In the wake of recent violence related to the burning of a Koran, it's worthwhile to note that in some places in the world Christians and Muslims show tolerance and respect for each other's beliefs and traditions. The Central African Republic is one of those places. Not long ago I witnessed a small, but dramatic gesture that highlighted this friendly relationship. I was at the installation service for the new Lutheran Bible School director. The local imam had been invited to attend. When he entered, the song-leader led the congregation in singing a hymn based on Psalm 133: "Behold, how good and how pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity." We sang every other verse in Fulfulde, the mother-tongue of most of the Muslims in our area. "What a wonderful way to welcome the imam to our service," I thought. It was a powerful example of tolerance and harmony between people of two different religions and cultures. In the past some Muslims had even enslaved the ancestors of some of those meeting in the chapel that day. Yet now the Christian descendents of these former slaves went out of their way to make sure a Muslim would feel welcome in their worship service. We in the U.S. could learn something from this "underdeveloped" African country. Which country is "underdeveloped" in terms of tolerance and understanding for those who are different??
Photo: Local Muslim Leaders
Joe and Deborah Troester are ELCA missionaries in Baboua, the Central African Republic. Joe serves as technical advisor for PASE, which provides clean drinking water and promotes good hygiene and sanitation to villagers. Pastor Deborah teaches at the Theological School in Baboua. Their daughter, Christa, attends eighth grade at Rain Forest International School in Yaoundé, Cameroon.