terrorism

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. How can we be Christ’s feet to Muslims?

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.”

“Eh?”

“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.

 

How Do We Talk to Our Kids About Terrorism?

Monday night, Salman Abedi detonated a bomb near the foyer of the Manchester Arena just as concert goers began filing out. 22 dead. 59 injured, many with life threatening injuries. The youngest was just eight years old. It was the worst act of terrorism in Britain since the 2005 London bombings which killed 56.

talk to kids about terrorism

And media broadcasts the nightmare right into our homes, our safe spaces. How do you help children process these images and sounds?

Sometimes, it seems I am in a very different world than the one I grew up in. Terrorism existed, but it was far away. Planes were hijacked on their way to destinations I would never go to. And I only vaguely remember the 1986 discotheque bombing in Berlin. It was a problem for far away lands.

Then again, I grew up during the Cold War. Random acts of violence at a concert, a school, an airport were not on my radar. Instantaneous and total annihilation, however, was. Sitting in the school’s bomb shelter discussing whether or not we would actually want to know the bombs were on their way leaves an impression on a fifth grader.

I remember the anxiety, but I was a kid. The enemy that has declared war on us does not have the military capability to annihilate civilization as we know it. Yet somehow, the randomness of the attacks seems more frightening. Or maybe it is because I am now an adult, charged with raising children in this world and watching them go out into it. I watch them go out and I know I cannot protect them.

My children have questions, but I am torn how to respond.

I want to protect them.

Not just from terrorists, but from terror. They’re too young. They don’t need to worry about whether some madman is going to show up at a mall, or a camp or a concert with a bomb in a backpack. They deserve to be kids, with their heads full of fantasies and their hearts full of dreams.

But I can’t completely stop the images they see and the stories they hear and the news they receive. They have questions. And I cannot insulate them completely from this uncertain world we live in.

I want to inform them.

We homeschool. Education is a large part of our life. Life is a large part of our education. A terrorist attack specifically targeting teens at a concert is a little too big to sweep under the rug and ignore. So we do talk about it. I try not to show them news reports. They don’t need to see bodies and hear screaming to know that several people died and more were critically injured.

We talk about the current crisis. We talk about ISIS. We talk about how Muslims in these countries are fleeing for their lives before this enemy. We talk about the history. We talk about the religion. We talk about radicalization and what kinds of things drive a person to seek this kind of war.

And I try very hard to keep them human. Because in every war, the enemy is dehumanized. Their war started with dehumanizing us. We may need to take up arms to defend ourselves, but we do not need to make them into something less than human.

I want to help them grow in their faith.

I once read a story about a Christian misisionary in Israel. He regularly went to the Syrian border to pray. Syria was closed to the gospel and he would stare out over the landscape thinking of the millions of people without hope. He prayed for an opportunity. Then Syria attacked Isreal and he fell to his knees, praising God. He couldn’t bring the gospel to Syria, but suddenly God was bringing the Syrian army to him.

The story affected me. I would like to have that kind of faith . . . that values those souls more than my own life.

I think about that every time refugees are discussed on facebook. It challenges me to swallow some of my fear and anxiety and it reminds me to pray.

Growing in Christ means growing in love. After all, Christ instructed us,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” ~Matthew 5:44

So we pray for Manchester. We pray for Albedi’s family. We pray for those who may have helped organize this attack. We pray for the Muslims in our community. We pray that we might be a light, because sometimes all it takes to drive back the darkness is a small flicker.

And we can’t hold too tightly to this life because it is not our forever home.