by Marilyn Gardner
Dear Mr. Graham,
I’d like to introduce you to some friends of mine.
The first friend is Golnaz. Golnaz is a bright and beautiful young woman from Iran. My husband first met her while working on a project at Harvard University. It was an instant friendship and soon after he met her, he invited her to come to our home. We got to know her and her young son, inviting them to Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas open houses. At the time, Golnaz was single-parenting. She had no family around, and little community. In the seven years we have known her, we have watched her get a masters degree, work through the difficulties of a complicated divorce, and raise an amazing son.
Here’s another set of friends: They live in San Diego in a lovely home that they open up to us whenever we are in the area. Rehan is a brilliant geneticist and Ghazala is a physician. Their house reflects their Pakistani heritage, and their living between worlds reality. They have two sons: One in university and the other heading quickly into his high school years. Both are brilliant and personable, like their parents. Ghazala and Rehan have a strong faith and wake to the call to prayer on their alarm clock each day. We share history, stories, and deep conversations of faith together.
I mustn’t forget Ali Reza. When Ali Reza left the United States for Denmark, we all cried. He brought his parents to visit right before we left. We sat on our couch, on a warm summer evening drinking mint tea together and talking. We talked and talked – even though we only know phrases in Persian, and his parents only know a couple of phrases in English. No matter, we found that the connection, the friendship, was a gift. We communicated across the boundaries of faith, language, culture, and world view. Ali Reza was like a son to us during the year he was in the United States.
There are so many more! There are Payman and Farnaz, a lovely couple who make their home in a suburb of Boston; there is Hamra – an extraordinary artist living with her husband and baby near Harvard Square.
It would take too long to list everyone, and I want to get to my main point, which is this: I am deeply troubled by the comments you made publicly about Muslims and immigration and I believe you are culpable for many of the negative attitudes toward Muslims in the Evangelical church.
Marilyn R. Gardner is an adult third culture kid who grew up in Pakistan and then lived as an adult in Pakistan and Egypt. She birthed 5 kids on 3 continents, and went on to raise them in Pakistan and Egypt before moving to the United States. She currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 15 minutes from the international terminal where she flies to the Middle East & Pakistan as often as possible. Her first book, Between Worlds: Essays on Culture & Belonging came out in July 2014. Her writing also appears in the book What a Woman is Worth published 2014, Among Worlds Magazine, and A Life Overseas – The Missions Conversation. In addition, in 2014 she was listed in 101 Culturally Diverse Christian Voices on the Link Between Worlds Blog. You can find her blogging at http://communicatingacrossboundariesblog.com/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/marilyngard