Last week I attended a service at Northwoods Assembly of God church to listen to a guest speaker, Walid Shoebat, speak on biblical prophecy. He gave a thought-provoking and interesting message, with many references to Islam and its part in the end times. After he completed his talk, he opened the forum for a question and answer period to clarify topics that had been presented. People would raise their hands and remain seated as they asked their questions. Toward the end of the session, a young man stood up to ask his question, turned toward the congregation, stated that he was a Muslim and asked Mr. Shoebat, “Why do you lie?”
I was seated one row behind and slightly over to the side of where the young man was, so I had a clear view of the entire incident that was written about in a letter to the editor last week. The young man continued to call the speaker a liar and tried to address the congregation on the teachings of Islam. Shoebat repeatedly asked him to respect the forum and contain his talking to a specific question. The young man refused to stop and honor the format of the evening. He had not been asked to deliver a rebuttal on the teachings of Islam that evening but had been invited by the pastor of the church, Dirk Currier, to simply listen to what Shoebat had to say. After a few minutes of refusing to sit down and speaking more and more loudly as he proclaimed that he was peaceful and Islam was a peaceful religion, he was asked to leave. One man, Shoebat’s manager, came forward from the back of the church and the associate pastor, Kurt Rothwell, came from the front of the church over to where the young man was standing. Rothwell looked the young man in the eye and firmly but politely told him that if he could not abide by the format that was in place then would he please leave. Rothwell then held out his arm and escorted the young man and his friend out of the church. I was not aware of what was said after that and so I cannot comment on that. The meeting quietly ended shortly after. As I read the letter written by the young man’s foreign exchange mother, I was struck by a few things that I believe need to be clarified. There was never, ever a plan on the part of the church of which I have been an active member for over 18 years to display any hatred or animosity toward those boys or any Muslim people. On the contrary, Northwoods has reached out in love and understanding in a variety of ways to welcome all sorts of people. Our pews are filled with many former alcoholics, drug addicts, prisoners, and others along with those like me who have walked the Christian walk our entire lives. Now, we all believe in and adhere to the same creed: that there is but one true God and His Son, Jesus Christ. We believe firmly in the Triune God and that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary made a way for us to be clean before the Father. We believe that this is the only way to be a Christian and the only way to heaven. Conversely, the main creed of the Koran is that “There is no god but Allah and Allah has no son.” This is pronounced at the Dome of the Rock and I invite the reader to investigate. This makes it pretty clear that the god that is worshiped by the Muslim people, Allah, is not the same God, Jehovah that is worshiped by Christians. The second thing that needs to be said is that I totally understand a mother’s heart in wanting to protect her children. I have had four children and I understand the fierce love that a mother has for them. I am so very thankful that this mother is able to give that same kind of love to two strangers from a foreign land that she has invited into her home. What a beautiful testimony of caring and kindness and I applaud her for her selflessness! But, I have also had the unfortunate opportunity to take on a secondary offense in regard to my children. A secondary offense is one where you are not a part of a situation but only hear one side of a story and then get mad over it because it has affected the one that you love. This mother of the two boys who were asked to leave the church was not present that Sunday evening. She has no firsthand knowledge of the situation as it unfolded before my very eyes. Her “take” on it is colored in only by whatever the boys told her afterward. I was informed that Pastor Dirk talked to the mother the day after the incident and since I was not a part of that conversation I will not comment on it. But, I think it should be widely known that there was a desire to express care and concern for the wellbeing of the two young boys by the church in question. I am thankful that I live in a land that allows disagreements to be aired without fear of physical rebuttal or severe consequences. The mother is free to say what she wants but we are encouraged to seek truth. In a court of law, eyewitness reports are sought after in order to determine the reality of a situation. That is why I am writing this today.