I learned a lot in college. My classes challenged me academically, mentors helped me grow spiritually and emotionally, and internships increased my professional competency. I cherish all of those memories, but some my moments of greatest growth occurred in the apartments of my Muslim friends.
That is a confusing, possibly even provocative statement, especially from a Christian minister that attended a conservative Bible college. Let me explain.
I am a natural introvert. I also grew up outside of a neighborhood. My family had a few neighbors, but there were no kids my age for the majority of my young life. I learned to do my own thing. That made me miss part of what it meant to be a Christian. I knew the greatest commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and tried hard to put it in to practice, but I really missed the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
This behavior was challenged when a classmate invited me to visit some of his Muslim friends who went to another school across town. We walked into their apartment and everyone stood up to greet us. After that, we sat down and they served us Arabic coffee with cardamom, tea, dates, and a great Arabic dinner. I was shocked by their hospitality. I was a complete stranger, but they opened their home to me without question. Then we talked late into the night. The conversation eventually drifted into the spiritual realm. We talked about Christianity, Islam, and, most importantly, Jesus.
I left thinking, “Why am I not as welcoming and open as these Muslims?”
That night defined the rest of my college experience. I worked hard to open my life to these students and others like them. The result was countless hours of meetings at Starbucks, shared meals in apartments and restaurants, camping trips, and invitations to stay with my family during the holidays.
This is why I am excited by our vision, “Impacting Homes by Opening Ours.” I look forward to seeing how God continues to transform my life and the lives of others at Plainfield Christian Church as we learn to love our neighbors.