Is peace between Christians and Muslims possible?
Can we be wholehearted friends?
Are the walls too many and too high?
Where do we even begin?

The news and social media tell us that peace is impossible between Christians and Muslims — that our differences in culture, politics and theology are too great to make our way beyond. But I’ve discovered that the only real barriers to relationship were within my own heart.

Recently a friend of mine saw an Instagram post in the morning that said “Love past your fears”. It stirred him. Later in the day he took his children out to a playground and noticed a Muslim family arrive, sitting down across the park from him. The quote popped into his head again, “Love past your fears”. What to do? What to say? How?

He made the decision to go over with just two words, he was rehearsing them as he crossed the park to sit on the bench next to the father. “Ramadan Mubarak!” (meaning “Have a blessed/generous fasting”) The surprise on the man’s face was quickly turned to a smile and excited response of “Salaam Alaikum” (meaning “God’s peace be upon you”). Very quickly the man opened up about his life. They are Syrian refugees who’ve been in Australia for two years and he’s been working hard to learn English so that he can provide for his family. Not too long ago he was working as a high school teacher in Syria, but that feels like a world away now. The conversation moved through many subjects, culminating in phone numbers exchanged and plans made for sharing dinner as families.

My friend found that loving past his fears had opened a door to a new friendship, a new perspective, and to peace. I am sure of this, that you can only take one step at a time, and the first step in relationship is “Hello”. Beyond that is a world of discovery that proves how small these walls that separate us really are, and how great a thing love is.