A Surprise Conference
I was on vacation August 27-September 3, and planned on having a quiet staycation at home. On August 23, I saw on Social Media that Dr. Syeed had come out of retirement and was elected to be the new president of the Islamic Society of North America. He had just retired at the end of 2017 from his job in Washington DC. I knew ISNA was having their Annual Conference down in Houston Texas over Labor weekend so I checked to see if I still could go to show my support to Dr. Syeed who came to Redwood Falls about two years ago.
All the hotel rooms were booked solid. They were expecting a record number 20,000 people to attend this event. I sent a congratulatory note to Dr. Syeed and told him I tried to come but there were not rooms left.
Two days before the conference started I received a note from Dr. Syeed saying if I still wanted to come, ISNA would waive the conference fees for me and they found a room for me. So I made plane reservations and flew down to Texas.
I was told I would be staying at the Marriot Marquis and my room would be $115.00 a night. When I walked into my hotel room I found I was staying in a $2,000 a night suite for my quoted price. It was amazing. I had four large rooms to myself. All the outdoor walls were glass so I had a remote control to control the shades in the bathroom. I have never stayed in such a luxurious room.
The conference allowed me to catch up with folks I have met at the last two annual conferences and the Interfaith forum I intended in Washington DC. I am treated with such kindness and respect at these events.
I have always had in my heart to help the underdog. When a bully pushed my daughter down every day on the playground I went straight to the principal to make sure it stopped. When an exchange student in seminary was being picked on by a professor I confronted the professor. When a church member felt they were being treated unfairly at work I went and talked to their employer at work and without using the church member’s name I stood up their boss. As American Muslims are the most hated people in our society right now, I feel compelled to stand up for them. There is so much hatred, ignorance, racism, and fear in this country towards people that are different than ourselves. I feel it in my heart of hearts to stand up for people until they have the same rights and privileges that we all have. We all need to be treated with love, respect and dignity. This is a core value for me. I don’t help Muslim people because I am crazy or I had a concussion. I help Muslim people because they are created and loved by God.
Whenever you get to know someone of a different culture, race or religion you grow as a person, your world view expands. If you haven’t yet, challenge yourself to meet and befriend someone totally different than you. There is a wonderful line in the movie Mame, ” Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”
May God bless you and all the new encounters you have!
Pastor Scott Prouty