Friday, March 20, 2009

Workfest 2009: A Different Type of Devotion

I am a Muslim

Workfest 2009 Day Three: This morning USF lead the devotion. I loved our service. Our group was a little different from the other schools. We had Nora with us. Nora is a student from Malaysia. She is Muslim. She had mixed feelings about participating in Workfest because it is a project of the Christian Appalachian Project.

Nora wanted to see Kentucky. She wanted to help, she wanted to learn. She also is a proud Muslim woman who did not want to feel pressured to be something she is not or to apologize for who she is. Boy am I glad she decided to join us. I

Our service started with Brandon Heath’s Give Me Your Eyes. We then read the Beatitudes with focus on “Blessed are the Peace-makers”. Next there was a brief biography of Saint Francis. Then we told the story of Francis and the Sultan. For those of you unfamiliar with this it is the story of Francis crossing the battle line in Egypt during the Fourth Crusade. His object was not to fight but to meet with the Sultan and convert him.

This was a big deal. At that time Christians and Muslims were very good at killing each other, they were not so good at just talking. Francis was taken prisoner, he finally met the Sultan and for a number of days they talked. Neither converted the other. Both ended up with a profound respect for one another. Francis was then allowed to leave. He traveled to the Holy Land and visited the sacred sites. Because of this tradition of respect Franciscans were given the responsibility of caring for the Christian Holy Sites.

We than told the schools how important it was in today’s world that this tradition of bridge-building and peace-making continue. We expressed our gratitude that Nora, our Muslim sister was with us. Next Nora read a Muslim story about cooperation and how we (humans) are like dominoes. We can all stand together or we will all fall apart. She thanked Allah and then we ended with a prayer.

This was a great devotional service. It spoke to respect, reaching out, celebrating one another. People expressed their appreciation of our service all week.

I am Free

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