Can Tradition Prevail in a City on a Hill?

muslim immigrant

Can Tradition Prevail in a City on a Hill?

Historic Islamic culture thrives in some contemporary cities of the United States. In others, it struggles to survive. One particular city’s diverse ethnicity is known around the world. This urban setting is home to a growing Muslim immigrant community from a distinctive tribal group. It is also the home of YWAMers.

A Thousand Muslims in Six Blocks

I interviewed Carol to find out more about what this was like. Her story highlights the spread of love and good news to an Islamic community. The gospel can not be hidden. It must shine like a city on a hill.

I felt the passion of her heart as she shared the story of her involvement with these Muslims in her city. She describes her neighborhood as “a very small but dense neighborhood in the inner city.” Carol said in “6-blocks by 6-blocks,” a thousand people from this people group live. There are many other Muslim groups in nearby areas as well. 3 Mosques are present in the neighborhood.

Crying Out for an Open Door

Carol saw the vast numbers of unreached people in this closed Islamic community. She cried out to the Lord to give her an open door. She wanted to share God’s love with them. As she prayed, she felt God said, “get involved with the kids.”

Her first step was to provide tutoring for Muslim immigrant children. There was already an after-school program in the neighborhood which was run by the Salvation Army. As she approached them, God’s favor was obvious! The woman organizing the program was a believer. After sharing her vision for this particular people group with the organizer, she connected her one-on-one with the kids.

Carol’s small inner-city neighborhood had a visible population of homeless. There were many drug addicts, transients, and hurting, broken people. She described it as “a very tough neighborhood to live in.” That was true for the YWAMers and also for their new immigrant neighbors.

Her heart was stirred by the Muslim immigrant children trying to adjust to an American way of life there. She saw how the traditional familiar culture of this people group was losing its structure. Their situation was difficult and Carol felt great empathy for their plight.

A Commitment to Serve

Carol was committed to building genuine friendships.

Monia came from a country Carol had previously lived in. She spoke no English. It took Carol almost a year of consistently helping her, but she finally became fluent. It was a great blessing when the door opened for Carol to go beyond only seeing her in the classroom. They became true friends. Carol was invited into her home. Her English ability grew day by day. Now Monia is heading to college! Carol couldn’t be more proud of her.

Children’s Fun Day

A children’s fun-day opened the way into the home of a Muslim family. As Carol stepped into their house and lives, she developed a loving friendship with them.

God used this family to open doors for deeper relationships with many other women too. She began to be invited to picnics and was accepted into their community. Trust developed.

Many conservative Islamic women don’t easily confide in each other. There are cultural pressures and much suspicion. By God’s help, though, Karol has enjoyed open, honest, friendships with them.

In the beginning, these friendships started by teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). The classes brought in women from the broader Arab community as well. But Carol wanted to focus on this particular tribal group.

Language Learning Opens Relationships Further

The Lord was very clear as He spoke to Carol. He wanted her to learn the Arabic language. She had already completed 3 levels of Arabic when I interviewed her. Carol still has a ways to go before becoming fluent, but is making steady progress. Language learning has opened deeper heart relationships with her friends. They are eager to teach her their language.

The women in this community are concerned about their kids losing Muslim cultural values as they face life in America. Carol listens, and shares insight from her 25 years of living in South Asia. This has created greater trust. They see that she understands many things about their culture and way of life.

Starting Home Reading Groups

Carol and a team of three YWAMers want to start small home groups with these families. One difficulty is finding ways to involve the men.

Immigrant men are very busy. They are well qualified but not able to get jobs here in the US. To make ends meet, they work two to three jobs they are overqualified for. This causes stress, keeps the men too busy, and creates walls of mistrust. Family relationships suffer. Carol believes getting the men involved in the study groups is key to reaching them. She and the team are looking for better ways to connect with the fathers and young men.

Carol’s greatest desire is that through her efforts, entire families would come to know Jesus.

Greatest Need

As I talked with Carol, I asked, “What is the greatest need?”

She replied, “The biggest need is prayer!”

Join In Prayer and Action

Would you take a few moments now to pray for Carol and her team?

Cities around the world are filled with refugees and immigrants. Many come from other faith communities. They are often from unreached people groups. Many more YWAMers like Carol are needed. Indeed, the harvest is ripe… and the harvest has come to us!

Are there people from other nations in your city too? Do they struggle to adapt and adjust?

Begin by praying regularly for them. Maybe God will call you to get involved further, to share God’s love with them as Carol has. As you build relationships, learn their language and serve, God will work. His love will shine through you, like a city on a hill.

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Matthew 5:14

Contact us to find out more about how to reach immigrant communities in your city and start discovery bible studies among them.


Comments: 2

  1. Linda says:

    This is so exciting! Praise God! I’m trying to do a similar thing among the wives of international students. Your story gave me great hope.

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