Monthly Archives: October 2019

. . . near to the brokenhearted

While writing Muslim Connect this morning, My heart was warmed as I watched someone give their winter coat to an old, cold and possibly homeless guy. A quick “identify the problem, solve it” scenario pleases me. But few things work that way, eh?

Can I burden you with knowledge of a massive group of people living mostly in northwest China called the Uyghurs (we grrrs)? Twelve million strong, most are Muslim and very, very few follow Jesus.

Reasonable estimates say in the last 2-3 years over 1 million Uyghurs have been put in internment camps by Chinese authorities because of their religion. That’s almost one in every six Uyghurs imprisoned. (Tweet this.)

Leading scholar, Adrian Zenz laments, “There is virtually no Uyghur family without one or more members in such detention. . . .” Some analysts believe this may be the largest imprisonment of a group of people on the basis of ethnicity since the second world war.

There are also concerns for the children of the detained Uyghurs, who often seem to be removed from their communities and placed in orphanages or boarding schools where they are enrolled in programs promoting Chinese assimilation.

The Trump administration is taking solid action in response to these human rights abuses and legislation is moving through Congress “which would authorize regular monitoring of the situation by various government bodies.”

What can we do? Here are two actions you can implement immediately:

1. Pray. David says in Psalm 34, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Relative to the scope of this travesty, your prayers may feel like flicking a marshmallow at the moon. But if God is who we believe he is, our prayers matter.

2. Share this like crazy. Many smart, passionate Christians have no idea what’s going on. You may share with someone who shares with someone who has God-given capacity to take strategic action.

Further study: Read a detailed overview here and see additional articles here.

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A Five Step Plan for a Killer International Thanksgiving Dinner

Want to hear something scary! Christmas is only 60-ish days away! And since Black Friday must precede Christmas, you know Thanksgiving is getting close too!

I’m going home to Indiana for Thanksgiving because when President Lincoln made it a holiday in 1863, he pretty much had midwestern moms and meals in mind. Are your plans coming together? Is there room at your table?

This may be the easiest time of year to take the plunge and invite some Muslims over. Since it might be too much for ol’ Aunt Lu to have “them” sitting next to her, you may want to have a second Thanksgiving. Either way is a win! (Tweet this.)

Make it happen:

  1. Get some buds and a date
    1. Doing this with friends doubles the odds you won’t bail, halves the labor and brings others into your craziness!
    2. Thanksgiving is Nov. 29th. Friday evening the 30th provides optimal availability and a legit reason to avoid Black Friday!
  2. Get guests
    Maybe you already know some Muslims you’d like to invite over. If you don’t, ask a local refugee agency, community college or university. International students sometimes have several free days, but their friends have gone home to be with Mom.
  3. Make a menu
    1. There are dozens of variables when deciding what to cook, but you’ll probably be fine if you remember: No wine or swine.
    2. Try for a halal turkey. If you buy it live and local, you should be fine except for the strictest Muslims.
    3. Go heavy on the veggies. Most people can eat most vegetables.
    4. Hoosiers take note: No bacon fat in the green beans! And while we’re at it, no green bean casserole! It’s may be halal, but it’s terrible!
  4. Prepare a plan (Take a deep dive here.)
    1. Be ready for expected guests to arrive with extra friends.
    2. Have some questions and conversation starters up your sleeve for dinner.
    3. After dinner play some easy to learn, high laughter-likely games.
  5. Follow up
    1. Get a group photo and email it out to your guests.
    2. Start talking about a Christmas gathering right away.
    3. If you get a payback invitation, take it!

Have you done this? Share your stories here to encourage the rest of us. Questions? I’m happy to scheme with you.


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18,000?!? No, Mr. President, No.

In the midst of a lot of important news in recent days, I hope this didn’t slip by: President Trump has decided no more than 18,000 refugees will be allowed to enter the U.S. in fiscal year 2020.

While the U.N. estimates around 25 million refugees in the world, we say no more than 18,000 can come here. I am ashamed and angry. If this figure, the lowest cap in the history of the program, does not at least give us pause, we should not call ourselves pro-life.

So what are the concerns?

Safety: If we let in refugees, we may be letting in terrorists unaware.

Money: Refugees cost too much to take care of. And, really, we can’t afford to help everyone, right?

Triage: The overwhelming situation on our southern border needs to be addressed before we can consider other issues.

I want to hear and acknowledge these concerns, but find them woefully inadequate rationale for this decision.

If you disagree, help me understand by commenting below.

If you agree, join me in taking action.

What can we do?

Get informed: Learn how refugees are vetted. Read this book or skim this article.

Go to this Facebook page to restore your hope.

Buy this sign for your yard. Maybe get two and find a sympathetic neighbor. It can be scary to stand alone!

Advocate: In April of this year a bill was submitted in both the U.S. House and the Senate called the Grace Act. It requires the annual cap on refugee admittance to the U.S. be no lower than 95,000, the average cap since 1980 when Congress passed the Refugee Act. Find your Representative here and your Senators here. Email them requesting support for the Grace Act.

Finally, share this all over. Congress is allowed to comment on the President’s number. Perhaps there’s still time for change.


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Go Faster! Go Faster!!

I suppose I’ll never forget the time when as a kid someone gave me a rock tumbler for Christmas. I was so jazzed! It had been near the top of my list. I couldn’t wait to start. I imagined transforming raw rock into works of art.

This reality hit hard: It takes several stages and nearly two months to tumble a stone to shiny loveliness! How’d I miss that fact? After one set of stones, the tumbler migrated to a shelf, never to tumble again.

I’m thinking about the Parable of the Sower these days, but with a bit of a love/hate thing going on. It moves me deeply that the very nature of the Kingdom is growth. Like weeds and yeast, almost unstoppable. But at the same time, the very nature of the Kingdom usually is slow as plants growing. It takes forever!

Transformation in my life is slower than I wish. In other people’s lives, it’s glacial! ? And sometimes it seems like the Kingdom expansion we hope for, live for, in the Muslim world simply will never come.

So we sow. . . and we wait. . . and we watch. We celebrate every indication of growth, both in our own hearts and beyond. We look for ways to speed the growth while leaning hard on the one who promises a harvest in due time.

If you’re praying or caring for Muslims, if you’re finding ways to reach out and connect, good for you. You could pick easier stuff to do. Don’t give up. God is pleased for you to be his ambassador and through you to extend his offer of life.

If I can pray for you in these things, please shoot me a quick email and tell me how.

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Worst-Case Scenario: Muslims!

Authors David Borgenicht and Joshua Piven did readers (and their bank accounts!) a great service when they launched The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook series. For me it’s a scary sort of fun to imagine landing a plane or fighting off a shark, mostly because I realize the odds of such are almost infinitesimally small. 

Sometimes, and for some of us, it’s all of the scary and none of the fun. This makes me wonder what our collective worst-case scenarios are when we think about Muslims and global Islamic dynamics.

In the interest of bringing dark, scary stuff into the light (where it sometimes curls up and dies), here are some possibilities that may be swirling around in the corporate murk and in your own mind:

•  Western culture becomes increasingly secular, increasingly lacking a moral compass and opens the door for Islam to become the dominant religion.

•  Islamic regimes gain control in more and more countries and systematically eradicate Christian minorities.

•  Muslims grow in the U.S., band together and elect a Muslim president.

•  It turns out Islam is right about God after all.

•  Sharia comes to your town and your daughter wears a hijab to school.

What others am I overlooking? Can you take a moment and honestly share in the comments?

What does the Bible say either in prophecy or principle about these worst-case scenarios? What responses on our part are most biblical, healthy and helpful?

Three things hold my head together:

  1. God wins. Probably not exactly the way I currently understand God and winning, but God will win. And you and I are invited to hasten that victory.
  2. Math is our friend. Check this “Muslim as U.S. president” equation.
  3. Some of my Christian sisters and brothers (Muslims as well. . .) are living their worst-case scenarios today. I should pray for them.


Special Note: My second article on the Dennison Forum went live yesterday. I’d be so grateful if you could take a moment and skim over “Six Things Christians Tend to Get Wrong about Muslims.” If you go above and beyond and leave a comment, well, I’d be so happy I’ll buy you a popsicle the next time we’re together!

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