Pastor calls for all faiths to be respected

A pastor of a church at Moto’otua says he will pay his respect to a Muslim missionary who went public on his faith, before sharing his own Christian beliefs with him.

The founder of the Life Point Church in Moto’otua, American Pastor Stephen Merritt, told the Samoa Observer he is yet to meet Ghanian Ishmael Adubofour who early this week opened up on his missionary journey to Samoa to spread the teachings of Islam.

The personal testimony of the Ghanian, who moved to Samoa with his family three years ago, generated a lot of online criticism by Samoans who declared the country is a Christian nation and no other religions should be accepted.

However, Pastor Merritt said while he acknowledges the sensitivities surrounding different religions, there is also the value of respect which he said was promulgated by Jesus Christ in his teachings.

“People can get very emotional about it and I respect all religions but that doesn’t mean I believe all religions,” he said. “I respect a person’s faith, but again that does not mean their ideology or their particular doctrine when it comes to their faith.

“But as Christians, I think it’s our obligation to be Christ-like and to love people, just because you love the person does not mean you embrace their theology. 

“I don’t know anywhere in the Bible, if you were to look at our greatest example, who is Christ himself, I don’t know anywhere in the bible where he ever banished a person or cast [...]  because of their particular race or ethnicity or their religion.”

Christ, according to Pastor Merritt, came to promote Christianity and fulfil the law and he did not just come for Christians alone.

“He came for all religions, no matter what your faith is, we know through the scriptures that Jesus Christ came to seek and to save man,” added Pastor Merritt. “As Christians, if we believe that Christianity is the way to salvation, we can therefore say that Christ came to seek and to save all other walks of faith and all other religions.”

Pastor Merritt then said that Muslims and any other religion that might oppose Christianity should be “embraced”.

“We have to embrace the individual while at the same time, preaching and teaching the power of Christianity,” he added. “That is my outlook, we have got to be strong when it comes to our religion and our faith.

“We have to teach what the Bible says and of false doctrine tries to cut in and influence us, we have to stand at the door and guard the sheep and fend off the wolves if they come in.

“But we have to do it with love and we have to be wise about it.

“The Bible says you have to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves so again it’s a very sensitive topic.

“I never met the Muslim missionary personally, but if I were to meet him, I no doubt would give him respect and show him love but at the same time I would say this is what I believe.”

Pastor Merritt then noted that the Bible preaches about love and respect, which opens the door to a working relationship, even with those who are non-believers.

“There needs to be love and respect and there can be that working relationship even with people who don’t believe what you believe. 

“I think that is probably the greatest witness that we have, if you ever want to try and reach that particular missionary or religion, you are not going to do it with words of hate or condemnation you are going to do it with words of love.

“If we can begin to understand how powerful our words really are, and not just our words, but when we have the power of the Holy Ghost inside of us and speaking what we feel to be the direction of God, it really has the power to impact a person’s life and change them forever.”

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