September 1, 2016

From the president's heart: my Muslim friend

Written by  Nelson Okanya

This article appears in the September/October 2016 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.

"The line between good and evil does not lie between 'us' and 'them,' between the West and the rest, between Left and Right, between rich and poor. That fateful line runs down the middle of each of us, every human society, every individual.” — N.T. Wright

I spent my middle school years living in Migori with my aunt and attending school. My school was a melting pot of sorts; the student body was made up of Kikuyus, Kisiis, Luos, Arabs, Somalis, Burundians, and students from other smaller tribes.

Mohomed Kedi was my good friend and neighbor. Every Friday Mohamed attended Islamic Religious Education classes, while I went to Christian Religious Edcuation classes as part of the public school curriculum. I never felt any religious tension between us. We were more alike than different. There was a sense that we were all just people, we all mattered.

In this issue of Messenger, you’ll be introduced to Muslims in Albania, Germany, the Middle East, Kenya, and South Asia — people who you would most likely enjoy sharing a cup of tea with. I particularly encourage you to read Jonathan Bornman’s blog article “Light a candle, pray for peace,” in which he notes that the anniversary of September 11 falls close to or on the same day as Eid Al-Fitr, the biggest Muslim holiday. Will the church take the lead in being agents of peace during this time which could be rife with misunderstandings?

I would like to invite us all to reach out to our Muslim neighbors and be a source of friendship, understanding, and peacebuilding.

Our nation and our world is seriously divided, full of fear and mistrust. I am reminded once again that the Church needs to be the light and shalom of Jesus to all we meet.

Nelson Okanya serves as president of EMM.

This article appears in the September/October 2016 issue of Missionary Messenger; sign up to read more articles like this one.