Muslim and Christian students at the College of Wooster (Ohio) have always been friends in classes and dorms and on the sports fields; 9/11 did nothing to stop that. As I began dialoguing that year with a Pakistani alumna who had approached me “because you are pro-life and because you would make a good Muslim,” I developed a Bible and Qur’an study for the students to do together.
Their friendship was the foundation and the key to trust and curiosity and, yes, frankness. Today, I, a grandma, am still Facebook friends with all of these students, as they are with each other. My friendships with Muslims in retirement are not peer-to-peer as was true of the students, but friendship is still crucial in the ESL/refugee setting.
Today a woman from Iran, twenty years younger than I am, is a new believer first through friendship and then Bible study. A young mom from another Middle Eastern country is walking towards Jesus and is finding him faithful in all of her many family challenges. A university student from an African Muslim setting who has many questions about faith texts me weekly about the challenges of her life—romance, classes, calling—and I pray that she will soon open Scripture with me.
In contrast, my relationship with the imam of a nearby mosque is cordial but hardly more, and it isn't surprising to me that he has not responded to an invitation to do Scriptural Reasoning with folks from my church and his mosque.
Friendship, friendship, friendship. Loving friendship covers a multitude of “sins” (for example, sins of cultural or Qur’anic ignorance). With friendship can come trust and curiosity and, yes, frankness. What are you doing to build friendships with Muslim neighbors?