Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Bridging the Cultural Divide
Consider the cultural differences for a Muslim coming into a Christian church. In the mosque, people take their shoes off at the door. Men and women do not sit together. Women, in fact, are in a separate area secluded from the men. Muslims wash before prayer and pray in the direction of Mecca, while standing side by side; men with men and women with women, with a series of synchronized movements that include bowing, bending, and touching their heads to the floor in submission to Allah. They treat their holy book with respect and would never put their Quran on the floor. There is no music.
Imagine what culture shock it is for a Muslim to come into church where men and women are sitting together on pews with their shoes on, singing! And then to see the Bibles on the floor near people’s feet completes the whole jarring experience! When you invite a Muslim to attend church with you, make sure to explain the meaning of some of the elements of the service before arriving so they will not be so shocked.
Consider how Jesus approached the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4.
Jesus goes to where she is.
Jesus crosses ethnic, cultural, and religious barriers to talk with her.
Jesus tells her the truth about God.
He is not distracted by religious debate.
He offers her eternal life.
Her life is transformed and she tells her whole town!
Your Afghan Muslim refugee friend has just left everything familiar and entered into a new world where nothing is the same—different clothes, different language, different food, different customs, different culture, different greetings, different weather, different everything! I will never forget the kindness of people who helped me when I first arrived in their country, when I had no idea how to live or communicate or get around or where to buy things. You will form amazing, lasting friendships as you help someone adjust to living in your community.
Learn about your new Muslim friend’s country: their family, culture, food, religious celebrations, sports, and customs. Share yours with them. Consider inviting them to a sports event at your child’s school or to share a holiday with you. Most of all, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in your friendship.
When they invite you to their home, go and meet their families, enjoy their hospitality, try new food, listen to their stories, and learn about their country. Your lives will be mutually enriched!