The Muslim World and the Urantia Book - A visit to Senegal
Trustees, Richard Keeler and Georges Michelson-Dupont, and Georges wife, Marlene, recently visited readers of the Urantia Book in Senegal in Africa. Following is a report of the visit written by Georges:
I always wondered how The Urantia Book would be received by the Muslim world. Politics, business and our occidental cultural worldwide expansion has somewhat damaged our relationship between East and West, North and South and a "clash of culture and belief' was inevitable, thought I.
Well, our trip to Senegal brought some answers.
From time to time, our Parisian office receives mail from readers in Africa. 5 years ago, I intended to visit some of them from Ivory Coast, Gabon, Zaire, and other African countries. Because of the lack of time I always postponed my trip. One and a half years ago I got mail from a man, Moussa Ndiaye, from Dakar, Senegal. who told me about his group of students of The Urantia Book I was so intrigued that I booked a ticket in January '98 to go to Dakar but unfortunately I had to cancel for health reasons.
When Norman Ingram and his friend, Rogers visited our Parisian of fice in September '98, I gave them a list of names and addresses from African readers along with about 100 Livres d'Urantia. Rogers and Norman visited with this group in Dakar. My intention was to visit with Moussa a few months later. Richard Keeler, my wife. Marlene, and I booked tickets and I called Moussa to make hotel reservations for us but he insisted to host the three of us. We gladly accepted and we arrived Dakar May 13.1999.
When we landed at Dakar airport at 10:40 p.m., Moussa and about 12 individuals waited for us at the airport. After a warm welcome and a song from Richard and me. We went to Moustapha's home, one of the four sons of Moussa. We had a short dinner and we went to bed.
The next 3 days were wonderful. We had several meetings, conversations, study groups with different people, and visits with families. We listened to individual testimony of their religious life and shared our understanding of the teachings of The Urantia Book. Very quickly I came to the conclusion that they aI/lived the teachings of the book and it became obvious that they all showed the fruits of the spirit. Immediately I felt this indescribable feeling of belonging to the family of God that I experienced in Nashville. Marlene and Richard felt the same. During all of our stay an atmosphere of understanding and love was omnipresent. Beyond our differences of culture and skin color, it was apparent that we were only one human race, the children of God.
After a short visit to Gore Island, we left Dakar for Paris on Tuesday morning. 00:20 a.m.
How the Story Began
Moussa N'Diaye, the leader/teacher of the group, is a 68 year old professor of Social Psychology at Dakar University. He is also a truth-seeker and all his life has been devoted to finding the truth about God
Growing up as a Muslim, he exceeded his belief and entered into a spiritual journey that led him to find Le Livre d'Urantia in 1973. After a careful reading he started to study its teachings. Soon he was convinced of its revelatory nature and decided to share the new truth with his fellow countrymen.
His Teaching Technique
Knowing the nature of the religious thinking and the cultural background of the Senegalese (basically Muslim) he thought it was not appropriate to introduce the Book itself without a careful intellectual and spiritual preparation. Therefore he studied how Jesus taught his apostles and his group of believers. The presentation of new truth needs a soft, non-invasive, and loving approach that will not hurt the individual beliefs. He also selected in the Koran some basic principles and concepts that were close to The Urantia Book teachings and on which he could start the introduction of expanded ideas.
During 7 years, from 1973 to 1980, he conducted sessions of questions and answers without telling anyone its source of inspiration. During all that time, and through his wise personal ministry, he expanded the understanding in the minds of his students and prepared them to accept new truths. He also gave lectures and conferences to his fellow professors, religious leaders, and political officials based on the teachings of The Urantia Book
Finally, in 1980, he decided to tell a group of very engaged students about The Urantia Book. A new group, including his four sons, was formed and started a systematical study of The Urantia Book Most of Moussa's work was based on personal teachings. Soon a core of students appeared.
What Moussa Taught First
The Muslim tradition says that God has already decided everything for each and every human being, therefore if they do bad or good it's God's will. Moussa started his teachings with the lessons about the Seven Mind Adjutant Spirits, followed with Personality and the Thought Adjuster (allowing the students to understand the functioning and interaction of those three elements in their own mind.)
The realization that their personality has a relative free will allowing them to conduct their own life and can survive death by making their own choice, the realization that God lives in their mind and can help their soul to make those decisions. Were for most of them a great discovery and a relief Women were particularly sensitive to such teachings and felt liberated from the Muslim tradition which says that only the husband gives Paradise's access to women.
Having expanded their understanding, the new truths were easily accepted. We can appreciate the wisdom of such a slow and wise approach in teaching new truths.
Each Student Becomes a Teacher
Moussa trained his students to become teachers. He ask them to make presentations on various topics as well as sessions of questions and answers as a method of training. When new readers come to the group, each new comer is assigned to one of the teachers; female with female teachers and male with male teachers. The teachers gave individual teachings twice a week starting like Moussa did and focusing on practical and spiritual matters. The emphasis is put on practicing the teachings everyday. This non-invasive, respectful, and loving method works very well. The group of teachers is growing and expanding outside Dakar.
The Underlying Reasons for such a Success
When the Revelators advised the early leaders back in the 1950 's to form thousands of study groups from which leaders and teachers would emerge, we experience the wisdom and insight of such a method Two factors are instrumental in the success:
- The presence of a leader indwelled by the Spirit who is wise, patient, persevering, educated, respected, respectful. loving, showing the fruits of the spirit in his daily life, and moved by the desire for unselfish service.
- The practice of a wise method based on Jesus' method in introducing new truth to the individual. Respect of the individual's beliefs, positive and loving approach, methodic expansion of the understanding, exuding new truths step by step, showing the new light with "wisdom and discretion". "My beloved. you must always make a difference in teaching so as to suit your presentation of truth to the minds and hearts before you." [The Urantia Book p.1692:0] said Jesus to his apostles.
Before the trip to Dakar, I believed the Muslim world would be the last to accept the teachings of The Urantia Book I also wondered how illiterate people (over 60% of the world population) could have access to those teachings. It becomes clear to me that the Revelators' plan, the practice of Jesus' method, and the truth contained in the teachings of The Urantia Book are instrumental to the success of the 5th Epochal Revelation.
- Moussa's students were not specially skilled to teach the concepts of The Urantia Book. There are some basic concepts and methods to learn by training. Rather they were transformed by living in their daily lives the teachings and, as a result, they were attractive because they showed the fruits of the spirit: the loving and unselfish service, and the tactful ministry to others. At this time, and according to Moussa, more than a thousand individuals were taught about the new truths and The Urantia Book
- Last Nashville conference's theme was about ministry and we shared some good examples. Everyone can minister to others while at work, at school, in the family. To minister is not a profession reserved to an elite, it is ajoy of service and a natural consequence of being a son of God. There is more joy and happiness to give than to receive and this is particularly true when ministering to others.
- The new truths gained to be personally presented. (This is demonstrated in the recent Fellowship survey: 70% of the readers were introduced to The Urantia Book through friends or family.) The person-to-person approach is far beyond any other method. Jesus exercised a personal ministry to the individual because he knew that every human being is different from another.
- He adapted his teachings to the level of understanding and maturity of the person to whom he was ministering. The Urantia Book is instrumental in this process but not necessarily at the beginning. During 25 years only one Urantia Book was available in Dakar but more than a thousand women and men were introduced to the teachings of The Urantia Book through this group. To give away The Urantia Book may help but personal introduction to the Book and loving ministry is much more efficient.
- To start the spreading of the teachings of The Urantia Book in a given country requires a strong leader/teacher who is enlightened by the teachings of The Urantia Book, native of his country, understands the needs of his fellow countrymen, and knows about their cultural, social, and religious background. He will minister by teaching students, organizing the growth, andforming a core of teachers that will minister to their surroundings. With care, perseverance, andpatience, the new truths will soon become contagious and will replace, in the hearts of hundreds and thousands of individuals, the old beliefs. We can see the results of such plan in Estonia. Finland, France, Lithuania, Senegal, and other countries.
I have full confidence that slowly but surely, the Muslim world, as well as other cultures will be exposed. with success, to the teachings of The Urantia Book if we keep our souls in patience. Evolution is the patient and slow technique provided by God to make the human being Godlike. Revolution is the impatient and unwise technique used by Caligastia to prevent human beings from becoming Godlike.
"You cannot force a horse to drink but you can make him thirsty" says the wise. By our spiritual flavor we can attract our fellow men for new truths.
We are planting seeds but we should not expect to harvest, for it is God's privilege and delight and, if we love him, we want him to be delighted.
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