Monthly Archives: September 2021

How to Start a Conversation with Your Muslim Uber Driver

Your phone pings: Uber is en route and your driver’s name is Farouk. You can react in one of three ways, I suppose. A. “Cool. Wonder where he’s from.” B. “Ah, geesh, another foreign Uber driver.” or C. “Sure hope Farouk keeps his car cleaner than that dope Doug who drove me to the airport last week!”

If you’re B, even a very tentative B, this is for you. 

As you slide into the car you think, “I want to talk to Farouk. I should. Jesus would.”

You evaluate the risk: On the imagined downside you bomb the convo, Farouk gets angry and the ride is awkward. He goes on to hate Christians, gets radicalized and leaves to fight pointless battles in far off lands.

On the upside, you learn a couple words of Arabic or Urdu, get invited to Farouk’s mom’s house for dinner and he spends a portion of the drive smiling the smile of someone who senses he’s being honored.

Here’s a script to get you going (Adapt as needed, but stick the landing!)

“How do you pronounce your name?” (Unless he told you!)

“Did you grow up here?”

“Where are you from?” (If the previous answer is negative!)

“I’ve never been there. Is it beautiful?” (Unless you have and it’s not!)

“Do you get to go back and visit?”

“How long have you been here?” (Anything less than 10 years gets a hearty “Welcome” from me!)

(No particular order on the next three.)

“How have you been treated?”

“Have you visited other places?”

“Got kids?”

“Do you have another job in addition to Uber?” (Doesn’t everyone?!?)

“I love to pray for people. I believe Jesus heals and helps people today. How can I pray for you?” (Do your best to get to this. If you can do so logistically and without fainting, pray for him right then out loud.)

Let me know when you give it a go and I’ll hit you with a virtual high five!

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“You’re Doing It Wrong!”

A quick shout out and welcome to new Muslim Connect readers, joining us from this Denison Forum article. Thank you for subscribing.

There’s a classic scene in the movie Mr. Mom in which the title character drops his kids off at school for the first time. (His first time, not theirs. Mom has been doing it up to now.) Looking for a shortcut, he bucks the flow of traffic. As horns honk and moms yell, his son announces, “You’re doing it wrong.” He argues, “Nah. We’re doing the Jack Butler method.” The boy’s insight is echoed by drivers all over and finally the patronizing traffic monitor confirms, “Yes, you’re doing it wrong.”

It’s this sentiment, isn’t it, behind much of our current trouble? The sense that other people are doing “it” wrong. Getting vaccinated or not. Having hope in the new administration or vilifying it. Doing church wrong, doing it right.

The mental pathology giving rise to this is called “Everyone Is Stupid But Me” syndrome and I absolutely have a bad case of it!

Muslims often do, as well. The conviction that other Muslims are not doing Islam right gives rise to much of the violence we see between Muslims. (Of course, Christians often share this conviction, but these days it’s acted out more in the form of stink eyes and social media posts, rather than guns and tanks!)

Realizing this adds nuance to our understanding of Muslims. The global community of Islam is every bit as diverse as the whole body of people who call themselves Christian. I contend that there’s not a single thing that is true of one Muslim that is not also untrue of another. As our nuanced understanding grows, so does our ability to make friends and offer hope.

Quick question: What would help your pastor or your church respond in godly, effective ways to the expected influx of nearly 100,000 Afghans to the U.S.? I want to be a part of the solution and want to help you be so as well. Please take a moment and let me know what you think. Thank you. 

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A Privilege and an Idea You Probably Haven’t Considered

I can’t seem to get past how amazing an opportunity, how grave a responsibility, this current influx of Afghans presents for us. Maybe you’re already up to your ears in efforts to serve these new comers. Good for you!

According to the New York Times, “As of Sept. 14, about 64,000 evacuees from Afghanistan had arrived in the United States. . . .Nearly 49,000 are living on eight domestic military bases, waiting to be resettled in the US.”

This week I’d like to offer you two ideas that are quick to read about, but will take a bit of time to implement.

Invite an Afghan family to their first American Thanksgiving Dinner.
This November 25, some American families will enjoy the rare privilege of extending Thanksgiving hospitality to some who’ve only been in the U.S. for a couple of months.

The first issue is to find a family to invite. Check with a local refugee resettlement agency or start at and drill down.

Secondly, assuming you’ve found a candidate family, you may honestly ask yourself, “What in the world do we do now?!?” Good question. Check this previous Muslim Connect and then reach out to me if you have further concerns.

Let make your guest room available for Afghan refugees. 
No, really! This is a thing. As the tens of thousands of Afghans begin to move off Army bases, there is serious concern about where they’ll live. Maybe you’ve sold a house in recent months (or tried to buy one!): It’s a tough time to find housing for a city-sized group of people. Further, in the America cities Afghans already live, housing is particularly tight.

What about your house? What about your camper? This is a big step, with implications that must be considered. Even so, should God nudge you, go to and sign up. I did. It took five minutes. To be fair, I live in the middle of nowhere and am not likely to be asked to house a family. Maybe though! Please let me know if you do this.

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Sadness and Slow, but Certain Justice

This Saturday we’ll commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S., arguably the most audacious, successful, dreadful acts of terror in history.

While that weighs heavy on our minds, justice seems to be creeping forward in a couple places. In Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11 is taking a step forward following many delays. Pre-trail hearings are happening now and will again in November, with the actual trial beginning as early as next April.

In France, the trial has begun for twenty people accused of involvement in the 2015 night of terror in Paris that killed 130 and injured over 400 more. With hundreds of people given the opportunity to share the impact the event had on them, the trial is expected to take up to nine months.

Two things I hope we can keep in mind in these days:

  1. While specific Muslims are on trial for specific evil acts, Muslims in general are not. Most do not support these acts and in the sad calculus of Islamic terrorism, Muslims usually end up suffering the most.
  2. We rarely get the justice we hope for on the timetable we want. We could easily echo Habakkuk’s poignant questions to God about when, if ever, justice will come.

God’s justice and kingdom will come. First in our submitted hearts, then ultimately extending to the ends of the earth. May the grace of Jesus help us in the meantime to say with Habakkuk, “Though. . .the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

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Friends When the World Melts Down

“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” Marcus Aurelius

And sometimes bounces back way faster than that! 

A whip-smart and spiritual friend of mine has lately been up to her virtual ears helping Afghans get out of Dodge. Not just any Afghans who want to get out (bless their hearts and journeys), but her personal friends and their friends. Even though, like me and (probably) you, she’s never been to Afghanistan.

(Heads up, none of these names are actual.)

My friend Anna first met Fatima in 2011 when she was on an exchange in the U.S. for two weeks! She exhibited the classic signs of a person of peaceand Anna began to study the Bible with her over Facebook. Fatima introduced Kadija to Anna and she joined the study as well. Fatima came to love Jesus in late 2015. She posted Psalm 31 on her facebook page which led to another Muslim background believer reaching out and connecting with Anna! He went on to lead his wife to Jesus.

Anna met another set of Afghans she’s now helping when she attended a local Nowruz celebration, hoping to find some new Iranian friends. God spoke to her in reference to a nearby group of people, “There are the Afghans. Go to them.”

Two months before Kabul melted down, God gave Anna a word through a friend in a small group. God showed him a picture of Afghanistan and said Anna would have a significant role there. When the city fell, she began to feverishly work with Fatima and over two dozen others, including Kadija’s boss who asked for help.

Because Anna faithfully, intentionally sought to build friendships with Muslims in the U.S., when  “such a time as this” came, she was in a position to make a difference.

Of more relevance to us than Marcus Aurelius, the apostle Paul said, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

As of this writing, eight of Anna’s 33 friends have made it out to safety. The work continues.

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