In January 2017 the Victoria Islamic Center in Victoria, Texas burned down due to hate-crime and arson. In some people’s minds, it’s an area not always known for religious tolerance or acceptance. But in the days after the fire, the community rallied behind the mosque, with various faith groups offering worship space to the displaced members. Unitarian Universalist Church of Victoria was one such church to invite the Victoria Islamic Center members to use their church as a temporary space for them to worship.
It was love in action. But it wasn’t the end of the story.
In May 2017, a car crashed into Unitarian Universalist, leaving their small community without a place to gather. Victoria Islamic Center responded with the same compassion and generosity that had been extended to them—offering a secondary building on their property up for use as the church rebuilt.
Just a few weeks ago, at the end of September, Victoria Islamic Center opened their new mosque, surrounded by church leaders and members of the community.
“As I reflect on the last 17 months, what was really significant and incredibly gratifying is … people’s love. You know, almost every single donation came with words of support. People identifying themselves, whether they are Jew, Christians, Atheists, Agnostics. But they really wanted to express their love,” said Omar Rachid, a Victoria Islamic Center member.
The people of Victoria saw past the boundaries of religion. They didn’t hold on to a building or claim something as “theirs.” They provided a space of hospitality and welcome, they offered kindness and generosity. Where there was hate and violence, they stepped in with sensitivity and love.
They saw the world they wanted for their community, and they took action.
What can you do in your space, in your neighborhood? What do you have that you can hold with open hands, that you can share with those around you? Where can your love take action?