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  • My kids are 15 and 13. Last year I helped my son (15) connect with new friends in Turkey and Indonesia through a site called Pen Pal World. They mostly just emailed back and forth but after a few weeks both of the other boys sort of disappeared. They just quit emailing. He was discouraged by this. Recently I've been connecting with Os. in Turkey who has a family much like mine. He has a 16 year old son and a few weeks ago, I asked him if his son would like to connect with my son. My son speaks pretty good Turkish but his son also speaks pretty good English (both Os. and his wife are teachers and his wife is an English teacher). So, I gave him my son's email address to give to his son. His son emailed right away and they then connected on What's App (I had to help my son download the app and set it up). Last week they had an hour long call. They are planning on calling again this week. As a family we are praying for this family more and more. I stay in pretty good communication with my son about the connection. Here are a few questions I'd love to hear the answers to from some of you as I think about helping others help their kids get started connecting with Muslims online. 1. What initially bubble up in your mind as you read about my son's connection with a Turkish Muslim teen? 2. What are the risks that you could forsee in helping teens make connections with Muslim teens online? 3. Any other things that excite you or concern you as you think about possibly helping your own kids make connections online?
  • Hey all, With many of my Muslim friends, the doctrine of "Fitra" is one of the first faith conversations they bring up...One of the first things they share when they talk about their identity as a Muslim or their beliefs in general. So I'd like to examine that here, and then give some ideas about how we can engage in this conversation to share the hope of Christ. To begin, Fitra includes three main claims - 1) That there is no original sin 2) That every person was originally a Muslim 3) That other religions exist because people left Islam (having been Muslim as a baby) In conversations I've had, I've seen some people define being Muslim in the doctrine of Fitra as "in perfect submission to God" / without sin. Others define it as having inner knowledge of Islam as a religion. Today, as I was reading Ecclesiastes, I found some passages that our friends would recognize as wise - passages that we can then bridge from to talk about Jesus. From 6:20 - "Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins." From 7:29 - "This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but they have gone in search of many schemes." As we share, it's good to recognize that these two truths beg a question... If God created mankind upright (when he made Adam and Eve) - why is there no one righteous? More than that - What is the significance that only Jesus has no sin? I want to pause for one second on this point.... According to Islam's own claims, only Jesus had no sin, and was born from God's Word / Spirit (without a human father). Mohammad had sin , needed forgiveness, and was born without a miracle. These are truths Muslims are already aware of (the differences between Mohammad and Jesus), but they often haven't been allowed to think about them, ask about them, or find answers. My point in raising these topics isn't to ask Muslims to accept the doctrine of original sin in that moment (although certainly the "inheritance" of a rebellious and fallen nature can be seen here.) I see this instead as an opportunity to question the reality that every human can see around them. Humans are deeply fallen. There is something within us that is bent towards wrong - something that exists like a sickness or disease. Returning to Ecclesiastes, we see this described in even stronger terms: (From 8:8b) - "As no one is discharged in time of war, so wickedness will not release those who practice it." And yet, against these words, we see the radical promise of Jesus: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free , to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." The promise of Jesus to save us not only from the penalty of our sins, but from captivity or slavery to our sins, is a message that can belong in a discussion of Fitra. "We all like sheep have gone astray... We have turned - every one - to his own way. And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (From Isaiah 53) Let's lean into this topic and talk in honest / authentic terms about this shared experience of being human. Of having inner knowledge of God (Romans 1), yet finding ourselves in defiance. How that defiance can grow to become slavery. And how God has good news - a message of great hope - for the whole world. Brought to us by the one man to every live and die without sin, in perfect submission to God - with power and authority to rescue us all. Last, let's be ready to share the amazing message of Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-21. The symmetry that exists between Adam and Jesus (both born without a human father, but one with sin...One without) is a powerful image of the gospel. One man's rebellion brought sin and death to all humankind - an inheritance. (A reminder to please use this word....In honor/shame culture, name and inheritance are understood as something that is passed!) Another man's perfect submission and purity brought purity and life to all who call on him. Also an inheritance. And a new name. These are radical and significant messages, given in a series of metaphors that will resonate and be deeply impactful to our Muslim friends!
  • Vid: When you feel like you've just started to understand an Islamic worldview, and then your friend starts adding another....LOL (Thoughts on this below) A topic for today...Let's talk about the "shifting" that often happens in conversations with Muslim friends. At times, my friends have shifted from a very Universalist view to Fundamentalist (everyone will end up in Heaven v. only very specific groups of Muslims will go to Heaven)... Sometimes from a Peace paradigm to Fear ("Islam brings me peace" / "I'm terrified of hell and demons")... Sometimes from a Qur'an-centered ideology to one that's focused on Animist and occultic practices ("This is my fate, all praise be to God" / "If I do what the witchdoctor says, I'll be safe")... and many more. ("Islam is the only true faith" / "I've been practicing Buddhist meditation...") Nabeel Qureshi talks about this in his book "Answering Jihad", which I appreciate. If you haven't picked up the book, one brief takeaway from it... When we encounter this, we should take hope. The movement between ideologies often suggests that your friend is trying certain approaches and finding limits or problems within them....Then trying others. This aligns to some degree with what the Bible mandates, "Test everything, hold onto the good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). When our friends begin to move in their ideologies, we can feel like the guy in the short vid above. Like, "Really? I thought we'd just figured out the premises we were working with." But I want to encourage us to be generous in how we think and feel. Accept that your friend is walking through a highly personal moment in their life, and they may not be consistent in how they feel, or what they say. Be gracious and kind. The work of God is an "enigma" and we should treat this moment with respect. Above all, remember to pray continuously!
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