You may be asking that question. Maybe you know Muslims living next door or in your community. You may wonder, how can I effectively share Jesus with them? Or maybe your church is pondering these questions.
In September, I had the privilege to take in a two-day meeting concerning ministry among Muslims in the world and hear reports about what God is doing and where the needs are. One of the presentations was called “Fruitful Practices”, based on a study of ministries which are effectively reaching Muslims with the gospel. The intent of the study was to determine the common practices these ministries were engaged in that helped them be fruitful. Here are six fruitful practices that I think are applicable wherever relationships with Muslims take place.
1. Speaking Their Language
One worker commented, “Nothing says, “I care about you” better than speaking their language.” Even picking up a few words and phrases or knowing some tidbits about your Muslim acquaintance’s culture can go a long way. Here, even we feel a little more special whenever we meet someone who knows something about Canada and who Wayne Gretzky is.
2. Working Along Social Networks
The famous anecdote, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time” applies well here. We easily get overwhelmed by the task when we look at the crowds. Fruitful workers build a relationship with one person, then meet their family, then their friends, then their friends’ friends and so on. Instead of randomly trying to reach everyone you see on the street, start with the one you know or someone you feel you could get close to then build from there by meeting people they already know. This way, the door will already be partially open.
3. Using Scripture in a Variety of Ways
People effective in reaching Muslims have more than one tool in the toolbox. The Bible is a story. Tell the story or A story which is part of the larger story. Effective workers also found inductive Bible studies or showing the Jesus film as productive methods. Another worker reported just reading scripture together with one unbeliever two times a week starting with Luke. After two years of this, he asked this man what he had learned. The man said, “I’ve come to understand that Jesus is my Saviour.” All that without any invitation or specific discussion about salvation. Scripture is powerful!
4. Use Stories
Did you know that over 80% of the Bible is narrative, that is, a story? God revealed Himself in large part by telling a story. Why then do we think we can reveal Him to others by points and doctrinal dissertations? Testimony is your story of God’s revelation to you. Sharing it with your Muslim neighbour is both interesting and powerful. Stories are easy to remember, therefore easy to repeat and pass on. Most effective workers with Muslims know how to communicate truth with stories.
5. Prioritize Prayer
We have found one of the most effective ways to reach our Muslim friends is by offering to pray to Jesus for their needs or the needs of their family … right there in their presence. It shows we care but most importantly, it shows who we trust, a personal God who is loving and able to answer prayer. We believe encounters like this are powerful as it gives opportunity for the Holy Spirit to make Himself real to a person as we pray. When someone feels for themselves the presence of God, it’s hard for them to deny that He is real.
6. Courageous Witness
Fruitful workers share the gospel broadly and frequently. Billy Graham said you can share the gospel in 45 seconds. You don’t need to preach a diatribe to be effective (I once tried that talking for almost two hours to one of my bosses. Needless to say, it bore minimal fruit.) Dropping seeds quickly and often is a good farmer’s key to success. Seeds are small. If they were watermelon size, you’d need a shovel to plant them! So with your Muslim acquaintance, share courageously and often. Drop seeds here and there.
Hopefully that encourages you to reach out to your Muslim neighbour. Just be you and let you light shine brightly as it says in Matthew 5:14-15, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”