An update from Emma Wright, a member of the Young Adult Service Corps (YASC) serving in Oman:
Every day at Al Amana Centre brings unique challenges and joys. One day I am discussing interfaith peacebuilding with imams and priests from Pakistan, and another I am trekking over mountains with American university students. With each short-term program, Al Amana Centre hosts participants for one to two weeks to learn about Omani culture, interfaith collaboration, and religious peacebuilding. Because each group is different, no two days are ever the same. Since arriving in August, we have welcomed a group of Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Sikh religious leaders from Pakistan, a group of Muslims and Christians studying trauma healing from Nigeria, an interfaith group of women from the US, Finland, Palestine, Tanzania, Nepal, and Myanmar, and an interfaith group of American undergraduate students from Princeton University. My role as a program coordinator is to help design and implement each short-term program, meaning I spend almost all my time with our visitors. On any given day, I can be found driving to the beach or desert, admiring the Grand Mosque, wandering through the Muttrah Souq, or of course, practicing interfaith dialogue. One method of dialogue we frequently utilize is scriptural reasoning –reading holy scriptures together across faith traditions.
Why did you choose to serve as a YASCer?
When I contacted Elizabeth Boe to learn more about YASC, I was working at a physical therapy clinic, discerning priesthood, and searching for a new job. I wanted to move to a new city, meet new people, learn new skills, and face new challenges. Regardless of the outcome of my discernment, I wanted to expand my skillset with new experiences. During my first conversation with Elizabeth, she told me about Al Amana Centre and its work to facilitate interfaith trust and peace for groups from around the world. Building relationships, especially with people who differ from you, is central to both YASC and Al Amana Centre. I wanted to serve as a YASCer to learn about Muslim-Christian relations in a Muslim-majority context and to strengthen my own ability to befriend people with whom I disagree. If I end up with a career in The Episcopal Church, it seems essential to me that I am actively contributing positively to interreligious relations. And this year of YASC in Oman is enabling and compelling me to do just that. By serving through YASC, I get to practice the kind of evangelism in which mutual respect prevails and Allah’s love unites. [Editor’s note: Allah is the Arabic word for God, often used also by Christians in Arabic-speaking contexts.]
How can we pray for you and the people you work with?
Building trust and understanding, turning strangers into friends, and striving for justice and peace. These things take time. Progress happens gradually and personally; sometimes the individual doesn’t even realize when a change occurs. I ask your prayers for patience and perseverance, for empathy and compassion. I ask your prayers for the energy to continue working after long hours and for the strength to embrace discomfort. Pray for Al Amana Centre, for my colleagues: Aaro, Justin, Jeff, Tony, Catherine, and Ashok, for the Protestant Church in Oman, for the Sultanate of Oman, for the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, for the entire Anglican Communion, for my Muslim brothers and sisters, and for all those suffering because of their faith in God. Grant us peace.
You can continue to follow and find out about Emma’s service on her blog at walkinlove.blog. Learn more about the Young Adult Service Corps at iam.ec/YASC.