Carl Medearis is a man of two worlds.
Medearis, an international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations, spoke at Cedar Creek Church Saturday evening.
He has dedicated his life to promoting peace between two different worlds and has worked with former state Gov. David Beasley.
An ordained pastor and evangelist, he also is the author of “Muslims, Christians and Jesus” and “Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.”
Originally from Denver, Medearis lived in Beirut, Lebanon, for 12 years along with his wife and three children.
Medearis has worked with many individuals in the Middle East and has encouraged them to live by the principles taught by Jesus, according to his website.
On Saturday evening, after returning from Baghdad earlier this month, he had a dialogue with residents about the relationship between Christians and Muslims. He told stories about his experience with dear friends of the Islamic faith with heartwarming memories and even a few anecdotes.
Medearis said the world and its perception of Muslims drastically changed after 9/11. Muslims were grouped together as people trying to “take over America” and associated with words like “sleeper cells” and “terrorism.”
“What does that do?” Medearis asked. “It just keeps our fear level at a certain pitch.”
Medearis asked the audience to think of someone maybe living in a place like Iraq who has access to the Internet or television and has never left the country.
He then asked how they believe that individual would perceive America?
People called out a variety of words like “immorality,” “violence,” “greed” and “pornography.”
Medearis continued by citing the Aurora, Colo., theater shootings that occurred last year which happened only about 15 miles away from his hometown.
He was out of the country and with some of his Saudi friends when it hit the news. Medearis’ friends first showed concern, asking if he possibly knew anyone who was injured and were relieved when Medearis said no. Then, one of his friends asked what was wrong with America because they had noticed so many shootings and then inquired if it was something in Christianity causing them.
Since some individuals in the West assume Muslims are violent because of their religion due to what’s seen in the news, Medearis said some people in the Middle East have misgivings about those who are Christian by what they see in the media, too.
“You can be afraid of the generalization, but you can’t love the generalization,” Medearis said, later adding, “The best way to fight fear and misunderstanding is to get to know some real, live Muslims – actually spend time with them.”
Medearis said when he talks with those in the Middle East, he discusses Jesus, not the “religious system of Christianity.”
These days, he spends time working with both leaders in the West and Middle East in hopes to establish healthy, strong relationships between the two through Jesus’ teachings.
Cedar Creek Pastor Phillip Lee thanked Medearis for taking the time to visit the church and thanked Global Outreach Director Kristi Hunter for inviting the speaker.
Lee said he hopes that what Medearis said will challenge those to think differently and to not share the religion but “the only hope in the world ... Jesus Christ.”
Medearis will speak again at Cedar Creek, 3001 Banks Mill Road, today at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Visit www.carlmedearis.com for more about his life and work.