Monday, July 24, 2017

Why they come here...

"Or it could the the hand of God, the master chess player, who always plans a million moves ahead. This would be an interesting question to ask your pastor."

Buckle up boys and girls - this is going to be a tough one. Years ago, I worked at a large church as an Executive Director. One day, one of the youth directors came into my office and told me he was going to leave. He and his wife were going to follow their passion to be missionaries in a predominately Muslim country. As such, for his remaining time with the church, he asked me to do a favor. Misspell his name on the church's website. Why? So nobody from the country he was going into could trace him back to a Christian organization. That could prove deadly to himself, his wife, and the people he would be staying with.

I also had another friend who was doing some mission work in another country - also predominately Muslim. When he would send a group email back to the states, he never used pictures of the people he was associating with, nor their names. He had and alias for everyone. Why? Same reason as above. The practice or proselytization of Christianity in that country could prove to be a death sentence. 

As we know, we now have a large group of people who have recently immigrated here from other countries. Many of the arrivals are Muslim. One might ask, if Christianity is such an affront to Islam, why would Muslims desire to live in a predominately Christian country? Why live here when besides the HUGE difference in religion, there are also differences in how woman are treated, tolerance for LGBT people, types of food and how woman are to dress? In other words, the social mores in America and the social mores in some Muslim countries are about as different as night is to day.

Then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue. People of faith will understand where this is now leading. Everything which happens in this world, happens for a reason. Everything we do, also happens for a reason. People who come into our lives, do so for a reason. Is it indeed possible, that even though having hundreds of thousands of Muslims come to this country might defy logic, might be happening for a reason. 

Now to peel the onion back a bit further. As we know, in some Muslim countries being a Christian is like being a dead man (or woman) walking. Every missionary practices the Great Commission of the Christian faith in a Muslim country, does so at his or her own peril. Is it indeed possible then, that God has led these people of different faiths to our country for a reason? To make it easier for followers of Christ to show them the love of Jesus? To show them that Jesus is truly more than just a prophet?

There are some secularists who love the term "Coexist". Secularists look at choosing a religion like going to Baskin Robins and choosing a flavor of ice cream. All the same, just different flavors. Christians on the other hand, look at their faith differently. They might look at this influx of people from other lands as being a tremendous opportunity. That maybe it was not just "chance" which brought them here.

It is an interesting question however. Why are they here? Some say for the generous welfare benefits this country has to offer. Others say for the opportunities this country has to offer. And a few conspiracy types think they are here to assimilate us rather than visa versa. 

Or it could the the hand of God, the master chess player, who always plans a million moves ahead. This would be an interesting question to ask your pastor. Should we invite them to our church? Should we offer them a Bible to read? Or should we just leave them alone, and coexist without assimilation? 

These are just some thoughts which have been banging around in my head for some time now. As usual, I am always interested in hearing how others think on this issue.    

1 comment:

  1. Historians note that enmity between Christianity and Islam dates as far back as the Crusades, the fall of Byzantium and the reconquest of Spain. Christians were trying to destroy Islam.

    Conversely, keep in mind that Islam is the only religious tradition that has ever threatened the existence of Christianity. That's deeply woven into our subconscious, into Western literature and culture, and so this image of an Islamic threat taps into a notion that's there already.

    The conservative evangelical approach to Islam is in stark contrast with the ''interfaith understanding'' approach of many Orthodox, Roman Catholic and mainline Protestant churches like the Methodists, Episcopalians and Lutherans. Since 9/11, local churches in these denominations began inviting Muslims to explain their faith at a flurry of interfaith events and dialogue sessions.

    God calls all of us to have an open mind and an open heart. And many of the people believe that if judgment is to be made it needs to be made by God and not by those of us who have divided ourselves up around a particular ideology.

    These churches acknowledge theological differences between Christianity and Islam, but stress the common roots and essential compatibility. They teach that Muslims are monotheists, ''Allah'' is simply Arabic for God, and both faiths share Abraham as patriarch.

    So, I guess the message is, "God will sort it out" and people of Christian faith can take solace in their belief that they are the only true manifestation of God on earth.

    If this turns out to be true, good on you. If not, shame on you.

    Again, stay cool and hydrated and let the storms to come be beneficial and not destructive.

    Dave Gjerdingen