The World Faith Blog

World Faith: The Interfaith Service Network

Love Your Neighbor: An Inspiring Story of Two Friends 14 November , 2012

World Faith founder Frank Frederick’s latest article on the Huffington Post:

As a Christian, I reflected over the years as what it means to “love your neighbor.” When I lived in rural America, outside of Portland, Ore., this seemed like a much easier feet. Our nearest neighbor lived a few hundred yards away. I’d have to walk a mile in any direction to find someone we didn’t know.

Now I live in New York City, and my “neighbor” is someone I don’t know. My city, neighborhood and block are filled people who don’t know me, don’t are to know me, don’t look like me, talk like me, smell like me, think like me, and have no desire to change that fact. This is true to the extent that I haven’t yet caught the names of the couple who are subletting the apartment next time ours. In short, I literally don’t even know my literal neighbors. I find that it’s pretty hard to love people you don’t even know. And sometimes, we all, myself included, use that as an excuse to not even try.

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One day, Brendan, a young but rising DJ in New York, was coming home to his Brooklyn apartment when a homeless woman asked him for money. He said, honesty, that he had no money. By the end of the week, she asked two more times, and each no he answered “no.” Finally she frankly replied, “you better not, because every day you say no.” Inserting some rational thinking into an otherwise awkward conversation, he proposed, “I am on my way to a job interview. If I get the job, I will take you out for Chinese food.” This promise yielded a friendship that neither were prepared for — that changed the trajectory of their lives, both forwards toward each other.

Brendan got the job. But their friendship didn’t just end with Chinese food. They built a friendship of mutual support, spending their birthdays, holidays and tough times together, over a period of eight years. When Brendan’s heater broke, she made him a blanket. Two days later when he told her that he had lost his job, she disappeared, returning minutes later, bringing him groceries, and which continued to do throughout the winter. Even with so little, she never hesitated to give back.

Over these years, Jackie moved from the streets and subway stations, into a halfway house, YMCA, and is now moving into an apartment. To celebrate this occasion, Brendan wanted to do something special for Jackie. He went with her to Target, and helped her to pick out everything she’d need for an apartment, starting a registry. Then, he set up a campaign to raise the money to pay for the registry (now closed), along with an awesome video telling their story. While their original goal was to raise $500, the campaign went viral and they’ve raised more than $6,000, and are now looking to use the extra funding to support other women in need.

Brendan isn’t a Christian, and this isn’t about out-Jesusing each other. It’s not even a challenge to only Christians, but everyone who struggles with the desire to be a stakeholder in their community, yet are overwhelmed by the reality of living out that desire.

I met Brendan from my music business days, through our work with Lady Gaga (him as her DJ, me as her manager), long before I got involved in non-profit work. Yet he reminds me that having a dayjob with a mission doesn’t relieve us of the challenge of being loving neighbors, for the few within miles, or the thousands within blocks. Similarly, loving our neighbors, whether next door or at our door step, doesn’t require a change in profession, just a willingness to speak, to listen and to give. May Brendan’s story challenge us this week to step out of comfort zone, and find a new way to honor, serve and love the people around us.

Check out the original posting here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-fredericks/love-your-neighbor-inspiring-story-of-two-friends_b_2127070.html

 

Youth Bridging Religious Differences 29 May , 2012

On May 26, 2012 Interfaith Youth in Action (IYA) / World Faith Pakistan (WFP) and the Youth Development Foundation organized a bus tour visiting places of worship in Lahore. 58 young people from the country’s different faiths groups participated in the tour which aimed at advancing interfaith relations and cooperation. The bus tour is a practical tool to foster interfaith understanding among religiously-diverse youth which is a determinant for peace and development in Pakistan.

The tour provided a unique experience and opportunity to visit different places of worship and to learn more about the beliefs, practices, and customs of the local faith traditions. The group visited a church, a mosque, a Baha’i temple, a Hindu Mandir, and a Sikh Gurdwara.

The youth of each community welcomed the participants and the religious leaders briefed them on their faith traditions, their history and conflict situations. Following this, the participants had the opportunity to ask additional questions in a Q & A session.

Anila Noor, Participant: Through this event I made friends with people from the Christian, Hindu, and Sikh community which never happened in my life before. Through these friendships we will contribute to build bridges between Pakistan’s different religious groups and we will try to inspire others to engage in interfaith activities.

Shahid Ghouri, Founding President of IYA/WFP: Through this event we provided a safe space for religiously-diverse youth to share information about their own faith and to learn more about other faith traditions. This is an important step to reduce common religious misconceptions and to advance interfaith relationships.

Fr. Ashraf Gill, Catholic Youth Director: The youth should get the chance to solve continuing interfaith differences by engaging in implementable interfaith activities, rather than interfaith seminaries or conferences which take place in an artificial environments, and which turned out to be of little efficiency in the Pakistani context.

At the end of the day all participants had the chance to share their feelings with the group and to explain what they have learned during the day. They were encouraged to make recommendations for future interfaith dialogue.

Recommendations:

  1. Young people should get a better chance to use their potentials and their creative ideas for interfaith dialogue and ecumenism. (Christian participants)
  2. Religious leaders should better include youth to solve ongoing religious gaps to promote peace and development in Pakistan. (Muslim & Hindu participants)
  3. Interfaith groups should be introduced in every educational institution in order to educate, interact, and to develop relations among religiously-diverse youth. (All participants)

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Muslim and Christian Leaders Pledge Interfaith Harmony 11 August , 2011

Besides condemning violence, the Christian-Muslim Covenant of Non Violence in Pakistan urges signatories to actively tackle the root of religious tension and promote interfaith harmony.

The pledge, which has already attracted the high profile backing of Senator Malik Hakmeen Khan and General Secretary of the Human Rights Commission IA Rehman, calls for Christians and Muslims to work together ‘to bring prosperity to the country for all’.

Signatures are being sought from religious leaders and public figures, as well as members of the public looking to register their support for non-violence.

 

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Local Interfaith Group to Hold 9/11 Commemoration 9 August , 2011

Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe Houses of Worship are planning an event to remember those lost in 9/11, all the injured and all the heroes.The Community 9/11 Commemoration will be held on Sunday, September 11, 2011 at 3 PM at The Reformed Church of Bronxville, located at 180 Pondfield Road in the Village of Bronxville.

This civic ceremony, organized by the BIC (Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe Interfaith Council), will feature stirring music (including bagpipes), a community choir, commemorative readings, greetings from Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe community leaders and a moving time of silent prayer and the ringing of the commemoration bell.

 

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The British Sikh Association Annual Seminar 4 August , 2011

The British Sikh Association (BSA) hosted an inter-faith Seminar at the Nehru Centre, London on 28th July 2011 to promote interfaith dialogue for peaceful coexistence.  

Over 130 guests attended the seminar including high profile guest speakers: Lord Hylton; Lord Popat of Harrow; Founder-Director of Faith Matters, Mr. Fiaz Mughal OBE, FCMI; Vice Chancellor of World Sikh University, Dr. Sukhbir S. Kapoor OBE.

Mrs. Jasminder Kasturia, Acting Director of the Nehru Centre, welcomed guests and was proud that the Nehru Centre was promoting such seminars designed to build bridges between communities. She also said that she was looking forward to more events of this nature in the future.

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Curiosity May Be Hard on Cats, but It’s Great for Interfaith Friendships

The youngest member of my family is our one-year-old cat, Margery. She is a most inquisitive creature (my wife thinks she has attention deficit disorder). Curiosity may have killed the proverbial cat, but this feline hasn’t been deterred. She gets into everything — to the point where my wife and I have spray-bottles at strategic locations throughout the house, just to remind our kitty that some locations are off-limits. We’ve had to put a bit of lemon in the water to make the “punishment” more truly unpleasant to her; getting squirted with plain water just wasn’t enough of a deterrent to slow her down.

I write about this like it’s a bad thing, and sure, we get annoyed when we find her perched on the dining room table, blissfully drinking out of one of our glasses. But in truth, her eager exploration is rather inspiring to me. I like how every corner of the house represents a new frontier for investigation, learning, and insight. In fact, I think her inquisitive nature is a good model for me — and for all of us, living in this age where people of different cultures and faiths live as next-door neighbors.

 

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Delaware Sees Interest in Interfaith Dialogue, Muslim Man Discusses Similarities Among Faiths 2 August , 2011

BRANDYWINE HUNDRED, Del. — Not many Muslims get invited to be fill-in preachers at Christian congregations, but that’s what happened to Semab Chaudhry at Silverside Church.

Last month the pharmaceutical audit manager stepped into the pulpit for a Sunday talk explaining the reverence that Islam gives to figures such as Mary, Jesus, Abraham and Moses.

“It’s remarkable how much commonality there is among our faiths,” says June Eisley, a member of the Brandywine Hundred congregation. “I wish all Christians could learn this.”

 

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