The Christian community in Metro Vancouver has already shown how ready it is to embrace refugees coming from the Middle East. In view of the Paris attacks, it is important to note that the welcome very much includes Muslims.
Last year, before attending a Muslim youth meeting in Surrey, Kuepfer said to his Peace Mennonite members:
In the wake of the Paris attacks, my friends in India are on my mind a lot. Every time someone makes an ignorant generalization accusing all Muslims of being terrorists, I think of the generous and hospitable families in the slum who welcomed me into their lives.
I think of the children suffering malnutrition and forced into tedious labor instead at a young age instead of being able to attend school. I think of their parents’ struggles with illiteracy, unemployment and prejudice from the majority of society. I think about how they could do without any more obstacles placed in the way of living dignified, healthy lives, and I worry about the ways that negatives stereotypes and hatred toward Muslims will affect their lives.
I learned so much from my Muslim neighbours about compassion, loyalty, hope – and, yes, faith. They accepted me into their community despite the fact that we came from different races, different cultures and different religions.
When I remember the risk they took in choosing to get to know me as a person instead of allowing stereotypes to keep me at arm’s length, I can’t help but feel anger at the injustice of others in the West allowing stereotypes of Muslims to erase the humanity of my friends and neighbours in India.
For the full post go here.
Craig Greenfield: Ten Reasons Why We Need to Welcome Muslims With Open Arms
Craig Greenfield is quite well known around Vancouver, though he now lives overseas. Originally from New Zealand, he and his wife Nay spent several years in a Cambodian slum before moving to Vancouver and living in the Downtown Eastside for seven years. While here, he began Servants Vancouver. In 2013 the family moved back to Cambodia, where they run Alongsiders International, which matches vulnerable children with young Christians from local churches.
Greenfield wrote Ten Reasons Why We Need to Welcome Muslims With Open Arms a couple of months before the Paris attacks, but I have no doubt that he stands by it. Here is a portion:
The friend who wrote me an email last week was torn. She wanted me to join her campaign to urge the government to accept more refugees – but only if they were Christian refugees.
Perhaps you feel torn too – between mercy and defensiveness, between care for others and care of your own?
Perhaps you’ve experienced that tension between fear and compassion?
On the one hand, for more than a year we’ve been seeing images of ISIS and the brutal beheadings they have carried out in the name of their brand of “Islam.” These images moved us to anger and disgust. We’re grateful there is a vast distance between us and these brutal terrorists.
On the other hand, these past weeks we have seen heart-breaking images of Muslim children who have drowned while trying to escape their war-torn nations. These images moved the world towards compassion and tenderness. We considered whether our own families and our governments could be doing more.
Doubts linger though.
What will happen to this nation, you wonder, if too many Muslims come and settle here? As Christians, are we not called to defend a Christian way of life, maintain a Christian majority in society and promote a Judeo-Christian value system?
In this post, I will suggest that as followers of Jesus, the most Christ-like thing we could do in the face of this humanitarian crisis, is to welcome Muslim refugees into our communities with open arms.
In fact, there have been very few global tests of our faith as stark as this. But I’m convinced that how we answer this question reveals a lot about how (and whether) we truly follow Jesus.
Here are 10 reasons why Greenfield believes it is imperative that Christians welcome Muslim refugees:
1. We don’t have a monopoly on Jesus
2. Jesus calls us to leave behind our tribalism
3. Compassion for the alien is central to following Jesus
4. Jesus was a refugee
5. The inaction of others is no excuse
6. ISIS doesn’t have a historical monopoly on brutality
7. Only a tiny minority of Muslims are involved with ISIS
8. Jesus calls us to love our enemies
9. Following Jesus is costly
10. Many Muslims and Christians are now discovering Jesus
These are just the headers; for the full blog post go here.
Warren Larson: Evangelical attitudes toward Muslims
Warren Larson, director of the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies at Columbia International University, has strong ties to Metro Vancouver. He recently wrote Will Evangelical Attitudes Toward Muslims Continue to Harden? on the Zwemer Centre site.
* A chronological overview of the Bible revealing the identity of the Messiah.
* A series of 13 short films to be followed by guided discussions,
* Designed for use in small groups among friends.
* Presented in Arabic and English.
Why should we listen to Tim Kuepfer, Trudy Smith, Craig Greenfield, Warren Larson and Al Massira? They have proved their worth in many ways, but the key thing they have to offer is experience with actual Muslim people, both here and around the world. These are exciting times, as the Metro Vancouver church is, in various ways, learning to expose itself to the local community and the broader world.