From Legacy to the Future
This summer Al Amana Centre, in partnership with the Reformed Church in America Global Mission, gathered together in Holland with people curious about the status and future of Al Amana Centre. In attendance were many “children” of the mission, or children of people who served in the Arabian Mission. A few of the “children”, though it is hard to call them that as many of them are much older than the current staff of Al Amana Centre, spoke appreciatively of the legacy of their parents that Al Amana Centre is continuing today.
One of the learnings for Al Amana Centre staff was how well our new framing of our mission resonated both with people from the past, but also people concerned about the future of the work in Oman and the Arabian region. Over the spring months, Al Amana Centre staff has been working with Design Group International to clarify and better communicate our work. This has taken the form of identifying the problems we think we can help solve and the unique ways Al Amana Centre can meet the needs of people seeking peace.
The problems that we have identified that we think we can help mitigate are:
- A majority of Christians and Muslims have not spent any quality time with someone of a different religious tradition or background. For example, more interactions around religion tend to be either shallow or perceived as a chance for proselytization. Talking about religion in most cases is at best seen as a taboo topic, or at worst leads to greater polarization. Interactions need to be fostered that are more than “water cooler” talk and have a primary goal of understanding and not debate.
- A global lack of relationship leads to a religious isolation and distance that increases ignorance and misunderstanding. When we see religion in the news and entertainment media, it is often portrayed in a negative light. If there are movies that portray religion in a more positive light, they tend to be narrow in their focus and don’t often show the breadth and depth of a particular religion. This leads to mischaracterizations and misrepresentations of large segments of religious populations.
- Our world is scarred with the perception and reality of violence, fear, and conflict based on religious difference and isolation. With a lack of religious literacy any attribution of a religion to acts of violence become uncritical judgments of that religion and often do great injustice to the religion and further fosters isolation and fear that too often leads to violence. An example is the recent violence in Pakistan where people identifying as Muslims took great offense to a few Christians desecrating the Qur’an. This led to large scale destruction of Christian churches and homes. Both Christianity and Islam decry this kind of interaction, but illiteracy, fear, and isolation fueled unnecessary and catastrophic violence.
In the next Newsletter we’ll explore how Al Amana Centre is working for peace in the light of these problems.