This past month was the month of Ramadan. I attended a “peace-building event” that brought together Christians and Muslims during this fasting month as a way to build friendship and understanding between people from these two faith communities. The event, with about half Christians and half Muslims, was an opportunity to come together, learn from one another, and eat a meal together.
The Muslims there were gracious and hospitable. They welcomed us to learn more about their faith and enjoy a sumptuous meal once the sun had set. They prayed and a few sang a lyrical poem that chronicled brief vignettes of people who followed and obeyed Him.
I felt blessed hearing the stories from Muslim women about how they pray and seek God not just during Ramadan, but around the year. Some of them meditate on the Qur’an how it impacts their lives. Many of them have faced discrimination and the pain of bigotry and stereotypes, especially those who cover their heads. I am so glad I got to meet them and honor them just as Jesus honored people who were of different faith backgrounds than His own (such as the Samaritans).
Conversations flowed as we asked each other questions. Some were informal about where we came from, others were deep about times that we had sought God, or why some of us had changed faiths. There was a spirit of appreciation and learning from one another.
I noticed especially among the young people I spoke with a hunger to know God, live holy lives, and have a connection with God and each other. I was impressed that some of them had initiated their own community gatherings to share about God and get to encourage each other in the faith.
No, we do not have the same beliefs. However, we can choose to live peaceably with everyone (Romans 12:18), be quick to listen others (James 1:9), and hospitable, even to people we don’t know (Titus 1:8). We can choose to learn from one another and be vulnerable about our lives and desire to invite God into our various struggles and pains. I am thankful to God for these kind of activities, and hope and pray that more will happen.
In today’s tumultuous, divided world, we must choose to proactively seek to love others genuinely and honor those who are different than ourselves.