Of crosses and crescents
Losing a generation to Islam
They say that, in the end, the most significant difference between nations of wealth and nations in want is the capacity for choice.
In a Zambian slum--where people live on less than a dollar a day--choice itself is a luxury. You eat what you can when you can...if you can.
What a contrast to have walked through such an impoverished neighborhood this morning...only to enjoy dinner this evening at an upscale shopping mall in Lusaka (Zambia's capital).
Between the two extremes, we encountered a disturbing reality. Here in Zambia, it is not just followers of Christ who are reaching out to the poor. Followers of Allah are also stepping up--in a big way.
In fact, the Muslims often do a better job of feeding the hungry, clothing the destitute, and building health clinics. And one more thing. They offer free education (at their Muslim schools, of course).
It's difficult to blame the slum residents for wanting more--for their children or themselves. Hungry stomachs have never made for discerning theologians.
Yet it's sad to consider that in a land with so much Christian heritage, the Cross of Christ sometimes trails the crescent of Islam in human kindness. In the words of one Christian leader, "When I speak to the churches about this, I get many words but little real support."
And the price for not walking the talk is huge. "If we do not step up our efforts, in five to ten years, we will have lost a generation to Islam," said another worker.
The Cross or the crescent. It's a debate whose most compelling argument will be spoken by gifts of food, clothing, encouragement, kindness--and the witness of Jesus Himself. Which is how He lived--and asks us to live--whether in America or Zambia.