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It was uncomfortable for me to write this Letter from a young Evangelical to the Muslim world on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Interfaith makes me think of watered down faith. It makes me think of expensive dinners where leaders sign documents that no one else reads. So I’m an unlikely person to talk about Muslim and Christian relations.
However, I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone. The response has been incredible both from the stories readers have sent and from our new church plant full of young adults. On 9/11, our church mourned the prideful ways we have responded to the attacks on our country. We asked God to forgive us for meeting hate with hate and to heal the brokenness in our hearts. We then took up an offering for famine relief in the Horn of Africa. The response was miraculous.
Over 100 people sacrificially gave $14,600. What made this even more miraculous is that it was multiplied seven times by people beyond our church to now be over $100,000!
When Jesus defined love for neighbor, he didn’t give a lecture but he told a story. He shared about how the despised Samaritan cared for the beat up Jew who others had overlooked. This Good Samaritan bandaged the wounds of the Jew, took him to the inn, and then footed the bill. He didn’t ask about his age, his past or his religious preference. Jesus told a story and then asked his followers to go and do likewise.
For us at The District Church, taking up an offering to help save the lives of our Muslim friends in Somalia was not about compromising our faith but about deepening our faith. It was about following the example Jesus gave us to love our neighbors even if they have a different worldview.
Over 30,000 children have already died in one of the worst famines in the last century. This is wrong. No one should have to die of hunger no matter what their age or their faith.
Loving your neighbor can be uncomfortable, but I can testify after these last two weeks that the rewards are eternal.
The Rev. Aaron Graham is the lead pastor of The District Church in Washington, D.C. and a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School.
Read more essays from local faith leaders.