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A woman named Hafsa lives down my street. She is Muslim. I have met her son, Mousa. Mousa and my son skateboard on our street and talk about religion. I told Mousa that I would like to meet his mother. He gave me her phone number and I called her. She was not home. I called again a week later. Mousa answered. He said that she wasn't home but that he would have her call me. She didn't call.

A week later I tried again. Mousa answered and said he would "make it my mission" to have his mother call me. That was several weeks ago, and she still hasn't called. I'm told that many Muslim women possess as much reticence and misunderstanding toward "Christian Americans" as Christians do toward Muslims. They think that our faith is corrupted and that we hate them.

"When it comes to reaching Muslims, multitudes of people have stumbled for cultural, social, and linguistic reasons, before they ever had the opportunity to stumble at the cross," says Robert Douglas, former director of the Zwemer Institute of Muslim Studies and now director of the Chicago Center for Urban Mission. He means that Christians confront many obstacles that thwart them in understanding and relating to Muslims.

"There is a desperate need for evangelical Christians to take the time to understand Islam and not to buy into the stereotypes that are floating out there," Douglas says. "We will have to work hard at building relationships with Muslims, which means a Christian presence where Muslims are concentrated."

As we move into the third millennium, God-fearing Muslims from every corner of the earth are moving into our neighborhoods. And more are coming.

"God is sending the world to the door of the [American] church," Douglas says. "Every lay person in the pew has the opportunity ...

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April 3, 2000

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