Our world’s religions all emphasize hospitality and kindness to the stranger. Christians can’t claim those values solely. Because most of us get few chances In life to spend significant amounts of time with members of other faiths, we don’t get to experience being on the receiving end.
Earlier this month Clint and I were privileged to travel throughout a large chunk of Turkey, a country that is 98% Islamic. Because of that and the current geo-political environment, well-meaning friends and family expressed fear for our safety. All I can say is that we felt safe and well cared for—and completely delighted by a gracious, hospitable people. One incident that struck me was when a Muslim man on our bus tour surprised Clint and me
by buying one of those tourist photos we had declined—and then he sweetly presented it to us on the bus. Later, our guide talked about the types of Islam represented in Turkey and explained that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all are all “People of the Book” and have had long periods in history of peaceful co-existence. Our new friend vigorously agreed with our guide’s statement. This fellow passenger went on to comment that we are all brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, political movements often co-opt people’s religious passions and turn them against one another. But this is never advocated in careful, proper readings of any of our world’s religious texts.
Our bus tour through Turkey was a wonderful mix of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians. People all shared all their snacks on the bus and had great laughs together. We heard stories about one another’s lives—and self-giving service is truly a shared theme and value; and by the end of the trip, we were all inviting one another to visit each other’s homes in various countries. We all wanted to offer one another hospitality and extend the new friendships we had forged over many a meal and long ride together.
People everywhere are by and large the same—with the same cares, hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Let us always remember God’s intention is for us to be hospitable and kind to one another no matter the creed or nationality. Peace,Co-pastor Sandi