Now, the rest of the story. For two weeks prior to the appearance of Usama Dakdok, the Willmar interfaith group and local media tried their best to shut the event down. Failing to do so, a local “concerned” citizen launched a Facebook page that garnered almost 500 followers in an effort to get anti-Dakdok interfaithers to show up and protest the evening of the event.
The event was sponsored by THEE Book Club in Willmar, a small group of concerned evangelical Christians who want to understand Islam and how to reach out to Muslims.
An hour before the event, interfaithers and a large number of Somali formed two long lines from the building entrance to the parking lot, creating an intimidating gauntlet for event attendees. An estimated 150, including about two dozen Somali.
Throughout Dakdok’s strong message of concern about Islam’s tenets of belief, the Somali attendees remained calm and attentive.
During the presentation a half-dozen Somali visited with THEE Book Club supporters in the lobby. True interfaith dialogue occurred as individual Somali were able to express concerns and Christian attendees were able to express love, compassion and share words of Biblical insight. Clearly, some Somali were searching for answers and understanding.
After the presentation, long after the media left, Dakdok gave attendees a time to ask questions. Many Somali took the opportunity to express their concerns. The dialogue, while not necessarily supporting Somali Islamic beliefs, was cordial and respectful.
After attendees left, dialogue with a dozen Somali, Pastor Dakdok, and a few THEE Book Club supporters continued for an hour.
It was a time of true interfaith dialogue, where both Christians and Muslims came together to share their beliefs. Verses from both the Quran and Bible were freely shared. Somali felt free to express their beliefs, while Christians were free to share their testimonies and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
James F. Gauss