Monday, December 12, 2011

Divine Opportunities Missed

“Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power?” Isaiah 53:1

After I spoke at a ladies meeting in a church a woman came up to me and inquired, “What about female circumcision?” I briefly explained. Then…“What about honor killings?” After another brief explanation, she stated, “What about the imams teaching jihad in our mosques?” Another explanation….then, “What about wife beating? There are Youtube clips teaching Muslim men how to beat their wives.” I began to realize this woman had been unduly influenced by media and had excessive fears and anxieties about Muslims. She wanted to have her knowledge and views confirmed by me. Finally she remarked disappointed, “Your talk wasn’t at all what I expected.” “What did you expect?” I asked her. “I thought you’d tell us how bad it is for Muslim women.” I had talked about having compassion and love for Muslims in our neighborhoods, work, and schools and getting past our fear of them. Our fears can cause us to miss divine opportunities. I tried to explain that even though all her statements had some validity many, but not all, Muslim women living here in the West are happy and feel life is good for them. They have rights here that they couldn't enjoy in their countries of origin. Unfortunately, we can use our awareness of violations to justify staying away from Muslims - and miss divine opportunities.

Another lady came up to me after that same meeting and told me in a hushed tone what had recently happened to her. She met a Somali lady and her three year old daughter, both dressed in hijabs and traditional conservative clothes. She overheard the mother say to her daughter in English, “hug”. The Christian lady was wary of her. Suddenly the little girl gave her a hug and the Christian lady wanted me to explain if her suspicions were correct that Muslims are trying to take over the West by using methods like being friendly and hugging to win people over. I was taken aback by her suspicion about hugs and assured her that probably what could have happened was that the Somali lady may have been in a refugee camp and somebody had shown her kindness which she had been reminded of. I tried to help her see that, rather than draw back from her in suspicion, it could have been seized as an opportunity from the Holy Spirit.  Having excessive fears and misconceptions and making generalizations will lead to missing divine opportunities.

Whenever we take the effort to get to know someone different than us it helps us to get a more correct understanding and balanced view. Media has capitalized so much on bringing awareness of terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism that, if a Christian woman has no Muslim acquaintance or friend, she can be convinced all Muslim men and women are dangerous.

I once had numerous misconceptions and made generalizations, too - mostly because of fear of Muslims.  It has made a difference getting to know scores of Muslim women over the past 33 years. I don’t want to miss a single divine appointment, opportunity, or blessing by making unproven conclusions or assumptions.  Today I am eager for God to send me to them. That's what Christmas is all about for me.

Dear heavenly Father, I hear You saying, ‘Who will go for me?’ And I respond, ‘Here, I am. Send me.’ In Jesus’ name, Amen.