I come from a country that is almost half Christian and half Muslim. Some Christian churches have suffered attacks, especially in Zanzibar, an island off Tanzania’s coast. In Zanzibar the population is 90% Muslim. That area tends to be more violent against Christians, more challenging. And sometimes there is violence even in northern part, in Mwanza.
In these instances, someone who goes to church is killed or the church and everything in it is burned by unknown people. But we usually know that is a group of people with different religious beliefs.
Talking about peace or about Jesus with Muslim people in my country can be challenging.
Sometimes they’re kind of aggressive when you tell them something that is different from what they believe. This has happened to me in face-to-face conversations and also on social media, like Facebook.
I used to be active in Facebook groups for Muslims and Christians to discuss faith and beliefs. When the Muslims there would use violent words, sometimes the Christians became defensive. And I saw that some Christians could also be violent, using the same kind of language. So the arguments would just escalate.
But I soon realized that non-violent words would cool down the situation.
Whenever the other side would use violent and aggressive language, I would use very polite words. Many times I would say, “I really love what you said and I understand what you say. And I really love you.” I would say this even though they were very angry towards the Christians.
If we love the people who don’t believe as we believe, it will show love. If we demonstrate actions of peace and love, they will want to know what we believe.
I do not blame the Islamic religion, because we have many, many Islamic friends that are very helpful to us. We work together, we eat together. We can eat from the same plate or drink from the same cup. We share a lot of things.
But we do have a lot of differences. Even among Christians this is true.
So whenever we have misunderstandings, we must come and sit and talk together. We may have differences, but our differences become less and less as we talk.