Influence

 the shape of leadership

Hope for America’s Muslims

Reaching our neighbors with the good news of Jesus

Lynda Hausfeld on May 31, 2019

Khadija (not her real name) and her Muslim husband had already been in my American, Bible Belt city for a couple of years when we met. The country they came from strictly forbids Christian witness. Khadija was struggling to prepare for a university exam, and one of her professors asked me to help her. I called Khadija, we met, and our friendship began.

Soon afterward, Khadija invited me to her house to meet the rest of her family. Her husband politely greeted me at the door, and Khadija emerged from behind to welcome me. She spread her arms wide open, then wrapped me up in them. We simultaneously kissed each other’s cheeks at least three times. I removed my shoes as Khadija ushered me to the living room sofa and brought me a piece of homemade chocolate cake.

Khadija, her little girls and I were already chatting when her husband sat on a loveseat just across from us. He patiently waited for a moment to speak.

“May I ask you something?” he said.

“Of course, please do!” I responded.

Solemnly, he asked, “Why are you the first?”

“The first what?” I couldn’t imagine what he meant.

“The first person from this country to want to come to our house.”

It was as if the Holy Spirit had uttered the words through him. My heart hurt while my mouth spoke. I told him I was sorry their wait had been so long and expressed sincere gratitude for the friendship God had given us. That seemed to satisfy him; indeed, it made room for relationship that grew and opened doors for significant, ongoing impact.

I fight back tears as I think about it. In our city, there are hundreds of Christian churches, including more than 60 Assemblies of God congregations. Yet not a single Christ follower had reached out to this dear Muslim family. Most of the people in these congregations would love to know that there are Muslims among them who are eager for some small gesture of friendship.

God invites us into the wonderful privilege of sharing Jesus with Muslims by making them our neighbors. His divine strategy is always relationship.

The apostle Paul breaks it down for us through his sermon in Acts 17:24-27. Declaring Jesus among a diverse group of epicurean and stoic philosophers, he explained that God orders the times and places of people’s habitations, so that those who seek Him might find God, because He is never far from any of us.

So, where do we start? There are certainly ways to prepare specifically for relating Christ to Muslims in the United States. It’s important to know all we can about their faith and values, so we can share in a way that is informed and virtuous. Most important, however, is that we build everything we do on the following timeless, borderless foundations:

God invites us into the wonderful privilege of sharing Jesus with Muslims by making them our neighbors.

Pray, and pray more. Prayer creates spiritual awareness and readiness for opportunities the Holy Spirit gives us with Muslims. Prayer is a God-given source of help and guidance. Our conversations with Jesus remind us that He is greater than any challenges we may encounter. We carry that truth with us as we journey deeper into God’s heart for Muslims. Intercession for Muslims paves the way for prayers we’ll pray with them.

Know the Word. Islam teaches falsehoods about the Bible, so we must be able to represent biblical truth clearly. Sharing the gospel with Muslims requires knowledge of God’s Word. Faith comes to Muslims by hearing the Word of God, and our relationships open doors for spiritual discussions and clear proclamation. Loving Muslims like Jesus loves us makes His Word central to our relationships.

Rely on the Holy Spirit. Through the baptism in the Holy Spirit, God gives us power to share the gospel boldly. At the same time, the Holy Spirit prepares the hearts of others to receive the Word of God. In the leading and power of the Holy Spirit, Ananias proclaimed truth to Saul, whom the same Spirit had simultaneously prepared to accept it (Acts 9:1-19). Similarly, we can trust the Spirit to go before us and prepare the hearts of Muslims as we follow His lead in reaching out to them.

Step out in faith. God commands us to, “Go” (Matthew 28:19). Take the truth about Jesus to your Muslim neighbors, near and far. Begin the conversation that is every Muslim’s only hope for heaven.

In America, where religious freedom extends to everyone, Jesus will reveal himself to Muslims through the lives of Christians whose willingness to share Him propels our readiness.

A Christian friend articulated it this way: “We tell others about Jesus because we are so thankful for what He has done for us. How could we do anything else?”

Several years ago, this layperson knew nothing about Islam, but knew she could love Muslim women. She prayerfully began reaching out, and went to the mall to make Muslim friends. In a short time, she has earned the favor of many among our city’s Muslims. They know she serves Jesus, and that her heart and home are open to them. She is also well-regarded in her Assemblies of God church, where her example has drawn an impressive group of men, women and children into outreach with her.

In one of the nation’s fastest-growing Muslim communities, two retired Christian teachers have taken their love for Jesus and their professional skills straight to the neighborhood mosque, where they teach women and children English to help them transition to life in the United States. They are learning as they go, driven by their desire to share Jesus with the Muslim neighbors God has entrusted to them.

Opportunities for outreach are as plentiful as the Muslims God sends us. Help and encouragement are available through Assemblies of God World Mission’s Global Initiative: Reaching Muslim Peoples. This ministry equips the local church globally for outreach to Muslims, offering resources and training for laypeople and ministers.

Say Hello: Serving Muslim Women offers gender-specific resources to help women develop missional friendships. The recently published Say Hello Forever Friends is a kids’ curriculum that prepares America’s Christian children to share their faith with Muslim friends.

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Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of six articles on Christianity and Islam that is running on Fridays throughout the Muslim month Ramadan, which began May 6 and ends June 4. Friday is the Muslim day of prayer, so we encourage readers on this day especially to pray for the spread of the gospel among Muslims, both in the U.S. and around the world.

 

Ramadan 2019 Article Series

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