CHICAGO – “Warm Wishes from Northwest Indiana Islamic Center, and First United Methodist Church, and New Day Community Church.”
This is the message on the handmade greeting card designed for the needy during Thanksgiving, and the card was signed by 3-year-old Muslim boy, Isaac Musleh with the help of Becky Chambers, a member of that last church in Hobart, Indiana, Chicago Tribune reported on November 21.
“What is your name, sweetheart?” Chambers asked the boy.
“Isaac,” he replied.
“Can you spell it?” she asked.
He shook his head from side to side.
She guided his hand to write his name on top of the bright yellow card, which stated, “Warm Wishes from Northwest Indiana Islamic Center, and First United Methodist Church, and New Day Community Church.”
Musleh is a member of the Islamic Center in Crown Point, Indiana which participated with other churches and synagogues in the American state in a recent afternoon event to help feed and cheer families in need with food, gift cards, and well wishes on Thanksgiving.
“Hello everyone! Welcome to our first interfaith Sharing the Harvest initiative,” said Pastor Leah Yen, of Hobart First United Methodist Church.
On his behalf, Omar Estwani, from the Islamic Center said “we’re hoping it’s the start of a great effort moving forward,” in a remark that the gathering is the first of its kind for these three places of worship.
- Gene Coleman, Leah Yen and Imam Mongy El-Quesney pose for photos Nov. 18, at First United Methodist Church in Hobart. (Jerry Davich/Post-Tribune)
During the event, the Christian participants listened to holy teachings from the Qur’an read by Imam Mongy El-Quesny, and Muslims heard holy scripture from the Bible.
Afterward, they joined together to spread the gospel without religious differences getting in the way.
“It’s a wonderful gathering of people from two different faiths who share the same teaching of helping those who are less fortunate,” said Ferass Safadi, a father of five from Valparaiso who worships at the Crown Point mosque.
“The members of the Methodist church were welcoming, and they did an amazing job adding a personal message for those in need through our children from the Islamic Center,” Safadi said as kids created colorful cards and posters.
United for Needy
Participants filled dozens of grocery bags with traditional Thanksgiving food items lined a wall inside First United Methodist Church.
The bags were then distributed by the Northwest Indiana Food Bank. Each bag had a $20 gift card from Walmart or Meijer and one of the kids’ personalized cards.
The idea for this interfaith gesture of goodwill came from Gene Coleman, of Hobart, who took part in a similar initiative two years ago while living in Mission Viejo, California.
“The local Islamic foundation volunteered to host the event, with speeches, songs, and kids decorating the bags. There were many cheers and tears and hugs,” Coleman said.
“I was privileged to have participated in that inspiring and valuable interfaith initiative.”