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CHURCH HISTORY

Reconciliation of Christians and Muslims

From Bob Fox
CBN Staff Writer

CBN.com -- In April, 1096 AD, Christians left from the cathedral in what is now Cologne, Germany and walked across Europe bringing many tears of sorrow to the eyes of many Muslims in their path. They called it a Crusade. Exactly 900 years later, on Easter Sunday, 1996, about 150 Christians left from the same cathedral to begin a second walk across that same route, but this time they brought wide smiles and tears of joy to many Muslims.

Their first stop was a Turkish Mosque. The leader, Lynn Green of YWAM (Youth With A Mission) read an apology to the gathered Muslims apologizing for the atrocities of the Crusades.

The Muslims broke into spontaneous, load applause for a long time. The leader of the mosque, the Imam, joyfully exclaimed, “When I heard the nature of your message, I was astonished and filled with hope. I thought to myself, 'whoever had this idea must have had an epiphany, a visit from God himself. It is my wish that this project should become a very great success."

That same Imam later told a participant that many Muslims were beginning to examine their sins against Christians and Jews. He said that their example would encourage them how to act in a similar way about the sins of the past. He promised to tell the other 250 mosques in Europe.

One participant told this writer that as they came into Istanbul, the chief imam of the city came out to greet them with open arms. In an excited voice, he shouted, “Welcome! No Christian has ever come to apologize to us in 1000 years! You are the first. We welcome you!

Others report Turkish policemen weeping when they heard of this apology. This was a common reaction by many Muslims to this request for forgiveness from the itinerant Christians who walked the entire route of over 2000 miles in rotating shifts of several dozen at a time. About 2,000 Christians from 27 countries participated in this walk wearing T-shirts and caps that say "I apologize" in Arabic or Hebrew.

About 500 participants reached Jerusalem on July 15, 1999, the 900th anniversary of the killing of about 60,000 Jerusalem residents and the destruction of the city.

Here is the text of that historic apology:

Nine hundred years ago, our forefathers carried the name of Jesus Christ in battle across the Middle East. Fuelled by fear, greed and hatred, they betrayed the name of Christ by conducting themselves in a manner contrary to His wishes and character. The Crusaders lifted the banner of the Cross above your people. By this act, they corrupted its true meaning of reconciliation, forgiveness and selfless love.

On the anniversary of the first Crusade, we also carry the name of Christ. We wish to retrace the footsteps of the Crusaders in apology for their deeds and in demonstration of the true meaning of the Cross. We deeply regret the atrocities committed in the name of Christ by our predecessors. We renounce greed, hatred and fear, and condemn all violence done in the name of Jesus Christ.

Where they were motivated by hatred and prejudice, we offer love and brotherhood. Jesus the Messiah came to give life. Forgive us for allowing His name to be associated with death. Please accept again the true meaning of the Messiah's words:

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." As we go, we bless you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

More from CBN.com's In-depth look at the Crusades

More Church History on the Spiritual Life Channel

 

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