Muslim Ministry engages community, raises awareness
Students Lisl Ruckert, Douglas Keller, and Hugo Palomares at the the Muslim ministry meeting last Monday evening. The students of Biola’s Muslim Ministry work to extend Christian outreach into the Muslim community by partnering with local groups. | Karin Jensen/THE CHIMES
Biola’s student-run Muslim Ministry is responding to the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria by educating students on how they can support victims in the Middle East.
Last month, ISIS abducted dozens of Christians in Syria, many women and children, leaving thousands to flee to safer areas. Many Syrian Christians are still searching for their loved ones amid the invasion of ISIS, according to an article by the New York Times. With these developments in mind, Muslim Ministries directors Lisl Ruckert, senior intercultural studies major, and Jessica Phelps, senior education major, focus on educating students about Islam.
“Muslim Ministry is for Biola students to learn about Islam, how to share the Gospel with them, providing relational tips on how to engage Muslims in Southern California and being informed Christians,” Ruckert said.
The ministry strives to not only increase awareness of the terrorism committed by ISIS, but also pushes for urgency to pray for the families of the martyrs and the Muslims involved. At the end of February the ministry partnered with Revive Ministry to gather and pray for the persecuted Christians, their families in the United States, and Muslims worldwide. Over 50 students attended this event, and many shared their stories of loved ones forced to flee from their homeland and become refugees.
“The most important thing students can do is pray, and to ask ‘What is happening and how can I be praying,’” Ruckert said.
Both Phelps and Ruckert traveled to Turkey with Biola’s study program.
“I didn’t know much about Islam before going. Now we both want to go back and live long term,” Phelps said.
Muslim Ministry partners with Voice of the Refugees, a Christian organization in Anaheim seeking to aid refugees in adjusting to life in America from the Middle East crisis. Two to three times a semester, dressed in proper Islamic garb, students visit the Islamic Center of Orange County in Garden Grove, one of the larger mosques in Southern California. The students attend a Friday prayer service and the pastor, known as an Imam, will share a passage from the Koran.
“The Imam spoke about ISIS and how they are not representing true Islam,” said Ruckert, referring to a previous mosque visit. The congregation grieves the loss of loved ones in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and the outmost parts of the Middle East. Effects of terrorism and persecution of Christians grieve them tremendously.”
“It’s important to communicate the fact that not all Muslims are terrorists,” Phelps said.
With this mindset Biola students can properly engage and pray for the persecuted Christians and Muslim victims in the Middle East. Phelps hopes students will get involved with refugees on their own time.
“It’s about the Biola community coming together with the refugees and asking ‘How can we help?’” Phelps said.
Throughout the semester Muslim Ministry will host various events and cultural outings for students to attend. On March 27, Professor Bongoyok will host an imam who will discuss Islam and the War on ISIS. The discussion will be held at the Mosaic Cultural Center and begins at 10 a.m. One of these events includes an evangelism discussion panel on April 21 called “Muslims, Christians and Postmoderns.” On May 1, the group will visit the Islamic Center of Orange County.