One great way to make Muslim and Buddhist friends here in America is to go to their places of worship. I went to one Mosque for an entire year to meet people and to learn about Islam from their perspective instead of sticking with my outside view of it. This was a great help! Now, I am doing the same thing in Buddhist temples. I think it shows great respect to take the time to learn about other cultures and religions, especially before sharing yours.
Some people have brought up some questions about me going to these places. I think it is important for me to address these questions, because I believe it could be stopping us from engaging with people from other religions. The main questions I get are, “Do these people treat you nicely?” “Are you scared?” “Is it dangerous?” The answer is, they treat me great! They love that I am there to learn. Again, they respect me for it. I think this is something that we should do more often. Think of it this way, if someone were to come into your church, even if they were not a Christian, you would be excited they were there. If you have not already, I would love for you to read my post called “Loving Muslims.”
Another question I get is, “Aren’t you scared that a demonic spirit could get on you (or something similar)?” First, I just want to say that we fully believe in the need of having prayer protection. Now I know we are all at different places on this demonic issue, and I do not claim to understand it all; but I would like to address this as well because again, it could keep us from engaging with people from other religions. I believe God is more than big enough to protect me. He is big enough to protect me in all of the places that we have been going to for years. I am not going to say that I don’t get oppressed at times, but I don’t think it is because I went into a mosque or temple. I think we can become oppressed anywhere. For me, when oppression happens, it all depends if I choose to believe God in that instance. I can choose to believe the lies coming at me, or I can choose to trust Him. It is up to me to trust Him as my protector in that moment, and when I do that, the oppression leaves.
Also, take a second and think about the places that you are going during your week. What determines which places are riskier than others? One could walk into almost any place in this city and run into something that might cause some sort of negative reaction or temptation in them. And think about TV or the internet. We are always one click away from something negative. Could it be that we are simply so used to certain places and watching certain things that we do not even think twice about where we are or what we are seeing?
I know we may differ on some of these issues, but for me when it comes down to it, the main reason I choose to go to these places is because it might give someone, who most likely would never have the opportunity to hear, the chance to experience the love of Jesus. So even if I were to experience oppression, isn’t it worth it! People experiencing Jesus is far more important than oppression. It is worth it! There is a cost; Jesus is clear about that (Luke 14:25-35). But there is also reward; He is clear about that as well (Matthew 19:27-29).
God wants us to go to people. He wants us to go and love people. How can we go and love if we are afraid? How will people have a chance to know God if we do not go? Losing the fear is very freeing! The truth is, I feel more alive in these places than anywhere else, because I know I am in the center of God’s will.
As for the pictures below, the first few pictures are ones that I took, but out of respect I did not want to take a lot of pictures. So I added some from Flickr that will give you a great idea of what I see when going into these places. I also added a video that I took in a Buddhist Temple.
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NOTE: CLICK ON PICTURES TO ENLARGE