Can Christians and Muslims be friends? For Mennonite missionary David Shenk, the answer is not only a resounding yes, but a resounding imperative that we must diligently pursue and cultivate such friendships.
In his recent book Christian. Muslim. Friend: Twelve Paths to Real Relationship (Herald Press, $14.99), Shenk writes from the perspective that “every Muslim should have a Christian friend and every Christian should have a Muslim friend.”
He goes on to describe twelve paths to reach that goal, each of which is the subject of a chapter in the book:
… we live with integrity. We keep our identity clear. We cultivate respect. We develop trust. We dialogue about our differences. We practice hospitality. We answer the questions. We confront distortions. We consider the choice between the hijrah [the journey from Mecca to Medina] and the cross. We seek peace and pursue it. We partner with the person of peace. We commend Christ.
Shenk speaks from experience — he has spent over 50 years involved with Christian missions in Somalia, Kenya, the United States and around the world. He describes this book as “a collection of stories about my journey of meeting Muslims and greeting Muslims.” That is partly true, but Shenk is being modest. The stories of his interactions with Muslims offer profound insights into the nuances of interfaith relationships.
Shenk is forthright in his exploration of Christian/Muslim relationships, never shirking difficult topics. He explores the historical, political, social and theological contexts of both faiths, noting their similarities and differences, and offering wisdom on how to navigate the paths of true dialogue and understanding.