Monthly Archives: December 2019

Things Could Get Weird!

Please see the special note at the end of this post.

There’s a guy in my small community who spends many of his waking hours walking up and down the highway. This isn’t so much a “hit my fitbit steps goal,” as maybe walking out his demons. His face is set, grim and shows the wear of countless hours of Colorado sun and wind.

A friend at church asked me Sunday morning if I would be inclined to engage this guy in conversation. In a rare burst of honesty, I said probably not. When she asked why, I gave it some thought and replied, “I have no idea what’s going on in that guy’s world.” My spidey sense (Which may often be contrary to the Holy Spirit.) says it’s best to stay back. Play it safe. It could get weird if I get too close.

This realization, of which I’m not too proud, made me wonder how many Christians experience something similar when it comes to Muslims. It’s not anger or apathy that keeps us keeping our distance, but more a sense of not knowing anything about their world, having no way to guess what’s on the other side of a “hello.”

Does this ring true with you? Do you suspect it in friends, family, fellow Christians? Given some of the popular narratives about Muslims these days, suspicion and discretion are not a big surprise, are they?

This matters because I hope Muslim Connect helps fill in that knowledge and experience gap.

If this dynamic is real, what else can you imagine that would help counter it?

How can we build a prevailing sense that the other side of “hello” looks like this: On the one hand, lots of relational work, cross-cultural awkwardness and probably some theological challenges. But on the other hand, yummy food, interesting conversations and maybe a fresh episode of the abundant life Jesus said he came to bring.

Please share your ideas below.

Thank you for this, the last Muslim Connect of 2019. I’m honored and grateful. If you’ve found value in Muslim Connect, can I ask you to consider two things? 1. Hit the forward button and share it with a friend. Or a bunch of friends! 2. Ask God if he would lead you to give a year-end financial gift to keep it going. You can do so here. Thank you.

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Snuggling and Struggling With the Saudis

Please see the special note at the end of this post. 

My friend Ali is Saudi Arabian and a great guy. We met when his wife pursued a masters at my alma mater, so I’ve known him a long time. We’re not super close, but we stay in touch.

I can name only two other Saudi Arabians, both celebrites: Muhammad bin Salmon, the crown prince. And, of course, Osama bin Laden. 33 million people and I only know one of them?! Is it any wonder I have a hard time wrapping my head around my country’s relationship with Saudi Arabia? “It’s complicated!” Yeah, pretty much!

An American friend (Believe or not, I have more than one of those!), David Weston wrote this past week about that relationship in his More Than Meets the Eye weekly update. I encourage you to subscribe to it.

David stresses four things:

  1. Saudi individuals have been guilty of violence against Americans.
  2. As one of America’s best allies in the war on terror, we’re not soon going to abandon our relationship with the nation.
  3. There are significant, important world view difference between most Americans and most Saudis.
  4. One of the best things people like you and I can do is get to know some of them.

David says, “Tearing down walls and building bridges is where we can impact this global phenomenon of the movement of peoples. Let’s not put it all on everybody else to try and figure us out. Let’s take the first step and see if we can understand them better. When that happens, respect will begin to grow. When respect happens at an individual level, it will soon be followed by mutual respect at the national level.”

I so want that to be true. I’m going to send a message to my bud Ali today. Join me? If you don’t know any Saudi’s, take a peek at this map to see if there are any clubs near you.

 

Thank you for reading Muslim Connect. I’m honored and grateful that you do. If you’ve found value in it, can I ask you to consider two things? 1. Share it with a friend. Or a bunch of friends! 2. Ask God if he would lead you to give a year-end financial gift to keep it going. You can do so here. Thank you.

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Best Christmas Song Ever?

Got a favorite Christmas song? (I bet you also have some you’d rather not hear for another year or ever!) Mine is “Let It Be” by the Beatles. “What? That’s not a Christmas song,” I hear you say. You may be right. But I love that Mary told Gabriel, “Let it be to me according to your word.” I don’t know if she whispered those words of wisdom, but she certainly nailed a good response.

That attitude, along with much more, both biblical and beyond, has earned Mary unique status for Christians. For Muslims as well.

She is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran, showing up more there than in the New Testament. In Sura 3.42, the Quran says, “O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.”

Muslims tend to refer to her as Maryam, but it’s the same mom and the respect is real.

I say this not to lift up Islam, but to point out common ground. Sometimes some Muslims do terrible things close to Christmas. I pray not this year. Let’s try to remember even so, that most Muslims share a great deal of thinking and believing with Christians.

Should the Lord open a door for you this season, ask a Muslim about her thoughts on Mary. That conversation might quickly move to you both sharing thoughts on her baby! Yes, Muslims and Christians have important disagreements regarding the nature of that little rascal, but we both love both him and his mom. And time spent talking about what we do agree on will not be wasted.

No Muslims to chat with? Join me in this: For the next two weeks every time you hear a carol you dislike, take a moment to pray that many Muslims will find Jesus in a fresh way this Christmas.

 

Thank you for reading Muslim Connect. Should God lead you to give a year-end gift to keep it going, you can do so here. I will be quite grateful

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Something Good on The Hill

Since I clearly feel freedom to complain when the U.S. government does things I disagree with, I thought it might also be fair to highlight something that looks very good.

A few weeks ago, Muslim Connect consisted of a brief lament for Uyghur Muslims who are suffering massive internment at the hands of the Chinese government. Theories on why vary from the official line of containing terrorism and separatism to paving the way for a massive economic project.

Earlier this week the US House passed a bill called the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019. It is expected to easily pass the Senate, but it’s not yet clear if President Trump will sign it into law. The bill calls for increased monitoring of Chinese treatment of Uyghurs, as well as sanctions on the Communist Party leader of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo.

This seems wise, bold and probably costly. Like the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of a couple of weeks ago, this legislation was met with anger and caustic warnings from Chinese officials.

I don’t for a moment claim that my country’s hands are clean. Heck, my own are so dirty as to be almost un-washable. But even the guilty need to do the right thing, no? I’m happy when we take a stand against injustice on a such a gut-wrenching scale.

I tend to think grassroots is better, a million small acts having more power than a single large one. But this seems like a situation in which the legislative power of a super power might be the right tool. Coupled with our prayers, may God use this to bring about deliverance and justice for the Uyghurs.

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