|photo by Santi / flickr|
With all this anti-Muslim sentiment floating around out there--if we didn't know any better we would think all those Muslims in our country (and others) are just here to do us harm. Once upon a time we heard the same thing about the Irish, the Poles, the Chinese, the Japanese, the blacks, the poor, the gays--and now the transgender. Many of us have muttered about "them." We are all in the same boat--and if we puncture our vessel with too many holes we'll all sink.
On it's better days the church reaches out to all those that feel disenfranchised. There should be no them or they--there should only be we. The Gospel writes across every page: all...All...ALL. We are all the same under the skin. This is why I stand and applaud the Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia. And especially it's Pastor, Chris George.
Recently he said in a sermon, "I have a proposal for you today.. What if Smoke Rise developed a reputation as a community of welcome? What if here, in this church, we were known first and foremost as a good neighbor?"
The Pastor had already written church members about Malik Waliyani, whose gas station and convenience store just a block away was burglarized and ransacked earlier that week. After learning about the crime in the gas station, Pastor George went by the store and visited the owner. Waliyani is a practicing Muslim born in India. He had purchased the business just three months earlier.
As the Pastor talked to his church staff they decided to challenge the church to do something besides just paying lip service to their faith. He challenged the church "to offer hospitality, care and compassion because this is what Christians do."
That afternoon an estimated 150 to 200 church drove over to the service station to buy gas or make other purchases. Over the next week an estimated 350 plus churchgoers had stopped by the gas station.
That Church and Pastor needs a standing ovation. This is the task of all Christians and churches. Quit the Muslim-bashing. Put our fear-mongering in perspective. Reach out in positive ways to our brothers and sisters who come to us from foreign lands dreaming of a better chance.
What is your church doing to practice love and hospitality? Looks like we all have some work to do in our time.
|photo by Hernan Pinera / flickr|
(I am indebted to Bob Allen of Baptist News Global, August 16, 2016 for spreading this good news.)
--Roger Lovette / rogerlovette.blogspot.com