Adventists in the South Pacific region are not immune to the constant onslaught of terrorism-related news and negative depictions of Muslims in the mainstream media. But the message emphasised by visiting speakers from the North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists is that, in many ways, Muslims are our natural allies in a world that increasingly marginalises faith and the faithful.
"Much of the questions we had were related to how to engage Muslims in concrete situations, since so many Adventists already are in contact with Muslims."
Gaby Phillips, who heads up the NAD’s Adventist Muslim Relations department, was the keynote speaker for events held at Parramatta in Sydney, Maitland (NSW) and Plenty Valley in Melbourne during August. She was accompanied by her associate at NAD, Australian-born Rodney McCallum, and her husband, Marty Phillips, who leads n-Praxis, an independent ministry that fosters home-based church groups around the world.
The speakers relied on the Bible to highlight God’s promises to Ishmael—many Arabs identify as his descendants—and to point out that the cultural practices and attitudes of many Muslims today reflect biblical principles more closely than many aspects of Western culture. The Adventists in attendance were encouraged to share their faith openly with their Muslim neighbours, workmates and schoolmates; to eat together and pray together, while remaining aware of differences in theology, cultural practice and worldview.
As the tour concluded, Ms Phillips was full of praise. “I sense a level of openness and receptivity in Australia that is refreshing,” she said. “Much of the questions we had were related to how to engage Muslims in concrete situations, since so many Adventists already are in contact with Muslims. We want to say to all Adventists that Muslims around the world are pleased when we invite them to a journey of faith closer to God, in preparation for the soon return of Jesus.”
The weekend conference in Sydney was videoed. Copies of the sessions are available via Lynne Hughes <ReflectionOfJoy@gmail.com> For more information on the speakers and tour, contact Paul Bennetts <firstname.lastname@example.org>.