Sunday, July 2, 2017

Islamophobia

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I developed Islamophobia and xenophobia long before those words were invented. Islamophobia refers to: set of discourses, behaviors, and structures which express feelings of anxiety, fear, hostility, and rejection towards Islam and/or Muslims in Canada. Xenophobia is intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.

Decades ago if I shared about the fear I experienced of Somalis and Muslims while growing up in Somalia people here in the West would look blank at me, not knowing what I was talking about. That was because Islam, Muslims and words like jihad, hijab, or terrorists were unknown to most non-Muslim Westerners. But today the whole world is informed either correctly or incorrectly about Islam and Muslims.

Islamophobia and xenophobia are extreme or irrational fears of or aversion to something. Those fears could be real or perceived but for it to become a phobia it becomes extreme or irrational and will lead to unhealthy ways to deal with it. Why did I develop such phobias? I would attribute that to a generalized feeling that I was living in potential danger. The murders of three Christian workers in Somalia and the Somali occupied Ogaden area produced extreme fear of my safety. Unfortunately, I did not talk about my fear as a child to anyone and never with my parents. It was a silent burden which gripped me. I would not have even known how to express my fears as a child.

Some non-Muslims, including Christians, are developing an extreme fear of Muslims because of what is happening in the world, both overseas and right here in our homeland. Fear or caution is one thing but when our fears become extreme or irrational then we have a phobia; in this case of Muslims. Some people may feel they cannot even express their fears to anyone lest they be judged as unstable or even 'bad'. If you have such phobias, find a wise person to share your burdens with. Don't just suppress your fears. If you feel condemned by that person, find someone else to share them with. For sure talk about them to Jesus who understands you perfectly but also wants you to be released from phobias.

It is important to break the silence and have a honest transparent conversation. Perhaps you sense God wants you to reach out to Muslims but you are inwardly afraid of them. Can you identify what you are actually afraid of? There is no condemnation in simply being afraid of something or someone. The problem is if it has turned into a phobia. What are some ways or options of how we can deal with Islamophobia or xenophobia if we recognize it in us?

Option 1: We can avoid greeting Muslims even to the point of living in isolation of them.
Option 2: We can go into denial of everything that is going on in the world and stay ignorant.
Option 3: We can inwardly dislike Muslims and possibly even hate them.
Option 4: Or, as followers of Jesus, we can choose to ask God to remove our fear, whether real, perceived, extreme or irrational and ask Him to give us the same love He has for the whole world including Muslims.

Those are the four options we have: avoidance, denial, dislike, and Jesus-love. I chose to ask God to remove my extreme phobias and replace them with Jesus-love. He did...for nearly 40 years by now! It has not meant that I have to agree with everything about Islam, which I don't, but Jesus has given me His love for the people He created and with whom I share the earth.

There have been some practical ways for me in dealing with Islamophobia. These have proven wise and beneficial.
Practical tip #1: Discipline how long I watch the news and try not to watch just before I go to bed.
Practical tip #2: Discipline my diet of reading materials. Are the books or websites I read creating and increasing dislike and extreme alarm or are they developing understanding and compassion?
Practical tip #3: Befriend Muslims. That makes a huge difference in seeing them as fellow human beings and not as all scary potential terrorists. It is okay to love Muslims Jesus has put on your path. It is biblical and oh, so much like Jesus. They are our neighbors.

Dear heavenly Father, please help my sister-in-Christ who lives with Islamophobia or xenophobia to be free of her fears so that she may be free to love. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The River That Can't Be Stopped

"...Wherever this water flows, everything will live." Ezekiel 47:9b

One of our favorite holiday spots is in Jasper, Alberta where we have rented a cabin beside the ever flowing Athabasca river. I can sit mesmerized  beside that river for a long time and wonder where the river is coming from and where it is going. Its journey seems mysterious to me. I also see another River in the supernatural realm. It is flowing all over the Muslim world. Can you see it? Perhaps you are actually in the River going along with the flow. Or maybe you are still waiting to see the River.  In some places the River is moving swiftly but most of the time it is gently moving and if you look close the waters are sparkling with the glory of the Spirit of God. Occasionally the River looks muddy but it is moving nonetheless. And sometimes it appears the River is frozen and we have to wait for Spring to come in order to see the water melt. Surely it will flow again.

Terrifying things are happening nowadays across the globe.  We need some signs of hope and encouragement!  Well, the Holy Spirit is making waves these days. Technology has opened the cyber waves to send the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the nations in the world where the presence of outside Christians is not allowed. Even cyber church is going on in the privacy of homes of Muslim seekers and believers from Muslim background. Muslims can download the Bible to read or listen to in their languages. If they have questions they can ask an expert on Answering Islam (click) or they can chat on-line. Check out the evangelistic websites listed on the left side bar of this blog. There has been a surge of Somalis visiting The Voice of New Life (click). Large numbers of Muslim adults, youth and children are accessing the excellent programs produced by Arab World Media (click). 

And if that is not amazing enough then discover how the Spirit is stirring and speaking to Muslims in dreams while they are asleep. The book, “I Dared To Call Him Father” documents the phenomenon of God revealing Jesus to a Muslim woman through dreams. I once met a renown Muslim woman at an airport. After introducing myself she asked what brought me to visit that city. I replied, “I will be speaking at a conference.” “What about?” she asked inquisitively. “About how Muslims are seeing Jesus Christ in their dreams.” There was no argument or debate. What can one say to such mysterious working of God? Internet, satellite television, dreams, and books are all very exciting means of getting the River of God to move across the globe.

But wait, there is more. There’s YOU ministering to a Muslim woman in Minneapolis,Toronto, London, Sydney, or Paris. Perhaps no one sees what you are doing except God. You love Fatima and prayed for her and patiently tried to explain new truths about Jesus to her. One day the light bulb turned on in Fatima’s awakened soul. She understood and gave her life to Jesus. A new mysterious River started moving through her and flowed on to Zahra…then to Maryam….and on to Ayesha. 

Christian women are becoming increasingly more aware of the opportunity to reach Muslim women with the Gospel. Now we are starting to run with the vision. It is certainly a marathon of long term investment and friendship...even for decades.... but with perseverance and anointing from the Holy Spirit we will run the race right to the finish line. We will take precious Muslim women into the River with us.

There is no limit to what God is doing. We have the privilege to live in the midst of this kairos time in history. No one can stop the River which gives Life wherever it goes. Some try to stop it but it is impossible. No one can control the Holy Spirit. He is untameable. Yes!  

Dear heavenly Father, I am no longer content to hear of or watch your River. Take me into your rushing River. And I want more of my Muslim friends to join me in the River of Life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.