“Would you love a Muslim neighbor?”
Nor Hok, Missionary to America, Pakistan
That was the question that Noor Hok wrestled with after coming to the United States. Noor Hok (not her real name) is from Pakistan, where she grew up as a Christian. In grade school she was made fun of because of her faith, by students and by teachers. She saw Christian schools taken away by the government. She grieved over the deaths of Christians in other villages as their homes were burned and their churches destroyed. She spent her early life looking over her shoulder, fearful that at any time she would be harassed, let go from her job, beaten or killed because of her love for Jesus.
In America she experienced something similar: not discrimination against Christians, but fear and suspicion towards Muslims. Noor Hok is spending her life as a Christian evangelist, working hard to show Muslims that Jesus loves them, loved them enough to die for them. After all, St. Paul says, “Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.” (Romans 5:8) If He died for them, He must love them.
One of the characteristics of a “mission field” is that becoming a Christian means giving up something; first of all giving up hatred for those with different beliefs. For the church in the first, second and third century it meant a willingness to give up your life (as it still does today in many countries).
On a mission field radical demands are made on those who wish to become a member of a church. Stewardship is taken seriously. The study of the Bible is something everyone does, often. You may have to accept condemnation of friends and broken relationships with your family, discrimination at work, or by your neighbors.
On a mission field radical demands are made: Holy Communion is not open to everyone, so practices are put in place to restrict entry to the Lord’s body and blood; “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.” (1 Corinthians 11:29).
I realize this may be offensive to some of my colleagues who are Christian ministers; that is because they still see America as it was in the 1950s, a Christian country, where the first thing anyone did when they moved to a new home was to find the nearest church. Those days are mostly gone. By now it should be clear to everyone that there are many, maybe someday a majority, who do not hold Jesus as Lord. It is entirely possible that someday Christians in America will be persecuted. Many believe this.
So we must remember that the radical love of God shows itself even to the “enemy,” for those who abuse us, yes, and even those who kill the Christians. The early church leader Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
This is true only if the blood, only if the abuse, only if the discrimination has been met with Christian love. The same love Noor Hok is committed to share with her Muslim neighbors.
"You can read more of the story of Christian women in Pakistan by reading the book "No Despicable Missionary," written by Annie Bradley, with the help of Julie Das. Available here.