I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8 ESV
1 Week of Preparation
Welcome to the last 7 days leading up to our mission trip and ministry event week! Are you ready to venture among Muslim peoples with the gospel?
Let’s pray for one another as we prepare for this opportunity to represent our Savior, knowing that He is the One who will instruct us and guide us.
Please use this page every day to join with other team members in preparing your heart and mind through prayer, reading, and video.
May the Lord greatly bless you through these resources!
SUNDAY, JULY 3
Pray for all 32 of our team members by name
KARIM ALIMOHAMMED, an electrical engineer originally from Pakistan, who attends Arsenal Hill Presbyterian Church, in downtown Columbia
SUSAN DAVIS, an ESL instructor who is part of Crossings Community Church’s circle of welcome in helping to resettle Afghan refugees
DAVID EDWARDS, a home inspector and church musician who leads worship at Christ Covenant Church, in Columbia, SC
JANICE EDWARDS, a legal assistant from Columbia, SC who attends Christ Covenant Church and has befriended Iranians over the years
CLIFF FLOYD, a retired Trans World Radio missionary who attends First Presbyterian Church and lives in West Columbia, SC
ANNE GARNER, a retiree from Graham, NC who enjoys writing poetry and attends First ARP Church, in Burlington, NC
PATIENCE HENDERSON, an 11-year-old who recently moved to Columbia, SC for her dad’s new position at First ARP Church, Columbia
SEAN HENDERSON, the new missions pastor at First ARP Church, Columbia, SC
WILLIAM HENDERSON, an 8-year-old who recently moved to Columbia, SC for his dad’s new position at First ARP Church, Columbia
CHRISTINA KLUKOW, a teacher from Rock Hill, SC who attends Ebenezer ARP Church and has done VBS ministry in multiple countries
JASMINE KLUKOW, a creative and artistic 17-year-old who attends Ebenezer ARP Church, in Rock Hill
LYNN LIMON, a 2nd grade teacher from Elon, NC who enjoys teaching children and ESL, and who attends Westminster Pres. EPC Church
GRACE MCCOY, a Liberty University student Dallas, NC who attends Providence Presbyterian Church
NICOLE MCCOY, a retired teacher from Dallas, NC, wife of Providence Pres. Church’s pastor, who loves getting to know people from other cultures
REID MCCOY, a 13-year-old from Dallas, NC who enjoys playing soccer and whose dad is the pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church
ALI MITCHELL, an Ethnē Outfitters missionary from Crossings Community Church, ARP, who lives in Elgin, SC and loves ministry among Muslims
ANDREW MITCHELL, a civil engineer working on airports who attends First Pres. Columbia and speaks Russian and Mandarin
TARA MITCHELL, a high school assistant principal from Elgin, SC who attends Crossings Community Church and loves being a new grandmother
GEORGIA MORRISON, a 6-year-old from Columbia, SC who attends Crossings Community Church and loves books, dancing, crafts, and new friends
JANELLE MORRISON, a creative, relational wedding hair stylist and makeup artist from Columbia, SC who attends Crossings Community Church
JOSH MORRISON, a mobilization manager at World Team USA who attends Crossings Community Church and leads a weekly UPG prayer group
WESLEY MORRISON, a 4-year-old who attends Crossings Community Church and loves music, first responders, goofiness, and backyard sports
SHELIA OSBORNE, a World Witness short term mission trip coordinator from Greer, SC who attends Grace Church, in Greenville, SC
JOHN PASCUTTI, a pharmaceutical sales rep who is the missions committee chairperson at Northeast Presbyterian Church, in Columbia, SC
JOYCE PAYNE, a retired teacher from Burlington, NC who attends Westminster Pres. EPC and has been on numerous mission trips
LAUREN PRENTISS, a full-time Christian worker very active in Afghan ministry, who attends Crossroads Church, in Columbia, SC
WILLIAM PRENTISS, a DoD consultant who coordinates local ministry among Afghan people and attends Crossroads Church, in Columbia, SC
MISSY ROBELOT, an Ethnē Outfitters missionary who has worked in Chad and France and attends First Presbyterian Church, in Columbia, SC
PAUL ROBELOT, an Ethnē Outfitters missionary who has worked in Chad and France and attends First Presbyterian Church, in Columbia, SC
BROOKS WILLET, a software development manager for Amazon Web Services and Ethnē Outfitters Volunteer who attends Arsenal Hill Pres. Church
EZEKIEL WILLET, a 7-year-old analytical wordsmith who attends Arsenal Hill Pres. Church and loves to swim, create chemical reactions, and read
MARY RUTH WILLET, a bold, creative 9-year-old who attends Arsenal Hill and who thinks outside the box and enjoys international stories and food
ROBIN YOUNG WILLIAMS, the Executive Director of Life Builders ESL Ministries from Rock Hill, SC who attends Neely’s Creek ARP Church
MONDAY, JULY 4
Read Chapter 6 in “Loving Your Muslim Neighbor” and think through the “Questions to Ponder”
What Causes a Muslim to
Risk It All and Follow Jesus?
The Top Five Reasons—Number One Is . . .
We drove as fast as legally possible—and then some—to make it to the end of Omar’s graduation ceremony from a local university in April of 2007.
It was difficult because we had told our Palestinian international student friend that we would be there as his “family” for his graduation. But, alas, it turned out to be the same day as our church’s congregational meeting—the very meeting where we were to announce our resignation from pastoring
our church to go into full-time Muslim ministry. The calendar conflict could not be resolved.
We spoke to our well-wishing parishioners after our difficult announcement and then raced off to try to make it to part of Omar’s graduation. We didn’t make it. The parking lot of the university’s basketball arena was empty except for a few cars and a few people scattered around them. We drove over toward those cars, and among those few people were Omar and his Palestinian fellow graduates! He was so happy to see us and encouraged everyone to don their caps and gowns for pictures with us. We were, after all, his family.
With appreciation, Omar emailed about our relationship with him after
“Dear brother Tim,
“I hope you and your family are doing well.
“Do you know, the most precious thing that I’ll lose is your friendship . . . it has affected me, and you touched me. I wish I could be beside you to learn from you and enjoy your friendship. You are great man Tim, and you are knowledgeable and always look for the truth. I appreciate your style. You and your wife, Miriam, are very kind and polite. Days ago, I mentioned you before my friends and said that you were the only Americans that impressed me with your morals.
“Unfortunately, I’ll leave.
What causes a Muslim to potentially risk losing what is so precious to them to gain Jesus:
family, community, job, education, possessions?
What causes a Muslim to risk this kind of possible suffering to follow Jesus:
isolation, imprisonment, torture, rape,
and—in somewhat rare situations—even death?
This is not a pleasant subject, but it is a necessary one. For a Muslim to make an intentional choice to leave Islam and become a follower of Jesus will almost always require some kind of cost. We learned early on that it is critical that we warn our seeking Muslim friends of this so that we would not be guilty of “sugarcoating” the gospel.
In thinking about the possible cost(s) for a Muslim to follow Jesus, we want to discover how this momentous change in their lives takes place. Are there common factors we can all learn from.
There are more recent studies, but we found a study undertaken by Dudley Woodbury, Professor of Islamics at Fuller Seminary, and others, to be the most helpful (article in Christianity Today magazine, October 2007). Between 1991 and 2007, about 750 Muslims who had decided to follow Christ filled out an extensive questionnaire on why they had become followers of Jesus. The respondents—from thirty countries and fifty ethnic groups—represented every major region of the Muslim world.
THE TOP FIVE REASONS MUSLIM PEOPLE BECOME FOLLOWERS OF JESUS (IN INVERSE ORDER)
#5 The Love of God—in the Qur’an, God’s love is conditional. By contrast, God’s love for all people (even His enemies) in the Christian faith was definitely eye-opening for these former Muslims. They were also moved by the love expressed through the life and teachings of Jesus.
#4 The Bible—Muslims are generally taught that the Torah, the Psalms, and the Gospels originally came from God but that they later became “corrupted” (changed). These former Muslims said, however, that the truth of God found in Scripture became compelling for them and key to their understanding of God’s character.
#3 Dissatisfaction with Islam—many expressed dissatisfaction with the Qur’an, which they felt emphasizes God’s punishment over His love. Others cited Islamic militancy (even Muslim-on-Muslim violence) and the failure of Islamic law to transform hearts and society.
#2 The Power of God (Answered Prayers, Healings, Dreams and Visions of Jesus)—these followers of Jesus from a Muslim background experienced God’s supernatural work when Christians prayed for them. When help from a Muslim spiritual leader, as well as a pilgrimage to Mecca, could not heal two Muslim girls, God used the prayers of Christians to bring healing. Others spoke of deliverance from demonic powers. And one in four former Muslims had dreams or visions of Jesus that led to their
commitments to follow Him.
#1 The Lifestyle of Christians—former Muslims cited the love and lifestyle that Christians exhibited. One said there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of Christians that he could see. Some noticed Christian women being treated as equals. Others spoke of seeing loving Christian marriages and simple lifestyles among believers.
We want to emphasize the obvious here: relationship with followers of Jesus is the #1 reason why former Muslims say they came to true faith in Jesus.
Dear believers, you are the light of the world. You are the city on the hill. You are the salt of the earth. Please grasp the significance of those statements of Jesus (Matthew 5:13–16) and pray for an understanding of how important you are in God’s redemptive plan to bring Muslim people to Himself.
What a privilege! What an honor!
Muslim people need to meet you, speak with you, watch you, ask you questions, eat with you, hear you pray, see your family, and enter your home. They need to see your lifestyle.
But here is a sad truth: roughly one in four people walking the earth today
is a Muslim, and . . .
More Than 86% of Muslim People in the World
“Do Not Personally Know a Christian.”
(This statement is from Todd Johnson and Charles Tieszen, Department of World Missions at Gordon Conwell Seminary, in the October 2007 edition of Evangelical Missions Quarterly.)
There are somewhere near 1.9 billion Muslims in the world, and eighty-six percent of them do not know a follower of Jesus!
We find this statement to be shocking; sobering; and, as we said, just plain sad. One of the purposes of our ministry is to see this statistic change.
That is why, since 2007, we have personally reached out to Muslim people everywhere:
on a jet going to Amsterdam, in an airport in Paris,
sitting in a mosque in Moscow,
at a sidewalk coffee shop in Jordan, in a small restaurant in Bethlehem,
on the streets of Ashford Kent in England, in a taxi in the Arabian Peninsula,
in the enormous Grand Bazaar in Istanbul,
inside the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and
the Mother Mosque of America (built in 1934) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
That is why we go to churches all over the US,
from San Antonio, Texas, to Kokomo, Indiana,
from Beavercreek, Ohio, to Reno, Nevada,
from Montezuma, Iowa, to Memphis, Tennessee,
from Brighton, Michigan, to Aurora, Colorado,
from Corinth, Mississippi, to Wichita, Kansas,
from Sacramento, California, to Lancaster, New York,
from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to Montgomery, Alabama.
We travel to churches in these towns and cities to help Christians gain God’s heart for Muslims, to give them practical evangelistic tools, and to encourage them to join us in reaching out to Muslim people through personal relationship.
Please Hear It Once Again:
Muslim People Most Often Come to Know Jesus through
a Personal Relationship with a Real Follower of Jesus.
To reach Muslims, God is mightily using non face-to-face means, such as the internet, satellite TV (such as SAT-7 for Arabic speakers or SAT-7 Pars for Persian speakers), dreams and visions of Jesus, and reading or hearing something from the Bible. But listen to the words of our friend and pioneer missionary to Muslims for over fifty years, Greg Livingstone:
“A real person (Christian)
must cross over a cultural/religious boundary
to establish an openness based on trust,
which then enables a Muslim
to take the Christian’s witness seriously.”
Personal, human, face-to-face contact is vital. Relationship. From what we have learned—from the beginning of our ministry to Muslim people until now—we can’t emphasize this enough.
We invite you to reflect on the words of a former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi:
“Effective evangelism requires relationships.
There are very few exceptions.
“In my case (growing up in Virginia),
I knew of no Christian who truly cared about me.
“Since no Christian cared about me, I did not care about their message.
“If they [Muslims] were to intimately know
even one Christian who lived differently,
their misconceptions might be corrected,
and they might see Christianity in a virtuous light.
“Only the exceptional blend of love,
humility, hospitality, and persistence can overcome these barriers, and not enough people [Christians] make the effort.”
(Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, pp. 120–21)
Thankfully, one Christian did reach out with real friendship to Nabeel for several years. And thankfully, God used that relationship to draw Nabeel to Jesus as his Savior.
What causes a Muslim to risk it all to follow Jesus?
The primary answer, of course, is that God does His sovereign work in a Muslim’s heart so that he or she can believe in His Son and be drawn to Him (Matthew 16:15–17; John 6:44, 65).
But, as we have seen, there are additional answers.
Most of all, we believe that God would take delight in using you to give to Muslims what they usually need the most in coming to know Jesus: a relationship with one of His committed followers.
That’s what Omar told us he appreciated most when he finished his master’s degree in the US and was on his way back home to the Middle East.
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
• Why do you think building a relationship with someone is so important in their journey to enter the kingdom of God?
• If you were to travel overseas for work or education for a period of time, what would you miss the most about home?
• What would you most appreciate receiving from the people of that foreign country?
• Besides giving a Muslim international student, refugee, or immigrant the gospel, how can you give them your life as well?
“So we cared for you. Because we loved you so much,
we were delighted to share with you
not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
1 Thessalonians 2:8, NIV
Harris, Timothy, and Miriam Harris. Loving Your Muslim NEIGHBOR: Stories of God Using an UNLIKELY Couple to LOVE Muslim People … and How He Might Use You to Do the Same. Credo House Publishers, 2020. Pp.33-39.
TUESDAY, JULY 5
Pray for our Tuesday heart-to-heart conversation time and our Friday mosque visit
MASJID NOOR UL HUDA, 517 Winmet Dr, Columbia, SC 29203
Tuesday, 7/12/22, evening
Our plan is to meet with Imam Muhammad Bashir, a very friendly man from Lahore, Pakistan, who has always been so warm, friendly, and welcoming to us whenever we have visited the Masjid Noor ul Huda mosque. Please pray for the Lord’s perfect will to unfold in several ways:
- For good number of Muslims to join us in talking through the Heart-to-Heart questions, both men and women. We are hoping for one-on-one conversations between Christians and Muslims around the table.
- For genuine conversations that go deep and that are peaceful. Pray that everyone involved would truly work to understand what others are thinking and saying.
- For the Holy Spirit to open spiritual eyes through this approach of having a conversation using non-threatening questions.
- For the Imam and the other Muslims who are involved to reflect on the questions and conversations long after this event.
- For continuing conversations to result from exchanging contact information with people involved in this event.
If you would like to read through the 20 Heart-to-Heart questions ahead of time, please click here.
MASJID NOOR UL HUDA, 517 Winmet Dr, Columbia, SC 29203
Friday, 7/15/22, 1:30 PM
MOSQUE VISIT AND Q&A WITH IMAM MUHAMMAD BASHIR
We have had three Meetings for Better Understanding at this mosque in past years, so we have a history with Imam Bashir and some of the other people at this mosque in the area of Muslim-Christian dialogue.
Here are some suggested ways to pray for this time:
- For all of us to learn a lot about our Muslim friends through the mosque visit, through listening to the sermon, and through observing the Muslims as they pray.
- For our hearts to be moved to pray in new ways for our Muslim friends and to be filled with the compassion of Christ for their souls.
- For good interactions with everyone we meet and for wisdom in every conversation.
- For the Holy Spirit to lead us in asking the right kinds of questions during the question/answer time with the imam.
- For the question/answer time to be thought-provoking and effective in generating genuine spiritual conversation of eternal significance.
- For Muslim people at this mosque to come to know Christ as their Savior and Lord.
To visit a web page with some limited information and photos related to this mosque, click here.
THURSDAY, JULY 7
Spend some time praying for all the volunteers who will be helping with the ESL/soccer camp and for the Thursday evening soccer event by praying through Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul’s prayer for spiritual strength for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV
FRIDAY, JULY 8
Read these thoughts on cultural awareness as a way to prepare for interactions with Muslim people
When our international friends enter our culture and society they are beginning a journey with many unknowns. They may expect our culture, even of people who call ourselves Christians, to closely mirror what is shown in TV shows, movies, gaming, etc. We have an opportunity to demonstrate how our biblical beliefs, more than our culture, govern how we live our lives.
Culture goes the other way too. When we befriend people from other cultural backgrounds we are embarking on a journey into new territory, entering into people’s lives who have very different ways of doing things.
Understanding and being sensitive to the cultures and customs of our international friends is hugely important for welcoming them well, for building trust with them, and for glorifying the Lord in how we relate to them.
The purpose of this page is to help equip us with knowledge and awareness for this cultural journey into the lives of our Muslim friends who come to us from another culture, or whose parents have passed on cultural traits to them from another cultural background. In presenting this knowledge we draw on the Lord’s gracious provision of long experience in the Muslim world and among Muslims and other cultural groups here in North America. We readily admit that many Muslims may “break the mold” and be exceptions to the general rules we provide here. We do not want to encourage stereotypes or generalizations. We only want to suggest cultural traits you may encounter and benefit from being aware of.
We ask that you please read this material prayerfully, asking the Lord to build it into your growing ability to effectively minister God’s grace across cultures.
The honor and shame worldview
All of the aspects of appropriate cultural expression included on this page fall within a very important paradigm in most eastern cultures: the honor/shame worldview paradigm. Mastering the appropriate ways of interaction can show honor instead of shame, both in terms of Muslim people we meet and our own reputation. Of course, some of the Muslims we meet may already be making big adjustments to our western cultural context, but if we emphasize an awareness of the things listed below, we will be much less likely to offend our Muslim friends and much more likely to honor them and their families.
The importance of family and community
We may be very used to our individualistic Western culture, but for Muslim people an individual finds his or her identity, honor, respect, meaning, and so much more, as a member of a family and community. It is so important for us to remember this when relating to individual Muslims, and to try to understand the implications of our words and actions, not just for the one person we are talking to, but for his or her family and cultural or religious group. A family or community’s honor is greatly impacted by the actions of the individual person.
What do you answer when someone says to you, “What’s up?” “Not much,” right? The words don’t seem to have any meaning beyond acknowledging that there is another human being somewhere near us. The opposite thing happens routinely in many Muslim cultures. People can take quite a long time greeting each other because after they ask about the person him or herself they go on to ask about the person’s family and health and other aspects of their life from various different angles. The Islamic greeting, Assalam-o-Aleykum (Peace be upon you) and it’s reply, Wa Aleykum Assalam (And upon you peace) is the appropriate way to greet Muslims the world over, even in places where greetings are still used from pre-Islamic times.
Always use the right hand. As a rule, men and women should not shake hands. Some Muslims will place their hand over their heart after shaking hands (e.g. Pakistan and Afghanistan). In some cultures it is important to greet everyone in a room when entering the room, which can include shaking hands.
Beyond shaking hands
Muslims will often hug members of the same sex on special occasions (e.g. Eid celebrations) or if old friends have not seen one another for a long time. Some Arabs will “air kiss” next to one another’s faces, but only among the same gender.
Contact between men and women, boys and girls
It is best to avoid all contact with people of the opposite sex. Some western women find it very natural to touch a man’s arm when talking to him, but this should definitely be avoided. Normal and perfectly acceptable ways of relating within western cultures can communicate very unintended things to Muslims. Muslims can interpret eye contact, smiling, laughter, spending time together, and any kind of physical touch between men and women as an indication of affection beyond mere friendship. It is important for men to minister only to men and for women to minister only to women.
Humor and laughter are a great part of relationships. At the same time, it is better to be conservative in how we relate to people of the opposite sex in the area of laughter, as mentioned above. In some Muslim cultures too much familiarity between men and women in laughter can appear scandalous.
Eye contact and winking
It is always best to avoid or minimize eye contact between men and women. This may be especially difficult for western people who are used to a more direct interaction with people around them, but it is important to remember, as direct eye contact can be interpreted as being very forward. Avoid winking, as in some Muslim cultures winking always has sexual connotations.
Use of the right hand only
Never use your left hand for shaking hands, eating, drinking, pointing at anything, or handing something to someone. The left hand is associated with bodily functions below the waste, i.e. going to the bathroom.
The safest way to gesture at someone or something is to use the entire hand. The way we point to or at something or someone in western culture may appear very rude in Muslim cultures. Pointing with one finger, using the thumbs up sign, the “ok” sign, and beckoning for someone to come using an upturned hand are offensive in many Muslim cultures. When beckoning someone to come to you it is best to use a downturned palm.
The soles of the feet are considered dirty by many Muslim cultures. For this reason, it is good to avoid crossing one’s legs so that the bottom of one’s feet are facing someone else in the room. Another thing to remember is that if you ever have occasion to visit a mosque, it is good to sit on the floor with legs crossed and your feet under you, avoiding the more comfortable position of leaning against the back wall with your legs straight out.
Muslims remove their shoes when entering a mosque and typically a home. This is good to remember when visiting the homes of our Muslim friends, who will often have a large collection of their own shoes outside the front door or inside on a shelf.
Pork is so taboo for Muslims that for some more secularized Muslims not eating pork defines what it means to be a Muslim. Needless to say, avoiding pork or references to pork around Muslims is helpful. What do you do when a Muslim asks you if you eat pork or asks you what it tastes like? One suggestion is to talk about what Jesus said in Matthew 15:10-20. He says, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth …” Focusing on the words of Jesus and even reading the passage with a Muslim person may not seem to disarm the immediate question, but it may give them an opportunity to think more deeply about the real importance of their question. Peter’s experience with adjusting to God’s grace for the gentiles in Acts 10 is another good place to end up with Muslims.
In spite of the strict prohibition against drinking alcohol in Islam, many Muslims do drink, some more discretely than others. Pakistan, for example, is facing a growing problem with alcoholism and deaths related to home-brewed alcoholic drinks. However, Muslims universally acknowledge that Islam forbids drinking alcohol, so we should avoid using alcohol around Muslims or joking about it.
Women will feel more comfortable around Muslims if they dress more conservatively. What does this mean? A longer length dress or skirt is fine. Stay away from sleeveless shirts. Shorts must be avoided entirely. If wearing pants, which is ok, a longer shirt covering the body is acceptable. If visiting a mosque it is best to be prepared with a headscarf, which some mosques even require for women visitors. Men will also communicate respect for Muslims if they dress conservatively. Even though some Muslims may appear more informal, it is still better to dress wearing casual slacks and a decent shirt, especially when first meeting people. Muslims do wear jeans, but many times will dress a little nicer when going out. In many Muslim countries, men are often careful to cover themselves, even wearing long sleeves. Shorts should be avoided by men as well, except when taking part in sports events or when with very close Muslim friends.
It is impossible to overestimate the positive impact of a cheerful and friendly demeanor in our relationships with Muslims. Some Christians have become overwhelmingly loved and accepted within Muslim cultures through consistently demonstrating a friendly, warm, smiling attitude toward others, even earning the descriptor “very good human being.” We cannot overstate the benefit and blessings that come from a healthy emphasis on being the “fragrance of Christ” among our Muslim friends.
Events and people vs. time
Although many Muslims do appreciate how punctual we tend to be in the West, many Muslim cultures do default to placing a high value on the event and the person over punctuality. This requires patience for those used to people arriving on time and events starting at the stated time. Being impatient will achieve nothing good. In the western context, Muslims may well be much more punctual than in some Muslim cultures. However, if we emphasize giving attention to people and a willingness to spend time with them, we can’t go wrong. People from many other cultures view westerners, including Americans, as enslaved to our schedules and calendars. Muslims can be pleasantly surprised when we love them through an “unrushed” demonstration of attentiveness and friendship. This is just one more way to show them honor and respect.
Many Muslims will greatly appreciate being given a printed invitation to an event. This is especially true of Iranians but of others as well.
It has been said that it is hard to outdo Muslims when it comes to hospitality. Most Muslim cultures have hospitality firmly built into them. This is partly due to the emphasis on earning merit in Islam through showing hospitality to guests. Some of this also comes from the desert hospitality of the Middle East, where a person’s own honor is at stake based on their ability to welcome and protect guests … and even enemies. No matter the motivation, Muslim hosts are some of the most gracious, generous, and self-sacrificing of any peoples. We would do well to receive their hospitality graciously, and show them extravagant hospitality as well. One part of showing hospitality is serving food or drinks to guests without asking, as in some cultures they may politely refuse one or more times. Another part is showing how much we care by finding out what foods are acceptable to them (halal) and which are forbidden (haram).
Muslim cultures vary on whether it is appropriate for a guest to bring a gift when invited to a Muslim person or family’s home. There are resources online which can answer this question specific to the culture of the person giving the invitation.
Placing the Qur’an on the floor or even on a chair where someone would sit is considered a sign of great disrespect to the holy book. We should show respect for all holy books, including the Qur’an and the Bible. Biblical references, Bibles and New Testaments, and devotional materials should not be kept in or displayed in bathrooms, which are considered an inappropriate environment for holy books. When hosting Muslims at a Christian venue or in a Christian home, Bibles should be placed respectfully on a table or shelf. (To give you an idea of how seriously Muslims take respect for their holy book, Muslim homes will often feature a special shelf up high in the room, especially for holding the Qur’an.) When carrying the Bible, we should hold it with our right hand, at least above waist level.
Respect for older people
This is an area of great opportunity for us in building relationships with Muslims. Older people are still shown great respect in many Muslim cultures, though this beautiful and biblical aspect of culture is being lost, even in some of the most traditional societies. Showing respect for older people we meet among Muslims through using terms like Dr., Mr. or Mrs., for example, and through letting them walk in front of us or go through a door ahead of us, or through serving them first when it comes to food or drinks, goes a long way in building goodwill and relationships of trust.
Honor and respect
If Muslim people know that you are trying to show them honor and respect, they will more easily forgive any cultural blunders you may make. How can you do this? Being agreeable when talking with those older than you, rather than disagreeing with them or arguing with them is one very powerful way. Deferring to those in authority and being aware of people’s status within their own community or culture is another. Learning about a Muslim immigrant’s culture, customs, traditions, religion, history, and geography of their country also does wonders for relationships with Muslim people, who are often surprised to find out that we know anything at all about such things. Yes, there is a strong, patriarchal honor system in many Muslim cultures that has evil tendencies, such as honor killing of apostates from Islam or of girls who date or marry outside their family’s wishes. We do not want to show respect for this broken and godless aspect of some Muslim cultures. However, we wish to emphasize the fact that so many of the things listed above for appropriate interaction with Muslims and avoiding offense are in fact ways of showing honor and respect, in keeping with the biblical commands to regard others as more important than ourselves and to do to others as we would have them do to us.
SATURDAY, JULY 9
Look over the trip schedule and pray for strength, wisdom, grace, and open doors for our team, remembering especially the times we will be entering into our Muslim friends’ homes