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Reflections on Engaging our Muslim Neighbors

What I heard in regards to Imaginative Empathy is taking the time get to know our neighbors, particularly to ask about and learn what their hopes and fears are. When I put myself in the stranger’s shoes, they are not so strange anymore and I learn we have much in common.

These ideas developed from research for From Bubble to Bridge: Educating Christians for a Multifaith World that Marion Larson coauthored with Sara Shady.

I’ve focused in on what most captured my attention, but there were many other things said that resonated. I really appreciated John Azumah’s story of coming from a Muslim background to become a Jesus follower. Both Rick Love, Michal Muelenberg, and one of the pastors in attendance spoke of how much transformation they have seen when Christians and Muslims sit down and share a meal together. Richard Mouw and others spoke of missiological concerns and how engaging with Muslims in our communities can and should be something normal and neighborly.

One of the panelists challenged the audience to rethink how we think of evangelism. Not “winning souls” does not mean we have failed in evangelism.

Michal Muelenberg, who identified herself as a Millennial, offered some practical advice in navigating cross cultural conversations. In an age not known for civility in public discourse, we should all be reminded how important it is to ask questions like, “What do you mean by that?” instead of assuming we already know. We should repeat back to those we are listening to what we understood them to be saying. Finally, something particularly relevant for lives saturated by social media: Avoid theological arguments online. Arguments in social media are only helpful for losing friends.

May you and I have the courage to see our Muslim neighbors with fresh eyes, sharing with them the love, power, and forgiveness found only in Jesus.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2017

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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