Years ago I found myself on a TV set with a number of prominent Jacksonians, discussing the woeful direction of our city. A city council president was headed to jail and it looked like other officials might be joining him. So WAPT gathered a panel to address the situation for a viewing public.
At one point, newscaster Katina Rankin turned to me and asked, “Whose fault was this?” I was momentarily peeved. Whose fault? Are you kidding me? In a nation of laws, it’s the perpetrator’s fault – all the more if he is a public official – and I lifted my finger to give Rankin a piece of my mind. But before I could utter a word of my heated diatribe, a voice came from my left. Next to me sat John Perkins, internationally renowned Christian statesman, author, and community developer. His humble admission stunned the rest of us: “It’s my fault.”
Perkins went on to explain that as a mentor for decades to many young people in Jackson, perhaps he could have done something more to ensure that the council president would never have considered the actions that led to his downfall.
“It’s my fault.”
This week another Muslim apparently yelled “Allahu Akbar,” leaving dead and injured victims in his wake. America, and a good bit of the world, is getting sick and tired of it. Within an hour the tragic event, everyone from talking heads in the media to colleagues around the water cooler gathered to cast aspersions and place blame.
I am left wondering what my hero John Perkins would say. But I think I know.
Could I have done something to acquaint the murderer with the love of Christ? Could I have doubled down on effort to reach communities of Muslims and others who are unchurched and introduce them to the merciful version of Christianity? Could I have complained a little less and acted a little more to draw disaffected souls to Love Divine?
From 1991 to 2007, Fuller Theological Seminary's School of Intercultural Studies conducted a survey among 750 Muslims who had converted to Christianity. They noted that record numbers of Muslims around the world were coming to Christ. Why? Those surveyed represented 50 ethnic groups from 30 different countries. Here were the nine most-cited reasons for conversion to the Christian faith:
1. Christians practiced what they preached.
2. Christians appeared to have loving marriages in which women were treated as equals.
3. Christian-to-Christian violence was less prominent than Muslim-to-Muslim violence.
4. The prayers of Christians had healed the disabled and delivered others from demonic powers.
5. The Koran had produced profound disillusionment because it accentuates "God's punishment more than his love, and the use of violence to impose Islamic laws."
6. God had used visions and dreams to influence the converts' decision.
7. Muslims can never be certain of their forgiveness and salvation as Christians can.
8. As they read the Bible, the converts had been convicted of its truth.
9. The converts were attracted to the idea of God's unconditional love.
Now, at least one of these items is a bit beyond the local church; #6 comes to mind. But it is obvious that the love of Christianity attracts. Since Muslims are here to stay, the Christian community has a choice – we can simply get angry and demand that the President and Congress do something (thinking that will end all our “Allahu Akbar” problems), or we can also purpose to intersect with these communities and offer mercy, kindness, fellowship, and love.
Will that solve all our terrorism problems? No, but it offers a constructive response that can potentially change our corner of the world and perhaps avert future violence as hearts and lives are miraculously changed by the love of God.