January 20, 2016
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The city of Saskatoon has been growing rapidly aver the past fifteen years. Among the many newcomers, there is a high percentage of people Of Asian and African origin, including several thousand Muslims. Two large mosques have been built and are reported to be full to over flowing. Many of these people are showing up behind the counter at Tim Horton’s, as cashiers in Walmart and in other such places of business. There are a number of African doctors.
I hear some Christians expressing troubled thoughts about the kind of people that are coming into the country. Some complain that many of them have an accent that is hard to understand. Others express worries about Muslims taking over the country and wonder if we will soon have jihadist incidents.
A more pertinent question might be what do these people think of the Christians they meet here? Do we seem like people who love our neighbours as ourselves and have no respect of persons? Really, if we want these people to form a proper picture of what Christianity is all about, we had better conduct ourselves as Christians.
Many of the Africans who come here are Christians. Denominations based in Nigeria have established six congregations in the Saskatoon area. Is that good or bad? It could be a sign that the existing churches didn’t offer a warm welcome to the newcomers.
Recently there was a newspaper article about a young lady from Pakistan who was a long distance runner and competed in the Olympics. The government of Pakistan was supportive, but some Islamist militants made life dangerous for her, so she came to Canada. Her advice to newcomers to Saskatoon is to get to know people outside their own ethnic communities, make friends and learn to know and enjoy their new homeland.
That seems like good advice to those of us who were born here: let’s get to know these newcomers, make friends, make them feel at home. It is those who feel marginalized in their new land who are most apt to be lured into extremism. The more we get to know these people the more opportunities there will be to show what Christian faith is all about.