Monthly Archives: June 2021

FORKS Open Lives

Summer’s most explosive holiday is just around the corner! For Americans, Independence Day is a big deal: A chance to thank God for the great privilege of living in this country, to gather with friends and family and to blow stuff up!

It is also prime calendar real estate in which to invite over Muslim friends, or those you’d like to become your friends. (I still owe a fireworks related debt to an Afghan family in England who years ago graciously invited my family to join their Bonfire Night celebration.)

Imagine that you invited a Muslim family to your 4th of July BBQ and they showed up! Happily, you’re grilling halal chicken instead of some tasty, but haram pork product and it’s Pepsi not PBR in the cooler.

Having nailed the food, a fresh panic arises in your mind, “What do we talk about?!” Blake Glosson’s article, “The Neglected Ministry of Asking Questions”gives us a memorable and super helpful rubric: FORKS. Ask your guests about their:

Family: Most people feel comfortable talking about kids and siblings. If you venture deeper to share about a deceased parent, some real bonds form.

Occupation: It’s the classic, “What do you do?” Shallow? Maybe. But imminently answerable and pregnant with follow up question possibilities.

Recreation: What do you and your family/friends do for fun?

Knowledge: Everyone is at least a little bit of an expert on something. “Can you tell me about that?” “Can you show me?” Or the best, “Can you teach us about that?” Tons of honor rolls across the table with these questions.

Spirituality: If you’re going to talk, you might as well talk for real. If you’re at all like me, spiritual conversations might be a little scary, but worth it.

The next time you have a chance, pick up the FORKS and take a stab at this. I’d love to hear how it goes.

As you probably already considered, this rubric works great on most people, from Hindus to father-in-laws.


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Not the Sort of Muslim Who Usually Comes to Mind

In an act of bold defiance, Huda Sha’arawi stood in front of the Cairo train station and pulled off her veil. . . in 1923! And she encouraged other Muslim women to do the same!

Born into a wealthy Egyptian family in 1873, Huda’s 142nd birthday is next Wednesday. At thirteen years old, she was married against her will. Feisty, even at that age, she insisted on a monogamy clause in her marriage contract. When her husband, 40 years her senior, continued to consort with his first wife, Huda walked. Their seven year separation gave her opportunity to feed her appetite for education while growing an appetite for independence.

Huda began her work by organizing the first secular, female led philanthropy organization in Egypt. They helped poor women and children with medicine and education.

Bowing to family pressure, she rejoined her husband in 1900. Together they spent two decades advocating for Britain to leave Egypt. Shortly after winning independence, he died and Huda began to focus on women’s rights.

She established the Egyptian Feminist Union in 1923. Serving as its president until her death from cholera in 1947, Huda advocated for women’s suffrage, a minimum marriage age of 16 and education for women and girls.

She and her colleagues made solid strides for women, but much of their progress has been rolled back in recent decades.

Three quick observations on Huda Sha’arawi’s life:

It often helps to be born into prosperity. (Like most of the Muslim Connect tribe, if we’re honest.)

Too few Muslim women today enjoy the freedom Huda worked for. Many, perhaps most, live in oppressed domestic, political and spiritual situations.

At the same time, I welcome the helpful reminder that Muslims are not “all poor and powerless.” There are Sha’arawi-esque rock stars in the mix!

Read more about Huda at and Watch a short and sweet BBC video. There’s even a pretty fun rock song about her!

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Quick! Steal This Alliteration

In the wise and winsome way of a church statesmen with decades of research and relationship behind him, Bert de Ruiter pulls back the curtain on seven trends he sees shaping the Islam of Europe (He says “Islams!”)

If you are European, perhaps you see dynamics similar to those Herr de Ruiter describes. If you are American or from somewhere else, you may wonder if similar dynamics are emerging in your country. (Even if your country is Muslim majority!)

I was directed to Bert’s insightful essay by a pleasingly long and balanced article recently published by Christianity Today. In it, Jayson Caspar, writer, pray-er and my new favorite author explores how Europe is reacting to its growing numbers of Muslims and whether or not the U.S. should try a different approach.

Being a pragmatist at heart, I Ioved Caspar’s recounting of de Ruiter’s closing advice for European Christians, and presumably the rest of us, in light of the growth and changes afoot with Islam.

Research: Matthew 10.11 speaks of finding the worthy person in a village you come to. Likewise, Christians must learn the real situation of actual Muslims, not media-driven images.

Reflect: Psalm 139.23,24 invites God to search our hearts. Anti-Muslim prejudice is often unconsciously ingrained, and with humility Christians can repent and develop attitudes of compassion.

Relate: In 1 Thessalonians 2.8 Paul describes how he shared his life with those he was trying to reach. Christians must develop relationships with Muslims, in hope of also sharing the gospel.

Relax: In Psalm 46.10 the Lord reminds believers to “be still, and know that I am God.” Whatever changes happen in Europe [and elsewhere] are according to God’s sovereignty, and he will be exalted among the nations.

That’s the alliteration I’m inviting you to steal (Please credit Caspar and de Ruiter.) for your Facebook status, your Twitter feed, your church bulletin or bulletin board or as the ready made outline for your next sermon. I just might do that!

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“My Team Hired a Woman?! And She Wears a Hijab?! We’re Doomed!”

The Philadelphia Eagles football team made headlines this past week by promoting Ameena Soliman to Pro Scout. The move stirred up controversy among Eagles’ fans and beyond. I could see it if they made her quarterback, but scout?

Was it a smart move? Well, on the one hand, the Eagles won fewer games than almost every other team last year. On the other, Soliman’s credentials are legit. I suspect she’s forgotten more about football than any random dozen fans will ever know.

While some detractors questioned her ability to perform her job, clearly some of the issue is her gender and maybe even more so her religion.

Can women really work in football? Many do successfully.

But Muslim women? Of course, most wouldn’t think of her as “Muslim” so much if it weren’t for the darn hijab! You might wonder about her background, but the head covering seals the deal.

But why care about her religion? I suppose some might wonder if the Eagles’ management is placing a misguided desire for diversity above the sacrosanct pursuit of wins. Maybe she got the job, not based solely on merit, but also because she’s a Muslim?

I wonder if there’s also some of this: “I’m ok with Muslims over there, but this is my team, my tribe. It’s always been a reliable place of big, familiar, black and white men. I’m not ok with Muslim women diluting it. They’re getting too close. Heck, they’re getting into everything.”

It looks a little silly when you write it down.

But what about me? What if my kids’ new school bus driver was a bearded, keffiyeh-wearing Muslim dude? Or one of their teachers a hijabi with a heavy accent? I love Muslims, but I’ve still got issues.

Jesus, renew our minds. Transform us to the core of our souls.

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