Around two thousand years ago the Apostle Peter got an invitation he couldn’t refuse. After all, if you have had a vision and the Holy Spirit is giving you step-by-step instructions on where to go and what to do, it is hard to say ‘No’.
But No is exactly what Peter wanted to say. When Peter arrives at Cornelius’ house he starts by announcing that as a Jew it is unlawful for him to associate with Gentiles. Even after staying with Jesus in a Samaritan village for a two days (Jn 4:40), Peter struggles to accept the Holy Spirit might be at work outside his religion – or that he might have to go outside his comfort zone to follow the Holy Spirit there. Finally Peter declares that ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.’ (Acts10:34)
Now it is our turn.
Like Peter you are getting an invitation you might want to say No to, an invitation to follow the Holy Spirit outside your comfort zone.
On Sunday 15 April Muslims around Victoria are inviting you to visit their mosques for the Victorian Mosque Open Day. If you are free, Go. Encourage other people from your church to go with you.
As Christians, Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves, and this includes loving our Muslim neighbours.
This means making friends with our Muslim neighbours and meeting them where they are – which means going down to your local mosque.
As well as a guided tour of the mosque and questions and answers about Islam you might be offered henna tattooing, a turn on the jumping castle, or a sausage sizzle.
Don’t be an anonymous Christian. The guided tour of the mosque is a good time to introduce yourself, explain that you are there as a friendly Christian, and give the name of the church you represent. Make no mistake – just turning up and being friendly will be a simple but powerful act of Christian witness.
When you go, show the same respect for your Muslim hosts you would like them to show if they visited your church.
Dress appropriately. This means long sleeves and long pants, or a long dress or skirt for females. Most mosques won’t require females to wear a head scarf in the mosque, but if they do, head scarves will be provided.
Here is a challenge: see if you can start a relationship that will continue past 15 April. Ramadan will start in May, and many mosques will hold community Ramadan dinners. Ask if there events you can attend.
May is also Global Interaction’s Mission Month. Heading down to a mosque to have a conversation and make friends is exactly what a Global Interaction Cross Cultural Worker overseas would do. What better preparation for May Mission Month than going to visit your local mosque here in Australia!
Participating mosques are:
Albanian Australian Islamic Society, 765 Drummond Street, Carlton 3053.
Benevolence Australia, 125 George Street, Doncaster East 3108.
Islamic Council of Victoria City Mosque, 66 Jeffcott Street, West Melbourne 3003.
Doncaster Mosque (UMMA Centre), 72 George Street, Doncaster East 3108
Elsedeaq Mosque, 32 Elliot Street, Heidelberg Heights 3081.
Emir Sultan Mosque, 139 Cleeland Street, Dandenong 3175.
Islamic Association of Monash Mosque, 16 Beddoe Avenue, Clayton 3168.
Islamic Society of Ballarat Mosque, 116 Elsworth Street East, Canadian 3350.
Preston Mosque, 90 Cramer Street, Preston 3072.
Quba Mosque (Serenity Foundation), 260 Hume Hwy, Craigieburn 3064.
Thomastown Mosque, 124 Station Street, Thomastown 3074.
Virgin Mary Mosque, 143A Hogans Road, Hoppers Crossing 3029.
Martin West is a member of Westgate Baptist Community.