Even though Islam has rarely been out of the public’s view since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, one campus group is taking a unique approach to understanding and ministering to the Islamic community.
Student Missions Fellowship, a group devoted to equipping Christians with the tools necessary for evangelism, will be participating in a weekly fellowship ministry with Philadelphia-area Muslims.
“God looks different to different people. The things they need to be freed from are different from the things we need to be freed from,” senior and SMF leader Jocelyn Davco said.
Davco also stressed the fact that the ministry is as much about Christians learning about Islam as it is Muslims learning about Christianity.
The group that she meets with in Philadelphia, and which SMF will be joining in a couple of weeks, gathers on Sunday afternoons to spend quality time with each other and to discuss their different religions.
Davco emphasized that the conversations, while passionate, are friendly.
“It’s really easy to get into a tennis game of we believe this, we believe that,” Davco said, but she added that her group tries to avoid this kind of conversation.
Traditionally, SMF is a group devoted to the study of missions, a study which builds the group’s annual Spring Break missions trip.
The weekly trips to Philadelphia will be a change of direction for the group, both in terms of the frequency of opportunities to apply missions principles and in terms of their cultural focus.
Consequently, SMF plans to use the next two or three weeks to discuss some of the basics of Islam so that they will be more prepared for the cross-cultural dialog they will face.
Davco stressed the importance of this preparation in light of how innate Islam is to the culture of many of the people with whom the group speaks.
“There’s no such thing as separation of church, state, family; religion is so much a part of their culture,” she said.
The leaders of the group, Davco, senior Justin O’Brien, junior Jada Ingalls and junior Christine Crossman also explained that it’s not necessary to be able to particpate in the Sunday meetings to be a part of SMF, since the group is as much about the spiritual growth of its members as it is about evangelizing.
“Not only do we want to do missions, we want to make sure that you’re growing spiritually,” Ingalls said. “We can’t be any use for Christ if we aren’t following him ourselves.”
SMF meets every Tuesday night in Gough at 9 p.m. The time for Sunday meetings is yet to be announced, but will likely be in the afternoon. The group plans to have van transportation to and from these Sunday meetings.