Students gather to pray about growing hostility in Muslim countries
Junior Andrea Maglione writes words of encouragement and peace on a prayer board that will be given to a local mosque in the upcoming week. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES
Nearly 100 students gathered on Metzger Lawn on Monday night to pray about the increasingly hostile situation in several Muslim countries arising from a controversial viral video.
Arabic professor and speaker Victor Khalil expressed his hope for the evening.
“I’d like to see the body of Christ united to say, ‘We love everybody, we love Muslims, and this is not our way,” he said. “We have no enemies.”
Different ministries team up
The event — co-sponsored by Muslim Ministry, Social Justice Ministry and Revive Chapel — was the vision of senior anthropology major Shoh Ueno, who is the director of Muslim Ministries and has been a part of it since his freshman year. He described the meeting as a grassroots movement and expressed his hope for the outcome.
The meeting opened with students gathered around the small praise band composed of senior visual journalism major Jamie Corder and senior business major Mat Longinow. The dimly lit worship space was quiet, setting a reflective tone.
Ueno started the meeting by introducing the crowd to the events of the past few weeks: A viral video was created in the Los Angeles area. This video ridiculed Islam and found its way to Muslim audiences in the Middle East. The response in those countries was violent, and one of the casualties was the United States ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
“We can’t ever condone killing,” Ueno said to the gathered individuals, “but we are burdened in our hearts for these Muslims who are angry.” He went on to express concern about Christian missionaries who were evacuated from Muslim countries and left a gap in Christian ministries.
Guest speaker Dr. Victor Khalil
Khaili spoke following Ueno’s opening remarks. Khalil, a Coptic Christian from Egypt, said he was encouraged to see and hear the support witnessed that night. He told those present that he wished for Christians to pray for world leaders, especially Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, who recently came to the U.S. for the annual United Nations meeting. Morsi will be meeting with Christians and Jews in order to foster a relationship of cooperation and friendship, according to Khalil. Khalil asked for student to pray that God would impart wisdom on the leaders involved in dealing with the issues.
“This is actually good timing,” Khalil said regarding the violence. “What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.”
Following Khalil’s message, the Revive band sang an opening song and Ueno opened the microphone for public prayer. Many students knelt and some were prostrate upon the grass in prayer. After, many signed a peace board — which will be delivered to a local mosque and on which students wrote messages of peace and friendship directed at Muslims.
Students challened to think
Christine Kazar, a sophomore intercultural studies major who is on the leadership team for Muslim Ministries, said that she was hoping for change both in the Muslim world and at Biola.
Sharon Kong, a freshman elementary education major, explained that she was concerned about the events in the Middle East because of her Arabic language class.
“It really made me think that I really need to start praying seriously about this,” she said. “Hearing about this opportunity where everyone will get together and pray, it really made me think that if two or more are gathered, there would be ... stronger prayer.”
Afterward, Khalil expressed a hope for Christianity through this situation, saying he hoped that the Biola community would understand what is happening in the Muslim world and the Middle East and how it can affect
“I love the Biola spirit; it’s a very wonderful spirit. We love people around the world, we love the Muslims,” Kahlil said.