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Love Thy Neighbor

Our neighbors are Muslims…

and we love them.

No, seriously…

 

They moved into our neighborhood about 2 years ago when Jet was born. And Jethro was the type of baby that tortured us with sleepless nights and colick so we could hardly leave our house, much less walk across the street to meet them.  He held us hostage for almost a year. But I digress…

I really struggled with how to approach them. I mean, there are major cultural differences, language differences.  It used to be, when my husband was outside, the mom and daughter immediately go inside their house. And it’s a gazillion degrees so it’s hard to catch them outside very often. And the guys- is it even appropriate for me to speak to them? Where do we begin?

 

Fort Hood

Boston.

San Bernadino.

Orlando. 

 

If I’m completely honest, the days following an radical Islamic attack can be quite awkward between neighbors. They know we are Christians. We’ve had them in our house. They’ve had us in theirs. 

Jonathan and I want them to know we love them, regardless of the horrific actions of their radical counterparts. 

 

When Trump was elected, I invited them over for dinner. I wanted to know what their thoughts were and if they were freaked out like some of the media portrays different American ethnic groups. Yet they insisted we come over their house since I was getting ready for a baby. **BTW, there is a massive language barrier between us and them. Their daughter Heba, who is currently in high school, is our translator.** I was happy to hear that they weren’t too concerned about Trump being elected, even though they are refugees. They know he is a business man and were a bit confused by Clinton. Either way, it didn’t seem to phase them much. Interestingggg.

 

Recently, we were invited to their mosque for an Annual Open House. We cleared our schedule to go and found a babysitter for the boys. This event seems very important to them so we’ll make our best effort to be there. I curled my hair and Jonathan threw on a button-up. This is our version of getting dressed up, yo. 

 

At the event, we were met with a warm welcome, a name tag and smiles everywhere. Muslims from across the county met. This event was a very big deal to them. Under the great canopy outside was were the orators would give speeches to the large crowd. My neighbor Mohammed found Jonathan and I and quickly found us a bite to eat. **PS. Have you ever eaten real mediterranean food? Beats the American burgers and fries any day! Their food is amazinggggg! 

Yes, Baby Azel was strapped to me baking like a rotisserie chicken…

 

I found some familiar faces there. Lou, a friend from high school who is now the Director of Community and Discipleship at First Church in Melbourne and his wife Melissa were there.  Next, we ran into Pastor Dave from Calvary Chapel of Melbourne and Ethan Sansoni, one of Jonathan’s best friends. Pastor Dave was invited by a guy he met named Abdul, now friends.  Small world. 

 

Many different speakers came. I found their message one in the same: “We are friendly. Please don’t misunderstand us because of these acts of terrorism.”

 

One speaker, Rascha who is a part of the American Counsel of Islamic Americans in Orlando stated that islamophobia is up 500% in the state of Florida since 911. And although “there are half a billion of us, 70% of Americans don’t even know a Muslim.” 

 

“Talk to us. We are just like you. We do chores at home and our kids go to school. We are your teachers and doctors and baklava makers. The only thing that separates us is ignorance against the other.”

 

And Professor at F.I.T who is the Founder of the Islam society:

 

 We were all once immigrants. Don’t look at the color of our eyes, but the color of our hearts. We are people of the middle way, not extremist who are disillusioned with horrendous crimes against humanity. They are criminals. Not us. None of us have faith unless he can love his neighbor. 

 

I met Ms. S. who was ever so kind give me a quick tour of the lobby and prayer room, the school in the back. She oogled over Azel as she said her youngest is 11. She got her baby fix in that day. 

The Open House was a way to bridge the gap of unfamiliarity between people groups. Although I knew this, the one thing that stood out to me the most was that these Muslims feel so isolated in our society. 

 

 

As I sit and write this post, two muslims sit across from me at the coffee shop. I will never understand their dialect, it’s filled with sounds unfamiliar to my tongue. Before I left, I asked them if they had been at the Open  House. They looked surprised that I would engage with them. Apparently they were NOT at the event (scandal! jk) but lit up when I said I had been there. 

 

“We hope you could appreciate us.” he says. 

 

Absolutely, my friend. 

 

Something I found interesting about the event was their beliefs were on posterboards throughout the building. In contrast,  as a Christian, it reminded me that we shouldn’t be ashamed of what we believe. Sometimes  it seems we think we need to be a “good person” and that by being “nice” will sway others to understanding real, solid truth. But I myself, need a swift kick in the pants with truth in order to hear it clearly. It’s what stopped me in my tracks a few years ago. That it isn’t about being good enough, or being “nice” but being known by my Creator. A real, authentic relationship with Jesus. Not following the rules and regs but truly knowing Him. Everything changes if you truly know Him. 

 

 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16

 

 Our relationship with our neighbors has come a long way in the last 2 years. They have blessed us on multiple occasions with their rediculously rediculous food. {I’ve watched them in their kitchen to learn how they do it, but nothing was absorbed…. except the food itself, haha.} And well,  Jonathan is speaking this upcoming week at church and I’ll be happy to invite them. If they do come, they will be my honored guests. 

 

People have always said don’t talk about religion or politics. (Btw, I think that was massively thrown out the window with the last election….yikes!)   We just strive to  love others who believe something completely different than us, to love our neighbor, (even if they are muslims)(homosexuals)(cheaters) (republicans)(democrats)(vegans)(soccer moms)(sinners)…  just as Jesus said. Can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, now can we?  

 

 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40

 

 

 

 

In His Grip,

 

2 Responses
  • stevesles
    March 9, 2017

    I’d love to meet them but this week we’ll be down in Sebastian. Love your blog Amy.

    • Amy Schroer
      March 9, 2017

      thanks Steve, hopefully you’ll get to cross paths with them soon. Have fun in Seb!

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