Calling All Evangelicals to Become Friends with Muslims!
As I speak with Evangelicals in the Pacific Northwest, I am amazed at how many “experts” and strong opinions there are on the topic of Islam and Muslims in America. So when I ask the next question – “so, do you have any friends that are Muslims?” – I expect to hear about a long list of people that have helped them form their opinions. Unfortunately, most so-called “experts” do not have any Muslim friends, and upon digging deeper it becomes apparent that most Americans' opinions about Muslims have been formed by media, especially television and internet. Reading Wikipedia, watching Youtube videos, listening to Fox radio, and watching CNN is not the road to an informed and educated opinion on Islam and Muslims in America. Most Americans do not have the time or money to take a class on Islam 101, or do not have the courage to walk into a mosque and sign up for a “Introduction to Islam” class, and public media sadly becomes the only source of information. What I find even more scandalous is the number of Evangelicals who are doing “Muslim ministry” and yet cannot name a single Muslim with whom they meet regularly to share life and talk about faith.
I want to encourage you to make a new friend today, a friend that also happens to be Muslim. Jesus says love your neighbor as yourself…and also your enemies! I realize that for many, Muslims in America are viewed as enemies, but for those who view Muslims this way the command is still the same: Love. I want to call all Evangelicals to follow Jesus’ example of loving your neighbor and enemy. So for the millions of American Evangelicals who live near the 5 to 7 million Muslims in America, this is easier than you might imagine. Let me offer some basics steps to make a new Muslim friend and start loving our Muslim neighbors:
- Google “mosque” or “masjid” and contact the nearest mosque to you. Ask to meet with their Imam or one of their leaders. Go as a learner and invite them out for coffee or tea afterwards.
- Contact your local college campus or university and ask for the international students department. Ask if there are opportunities to host students from Muslim countries. Also, ask if there is a Muslim student association on the campus and attend a meeting sometime.
- Visit the mosque at any one of the five daily prayer times and observe. Friday around the lunch period, Friday evenings and weekends are the best times because that is the busiest times for mosques. Most times, you will find Muslims to be very hospitable and will answer any questions you have.
- Google “CAIR” or “Muslim Association” and the name of your city. Contact them and ask to speak to the director or someone who you can ask questions with. Invite them out for coffee or a meal and start a friendship.
- If you already work with a Muslim or see a Muslim on the bus every day, start building a friendship with them. Introduce your families to one another and enjoy the relationship. Ask them about their faith and talk about your faith too.
- Invite a Muslim friend or local Imam to speak to your small group at your church. Introduce them to your pastor and others at your church.
- Always ask how you can pray for your new Muslim friend and pray with them and for them regularly.