This week we have some visitors from Turkey.
Manchester Cathedral (aerial view)
Arranged through the British Muslim Heritage Centre, 10 students are joining us for a week-long introduction to Christianity in the West. The aim is to explain clearly what makes our faith and its expression unique, and also to demonstrate the historical and current influence of Christian belief and practice on British society and culture.
As we are now in the Muslim month of Ramadan, our visitors will be joining other Muslims in fasting from food (and in most cases drink) during daylight. The day’s activity at our base – NTC – revolves around the morning coffee break. This gives an interesting perspective to their experience: By joining us at coffee time but not drinking anything, the Muslims will be able to witness to us in a very practical way, while we have a unique opportunity to not only give some formal instruction on Christianity but also what living as a Christian looks like in Britain. We hope this will lead to some interesting discussions between our visitors, staff, and NTC’s Postgraduate students who are currently working on their dissertations!
Any Christians who feel called to pray for our Muslim guests, or for Muslims they know, may find the 30 Days resource useful – a website with guidance on prayer for Muslims during Ramadan. There is also a UK-specific version of the site where you can order a physical prayer guide.
Last week, MCSCI hosted one of several seminar days currently planned across the UK titled “Joining the Family“. The seminar days were prompted by the discussions of a nationwide group of around 40 people. The initial group, both Christian Believers of a Muslim Background (BMBs) and members of the churches they joined, fleshed out the issues in Birmingham last May (2013). They covered both concerns around knowing how to help new BMBs, and also how to answer questions from Muslims.
MCSCI’s Joining the Family seminar in progress
This time, about the same number of people based around Greater Manchester, met to share the knowledge gained – not just in that initial discussion, but also the everyday experience of people from churches across the city.
The aim is that the core “Joining the Family” group will produce resources including a teaching course for churches to both understand the issues and to be equipped to help new disciples of Christ.
Here are some of the findings from the day:
Implications for new BMBs range from a new ‘voice’ – especially for women, to a loss of honour & community persecution. There may be confusion over what is Christian rather than Western, in areas such as how genders relate to each other. Despite a passion to learn, there may be issues to deal with including lies or misleading information BMBs have previously heard about Christianity.
The group drew up various ideas of what the Church could and should do to support BMBs, both internal (respecting and knowing our own scriptures) and external (encouraging BMBs to continue their own culture rather than becoming fully Westernised, learning the power of an honour/shame culture).
If you want to know more about the Joining the Family programme and the planned teaching course, please contact us and – if you have not already – sign up to receive our newsletters.