Ramadan: Fight the Common Fears that Halt Our Faithfulness
We’ve been learning a lot about what Muslims believe, but mere knowledge doesn’t get us very far along toward sharing the message of Jesus with those lost in the lies of Islam. Loving a culture or having a burden for those of a certain religious background is not the same as genuinely loving someone on a personal level. We need to know people so deeply that we can pray over their greatest fears, and rejoice in their most wonderful times. Over the next week, we’ll be sharing several resources and challenges for those of us who don’t yet interact with Muslims on a regular basis.
Love & Evangelism Require Personal Relationships
Just as Jesus engaged people on a personal level, we must always make sure to meet, love, and befriend Muslims through personal relationships. Don’t go in with assumptions. As R.E. Cline notes, “Engage the person, not a cookie-cutter Muslim worldview you learned from a textbook. You are talking with a real person, not just a set of ideas or concepts.”
The goal of the Snowbird Ramadan Guide is to equip the local church to love and engage Muslims with the Gospel. It is not enough to just pray for Muslims. It is not enough to just serve Muslims through surface-level relationships. It is not enough to preach truth to Muslims without loving them through deep relationships. When sharing the Gospel across any culture barriers, it must be spoken and exhibited in every way. Sound doctrine and sacrificial love are both necessary.
Common Fears that Prevent us From Meeting Muslims:
- What if I don’t know any Muslims in my area?
- What’s the big deal if I don’t ever plan to visit Asia or the Middle East?
- What should I say? How can I introduce myself?
- How do I make sure that I’m not offending them?
- How should I bring up spiritual stuff, are there any words that I should avoid using?
- What is most important to a Muslim immigrant? How can I serve them in a way that builds a genuine friendship?
- What if they don’t have time to talk, or aren’t interested in new relationships?
5 Truths that Drive Faithful Obedience to Christ:
1. We find who we’re looking for.
Too often in the Christian life, we forget the cultural blinders that we naturally live with. The instinct of our flesh is to simply look through crowds of people and only notice those who talk like us and dress like us. Think of the people you call and message on a weekly basis — Do you see any trends in their education or financial levels? What about their style of dress or accent? The Great Commission calls us to make disciples of all tribes, tongues, and nations. This joy and responsibility starts in our neighborhood and goes around the globe!
2. People are all the same.
Don’t be intimidated by the potential for awkward conversations. At the end of the day, regardless of skin color, family dynamics, language, age, or nationality, we are all the same. We are all broken people in a broken world, with needs that only God can meet. We are also created for relationships with others, even though we sometimes don’t want to admit it. We are also all people that God loved enough to send His Son as our rescuer (John 3:16-17).
3. Jesus promised some will repent.
In Mark 4:1-20, Jesus taught the parable of the sower to encourage the disciples and believers to sow fervently and pray for more harvesters. Some will reject Christ, but also some will “hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.” John’s vision in Revelation 7 makes it clear that people from every tribe and tongue will one day worship King Jesus in all of His glory. We can be fully confident that Christ Jesus is working through us and for His glory.
4. The Holy Spirit goes before us.
He has promised to go before us, and with us, to prepare hearts for repentance and faith. Our role is to prepare in prayer, learn to listen to the Spirit’s gentle guidance, study the Word of God, and open our mouths to let Truth flow out. If the Word of God is filling our hearts and minds, then the Spirit of God will bring it forth naturally in conversation.
5. Jesus is worth it.
Ultimately, Christ is worth any type of awkward conversation or rejection that we might receive. In fact, Paul considered all of his physical suffering (beatings, shipwrecks, lashings, hunger, imprisonment) as “light and momentary affliction” that prepared him for “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Most Muslims we will meet are going to be more hospitable and thankful than we could imagine. We shouldn’t fear our physical safety, but the Bible gives us no opportunity to claim it as a reason for disobedience to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) or the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40).
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:4–6)
In case you’re concerned that you’re never going to meet a Muslim unless you visit the Middle East or New York, we wanted to put your fears to rest. Muslim immigrants have been pouring into America over the past two decades, and this massive movement of people across national boundaries is a blessing from God. The Lord is giving us the opportunity to meet Nigerians, Saudis, Iranians, and Indians in the safety and comfort of our own towns. The nations are coming to us and we have the unprecedented opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus in our own language as we help meet the physical needs of our new neighbors.
“According to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB), the number of mosques in the U.S. increased 74 percent from 1,201 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010.” – Minh Ha Nguyen
Lord Jesus, you are forever holy, good, and loving. Forgive me for my hesitancy in personal evangelism. Forgive me for any fears that are rooted in self-preservation or comfort. Teach me to behold your glory so much that my attention is not on myself, but rather on the spiritually and physically broken. Give me a supernatural awareness of the Muslims in my community, and boldness to love them without expectation of anything in return.
Go & Do:
As you pray for Muslims in your community, continue keeping your eyes and ears open to opportunities to meet and speak the Gospel into their lives. If you’re praying for opportunities to meet people who don’t know the story of Jesus, the Lord will give you that chance. Don’t miss it because you’re a slave to your schedule or daily task list. Speak to people you pass on the sidewalk. Graciously thank your waiters at restaurants you frequent. Strike up conversations with other parents on your kid’s team.
Whatever you do, always abide in Christ more deeply and He will give you the supernatural love for people that He calls us to! Love Jesus, and love people by pointing them to Jesus.
Check out this map of Islamic religious centers below. You can expand the window to view a more complete version.
Be sure to check out the full article and map tool on the IMB website.
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The U.S. and World Religions: A Growing Opportunity for Gospel Advancement – Minh Ha Nguyen (IMB)
3 Keys for Reaching Muslims with the Gospel – Art Gordon (IMB)
And Who is My Neighbor? Reflections on Muslim Immigration – Keelan Cook (SEBTS)
7 Practical Tips for Engaging Muslims with the Gospel – R.E. Cline (IMB)
Finding God in the City – Brad Stanley
If you’re based in NC, the North Carolina Baptists have a fantastic online tool to help believers understand where the greatest concentrations of lostness exist: Pockets of Lostness Map