Thursday, October 10, 2013

A New Trend

“My thoughts are completely different from yours,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8

 I’ll never forget the day when our Muslim friends, who both had doctorates, decided to return to their homeland. They left their two teen-aged children here in Canada. It’s been a couple of decades now. We had welcomed them to Canada and hosted them in our home. They even came to church with us; though they never gave their lives to the Lord. That was the beginning of seeing a new trend – Muslims wanting to move back home.

 For 25 years I have been welcoming Muslims to Canada. Canada is welcoming, generous, helpful, and gracious to newcomers. I’ve walked through their joyful times of raising families and been invited to many citizenship ceremonies. Now, in the past ten years, but especially of late, I keep hearing of my friends pining to move back to Afghanistan, Sudan, Oromo area of Ethiopia, Syria, Kurdish area of Iran, Somalia, Algeria, Indonesia, and Iraq. I wonder how this is possible when there is still a lot of political danger and instability. There is frequent flying back and forth between these countries and Canada. Many go during the summer months to visit their families there, buy land, and start building houses. They are making preparations for the day when they hope to move back. The men make trips back to oversee the homes being built. It’s the women who especially want to return to their roots. They miss their mom and dad so much. Their hearts are not here. Parents are getting elderly and needy. Some people have returned permanently. Others envision spending half the year here and half back home. I’m not sure how the children and grandchildren will fit into this picture yet. I watch closely as this trend enfolds and wonder what God’s plan is in all this.

 At first it was bewildering to me but now I am beginning to think this may be God’s way of introducing more grace in their lands. If my Muslim friends actually return to their original homelands they will no doubt remember how Canada operates peacefully as a multicultural and pluralistic nation, doesn't seek revenge, forgives others, helps others unconditionally, respects minorities and disadvantaged people, respects women, children and animals, and operates on honesty, justice, and tolerance. When bribery and corruption take place and are discovered they are dealt with. There is freedom of speech. After my friends return they will surely remember and awaken to why Canada is blessed. It may be this delayed awakening that will cause them to finally begin to ask questions and search for the Prince of Peace. Perhaps God will use these returnees to help introduce the needed grace in their homelands. They enjoyed incarnated grace here. I once concluded that God brought our Muslim friends to settle here, be safe, and enjoy freedom. Now I am wondering if it might be that God designed they should come here to see what grace looks like both in my country and through my life, and when or if they return to their homelands, they might long for grace and discover it is the Grace-Giver, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is at the foundation and source.

Dear heavenly Father, please help our Muslim friends to grasp Your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.