Muslims Ministering to Christians
I met this astounding woman, “M,” last month in Basra, Iraq.
She’s a Muslim.
And she has a ministry to Christians.
Basra is predominantly Muslim and very conservative. The Christians who live there aren’t persecuted, but they’re under a lot of pressure. I know of women who have been harassed for not wearing a hijab, liquor store owners receiving death threats, and Christians generally feeling treated like second-class citizens.
My (new) friend “M” has a problem with this. She believes this is not the way that God wants things to be.
So, what does she do?
In a nutshell: “M” takes Christians into Mosques to give Muslims a chance to meet a real-life Christian up close (sometimes for the first time).
“M” has a group of Muslims and Christians who are in relationship with each other. Together, they go throughout Basra visiting the Mosques and other places where Muslims gather. They create an opportunity for the Muslims to get to know these Christians–breaking through fears and stereotypes, and creating new connections of common experience.
“M” explained to me that many Muslims in Basra have never actually met a Christian. They’ve heard lot’s of strange stories about what Christians believe. Some Muslims have been taught to be afraid of Christians. So, when Muslims are given the chance to actually sit down with an actual Christian, those walls of rumor and fear begin to break down.
With those walls broken down, Muslims and Christians are able to embrace the beliefs and values they share in common, AND work to understand and respect the areas of distinction (and downright disagreement).
It was fantastic to hear “M” and her team share about this work that they are called to. And I kept thinking about how the needs and challenges of Christians here in Basra must be, in many ways, similar to the experience of Muslims in the United States–especially these days.
I don’t particularly hold to the idea that “all religions are alike.” There are places were we are very different (I’m cool with that)
And places that we hold in common (and hold us together)
One of the most precious places we hold in common is the idea of how we treat our Neighbor
–with Hospitality. Dignity. Active Goodness.
I pray and thank God
that Christians have true Muslim neighbors in Iraq.
and that Muslims will have true Christian neighbors.