|Bridge builder

Bridge builder

My passion is to connect Muslims and Christians. This can be both individuals and institutions (churches and mosques). Christians and Muslims often live in the same town, neighborhood or street but do not necessarily have contact with each other. An average Christian does not naturally relate with Muslims. The same applies the other way around. You rather avoid each other. When natural connections don’t happen naturally, tools are needed, a bridge. I would like to contribute to building that bridge.

I encourage Christians and Muslims to meet and get in touch and to build relationships with each other and to get involved in each other's lives. My role is that of a bridge builder. For example, a church that meets in the same neighborhood as where there is a mosque, but the two have communities have no contact with each other. How can we connect those together? There I can play a role. Or how to you get a good relationship with your Christian or Muslim neighbors?

This can be done through , training. In doing so, I help students to express their own prejudices and provide practical tips on how do you move towards each other and what do you do next. 


In addition, I can personally function as a bridge by connecting people with each other. I have a large network of Muslim friends and Christian friends and acquaintances. If one has a question I might be able to connect him/her with someone else who can be of help. That's how I can function as a bridge. I encourage people to make the first step and to build relationships. In this way friendships arise between two groups of people who used to be islands with distance between each other.

Broad network

There are many prejudices in dealing with each other and these are intertwined with history. By thinking about how we enter into a dialogue with each other, we can exchange ideas. In addition to a Dutch network, I am part of a European network of Christians and Muslims. We meet regularly, both online and physically. We then share (life) lessons and material, so that others can benefit from it. In addition, I connect groups of people who do similar work within European countries. Like a team in place X in Italy that works similar to team Y in Hungary. By connecting them, they know about each other's existence and can help each other in their activities.

In Amsterdam and Arnhem I am involved in several interreligious networks in the Netherlands. Therefore I have a large network among Christians, Jews and Muslims.


The tasks I am involved in vary. Sometimes I take the initiative and point people to a nearby church or mosque. Or is there a desire on the part of Muslims or Christians to get in touch with the other, but they don’t know how. For example, a pastor tells me he would like to get in touch with a mosque in the neighborhood, but he doesn’t know how to go about it. Through my network I know board members of this mosque and I can connect. So I am a bridge. The same applies the other way around. E.g. the chairman of the board of a mosque tells me, he would like to get in touch with the pastor of a nearby church. 

I often notice that both groups are afraid of doing something wrong and therefore are hesitant to get in touch with the other group. Often this is based on unfamiliarity or fear. The image one has about the other is predominantly negative. This is often based on half-truths and prejudices which hinders them to make the first step. Both religious communities want to do good in society. If the leaders take the initiative, they can then take their people along. When the contact has been established, there is often a relief that it worked and they can do something together in the neighborhood.

Both groups consist of religiously inspired people. We have different beliefs but we both have a religious basis. This we have in common, over and against the secular society at large. It enriches our own faith, if we are willing to look at ourselves through the eyes of the other. We begin to see the similarities as well as the differences. Also, the image of the other becomes more positive as a result of meeting together and seeing each other as fellow human beings. You discover that the people of another faith are people are just like us, we share questions, problems, concerns and troubles. While everyone keeps his or her identity, you’ll begin to take the other person’s identity into account. Then we discover that we can serve each other and together serve the community and develop common interests, for example: 

In short, it can be anything. Once the first contact has been made and there is a connection, I can withdraw. Afterwards I can ask how things went to make sure the relationship continues.

I can take the initiative towards a church or mosque, then I stimulate contact and work with them to find ways to maintain and strengthen the relationship. For example this church and mosque might be able to organize activities for other churches and mosques in the city or in a neighborhood. My role is that of a monitor and encourager. When I am the bridge I introduce you to each other and experience shows that in no time you’ll take each other’s life and activities. Depending on the conversation, I withdraw. Afterwards I ask how it went.

Ongoing process

When the question is answered, there is often a new question, a follow-up to an earlier question. For example, during a meeting between Muslims and Christians, an imam hears about the existence of diaconate (care for people performed out of the love of God) in many churches. He thinks it would be interesting to set up something scientific in the mosque. Then I will put him in touch with someone who can tell more about it. Or I broaden it and involve several churches and mosques. And so new connections between Muslims and criminals continue to emerge.


European Evangelical Alliance

Bert de Ruiter cares deeply about those in various ministries with Muslims and believers of a Muslim background. Seeking to build a community so that no one feels alone in ministry, Bert connects networks to learn, share, and support each other. Through Bert’s efforts over the past several years, we connected with others involved in ministering with Muslims.

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