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Newsletter April 1, 2016 New Beginnings at New Hope VOLUME 3, ISSUE 23
Answering Jihad

It happened again last month with bombings in Brussels and then Pakistan on Easter Sunday. Nowadays Americans live in fear but also in a state of dread. We know it's coming. We just don't know when, where or who it will hit next.

Some say the jihadists are not really Muslims but members of a rogue element who hijacked the religion for their own purposes. They are just terrorists, not Islamic jihadists. Islam is, after all, a peaceful religion. Others say they are doing exactly what the Quran instructs: spread Islam by any means possible. Most of these opinions are from people who do not practice the faith or have not studied its origins. We hear very little from Muslims who do.

Now we have a new book by a Muslim turned Christian that holds some answers for us: Answering Jihah: A Better Way Forward, March, 2016, by Nabeel Qureshi. The author devoted much of his young life to a study of the Islamic faith and its people. He began his own investigation and arrived at a point where he would choose one of three directions. He could become an apostate and leave Islam. He could become apathetic, remain in the faith, and ignore the prophet or he could become "radicalized" and obey him. He chose apostacy, to leave Islam and follow Christ.
From the Pastor

The second Sunday of Easter, which is April 3, 2016, the lectionary reading in the Gospel of John 20: 19-31, relates Jesus appearing to His disciples after His resurrection. There would be no Christianity with the death of Jesus: it is the resurrection that is the basis for our faith. Jesus sacrificed His life and as foretold in the Scriptures, was raised from the dead. In the Scripture reading from John chapter 20, the disciples are in a locked room, hiding in fear of the Romans and probably other Jews. They are afraid because of their close association with Jesus and do not want the same punishment as Jesus endured; so they are hiding.

Jesus appears to the disciples; however, Thomas is not with them. We all know the phrase "doubting Thomas." Thomas did not believe in the Risen Jesus and would not until he could see the wounds inflicted upon Jesusí body. There is a difference between doubters and unbelievers. Doubters are people who are not sure about something. They have questions that they would like to have answered. Thomas was a doubter, not an unbeliever. Thomas had to see and feel the body of Jesus. Doubters, at their best are true seekers. Thomas was the one who was willing to go to Jerusalem during the worst threats of Jesusí life, and even die there with the Master (John 11:16). It was Thomas who was honest enough to tell Jesus that he did not understand the sometimes cryptic things Jesus would tell them (John 14:5). Thomas was a simple man; honest, loyal and true. It was Thomas who was the first to declare, ďMy Lord and my God!Ē (John 20: 28). Then Jesus spoke of the faith of those who have not seen, but believe.

The disciple Thomas was not really so different from the other disciples or from each of us: they and we were all doubtful. Thomas was not with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them. People of faith need each other. Things happen when we are together that do not happen when we are alone. There is a synergy in the church that can occur nowhere else. God wants us to worship and pray and sing together. The glow and warmth from each otherís faith will keep our life of faith warm and bright.

May God continue to bless your lives.
Sandra Whetsell, Pastor

Qureshi's approach in the book is to present a series of questions in three parts: Part 1: The Origins of Jihad. What is Jihad? What is Sharia? Was Islam Spread by the Sword? Part 2: Jihad Today: What is Radical Islam? Who are Al-Qaida, ISIS, and Boko Haram? Why are Muslims Being Radicalized? Part 3: Jihad in Judeo-Christian Context: Do Muslims and Christians Worship the Same God? What Does Jesus Teach About Violence? What about the violence of the Old Testament? the Crusades?

From one reviewer: "If you are looking for clear answers as to why not all followers of Islam are the same, why all Muslims are not violent and why we can and should move forward with wisdom and compassion, then this book of only 173 pages is for you. As a pastor I plan to buy a copy for every family in my church. Itís not liberal or conservative thought that Nabeel is sharing, but the Spirit of Christ at work in our hearts and in the times we are living."

After 9/11, President Bush said Islam was a religion of peace. President Obama maintains that the jihadists have a distorted view of Islam. Per Qureshi, they are both wrong. None of us, not even presidents, has the time or inclination to study Islam in depth. Qureshi has lived Islam, studied it and has keen insights into the current problems it presents not only to us but to its millions of followers who wish to live in peace. After all, he was confronted with these problems himself. His answer? Begin with understanding and conclude with compassion, the compassion of Jesus Christ to all people. This book can be purchased at Amazon, Answering Jihad. We also have a copy available in our new library.
About the Author of Answering Jihad

Raised as a devout Muslim in the United States, Qureshi grew up studying Islamic apologetics with his family and engaging Christians in religious discussions. After one such discussion with a Christian at his university, the two became friends and began a years-long debate on the historical claims of Christianity and Islam. Nabeel’s resulting journey was chronicled in his first book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. In addition to being a New York Times bestseller, it was awarded the Christian Book Award for the categories of both "Best New Author" and "Best Non-Fiction" of 2015. Christianity Today heralded Qureshi as one of “"33 Under 33" in its cover story on emerging religion leaders in July 2014.

Nabeel Qureshi holds an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, an MA in Christian apologetics from Biola University and an MA in religion from Duke University. He is currently studying Judaism and Christianity at Oxford, pursuing his doctorate in New Testament Studies.
Church Calendar

•  Sunday, May 22. Hymn Singing and Scripture reading followed by Fellowship Dinner. Save this date.
•  April birthday. Goldie O'Cain (20th).
•  April anniversary. Newton and Sandra Wannamaker (20th).