How can we be good neighbors to the Muslims who live next door? Should we be afraid of Islam? Do Muslims worship the same God we do? How can I share my faith with my Muslim co-worker? These are the kinds of questions a lot of us in North America are asking. We hear a lot of different answers and we often don’t know whose opinions to trust.
In order to help Christians answer these questions, the CRCNA has started The Salaam Project (Salaam means peace in Arabic). The purpose of The Salaam Project is to provide training resources to churches so that they can facilitate meaningful discussions on these questions.
On April 28, 2012, The Salaam Project had its opening event at Calvin CRC in Grand Rapids, MI. Most of the participants were from Western Michigan, but some came from as far away as Chicago and Ann Arbor for the half-day event. After a keynote address by Rev. Greg Sinclair, a former missionary among Muslim people in Africa, the group of 65 participants broke up into workshops. Workshop topics were:
- God or Allah? Similarities and Differences between Christianity and Islam,
- Christian and Muslim Understanding of Jesus,
- Loving your Muslim Neighbor — Becoming a Trainer, and
- Case Study on the Practical Side of Ministry in North America.
Judging from the very enthusiastic responses on the evaluation form, the conference really spoke meaningfully to key concerns of the participants. Here’s a sampling of the comments:
“You should have a time at Synod for whetting the appetite of all the pastors and elders present to make work of learning more by facilitating local training seminars. Make sure seminarians in training are exposed to The Salaam Project.
You gave useful suggestions of how to love and relate to our Muslim brothers and sisters.
I enjoyed the passion throughout the conference for helping CRC American Christians witness to Muslims in their own neighborhoods and also to pray for Muslims around the world.”
The Salaam Project intends to follow up on this event with a more focused training for people who want to become trainers themselves in their churches and communities. Hopefully, this follow-up will be this summer. Resource material, including DVDs and workbooks, are part of the training package so trainers need not be experts themselves. Having kicked it off in Grand Rapids, The Salaam Project intends to expand its ministry into other areas: Chicago and Ontario are being considered. It is the long-term goal of The Salaam Project to make this training available in all the major hubs where there are clusters of CRCs.