“Our team wanted nothing more than to drive to Phoenix and stand in solidarity with the mosque that was going to be protested by a radical biker gang. When we first heard the news, the thought of the “ring of peace” that Muslims formed around a targeted synagogue in Oslo and around a church in Egypt and Pakistan came to mind. Additionally, there are examples of Christians protecting Muslims while they were praying in Egypt and there may be many others that we just don’t know about. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if community members in Tempeh, AZ could rally together and form a physical and symbolic circle around the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix? What better way to counter hate than with an outpouring of love?
This is exactly what happened. The number of attendees to stand in solidarity kept increasing. Some even expressed their honest anxiousness about knowing the right thing to do (standing in support of their Muslim neighbors) but finding it difficult to do so. In the end, however, the people coming out in support of the mosque actually outnumbered the protesters! Despite the attempts by the biker gang to push a hateful agenda, God used His followers to show them a different narrative that pushed love.
While we were forced to watch the events from the sidelines, we felt like we were there in spirit. With examples like the Muslims and Christians in Oslo, Cairo, Lahore and Phoenix to follow, we are confident that we can show the entire world that faith communities can and should support each other for the sake of God.”
– Muslim 2F1F Team Member
“As soon as I saw the news about armed bikers demonstrating at a local mosque, my heart sunk. A wave of disgust and fear came over me. How would I feel if hundreds of men with guns, knives and signs insulting Jesus would surround my church? I would feel terribly intimidated and fearful. What if this was the mosque locally where my Muslim friends go?
I quickly jumped on Facebook to connect with some friends that lived in Phoenix who were into Muslim-Christian peace-building like myself and offered my help. Two of my friends (Jim Mullins and Adam Estle) went out for dinner with the leader of the mosque, whom they already knew from peace-building efforts in the past, and within hours organized a Love Your Neighbor Rally. I told my friend Tom about it who later thanked me and sent me this picture.
You have no idea how much I wanted to be there and support my Christian friends as they supported their Muslim friends!
The Christians were not there to protest, but to be a loving and peaceful presence… both for their Muslim friends, but also to the anti-Muslim bikers. They wanted to put Jesus’s teaching to “Love Your Neighbor” into practice and drive out hate by responded to it with love. In fact, there are stories of anti-Muslim bikers that started reconsidering their stance based on the love they received from both the Muslims and the Christians. That is the ultimate form of grassroots peace-building!
I was moved to see that the mosque held a follow-up event a few days later titled ‘Love is stronger than hate’ in which the Christians from all the different churches and all other people that reached out in love were given a standing ovation.
It is important to realize that pre-existing friendships are at the root of these displays of love. If, one day, my Muslim friends face any hate, mistreatment, discrimination or any other kind of evil, I would do the same for them and I know they would do the same for me. When coming under extraordinary pressure of hate, it is extraordinary love that shines.”
– Christian 2F1F Team Member