Sharing your faith with Muslims
‘I’m scared-scared of the unknown; scared of being ridiculed; scared I won’t know what to say.’ The number one reason why people don’t evangelise Muslims: fear. But humans do some of their best work when they’re afraid! Almost every evangelist I know experiences fear beforehand. So don’t worry.
‘Yes, but I’m no good at contacting Muslims. I haven’t got the right personality. I wouldn’t know what to say!’ Well done, you’re completely normal! Everyone feels like that. Do what everyone else does, and train by taking a course or being involved in Muslim evangelism.
‘Ok. But where and how am I to meet Muslims?’ We do need to find a way to meet them. We cannot expect them to come to our churches to hear the gospel. Muslims are never going to ring you up and invite you around to explain the atonement. We need to take the initiative to meet them. We are commanded to go out and compel them to come in. Here I will share what a colleague and I do to meet Muslims.
This is the posh version of ‘door knocking’. Three afternoons a week we go and knock on Muslims’ doors, offering them the ‘God’s Story’ DVD, which gives a clear survey of the whole Bible. It is available in 170 languages including English, Urdu, Farsi or Arabic. The idea is to lend them the video for two or three weeks, then go back and ask them what they think of it. We find this a very helpful way to talk to Muslims. Many who refuse to take Christian literature are willing to accept a video.
Here is an example of how we offer the DVD once the door is open.
‘Salam Aleikoum [peace be with you, hello]. We are from the church in… and we come around lending people videos. If you are interested, then you can borrow it for a week or two and then we will come back and take it.’
‘What is it about?’
‘It talks about the life of the prophets, Adam, Nouh [Noah], Ibrahim [Abraham], Moussa [Moses], Daoud [David] and hazrat Issa al massih [Jesus Christ].’
After a few seconds of thinking the reply usually comes, ‘How much is it?’
‘It is mouft [free, in Urdu]. There’s no charge for it. You can watch it and we will come back in a week or two to collect it.’
Then the person either accepts or refuses it. If the video is taken, we return a couple of weeks later.
‘Did you watch it?’
If the answer is ‘No’, then we leave the DVD with them for another week or two. But if the answer is ‘Yes’, we try to get the person to talk about its content. Then we offer another video. If the person doesn’t want another video and we think there will be no way to have further contact, then we offer him a gospel.
We have been very encouraged using this method. It has enabled us to form ongoing relationships with many Muslims. Once when we collected the God’s Story DVD a Muslim man said, ‘Great, I now know where the rainbow comes from’.
May I add here that DVD distribution is best done in twos. I go out in pairs because it eliminates many potential problems. It is much safer to enter the home of a stranger if you are with someone else. It also provides accountability. If you get invited in, you can proceed without finding yourself open to accusation. Having a third person there also helps to stop ungodliness on my part, for example, sarcastic, competitive or unwholesome talk.
Once a week we have a stall at the local covered market where a lot of Muslims shop. We set up tables covered in literature in different languages. When someone stops to have a look at the literature, we approach him. It is often nerve-racking, so we try to remember to speak slowly. Adrenalin can easily lead to garbled words! It is good to speak slowly, deliberately and simply, using good eye contact. Our first questions may be general.
Instead of prescribing how a conversation ought to start, I’ll give you an example of how they often go:
Hicham: Hi, help yourself; it’s free.
Abdel Aziz: Thank you.
Hicham: What language do you speak?
Abdel Aziz: Urdu.
Hicham: Are from Pakistan?
Abdel Aziz: Yes.
Hicham: Oh right. I would love to go to Pakistan one day. Which part of Pakistan are you from?
Abdel Aziz: Islamabad. It’s very beautiful there.
Hicham: Do you speak any other languages?
Abdel Aziz: Yes; Pashto, Bengali and a bit of Hindi.
Hicham: Wow, you speak so many languages. And how long have you been in England?
Abdel Aziz: About two and a half years.
Hicham: Just two and half years and your English is very good! Anyway take anything you want. We have literature in Urdu and it’s all free. Can I give you this one as a gift from me? It’s a special book. It’s part of God’s holy Scripture, the Injil [New Testament]. Have you ever read the Injil before?
Whatever his answer, it will give me an opportunity to share the gospel. Of course there are days when we don’t have any good conversations at all, but on the whole, the work is very encouraging. Is there a market in your area? If so, try a regular book table there. You may need to get council permission for this. If there is no market venue nearby, why not set up a stall somewhere in the town centre where people pass by?
Open Air meetings
Every great preacher of the Bible was an open-air preacher. Peter, Paul, Elijah, Moses and Ezra were open-air preachers as was Jesus, who preached most of His sermons outside. You can reach men and women, including Muslims, in an open-air meeting that you can reach in no other way.
Find somewhere in your town where the crowds pass. Include in the meeting a testimony and a short sermon. Use visual aids when preaching. Have a book table near the meeting so that people can help themselves to Christian literature.
If you don’t have the courage to knock on doors, then why not send letters to your Muslim neighbours? Write a friendly letter presenting your faith and offer a free Bible course. Put the letter with a gospel tract in an envelope and send it. You can find the addresses in your local telephone directory. However, there are two drawbacks with this approach. One is the cost. In our case, every week we send forty-fifty letters to Muslims in Morocco or in our area. This costs about £25 per week. The other difficulty is distinguishing Muslims from all the others in the telephone directory. Naturally, coming from a Muslim background, I have no problem identifying Muslim names. But someone who has never had contact with Muslims may find it difficult. If you desire to try this ministry, we will be very happy to help you.
A week of evangelism
Why don’t you ask evangelical churches in your area to work together reaching Muslims? The idea is to have a week just for reaching Muslims (though you will probably reach non-Muslims too). Invite other churches to send helpers, and then you help them when they organise their own week of evangelism. It’s a tremendous way of having a good sized team.
What do you do during this week? Basically you do open airs and DVD distribution. In our case, we find it better to have an open air in the morning and door to door in the afternoon. However it all depends on your area. Some areas have more people walking by in the afternoon rather than the morning.
What is the advantage of a week of outreach? Hopefully at the end of the week you’ll be left with a list of contacts who have shown spiritual interest or taken a DVD. Your task will then be to follow these up.
Some more ideas
The above are a few ideas to help you meet Muslims. Other ideas can be explored. I know one or two churches who give English lessons to Muslims whose English is poor. They see Bible verses on the walls and can take literature in their mother language. Visit religious web sites and chat rooms. Many Muslims are refugees fleeing their homeland’s wars and turmoil. Local agencies and non-profit organisations need volunteers to assist them. Befriend the lonely. Many Muslims are international students, as I was. Holidays can be the loneliest time, a great opportunity to invite them over.
M. Hicham is co-founder of MEC Word of Hope Ministries (www.word-of-hope.net). He is the author of ‘Your questions answered: a reply to Muslim friends’ and ‘How shall they hear? Sharing your Christian faith with Muslims’.