The Refugee Journey – “How Do I Know That My Neighbor Is Not a Terrorist?”

– first published on January 22, 2016
“¿Cómo puedo saber si mi vecino no es un terrorista?”

Obviously, not all people in the world are people of good will. Radical Muslims are convinced of their ideology and are willing to kill and die for it. The Paris attackers and the San Bernadino, CA couple prove this. Tension exists between the need for security and the desire to show compassion. This takes wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit.

Saul of Tarsus was on the road to Damascus (Syria), breathing out murderous threats against Jesus’ disciples. Jesus spoke to Ananias to go and pray for Saul. He was not thrilled with the idea of going to pray for him because of Saul’s reputation and all the trouble he had caused God’s people. However, in obedience, Ananias prayed for Saul to be healed and filled with the Holy Spirit. Saul became the Apostle Paul, was baptized and spent the rest of his life proclaiming Jesus the Messiah (Acts 9:1-22).

21001212389Jim Bennett writes, “We cannot be naive and ignore what radical Muslims are doing in our world. I constantly reflect on two Scripture passages: (1) We must “be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16, Amp.), and (2) “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). We ought to do everything we can to stop the efforts of radical Muslims, while at the same time doing everything we can to place the gospel before every Muslim.” (Intercede, November/December 2005, p. 2)

I recommend Muslims and Christians at the Table: Promoting Biblical Understanding Among North American Muslims, by Bruce McDowell and Anees Zaka for an excellent overview of the history of Islam, Muslim culture, theology, beliefs, and practices as well as practical ways to reach to Muslims, befriend them and share the gospel.

“The North American evangelical church needs to wake up to the mission field around us. With the freedom that we enjoy in North America we have a great privilege to bring the gospel to Muslims with great openness and little need for fear. The freedom we enjoy is one of the very reasons why millions of Muslim immigrants have come to North America. The massive migration has brought the Muslim mission field to the doorstep of the Western church. God is calling the Western church to reach out to our new Muslim neighbors aggressively and lovingly. God has graciously given us an open door for ministry; let us not lose our opportunity.” (McDowell and Zaka, 1999)

Fear paralyzes us. What if Ananias had not obeyed because of fear?

How do I know that my Muslim neighbor will not be the next Apostle Paul when he meets Jesus?

  • Let’s pray for the wisdom of world leaders and the leaders of our country as they balance policies that provide security to their citizens with compassion.
  • Pray for discernment for overwhelmed officials who screen refugees at borders, airports, and consulates to determine if they should enter.
  • Pray that the church would not react with fear but would move forward with the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit to share the gospel with Muslims.




McDowell, B.A. and A. Zaka (1999). Muslims and Christians at the table: promoting biblical understanding among North American Muslims. Phillipsburg, N.J., P&R Pub.

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