can personally attest she is gifted!

Caring, connecting, across cultures is challenging. Maybe easy at the start, but tougher as you go deeper. People are so different from one another and, honestly, some of us are first class dopes! (tweet this)

If you’re building friendships across cultures and have thrown your hands up and said, “I’m done,” can I ask you to maybe give it another go? You have so much to offer. It can be crazy hard, but it is worth it. (tweet this)

You can read more that I recently wrote about the importance of grit here.

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Punish a Muslim Day?

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The NCAA basketball championship was big news in the U.S. this past week. But in the UK, and even in major US cities, police were on increased alert against violence toward Muslims. In March, flyers appeared in England calling for April 3rd to be Punish a Muslim Day. The viral letter, which also spread on social media, vilely assigned points based on various kinds of violence: 25 points for pulling off a headscarf, 500 for butchering a Muslim, 1000 for burning or bombing a mosque.

Even if Muslims were our enemies, and most clearly are not, Jesus’s command is clear: Love them. Certainly not throw acid in their face, for which the flyer awarded 50 points.

Instead of engendering violence, Punish a Muslim Day happily resulted in a backlash of love and concern. People looked out for Muslims, people prayed and the #loveamuslim hashtag trended.

This seems to me to be a good way to respond to violence both planned against, and perpetrated by, Muslims.

Last week Muslim parents in San Antonio were arrested and charged with abusing their daughter who refused to marry the man chosen for her. Police allege they beat her with broomsticks and threw hot cooking oil on her, contributing to her running away. Of course this kind of violence should not happen in the U.S. or any other country for that matter.

What feelings does this bring up for you? What can we do about this situation? Maybe not much. But perhaps we can look out for Muslims in similar situations, both kids running from parents and parents struggling to raise kids in foreign situations. We can certainly pray. And we can love, even when it’s hard. Even when it seems irrational.

Please join me in praying against violence toward Muslims both from outside the community and within families. And maybe make a special effort today to reach out to a Muslim with words of kindness and welcome.

Last week’s Muslim Connect talked about a recent book by my friend, James Wright. Please go to Amazon and get a copy of James’s book. (The Kindle version is a steal at $.99!) It will help you connect with Muslims. Plus, your buying a copy will facilitate books being given to Muslims who lack the resources to get their own. Contact James for more information and bulk discounts.

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