I’m not a fan of Keith Olberman, but when I turned the TV on last night after returning from a Tin Caps baseball game, that’s what was on (a vestige of watching Morning Joe earlier in the day).
Olberman was interviewing a Muslim pastor (or whatever you call him) and an evangelical pastor, Steve Stone, from the Heartsong church in Memphis, Tenn.
When Stone heard that a new Memphis Islamic Center was locating next to them, he put a sign on the street that said, “Heartsong Church welcomes Memphis Islamic Center to the neighborhood.”
The video clip above shows the entire interview on Countdown. (If you’re reading this in Facebook, you’ll need to click on the “View Original Post” link to view the video.)
Heartsong even let the Muslim congregation meet in their building while the Islamic center was under construction.
Stone says, “This place doesn’t belong to us, it’s God’s place and we’re just sharing it.”
Over 100 Muslims would meet at Heartsong every night during Ramadan and put out floor mats to pray.
Stone said, “I understand the fear that people have about it, because if you don’t know somebody, the first thing you’re going to do is fear them….Our belief is let’s get to know these people and see who they are, and so far our experiences have been very positive.”
The interview on Countdown was superb, an example of what Christianity should be about. As Stone said, “The people across the street from us are Muslims, and Jesus taught us to love our neighbor, and they are our neighbors. We’re loving them, and they’re loving us back.”
This doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t try to convert Muslims to the true faith. But Stone’s attitude will go a whole lot further than the Quran-burning fanaticism of Terry Jones in Florida.
I was also impressed with the words of the Memphis center’s leader, Dr. Bashar Shala. Olberman mentioned how people in Muslim nations may assume that if the government doesn’t prevent Terry Jones from buring the Quran, the government must be in favor of it.
Dr. Shala, who has lived in Memphis for 20 years, replied, “If you don’t live in freedom, it’s sometimes hard to fathom what freedom really means. That’s the problem of communicating with those who don’t have what we have.”
Well said. And, Heartsong and Pastor Stone, well lived.