Monthly Archives: January 2020

Party Like a Toddler!

Muslim Connect is celebrating it’s third anniversary this week. If this happens to be your first time to read the email, “Welcome!” (I’m looking at you, West Jordan friends!) If you’ve been reading for a while, can I just say, “Thank you.” It’s a source of hope and joy to me that a couple thousand folks get Muslim Connect. May God use it as a small part of his effort to bring life, the abundant life Jesus lived and died for, to Muslims all over.

Two reader comments this past week illustrate what Muslim Connect is all about.

“At a training event I attended, the leader brilliantly answered this excuse, ‘But, I wouldn’t know how to begin a conversation with a Muslim.’ The trainer’s answer, ‘Well, you might begin with [pause] ‘Hi,’’” brought the house down! He went on to explain how many Muslims are so accustomed to white Americans treating them as invisible (or worse), that “hi” can actually be very powerful. I use the “hi” in the marketplace constantly with everybody. It’s amazing the doors it opens up.”

I love that! Start with the easiest, most accessible tools: A smile and a “hi.” Acknowledge there’s often a barrier, but call down Heaven, screw up your courage and take a run at it! 

Sometimes faithfulness to smile and say “hi” will lead to opportunities like this:

“I just started working with a group of Somali high school girls through an after school program for refugee kids. They are dear, but they never stop talking!!”

Ah, to get close enough to experience the happy frustration of endless chatter! To have your teaching plans thwarted by new friends who trust you enough to want you to know how they are, to hear what they’re experiencing, to get a detailed report of everything they’ve seen, heard and thought in the preceding week! #blessed indeed! 

If it’s not too cheesy to quote Henry V, this is my heart and joy: “We happy few,” we’re children of God, partners with him in his eternal purposes to love all peoples, including Muslims near and far.

Thank you for reading. If you find value in Muslim Connect, please join me in helping us grow from 2000 subscribers to 5000 by forwarding this email to a friend. Grazie!


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The Wahhabi Way

Imagine this hypothetical church in your home town: They only use the King James Bible. Everyone gathers for Sunday morning church, but also Sunday and Wednesday evenings. The women all wear long skirts and choose not to cut their hair. They enforce a strict code of no drinking, dancing or TV watching. They are doubtful and judgmental about most other Christians. Yet to their credit, they sincerely try to practice the faith of the New Testament church.

Got the picture in mind? Now change the base faith from Christianity to Islam, add the will to enforce their views on others by educational, political and violent means and you have a picture of Wahhabism.

The enduring alliance between founder, Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhaband the House of Saud has made Wahhabism the de facto official approach to Islam in Saudi Arabia. The power of petrodollars has propelled its impact throughout the world. And several high-profile acts of terror, with resulting media coverage and political use, has made it appear to be the “real Islam.”

This is no more true than Bible Baptist Church, Farmland, Indiana (KJV only)claiming to be “real Christianity.”

Wahhabis, also know as Salafis or Muwahhidun, are few in number relative to their power and influence. Most Muslims disagree with Wahhabis and even see them as a corrupt sect.

Where does this leave us? I think of Paul, arguably a fine “Wahhabi” of his day. Jesus got him and as a result, you and I know about Jesus! I also remember one of the coolest missionaries I ever knew. He would pursue relationships with the most religious Turks he could find saying, “If someone doesn’t care about their own God, why would they care about the one I’m sharing?”

Watch this beautiful and moving prayer for Wahhabis. May God accomplish all he has in mind for and through them.

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Black, Muslim and American

If you’ve read Muslim Connect for even a short time, you’re probably aware that I don’t know a whole lot more than I know. Today’s edition is a good example. I’d like to share a couple of interesting points with you. But from the outset, you need to know I feel very clumsy talking about racial issues involving African Americans. I am very white and nearly clueless.

Pew Research reports these numbers:

  1. African Americans make up about 20% of Muslims in America or nearly 700,000.
  2. Almost 50% of Black Muslims in the U.S. are converts to Islam.
  3. Nearly 80% of Black Americans are Christian and 2% are Muslim.
  4. Between 20,000 and 50,000 African American Muslims are members of the Nation of Islam, led by Louis Farrakhan.

True confession: A week ago, I would have guessed that Black Islam in American pretty much equaled the Nation of Islam. Clearly that’s not the case. At the high end, NOI represents 20%. Most Black Muslims in the US are simply Sunni or Muslim in general without specific affiliation.

What that reality does for me is lessen my sense of “otherness” toward Black American Muslims. It makes me wonder in a deeper way what makes up the draw toward conversion. I question how the American church (including me!) may have faltered since statistically those who convert do so away from Christianity.

Surely there are dozens of other relative questions. What comes to your mind? (Please comment below.)

Along with the questions, I’m reminded of this quote from Bob Goff, “Find someone. . . who isn’t like you at all and decide to love that person the way you want Jesus to love you. We need to love everybody, always. Jesus never said doing these things would be easy. He just said it would work.” (Tweet this.)


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“What’ll We Name the Baby?”

Drum roll please. . . For the first time in American history, “Muhammad” is in the top ten of the 100 most popular baby names in the US! (Tweet this.)

I’m curious how this makes you feel and what you think about it.

Maybe. . . 

“I knew it! They really are taking over!”

“I’d better learn how to spell it!”

“More Muslims to love!”

“It’s time to move to the mountains.”

If you tend to be a little skeptical, you might be thinking, “Hmmm, I wonder if that’s really true.” I wouldn’t blame you. I’m skeptical of a lot of things. The data for this comes from “nearly 600,000 BabyCenter parents who shared their baby’s name with (the site) in 2019.”

While this benchmark reflects the growth of Islam in the U.S. due to immigration, birth and conversion, it might not be as big a deal as it appears.

The #10 spot on’s list was reached by aggregating the various spellings of Muhammad. On the Social Security Administration’s site, the highest spot for any specific spelling is #345.

There’s also the reality that while a relatively high percentage of Muslim parents name their son Muhammad, for the non-Muslim population there is an increase in the diversity of baby boy names.

Finally, for comparison’s sake (and maybe a little comfort!), fifteen of the top thirty names on the Social Security Administration’s site are either overtly biblical or at least Christian-ish!

What do I think about this data point? More Muslims to love and talk about Jesus with. And, as my Facebook friend says, a growing likelihood that a Mediterranean restaurant will open near me!

What I don’t feel is fear or resentment. God’s got this. More than “got it,” he’s using this for the expansion of his Kingdom. That might not look just as we’d imagined (It never does for me!), but, ah, will it be good.

How about you? Please comment below.


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Fear in the Face of Power

A friend told me recently about his sketchy termination from a big company. Feeling unjustly treated, he considered contesting the dismissal. But given the size of the company, the depth of their legal counsel, and the fact that this was his first time being fired, but likely not their first firing, he reluctantly backed away.

Can you relate to that sense of powerlessness in the face of an overwhelming adversary? Ever got an unfair traffic ticket? Ever been denied by your insurance?

Even as a white, American male in 2020, I’ve felt the sting of power wielded against me. Whether just or not, the pain is real.

Watching Iraqis storm the US embassy in Bagdad this week and soon Iranians rallying to show their hatred for America, I wonder if that dynamic is at work?

Without justifying or denouncing any particular military action or response, I wonder how a normal Muslim in the suburbs of Bagdad or Tehran might feel about the U.S. Do they experience fear, anger and a sense of injustice at a seemingly omnipotent adversary?

Is it even possible for you and me to begin to feel what they feel? My example of getting fired by an over-zealous boss pales in comparison to airstrikes, sanctions and oppressive governments.

So what can we do?

We can try to empathize. We can try to see life through the eyes of an average Iraqi mom, an Iranian high schooler, a soldier drafted against his will who’d like nothing more than to go home to his parents’ farm.

And we can pray. Especially if you’re an American, pray that we’d wield our power wisely. We bear an immense sword. Pray for those caught the coming cross-fire.

I feel little grief for General Soleimani. He chose the soldier’s path and was not ignorant of his likely demise. But for the multiplied millions whose lives got more precarious today, I feel for them. God does so more.

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