As I write, in January 2023, I am in Al Amana Center in the Sultanate of Oman for a one-
month internship. It has been overwhelming to be exploring a new culture not knowing whether
my behavior is proper twenty-four seven hours a day. I have attended many activities here and
explored the country.
Al Amana Center aims to build peace and trust in Oman. I have witnessed the Muslim imam
reading Qu’ran to us. The way the imam reads is like a song with a beautiful melody. While the
imam was reading, everyone was listening. I have witnessed Muslim friends reading the Bible and
discussing it with Christian friends. While the Bible is read aloud, Muslim friends were listening.
This activity is called scripture reasoning. While we are listening, we are showing our respect.
While we are listening, a trustworthy relationship is built. A relationship is built from human to
human, not religion to religion.
After attending several times of scripture reasoning, I was amazed by the insight and
perspective of how Muslims understand the Bible. I also felt ashamed by how I thought about
Muslims with lots of presumptions and ignorance without having a real relationship with a
Muslim friend.
I start to look back at the past and ask myself, “when was the last time I stopped to listen?”
Maybe it was the day I realized that a good conversation requires complete concentration on
listening. I still remember how exhausted I felt after listening for hours to a friend. Since then, I
only pay attention and listen when I want to listen. Most of the time, I have not really been paying
While in the Al Amana Center, I heard many answers about what relationship is and how to
build relationship.

  • We don’t make relationships. Relationship comes to us.
  • Being present, being vulnerable, and showing that I care are important, instead of just saying
    that I care.
  • A relationship involves looking into people’s eyes when we talk.

Once, I practiced listening the way I saw my mentor doing. I needed some information, so I
went to church and talked to a secretary. From the beginning to the end, all I did was listen. She
shared her testimony, her grandfather and grandmother’s story, people who she loves the most. I
did get information from the church secretary in Oman. I learned that you do not call pastors and
priests here during early afternoon because it is their nap time. More importantly, I was able to
know her. In the process of listening, I got to know her as a person, not as a source of information.

Listening is powerful. I believe listening is an attentive body language to say, “I hear you
and I see you.”

God listens.

In the Bible, Jesus did not try to always give smart advice and brilliant remarks. Jesus listened
when people called to him. For example, when the blinded call on him in the street, Jesus asked,
“What do you want me to do for you?” and Jesus listened. (Mark10:46-52)

We ask, “how long do you pray every day?” We have forgotten to ask, “How long God has
listened?” God listens all the time. Remember that as much as we talk to God, God listens to us.
God is an incredible listener who listens to everyone all the time. (Psalm 66:17-20)

I dream of a world where Muslims and Christians listen to each other. Regardless of our
religious differences, we can have a relationship. It is not the Christian religion versus the Muslim
religion, but rather a human to another human.

I sincerely pray that one day, when I come to God for prayer, I could be able to be quiet and
pay attention in a posture of listening. As He listens to me, so I would love to listen to him more.
As He listens to me, I would live to listen to other people more. Oh, Lord, Jesus, have mercy!

-Debbie Jin


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