Monday, August 26, 2002
Muslim nations vs. Muslim people: Several weeks ago I created a little bit of a firestorm by suggesting that the United States should think twice about granting student or tourist visas to people from Arab countries in the wake of Sept. 11.
However, in contrast to the way I think United States policy should be vis a vis Islamists and Islamist-controlled countries (I think that's probably the best way to describe them, because both Saudi Arabia and Iran fall under that classification, but Iranians aren't ethnically Arab), how we treat Muslims in this country on a personal level is different.
Though the article is nearly a month old, it recounts one Muslim's conversion from Islam to Christianity. For those of you non-religious types who read my page, just try to plow through some of the "religious jargon" and look at the deeper meaning.
WINSTON-SALEM, NC (AgapePress) - Ergun Mehmet Caner watched in horror as the dramatic and fateful events unfolded on the morning of September 11. Like most Americans, he was shocked at the apparent accidental collision of a jetliner into one of the massive, majestic towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. It was, he thought, a tragic, bizarre accident with a tragic loss of humanity.
Caner recalls that within minutes of that first collision, however, he knew that America was at war. "When the second plane hit, no one had to tell me," he says. Moreover, he knew exactly who America's enemy was, how they thought, and what they wanted, because he was raised as one of them.
Caner is a committed, born-again Christian, as well as a professor of theology and church history at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. But he was raised in a strict Muslim home in Ohio and was a devout worshiper of Allah until age 17, when he was led to Christ through the witness of one of his high school friends. Caner in turn led to Christ his own brother, Emir, who today is a professor of church history at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
"Please understand that this is not about conquering Muslims, but about seeing them find peace and hope in Jesus Christ," Caner says. "It's not about defeating them. It's about winning them and loving them, because it's easy to love the people who love you back, but it's hard to love the unlovable."
Says Caner, "That church loved me, the unlovable. They shared mercy and grace. That is how you reach a Muslim."
I'll confess that, for me, this is an extremely difficult thing to do. While I probably would have no problem loving a Muslim who is as casual about his faith as the "Christians" who see the inside of a church only on Easter and Christmas. Many Americans who identify themselves do so only in the cultural sense -- not out of any really deeply-held religious belief. In America, at least, there are very few "cultural" Muslims.
Though it is difficult, loving Muslims is something Christians are called on to do. As demonstrated in Caner's case -- sometimes it works.