Evangelism Club Practices Classroom Learning in Befriending Muslim
"I asked her if I could sit next to her," Molly Dirks started, explaining how she initiated a conversation on the Light Rail in Minneapolis. "I then asked her if I could ask her a question. She said 'yes', so I asked her what religion she was." Molly said the young lady she was talking to was wearing a hijab, a head covering popular in the Muslim faith.
Molly recently completed a section of her Worldview course at Hillcrest on evangelism. The section was called Tactics and gave helpful tips to start, engage, and drive conversation. The Worldview class is required for all Hillcrest graduates, and Molly was working to practice some of the lessons she learned in Hillcrest's Evangelism Club in their recent field trip to Minneapolis last weekend.
As Molly started her conversation three friends seated elsewhere on the train watched with excitement. One friend had a Bible open on her lap. She was reading Scripture in a hushed voice to another friend who was watching Molly. The third friend stood within ear shot of the reading watching the passengers on the train as Molly continued her conversation.
One man lowered his newspaper, raising an eyebrow at what the young woman in the hijab volleyed to Molly in response to her question. "I am a Muslim. What religion are you?" "I am a Christian," Molly said matter of factly. A young man sitting near the two pulled his headphones down, seeming to take notice of the unusual conversation between the Christian and the Muslim that started to define their personal beliefs that highlight the world's oldest religious conflict.
The three friends started to feel like the passengers on the train were taking offense at the conversation. One of the girls said later that she thought one of the men sitting near the conversation was going to tell Molly to leave the young woman alone. Two of Molly's friends watching the interaction started to softly sing a song sung in Hillcrest's chapel services. They were nervous, but excited to watch their friend engage in conversation with someone who at face value is very different from her.
Molly and the young woman talked for approximately five minutes. It was one of several conversations the group of ladies had as they rode the Light Rail for the two hour experience. In this conversation Molly and the young woman outlined their belief systems and what was important to them to follow their religions. Molly asked about the Pillars of Islam, asking if the young lady had a personal relationship with Allah.
The group of four young Hillcrest students spoke to many people on the train that day. The exercise is part of the school's Evangelism Club. Students learn how to start, engage, ask good questions, and hold meaningful conversation that edifies both parties. The group reads 1 Corinthians 13 at every meeting, a grounding chapter that the group works to reflect in their interactions with people. The goal is to love well by having meaningful conversations.
The club has two more trips planned this year, taking another trip to the Light Rail in Minneapolis before venturing on a multi-site trip to Chicago. The club seeks large cities with commuting situations because that is where most Hillcrest students will find themselves after graduation. While students are learning about the world from the Biblical perspective at Hillcrest, clubs like the Evangelism Club work to train students to create and engage respectful dialogue with the goal being to find truth in a loving way.