August 15, 2012

How should we witness to Muslims?

Here are five guidelines to help you to be a more effective witness to Muslims.

1. I think it would be wise to seek to build genuine relationships with Muslims, rather than kind of a “hit and run” evangelism. I don’t think it’s very helpful to pass out tracts and other kinds of more simplistic ways of witnessing that sometimes is effective in our own context. Muslims have a lot of baggage against Christians and against the West, and therefore, I think it will grow out of a relationship. Get to know the Muslims, spend time with them, learn to love them as people, and then the opportunity will arise to show your faith.

2. Secondly, learn to ask thought-provoking questions rather than just arguing with Muslims. It’s easy to get into an argument with a Muslim over doctrine and theology, the Qur’an and the Bible, or Muhammad’s life, or whatever, but instead ask thought-provoking questions. For example, “Tell me about Islam; can you be sure that you’re saved? Do you know that you’re going to Heaven? If so, how?” Most Muslims cannot answer that question. It’s good to learn to ask good thought-provoking questions.

3. Thirdly, take time to read the Qur’an. There’s no better way to really get an insight into Islamic thinking than to read the Qur’an and to read it thoroughly. And then you can ask them, and have the authority to ask them, to read the New Testament. There is nothing more embarrassing than trying to witness to a Muslim, giving them a copy of the New Testament or the Gospel of John and ask them to read it, when they come back and say “well, have you read the Qur’an?” And you have to say “no.” “Then why should I read your ‘gospel’?” they would say. Instead, you can say “Yes, I’ve read the Qur’an, but I found the beauty and the solemnity of the Gospel to be so profound, I want you to experience it.” And the Bible is the greatest missionary in the world. There is no better way to bring the gospel into the heart of anybody than their own reading of the Bible. The Bible is the most self-authenticating Book in the world. It bears witness to Christ; it points them to the Lord; it’s divine revelation; it brings them into the very presence of the divine revelation of God. So if you can get a Muslim to read the Bible, it’s one of the greatest things you can do. And so, if reading the Qur’an helps that to happen, then it’s a strategic and very invaluable thing to do. Even on a more practical level, I have found that by knowing the Qur’an quite thoroughly, I’ve been helped in witnessing to Muslims because Muslims will often quote things and they’ll say “well, the Qur’an says this and the Qur’an says that,” when in fact, the Qur’an doesn’t say that! And so then you can say, “no, the Qur’an doesn’t teach that,” and they realize that you’re a person who has taken their religion seriously. I’ve had Muslims turn around and ask me questions about Islam because they don’t know that much about Islam, and they therefore, have become open and a seeker and began to be redirected. “Well, why are you, knowing all you do about Islam, why are you a Christian?”

4. Fourthly, present your faith candidly and in love. Don’t forget that Jesus is, after all, a Person, not just a doctrinal position. Talk about your relationship with Christ; tell them what He has done in your life; share your testimony. It’s a very powerful thing to share your faith in an open and candid way, not using it as a doctrinal rod to destroy somebody, but as a relational rod, like a lightning rod, to attract them to the vibrancy of your relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

5. Fifthly and finally, I encourage you to pray with your Muslim friend, for only God can open someone’s heart, and praying is something that is already so important to Muslims. Muslims have learned to embrace prayer, to talk about prayer. One of the Five Pillars is, of course, the Salat, the ritualized prayers. Muslims, from birth up, have been told the importance of prayer. I have never met a Muslim who would refuse if you asked them “may I pray with you?” or “may I pray for you?” They are thrilled and so impressed with that. And so, pray with your Muslim friend. And the point of that is that when you pray, the Bible says that “wherever two or more are gathered together in My Name, there am I in your midst.” When a couple of Christians gather around and pray with a Muslim, the presence of Jesus is there. You have actually brought your Muslim friend into the very presence of Jesus Christ, and that is a Presence which is transforming; that is a Presence which is liberating; that is a Presence which will draw that Muslim to our Lord Jesus Christ, and I would highly encourage you to do this. Even Muhammad himself said, in Surah 43, Iya 83, of the Qur’an, “If the Lord of mercy had a son, I would be the first to worship him.” Well, we can tell the Muslim world through our actions, through our prayers, through our deeds, that the Lord of mercy does have a son, and call Muslims to come and worship to the true God. Let’s take a moment to pray, even now, for our Muslim friends.