In the past three days I’ve learned that I know less than I think I know. I know precious little about Islam, Communists/Atheists, Jews and Palestinian Muslims/Evangelicals. I heard some things that I never expected to hear. I have opportunities before me that I never expected. These will all be paraphrases of what I heard. I will not pretend to actually quote any of the speakers.
First, a few things that surprised me. I was surprised at the number of times that tears came to my eyes. One Muslim speaker spoke of a conversation with his mother concerning his children. Basically, she wondered if he shouldn’t give his kids American nicknames, so that he might minimize any potential persecution they might face. When he thought about it, a face of a friend came to his mind. A big ‘ole East Texas man, who happens to be a Baptist pastor. He decided to not change his kids names because he knew there were going to be big ‘ole redneck pastors who would stick up for his children if the persecution ever comes. I heard his voice crack as he said the words, “I love you, you’re my friend” to the pastor.
I heard a Communist/Atheist Vietnamese official; upon mentioning that he wasn’t a “religious man,” go ahead and say that he “thanks God” for the work that Northwood Church is doing in his country. A Communist/Atheist, thanking God. Yeah, I teared up and thanked God as well. It was good to see at least one Evangelical church living the Gospel, not just talking about it. I don’t know of any other church in Tarrant County eliciting thanks to God from avowed Atheists. Though, I do know one preacher in Brock, TX that has Atheists asking him to pray for them.
I met a Saudi Arabian Prince that makes me want to love the Bible more. I’ve met Imams and a Catholic Professors that infuse me with the desire to memorize Scripture.
I’ve seen people with real and meaningful differences show authentic affection and devotion for each other. I can’t begin to tell you how this affected me. I’m not even sure of the extent of it all upon my own soul.
But, I’ve decided a few things.
God’s word deserves more reverence from me. It also deserves more of my time.
I need to pray more. Being around people that engage in intense prayer up to five times a day was inspiring.
I don’t trust any of the media outlets to actually tell me the truth of what is going on in the world. I don’t trust Fox and I don’t trust CNN. They care more about ratings than substance and truth.
I will not give a conversation based upon fear any credence. I will do my best to get to know others, vastly different than I. I will learn about their beliefs from their own words and by reading their own sacred texts.
I will not compromise my faith, and will not expect others to compromise theirs. I choose to not be offended.
I will be an Ambassador of Christ to everyone, and not just my own tribe.
For those that put together the Global Faith Forum of 2010 (#gff2010), I thank you. Bob Roberts and Northwood; thank you for being the model to follow. Thank you for going first. Thank you for paving the way.