By Lily Thomas*
In 2001, my husband and I and 3 small kids moved to a Muslim country. We raised our children under the pale skies of the desert, in the shadow of minarets that echoed with the call to prayer 5 times a day. We adjusted to a new culture, learning to eat on the floor with our hands, and to not expect dinner till 9 p.m or later. We made local friends and had many deep discussions about our faith.
After 9 years overseas, we moved back to Oregon, where we began working with refugees from Muslim countries. As I began to encourage my fellow American believers to get to know their Muslim neighbors, I realized something: Although I didn’t consider myself an expert, I knew a lot more about what to expect than my friends did. As more and more people got involved, I wished for a way to help train them to have confidence in sharing their faith, to move past the fear of the unknown which is inevitable in cross-cultural encounters, and to avoid some of the cultural faux-pas which can hinder our effectiveness in sharing the important things.
Enter Muslim ConneXion! I was excited when I first heard of this weekend conference in the Portland area 3 years ago! That year, the plenary speaker was Don McCurry, a man with a wealth of experience both overseas in Muslim countries and here in the U.S. His sessions were packed with information, yet he managed to break things down into manageable bits. Several believers from Muslim backgrounds shared their stories, and there were options for workshops on practical things – such as working with Muslim women or sharing faith with Muslim friends.
People from my church who were beginning to get involved with refugees attended with me, and I asked them afterwards if it had been helpful. They were unmistakable in their praise. One woman told me that she was coming away with several new ideas, which she then put into practice.
As we look at what God is doing around the world today, we see that He is moving large populations of people from the most unreached regions of the world, and bringing them next door to large populations of believers. I believe with all my heart that His desire is for us, as the body of Christ, to be His hands and feet, reaching out in love to the refugees next door. But, how? Muslim ConneXion gives practical, down-to-earth tips and ideas. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
*Lily Thomas works with refugees in the Portland area. She’ll be speaking on a panel and at a workshop at this year’s Muslim ConneXion.
Register to attend here.