13 December 2017

INSIGHT INTO ISLAM

Part 6 – Key Points for Evangelising Muslims

raAs an educated Middle Eastern Muslim, Majed made his pilgrimage to Mecca, the fifth pillar of Islam, at the age of nineteen. But his spiritual journey was to result in a radically different discovery.

Through Bible correspondence and meeting with Christians it was finally revealed to him that the ultimate divine truth is not a religious framework, but a divine person, Jesus Christ.

On his becoming a Christian, Majed’ family disowned him and he was forced to leave the country. Now he is living out the consequence of this lifechanging revelation.

Majed is currently involved in ministry to Muslims, mainly on Christian literature translation and Bible commentaries. He is also involved in speaking in Churches in N. Ireland and Europe to explain the faith of Islam and the challenges faced by evangelism to Churches. Majed’s full story is written in a book called ‘The Fifth Pillar’, published by Piquant.

The West is filled with people who are not interested in religion. They simply want nothing to do with religion.

In the Middle East, and most Muslims countries, a person who is not interested in Christianity, is not necessarily not interested in religion.

While there are growing numbers of people in the more western-learning Muslim countries who truly want nothing to do with religion at all, the majority are not interested for a total different reason: they think they know all about Christianity, and are convinced that it is wrong. Lies, misunderstanding, selfrighteousness, and pride often bind them in their ignorance. The evangelist must seek to challenge these people by challenging their opinions, work-view, and closed thinking.

Sometimes it is ministry to their physical or emotional needs that awakens an interest within them. Sometimes it is the realisation that they have been misinformed about Christianity.

Sometimes it is the life of a Christian that speaks to Muslims. Whatever it is, the evangelist seeks to challenge them for their complacency. Most of us hesitate to speak about Jesus, prayer, fasting, or other religious matters with people around us, even with friends and family. The evangelists are always bringing religious topics into their conversation and sharing about things to catch people’s attention and challenge their thinking.

This is similar to the approach Jesus took when He used parables and proverbs to speak to people. He often did not explain them. He spoke them in order to make people think. He would simply say things and wait for people to come to Him later for an explanation. Few of us would ever imagine dealing with people like that. We often want to give a short, concise, total presentation of the gospel, which may not be totally adequate for explaining the gospel to Muslims.

Most evangelists feel that those engaging in friendship evangelism spend far too much time with people who are not interested, and in doing so waste time they could have used to seek out, and work with more receptive people.

Just as Paul knew the culture of the people he was trying to reach, we must understand the culture of the Muslim people we are trying to reach. Eastern and western cultures differ in many ways.

One of the more important distinctions is the significance each places on relationship. Most eastern cultures place high value on relationships. In the Middle East, Muslim holidays are an opportunity to restore broken relationships. During holiday times, Muslim families visit every family that they are well acquainted with.

If someone fails to visit a friend, then the relationship is strained, and the offended party might visit the offender to find out what has come between them.

The value placed on relationships can also be beneficial for the teacher of the gospel. The whole crux of the gospel is the good news that Jesus has restored our relationship with God, and through this restoration our relationship with each other can be improved.

The Bible clearly teaches that the world will know we are Christians by our love for each other. However, when we examine the life-style of a typical western worker, it becomes obvious that western workers struggle with relationships. They may get so involved in programmes, technical projects and social ministries that they have little time for friends and neighbours. Our western culture is often relationship deficient and the western Christian can take this deficiency with him or her to the mission field.

A Muslim coming to Christ needs to be given a greater sense of joining than of leaving. If a person is always identified with what he has left, he will always feel he has lost something. If he is identified with something he has joined, he will feel part of the group he has joined. Many converts go back, simply because they can’t shake off the feeling of loss.

As Christian workers we must be very carful not to refer continually to new believers as converts from Islam, but preferably as new believers in Christ. I would like to see the new movement that sprung up in the Arab world develop some form of generic identity that new believers could identify with. Christianity, wherever it is, includes new believers from every faith in this world and our identity is that we are now all one in Christ.

WORDS Majed

This is the final part in the series Insight into Islam.