Islam has dominated the news recently. Most of it has been bad. Whether it’s the terror attacks abroad or the influx of refugees at home, fear and anxiety lace all discussion on what it means to be Muslim. Perhaps that’s why I love this talk so much. Uplifting, convicting, and so very current. Nabeel went in search of Allah and found Christ.
And if you would like to know more about the “David” who had the courage to talk to Nabeel and not back down, his story is here: How an Atheist Found Jesus in a Prison Cell.
Christ teaches us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). But what does that mean when a Muslim man blows himself up at a concert, targeting teenagers? I do believe that nations have the right to defend themselves, that border security needs to be addressed and that individuals can protect their lives and their property — with force if necessary.
I am not a pacifist.
But as I read the fervor on facebook and twitter over how Britain “had it coming” and “asked for” this attack, and how particularly ironic it was that the target was a concert held by an America-hating, open-borders-supporting pop star, I cringed. I cringed and thought of the refugee community in nearby Lincoln. I thought about a Muslim woman I smiled at in the clothing section of Walmart.
“You have a beautiful baby.”
“Your baby (pointing.) She’s beautiful.”
She looked questioningly at her older daughter who said something in Arabic. Then her face beamed as she nodded and patted the baby.
“She has such a beautiful smile.”
She looked again to her daughter, but this time with eagerness. More Arabic. Another beautiful smile from the mother. A flurry of Arabic and she asked (through her daughter),
“How many children do you have?”
It was just a couple minutes of small talk while I waited for my daughter to try on a pair of jeans. I’ve had deeper conversations at the DMV. But I could tell she was clinging to every word. It was just small talk to me, but to her it was life. For a few moments, the walls constructed by her head covering and her Arabic language were taken down and we were just two moms talking about our kids at Walmart.
The refugees are fleeing the same kind of terror we are fighting. I get the fear over terrorists hiding among them. Really, I do. I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that many of these Muslims are here for the same reason our ancestors came to these shores — for freedom of religion . . . for freedom from a militant form of their own religion that persecutes them as well as us. What a beautiful opportunity to share Christ with them? As they flee the terror of their homeland for the freedom of the United States?
Except . . . does that actually happen?
The story of Nabeel’s mother struck me. She came with preconceived notions about America, but did anyone take the time to help her see a bigger picture? Did anyone befriend her? Invite her to a MOPS group? Have her over for dinner?
And if we don’t step across those barriers of dress and language to be human, what does that mean for our own future?
Could it mean the slow development of “parallel societies?” Could it mean a generation of young Muslims growing up in America, but on the outside of what it means to be American? What if they remain forever “other,” separated by our culture’s unwillingness to see past a bit of cloth?
Could it mean the radicalization of American-born Muslims, akin to the kind of radicalization Europe is seeing?
Is it possible that open borders AND closed hearts led to the current climate? It’s a complicated issue, but you know what bothers me? Manchester-born Salman Abedi blew himself up at a concert to kill as many teenagers as he could. His own family had previously warned police that he was dangerous.
And I do know what the Bible teaches.
“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the the land of Egypt.” ~Exodus 22:21
That isn’t a statement about whether or not I think we should let in more refugees or none at all. It’s a statement about how I believe we should treat them once they are here.
Syria closed its borders to the Gospel a long time ago.
Perhaps her people are not being brought to us for our judgment, but for their redemption.