Loving our Muslim Neighbors, Part II
- Monday, September 11, 2006
Ellis suggests that Christians ask about their Muslim friend's core concerns as they share Christ. "At the age of 14 I was on the path to the mosque,"said Ellis. "But two godly believers met with me and answered my questions about things deeply important to me, like my significance and identity as I grew into manhood."
Another significant part of sharing Christ with Muslims in the U.S. is making clear the difference between Western culture — which is often characterized by hedonistic and materialistic behavior — with biblical Christianity. Many Muslims believe that Western culture and Christianity are one and the same.
"Muslims see the West as immoral because of our popular culture," said Zaka. "But as Muslims get to know godly Christians they begin to see the difference between American secular culture and Christianity."
Finally, Christians need to surround converts from Islam with community. "When you leave Islam, you're designated as an apostate," said Stewart. "It's a shameful thing, and often your family and friends disown you. That's why it's so important to provide safe haven for new believers."
The Good News
Despite the increase of Islam, deep pockets of disillusionment have emerged within the movement. An encouraging sign comes in an unlikely form. "All across the Middle East and North Africa you see satellite dishes on roofs," said Stewart. "People are now able to view Christian programs on television that have been prohibited in their country until now."
He also speaks of the great power in the testimony of Muslim background believers. Some now host house churches, often using unconventional methods. "I heard about an Iranian pastor preaching in Toronto, and there was a woman on the front row who held up her cell phone throughout his sermon," said Stewart. "He later learned that she had dialed her husband back in Iran, and was broadcasting the pastor's sermon to 40 believers in a house church there."
"God is doing something extraordinary in our lives," said Scott Seaton, former head of MTW's Enterprise for Christian-Muslim Relations. "Never before in history have we seen so many Muslims coming to Christ. One long-term missionary said, ‘I never allowed myself to hope that I would see this picture in my lifetime.'"
Jud Lamos of MTW sees an encouraging picture as well. "More Muslims have come to Christ in the last 40 years than the last 1,400 years combined. I believe that's because local churches, made up of Muslim background believers in Christ, are sharing the gospel with their neighbors at phenomenal cost to themselves and their families."
In the end, God simply calls us to share Christ with our neighbors. Lamos described an encounter with a Muslim who eventually came to Christ, partly through the testimony of Muslim background believers. "God did the work of the gospel in his life without my trying to argue him into the kingdom," said Lamos. "Is it any different in any culture? God does the work, often through us, but through others if we are not available. I don't know of any other real story. It is the story of being available to share Christ's life-changing love with a neighbor."
Melissa Morgan is the news editor for byFaith magazine.
Copyright 2006 byFaith magazine, used with permission, all rights reserved.
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