Connecting Across Cultures
In September of this year, Ed Apffel of TerraMica spent a number of days in Thessaloniki, Greece speaking to refugees and Independently Displaced Peoples from a number of Arab countries about business ethics and entrepreneurship. He incorporated biblical principles into the business presentation, speaking to Muslim men and women who are learning how to make a living in a new country and culture… and he had a number of incredible interactions after the seminar and the following days. Here is one of the most moving:
One global narrative would have you believe that Mohammad and I should not be holding hands and praying together. For you see, I am a Christian from the West and he is a Muslim from the Middle East. Yet, I firmly believe Mohammad, his wife, and daughter were created by and made to reflect the image of God. Mohammad was blinded after a bombing raid destroyed his house in Aleppo. He and his family fled Syria for their lives, leaving everything behind. I am thankful to have spent that Sunday, in Thessaloniki with Mohammad, quietly listening about his journey and his aspirations and hope for his family. During our long conversation, I realized his belief was that Allah was not a relational god, but distant and demanding god. I asked if I could share my experience of who God is, and afterwards asked if we could to pray together for he and his family. I was humbled that he agreed and said yes. Together, we held hands firmly and I asked for God to pour His love upon Mohammad and his family. I then asked God to pour out His wisdom and reveal His Truth to Mohammad and lead him throughout the remaining days of Mohammad’s life. Afterwards, we sat there silently, a Muslim and a Christian holding hands.
It was Mohammad (blind), who eventually broke the silence and said, “I sense God’s love here and in you.” I confess, it is ONLY because of God’s immeasurable love for me that I was able to love Mohammad, my neighbor, as myself. The two greatest commandments ever are “love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” When we finally turn our focus from ourselves to knowing and loving God, that is when we can truly begin to love our neighbor as ourselves. ~Ed Apffel~