Just over a week remains for the month of Ramadan. I have had several opportunities to join with friends at area mosques to share in the iftar, i.e. breaking of the fast. I have had the joy of bringing along with me a few friends who are interested in understanding more about Islam and about their Muslim neighbors. I wish there had been more. I am not complaining mind you; last year no one went with me. One of my friends who accompanied me mentioned how many negative reactions she had received when others heard that she would be visiting a mosque. In the aftermath of recent events I am convinced more than ever that we must seize these moments and opportunities to show the world who we really are as followers of Christ and therefore who Christ is.
I am not going to weigh in on the Chick-Fil-A controversy. Goodness knows there have been a ton of folks who have said just about everything that can be said. I cringe when I think about how much political rhetoric is already flooding my facebook page; I am fully aware that this is only the beginning. I will be glad when November is done. I can only grieve the recent killings at the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin and shudder at the killings in Colorado. I follow the terror of Syria and the disruption of families on the move throughout much of West Africa. Iraqis who fled to Syria to escape violence are now returning to Iraq as a safer place! I learn of increasing trafficking rather than eradication because people are vulnerable to exploitation as countries rage and famine drives out for search of food. I wonder if anything I do can really change what seems to be a world “going to hell in a hand basket.” God can. God does and he wants to work in me and use me as he does it.
When we pray for God to meet our Muslim neighbors during this special month of emphasis, we are a part of God blessing the world. We join in with those who seek peace and order. When we pray for someone else, it is impossible to hate. When we pray for the prosperity of our neighbor whether it is next door or around the world, we prosper. When we are busy praying and interceding for others needs, we will not be so taken up with ourselves and what we think we must have. When we contemplate the eternal purposes of God for another soul, we will not be so worried about protecting our own. In fact, I think we would be inclined to give ours up and lay down our life for a friend.
I have witnessed this month what God does in the lives of his children when they pray this way. A children’s group from a church after hearing about refugee children from Iraq went out that very afternoon to purchase backpacks. They even insisted on some pink ones for the girls. A missions group at church heard of eighty refugee families arriving in their area and gave generously to provide for them. A young woman and her mother refused to purchase an olive oil after the vendor made a joke of the child labor that probably helped produce it. A church creates a page on their website calling their members to a Christian Ramadan! A women’s group wants to put in the hands of each member a tool to help them become better neighbors, Welcoming the Stranger: 30 Days of Prayer for Internationals. God can change a world that seems to be “going to hell in a hand basket.” God does change it. The change begins with me, not my neighbor.
(This post originally ran on the ABPnews blog.)