Archive for November 24th, 2010

November 24th, 2010

Effective Method(s) for Christian Outreach to Muslims

I recently participated in a panel discussion at Wheaton College. The panelists—seven in total—were Christians of Muslim background who are natives of various countries with minority and majority Muslim populations. The moderator asked us various questions, among them, “How long was it between when you first heard about the gospel before you accepted Christ?” [Emphasis mine.] None of us answered this question directly because we could not pinpoint exactly how long it took us from the time we heard about Christ to embracing him as our Lord and Savior. I wasn’t surprised it was equally challenging for my fellow panelists. Here are a few things I observed about Christian outreach to Muslims:

First, none of the panelists came to salvation in Jesus Christ from reading the Qur’an. It didn’t surprise me but I should be surprised especially because the current trend in Christian outreach to Muslim advocates for “bridge” building, which includes using the Qur’an as an evangelism tool. The Camel Method and Jesus in the Quran (JIQ) are notable examples. They are gaining ground in the United States. JIQ has the backing of Christian mega churches and has weekend seminars around the country with the introduction, “Jesus in the Qur’an is, in some ways, an entirely new paradigm and, in other ways, an ancient one dating back to the days of Jesus.” [Emphasis mine.]

The sad thing is, the Jesus both these organizations promote is the Jesus of Islam—of Prophet Muhammad’s own making—who is an immediate nephew of Moses and Aaron in the Qur’an and the Hadith. This clue should be conspicuous enough to ground these projects but they are going strong.

Secondly, even though the panelists answered the question “How does your community view Christians and Jews?” negatively; some of them decided to follow Christ because of exemplary lives of Christians they had encountered. Typical mistrust of Christians widespread among Muslims, which both the Qur’an and the Hadith promote, did not hinder these ex-Muslims from wanting to know why their Christian neighbors and friends’ character was different. No wonder Allah commands a Muslim in the Qur’an not to take a Christian as a friend. They meet Jesus! How many Muslims would our living a Christlike life affect if we only let our light shine? Muslims have misconceptions about Jesus, Christians and the Bible. We should make every effort to reach out to them.

Thirdly, none of the panelists had a Christian sit down with him or her to show faults in Islam. There are Christians who have copies of the Qur’an and the Hadith to show Muslims what is wrong with Islam. There is plenty of wrong with Islam but a Muslim should hear the Gospel first. Unlike the Qur’an, which Muslims cannot defend without first trying to discredit the Bible, the message is self-sufficient. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” [1st Cor. 1:17. NIV, Emphasis Mine.] Our efforts to make the Gospel palatable to Muslims are undermining the Gospel. Why do we need to innovate in order to “gain” a few for the Lord?

There were more questions. The discussion was very encouraging to me. Hearing all testimonies of how my fellow panelists came to the Lord and what persecution they had faced and overcome was uplifting. I was very blessed to meet fellow believers with shared background and who still have family troubles because of their new identity in Christ.

Hussein Wario is a former Kenyan Sunni Muslim. He is the author of Cracks in the Crescent. He blogs regularly here. You can listen to his testimony here or read it here.