Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

December 17th, 2010

Christian Outreach to Muslims this Christmas

It was the week before Christmas 1988. One of my former teachers, Mr. Buya, invited me to go to his home for Christmas. Even though I was a Muslim and did not celebrate Christmas, I traveled to his village. I still believe he had invited me with intent not to proselytize me.

Mr. Buya is a Christian from the Pokomo tribe—a “Christian” tribe, which has had dueling feuds with my Orma tribe for a few hundred years. (The Ormas were considered 100 percent Muslim.) They always fought over land and River Tana access. Though the Kenyan government has never admitted it, these clashes were due to these tribes’ religious differences. Even today Ormas and Pokomos share mutual fear and mistrust. Their feuds have claimed scores of lives. Read BBC reports here and here.

Mr. Buya was not teaching in a Muslim village by choice. The Kenyan government’s Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC) posted him there. TSC posts and transfers teachers around the country without any input from them. You probably are wondering, considering the possible danger to Mr. Buya, why he was posted to teach at my village. The sad truth is there was no Orma who was qualified to be a primary school teacher at that time because early Muslim “missionaries” told my tribe it was wrong to get secular education. After all, they argued, secular education was for ilmu dunia, knowledge of the world. Instead, they insisted Orma children should attend madrassa where they gained ilmu akhirat, the knowledge of the hereafter.

Many other Kenyan Muslims also enrolled their children only in Islamic religious schools until the government mandated secular education. Even today most Kenyan Muslims in predominantly Muslim areas don’t take secular education seriously. The Kenya National Examination Council examination results don’t lie. I only was enrolled in a secular school because of the government mandate. I attended both madrassa and the secular school for five years until I graduated from the former.

Visiting Mr. Buya’s family for Christmas changed my perception of the Pokomos and Christians. They showed tremendous respect for my beliefs and even asked me to slaughter a goat they had bought for Christmas since as a Muslim I could not have eaten the meat had one of them slaughtered it. Their character was also different from Muslim leaders’ portrayal of Christians. All the negative stereotypes I had heard of the Pokomos and Christians were gone with one visit. I am grateful for that Christmas invite because it marked the beginning of a change in my life. If you would like to hear the rest of the story (my testimony), please listen to it here.

Hospitality: Christmas is almost here. There are many Muslims who wouldn’t decline our invitation to show hospitality. They might decline our invitation to attend a worship service but I doubt they would refuse to come for a meal. The Bible says, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Millions of Muslims live in Christian majority countries now and do not even know who Christians actually are. Muslims are here to stay. They are our neighbors, doctors, classmates or even taxi drivers. Most of what they know about Jesus, Christianity and Christians is from the Qur’an and the Hadith and what their Muslim leaders tell them. Most of them view Christians as very evil people who believe in three gods—father, mother and son. Do you know this is the most heinous sin in Islam? What is wrong with us opening our homes to Muslims? They can benefit from a little hospitality, which might end up positively changing their lives for eternity.

Most colleges and universities in the United States have Christmas break starting this week. Campus residencies will be closed except to international students. This is can be an opportunity to show hospitality.

Reach out: Opportunities to serve Muslims are endless. A lady recently shared with me about her experience. She was always curious about her Muslim neighbors. The Muslim wife and her daughters rarely ventured out of their home. One day, this Christian woman decided to deliver some baked goods to the Muslim family. Within hours, the Muslim family reciprocated with some baked goods of its own. These two families have now become friends. Some Muslim women are not allowed to leave their homes without the company of their husbands or male relatives or their permission. Women are the least reached among Muslims. Christian women can do outreach to them with ease.

Host family: Many Muslim international students come from countries which are “closed” to Christian outreach. Why don’t we offer to show these students around town or take them out to eat or shopping for school supplies, invite them over for meals or even offer to be their host parents? Do you know colleges look for potential host parents for their international students?

Literature: Give copies of the Bible in native languages if they are available. Most Muslims have not seen the Bible, let alone read one in their own language. You can find the Bible in various languages online. Please tell them where to start reading. I remember very well when I received my first copy and no one told me where to start and I started with Genesis.

Respect: Mr. Buya and his family respected my beliefs. We don’t get very far in our outreach to Muslims if we don’t respect their beliefs. If they ask questions, answer them gently from the Bible. We should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that we have and we should do it with “gentleness and respect.”

I am very grateful Mr. Buya invited me to his home for Christmas in 1988. Had the Ormas not fallen to the ruse of Muslim missionaries who secretly took their children to secular boarding schools, Mr. Buya probably would not have become a teacher in my village. God had a plan. He even used these missionaries’ egregious act for his good. Please, take a step this Christmas and show hospitality to a Muslim or any unbeliever. You never know! The Ormas were considered 100 percent Muslim, now they are only 99.98 percent Muslim. Praise God!

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