Today, I went to a Mosque.
I have been in a church planting workshop all week. It’s a small group of people from all around the United States learning principles and tools on how to plant churches. Funny thing, the workshop was in Texas and the Texans were outnumbered. Many of the church planters there were from large cities that are very culturally diverse. One afternoon, the workshop group took a field trip to a local mosque. A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims. Our instructor had arranged for us, a group of evangelical pastors, to meet with a local leader of the Islamic Association of Fort Worth, in a mosque. As we drove up, two Islamic men met us in the parking lot with smiles, handshakes and even a hug. As we waited for the rest of our group arrived, we talked about our families and the crazy Texas weather. Soon the rest of our group arrived, and we went into the mosque (it was not during a prayer time). After removing our shoes, we were escorted into the prayer area. Where we found a table overflowing with fresh fruits and cookies setup for our eating pleasure. Our Muslim host introduced himself and his friends, and then spent the next 45 minutes calmly explaining Islam tenants, history and their religious traditions. He told us stories of his childhood, playing with kids of different faiths and it never being a big deal. He told us about his journey to Mecca and what it meant to him. Then he told us a more recent story of being in a local McDonalds drinking coffee and being told by one of the other customers how much he hated him and all Muslims. Our host explained these words from the other customer surprised him so much, he didn’t even know how to respond. He has been in the USA for over 20 years and no one had ever personally told him face to face, he was hated for being a Muslim. My heart hurt for my Muslim host. We ended our session with a question and answer session (more later)… I will admit I enjoyed meeting these gentlemen and learning more about the Muslim faith.
Now what? What do I do with this? Obviously, blog about it – haha. How do we as the church engage our culture, start new relationships with people who do not think like us, believe like us and who we have been told frankly don’t like us? If we look at the life of Jesus, He certainly didn’t just make friends with Jews (who didn’t like Him or think like Him), He engaged the Gentiles frequently (thank goodness!). Paul stepped up and loved Jews and Gentiles. So, the pattern appears we are to love others, even when it’s not comfortable and maybe not even socially acceptable. Does my love trump the fear I’m feeling? Does my love for others, regardless of their culture, background or situation overcome my fear of what could happen if I take a step forward? Should I love them only if they start to believe like me, think like me and act like me? Again, the Bible has much to say about loving others. So, as you can see, the day I went to a Mosque has challenged me. I’m not sure what God is going to do with this event in my life, I pray He uses it and myself for His Glory alone!