I was leading a workshop for local pastors. In the chitchat before my session began, several pastors were venting about usual ministry frustrations—sometimes a healthy thing to do (with trusted friends). In talking about challenges, one exclaimed, “They are building a mosque right down the street!” Before others could say anything, I stated, “Praise God.” The ensuing silence was palpable.
After he picked his chin up off the floor, he asked why I would say that. I offered several reasons. First, it can be very difficult to share the gospel with Muslims in most Muslim countries. There are laws restricting or even forbidding it. We have the Jesus film, Bibles and wonderful Gospel materials in Arabic but unable to use them in many places. All such materials can be freely shared here in America. Second, I hear students say, “I don’t know any Muslims.” Well, with a mosque down the street, it will be easier to find them. I suggested to my pastor friend that he should offer to take the local Imam out to lunch. Or, ask for a tour of the mosque. Likely, you will enjoy some wonderful hospitality. I have always been greeted warmly and treated kindly anytime I have done this. Third, you have a natural avenue for being neighborly—after all, they’re now neighbors. Like other prejudices, getting to really know someone helps to break down stereotypes. Make a friend.
It is a marvel to me that many Christians can have a warm relationship with the Buddhist who owns a local restaurant but not the Muslim who owns a local shop. Shame on us, if that is true.
You see, God has brought them to your doorstep, so that they can meet a kind and gracious follower of Christ. Many of my Muslim friends were taught growing up that Christians are immoral, that Christians hate them. Prove them wrong! Like Lazarus, God has placed them at your gate. Thank God for the mosque down the street.