Last month I commented on part of an article by Shane Bennett that appeared several years ago in Missions Catalyst.
In his two-part post on Top Ten Myths about Missions , Bennett explained:
I want to understand how the average Lou and Sue, sitting in the pew, think about missions stuff. What begins to crackle in their minds when the pastor introduces a “missions” speaker? What synapses fire when a video rolls about poor kids in Faroffistan? From what I’ve seen there are some serious misconceptions floating around in our churches, at least some of our churches. We could call these collective assumptions, beliefs that simply don’t reflect reality, “myths.”
This month I continue the series.
Myth #3: Non-Christians (Especially Muslims) Are Hairy, Scary Meanies
Caveat: Yes, many people are suffering at the hands of Muslims. Yes, some Muslims have done mean things on a massive and deadly level. Yes, some verses of the Qur’an suggest that Muslims should kill all who don’t believe like them.
That said, personally I know more mean Christians than mean Muslims. Don’t you? I know more Christians than Muslims, so I’m not trying to establish a ratio in absolute terms. I’m just saying maybe we need to challenge this myth about Muslims. I’ve been invited in and served food by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists alike. I’ve seen Muslims behave like Jesus, another argument against the meanness assumption, more times than I could relate. And many times that Jesus-like behavior has been directed to me.
Without presuming to address all the issues this entails, can I encourage us as mobilizers to find ways to help people have one decent conversation with someone from another faith? Perhaps you’ve seen this in Missions Catalyst before, but it bears repeating: According to Dr. Todd Johnson, eight or nine out of every ten Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do not personally know a Christian. A lot of “us” have never met any of “them,” either.
A cup of tea and a chat might begin to dispel the “mean” myth.
As we move further into the 21st century, more and more we find ourselves coming into contact with those from other cultures—and other religions. I live in Colorado Springs with its remarkably homogenous population. Yet, any trip to Walmart will turn up women in saris, Sikhs in their turbans, native Americans, other Asians, Hispanics… and probably a dozen other nationalities besides. Our previous home in Silicon Valley was much more diverse, with five different languages spoken by the five families at our children’s school bus stop. Why not make the effort, and get to know some of these people who are not just like us? We have friends from many cultures, and they have enriched our lives tremendously.
Do you have acquaintances—or friends—from other religions? How did you meet? How hard is it to bring up Jesus in a conversation with them?
I couldn’t agree more!! I think it’s really really important to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. How else can we spread the gospel? And besides, it certainly makes life more colorful and exciting!