Yesterday, I received an e-mail from Patty Lane, director of BGCT Intercultural Ministries, stating some interesting information from one of her ministry partners. Here’s what they shared.
There are an estimated 150,000 Muslims living the North Texas area representing over 40 countries. Major waves of Muslim immigration into North Texas began in the early 1980’s with students and professionals who continue to work hard building their place in the North Texas cultural and religious fabric. The DFW Muslim community currently consists of over 30 mosques, 6 full-time schools and numerous ethnic restaurants and retail stores.
Many times when we hear about the Muslim community, we automatically think of the extreme Islam we see on TV and read in the newspapers. I think that this makes us afraid to reach out to Muslims who live in our cities. Other times we are so busy that we don’t stop to see the cultural tapestry we are now living in and to learn how to minister in this context. I don’t share this information to alarm you but to plead for your compassion and to help you see that the nations really are living in our backyard.
I have to admit that I am guilty of these things – to turning a blind eye and walking in fear. Before I spent six months in South Asia, the area of the world with the highest muslim population (yes, it’s even higher than the Middle East), I was afraid and had no clue how to love a Muslim. Then I became a part of their world. I saw that the young women were just like me… they wanted to be loved. They wanted a place to call home. They wanted friends to laugh with and to enjoy a cup of tea with. And they desired spiritual things too.
The Holy Spirit taught me to see beyond the black burkahs and head coverings that were so different from the way I dress, and these ladies became my precious and dear friends. The only major difference between us was that they didn’t know that Jesus can bring hope and life to them. The Lord broke my heart so that I was willing to do anything so that these ladies would know about my Jesus who has brought value and love to my life.
We know Jesus, but do we share him with our Muslim neighbors? Are we willing to take the time to build relationships, to invest in their lives so they will come to trust us, call us friends and listen to our stories about Christ changing our lives? Are we willing to slow down our pace of life so that we can help introduce them to true Christian community?
I pray that you take a look at your life and let the Holy Spirit reveal people in your community, even the Muslims next door, that you and your church need to love with Christ’s beatiful, hope-giving, unconditional love.