Muslim farmers are helping their Catholic neighbors rebuild a mud chapel that was destroyed by a monsoon in the village of Khalsabad, Pakistan earlier this year. The eight Christian families who live in the village had the option of praying at home or rebuilding the chapel; they chose the latter and asked the community for help.
Muslim farmers and businessmen have donated to fundraising efforts led by a village committee responsible for the project.
Dilawar Hussain, a Muslim shopkeeper, donated 10,000 rupees (95 dollars) after learning about the project. “A church is also a house of Allah; praying is what matters. We worship the same God,” Hussain said.
Construction on the chapel has begun and so far the boundary walls have been erected.
Fr. Aftab James Paul called the support from Muslim neighbors a “dialogue for life.”
Though Pakistan has made headlines for violence against Christians, this is not the first time that Muslims in the area have helped rebuild a Catholic place of worship. In 2005, Muslims helped with the construction of a church in Gojra Tehnsil.
Fr. Paul encourages the community to remember the support from their Muslim neighbors. “We have too many prejudices,” he said, “and let the actions of a few be blamed on all followers of Islam.”
Pope Francis encouraged interfaith dialogue during his visit to Turkey on Friday, November 28. A predominantly Muslim country, Turkey’s perception of the papacy was darkened when Francis’ predecessor called Islam “evil and inhuman.”
Francis not only worked to amend old animosities, but to strengthen relations between peaceful Christians and Muslims to present a united front against ISIS. The radical group currently encroaches across Turkey’s Southern borders with Iraq and Syria.
“Interreligious and intercultural dialogue can make an important contribution to attaining this lofty and urgent goal, so that there will be an end to all forms of fundamentalism and terrorism, which gravely demean the dignity of every man and woman and exploit religion,” the pope said in a televised speech from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s presidential palace.
“Fanaticism and fundamentalism, as well as irrational fears, which foster misunderstanding and discrimination, need to be countered by the solidarity of all believers,” he said.
The pope argued that military response will not be enough to stop ISIS and protect Christians and religious minorities currently in danger.
“In Syria and Iraq, particularly, terrorist violence shows no signs of abating,” the pope said. “In reaffirming that it is licit, while always respecting the international law, to stop an unjust aggressor, I wish to reiterate, moreover, that the problem cannot be resolved solely through a military response.”
Pope Francis called on the international community to address its “moral obligation” to assist Turkey in sheltering displaced refugees. An American-led coalition is currently fighting ISIS militants threatening the country’s borders.
President Erdogan hoped the pope’s visit would inspire new communications between Christians and Muslims.
“We sadly witness Muslims being associated with terror in the Western world, and in the Muslim world, we regret violent attitudes toward Christians,” Erdogan said.
“I want you to know that what’s being offered to you is not just a film, this is a life changer,” actor Shia LaBeouf recalled director David Ayer telling him. “We’re going to push it all the way to the edge. I want you to make this movie like you’ll never make another movie. You’re going to die on this set.”
The next day, LaBeouf began preparations for the film, “Fury.” Through National Guard training, the actor learned to work as a medic, a gunner, and shadowed an army chaplain.
He also embraced a radical spiritual conversion.
“I found God doing ‘Fury,’” LaBeouf told Interview Magazine. “I became a Christian man.”
In the WWII action melodrama — rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout — LaBeouf plays Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan. Serving in a tank squadron under the command of Brad Pitt’s character, Don “Wardaddy” Collier, Swan’s Christian faith often sets him apart from the other men.
“I could have just said the prayers that were on the page,” LaBeouf said. “But it was a real thing that really saved me . . . . It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control. And while there’s beauty to that, acting is all about control. So that was a wild thing to navigate.”
LaBeouf described the film’s writer and director, Ayer, as “a full subscriber to Christianity.”
Having served in the military, Ayer strived to depict the spiritual and emotional struggles soldiers face — both in WWII and the wars of today.
In an interview with Relevant, Ayer described the paradox of warfare as “the nobility of knowing what you’re going to see and expose yourself to and the moral hazards that you’re going to experience in undertaking your duty with honor and with pride.”
“There’s great nobility in that,” he said. “I don’t know if people understand those things, and I want people to get a little insight into that.”
In addition to tackling the moral struggles defining military service, “Fury” illuminates the challenges faced by Christian soldiers.
“It was important to me to show how someone can lean on Scripture and their relationship with Christ in an environment where they’re seeing this much inhumanity and destruction,” Ayer said.
Ayer utilized LaBeouf’s character to depict the persevering strength flowing from a foundational Christian faith.
“It’s fascinating that, because of his faith, [the character is] not unafraid of dying, but he’s able to accept it and doesn’t see it as the end of the road,” Ayer said. “It’s hard to bring Scripture to life in a realistic and impactful way in film.”
It remains to be seen whether LaBeouf’s new faith will transform the celebrity’s lifestyle — recently tarnished by his arrest for criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, and harassment.
“I’m trying to find a way to have some control over my actions, my behavior, my ideas, my thoughts, my path in life,” LaBeouf said. “But it’s very new for me.
“My work in my film and my work in my life have influenced who I’ve become. Life imitates art. And so a lot of my choices, these characters that I’ve been playing, have actually built a person, they’ve raised me. So I’ve just been more careful about my choices. I’ve taken control back. After calamity comes hope. And I do feel a deep hopefulness in my life and in my work.”
Ayer wanted “Fury” to reflect this hope. “I’m a big believer that, no matter who you are, there’s redemption for you, and there is forgiveness,” Ayer said.
“Fury” hit theaters on October 17. Described as a “war horror film” by the New Yorker, the film was praised for its accurately traumatic, though graphic, depiction of WWII.
For more information and showtimes, click here.