June 3, 2019
At a detention center in Western Europe, where racism, rejection and the potential for radicalisation is common, a couple of chaplains have been facilitating opportunities to build relationships and open hearts even in the confines of prison. They report:
“With a group of prisoners, we started a dialogue group of Christians and Muslims, listening to each other’s viewpoints and learning about each other’s spiritual journeys. There is a prisoner from Asia, a devout Muslim, who is brilliant in using hospitality to set the tone for the evenings. He comes in with a bag of goodies and shuffles around the meeting to make sure everyone is well-supplied with tea and cookies. He also makes sure that the atmosphere remains pleasantly friendly and will steer the conversations away from subjects that we aren’t ready to discuss yet. His intention is for Muslims and Christians to become friends, to treat each other with brotherly love and respect despite our differences.”
Governments in Europe are struggling with the current migration crisis and how to respond to the different demands of the population. There are no easy solutions to the tensions caused by migration and multiculturalism, but hospitality goes along with Jesus’ way of responding. Opening hearts and homes, and sharing our lives, amid this messy reality, is a language that Muslims understand. They speak it well themselves, even in prison.
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