As a Christian of Muslim background, I am appreciative of my brothers and sisters in North America who are ministering to Muslims in general, as well as to those who are encouraging those former Muslims who have put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This type of ministry can be fraught with cross-cultural communication issues and misunderstandings. I remember as a college student attending my first Christian meeting. A Christian student was greeting people at the door, and enthusiastically asked me, “Hello, brother, are you saved?!” I didn’t even know the word “saved.” I thought he asked, “Are you sane?” And English is my first language!
I will try to boil some helpful tips, based on my experiences, and especially my mistakes, in ministering to Muslim background believers in Christ (MBBs) over the past three decades. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- It is God’s time for Muslims! Sometimes we cannot see history unfolding since we are in the middle of it and as such it seems to move very slowly. The bigger picture is that this the time in history when more Muslims then even before are receiving and responding to the gospel. Your participation is building the Church, and making history!
- Don’t be afraid. Despite the stereotypes of Muslims as terrorists, the reality is that most North American Muslims are like most other North Americans—they are mostly motivated by economic interests.
- Be patient: If MBBs are grounded in Christ and the Bible, they can become tremendous witnesses for Christ to Muslim people.
- Remember that not all MBBs are the same. There is a great diversity in this group, in areas such as: spiritual maturity, spiritual hunger, adaptability to North American lifestyle, English fluency, etc.
- Trust but verify: Some Muslims may pose as MBBs to receive practical assistance from Christians and the Church. Some may even have arrived in the country with the impression that their baptismal document is merely a ticket to a “green card.”
- Consider it a learning experience: Whether ministering to Muslims or MBBs, it will be enriching if you take opportunities to learn about your new friend’s home culture, country, language, foods, etc.
- Avoid the “trophy convert” syndrome: Lots of Christians love to hear the testimony of Muslims who have come to faith in Christ. For example, in my area, a young Arabic-background MBB was attending a very small church. For a period of several weeks, whenever ANY new person would attend the church, the pastor would interrupt the service to have the MBB give his testimony! Certainly the pastor was enthusiastic about a Muslim coming to faith in Christ. Yet for a while this young MBB was giving his testimony in every service. I told him, “Don’t let it go to your head. And, we may need to inform the pastor this is not the best course of action.”
We don’t want to encourage situations where we make celebrities out of young converts. Sure, their testimonies can bring glory to Christ and encouragement to others. On the flip side, the celebrity status can cause the new Christian to feel he or she has “arrived” and thus does not need to attend rigorously to personal devotions, transformation, and discipleship in Christ.
This is an amazing time in history as Jesus Christ is touching Muslim lives throughout the world, including in North America. Thanks for your participation in this great movement.
Looking for Home: Muslim-background believers in the U.S. struggle to find Christian community.
Sheltered in a Chicago-area Starbucks one afternoon, Tahir* is dreading the commute home. “My home situation is like a time bomb,” he sighs, describing the tense stand-off between his Christian faith and the Palestinian Muslim family that considers him a traitor.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, anti-Arab sentiments initially angered Tahir and made him a more devout Muslim. But they also inspired an intense search of the New Testament, which slowly began to convince him of its truths. As Tahir’s new faith took shape, his family became ashamed. Things exploded during a dinner-table debate at which Tahir’s brother-in-law told Tahir’s wife, “If he’s no longer Muslim, your life with him is a sin!”
Today, as Tahir tries to quietly model Christ to his children, his wife warns that she will enroll them in a mosque or flee to Palestine: “Just because you sold your soul to the Devil doesn’t mean you’re taking the kids with you.” Tahir’s father has disowned him—”You are no longer my son”—and has threatened to recruit Fatah strongmen to beat him.
Like Tahir, many Christians from Muslim backgrounds are at once cultural and spiritual refugees, even as they settle into American addresses. They are struggling to reorient themselves in a new land and a new Christian identity while bearing the weight of their Islamic heritage.
For the full article go to: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/september/33.68.html
Testimonies from former Muslims
Testimonies of former Muslims
Muslims throughout the world are turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Here are the stories of some Muslim background believers, in their own words:
www.muslimjourneytohope.com – more English audio visual testimonies of MBBs.
Why They Converted http://www.answering-islam.org/Testimonies/index.html
More Than Dreams http://morethandreams.org/
Testimony of Hussein Wario http://husseinwario.com/blog/about/
Building Bridges with Muslim Background Believers
For Muslim Background Believers (MBBs), their new Christian walk can be wrought with obstacles and challenges which collide with deeply-held cultural practices. Indeed, many MBBs have given up family, friends and way of life to follow Christ. In a recent survey of nearly fifty MBBs, 72% of those who came to Christ were the first ones in their family to place their trust in Jesus. Nearly 56% of the MBBs polled in North America came to Christ while in America. And the North American church plays a vital role in how MBBs come to view not only Christianity but the American culture as well.
“For the MBB, the church unlocks the North American culture,” said Roy Oksnevad, director of Muslim Ministries at the Billy Graham Center. “Yet the North American Church has often become so self-centered that it doesn’t meet the MBB’s expectations. We are the host culture and it is our job to reach out to those in our midst. They are in our house. The responsibility lies with us.” The task of the North American Church to make the newly-converted MBB feel welcome is formidable, but desperately important. Statistics show that only 9% of MBBs worship in an ethnic church in their native language. That leaves 91% who are either worshipping in a typical English-speaking, white North American church or in a multicultural, English-speaking church. And it is indeed the job of those in the church to reach out to these immigrants who have left home, family and religion for Christ.
For the full article go to: http://www.billygrahamcenter.com/bgcadmin/Centerline%20PDF/CL_Winter2006.pdf