And who is my neighbor? Reflections on Muslim immigration

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“The Good Samaritan, after Delacroix,” Vincent van Gogh, 1890

Yesterday we recommended a helpful article concerning Muslim immigration by Marty Duren. In the article, Marty responds to negative attitudes about Muslim immigration to the US, and offers some sound reasoning for churches, and of course believers, in the States.

Today, we would like to build off this foundation and provide a few positive steps forward. If the Christian response to Muslim immigration should not be isolationist or fearful, then how should we walk into this day in America?

Consider the mission of God:

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. (Acts 17:26-27, ESV)

As Christians, we understand that God is on the move. He is working out his plan for creation, and the Bible plainly tells us that God orders the movements of peoples. Hear this: Muslim immigration is an act of God. Whatever the perceived reason for individuals to move from one country to another, God reminds us that it is He who determines their steps so that “they should seek him, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.”

Right now, God is moving people from areas in the world with no gospel access in to neighborhoods with some of the highest concentrations of Evangelicalism on the planet. That is no coincidence.

Consider the Great Commission:

Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to make disciples of all nations. That command is not optional for Christians, and the object “all nations” does not really mean “some nations.”

We are warned nowadays of the potential of radicalization. Let us consider this potential for radicalization, but from a different angle. Yes, radicalization: that Muslim peoples from all over the world might come to hear the good news of Christ and become radical followers of Jesus. There are so many countries we as Americans cannot reach. Imagine the sending potential if we can train and equip people to reach back behind the veil of Islam.

The least reached peoples are now in arms reach. And for the first time in our history, every, single member of your church can impact the nations in this way. Believers who never could go overseas no longer have to in order to share Christ with a Muslim, or a Hindu or Buddhist for that matter. We now share space. We share a marketplace. This is not bad news, if your heart is to share the good news of Christ.

Consider the Great Commandment:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 37-39, ESV)

Love of God and love of neighbor: these two commandments hang together as indivisible. In Luke 10, Jesus reminds us that our neighbor may not be who we think it is. In fact, according to the story of the Good Samaritan, your neighbor is the foreigner in your city that looks different and everyone hates.

The easiest way to overcome this spirit of pessimism is to get to know your new neighbors. Instead of using social media as a means to scream at them in fear or anger, why not invite them to lunch? And maybe, just maybe, you will get a chance to share with them the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15).

Keelan Cook Administrator
Senior Church Consultant

Keelan leads the Peoples Next Door project and is a Senior Church Consultant with the Union Baptist Association in Houston, TX. He is working on a PhD in Missiology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In previous years, he spent time as a church planter in West Africa with the IMB and doing ethno-graphic research in Washington, DC with NAMB.

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