By Fred Farrokh
Many Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in our generation— God be praised. Duane Miller and Patrick Johnstone have completed an exhaustive, country-by-country count of believers in Christ from a Muslim background. They estimated there are 10,284,200 of these believers in 2010. Many of Christ’s servants have labored sacrificially in our lifetime and in prior generations to bring this fruition to reality. As a Muslim-background Christian, I thank those who have laid down their lives serving Muslims with the gospel.
With those victories have come thorny issues. How should new believers in Christ from the Muslim community identify themselves? How should they be identified by others? Are the new believers actually still Muslims? Could an individual be considered a Muslim in the collective sense, while individually being a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? What about timing? Should allowances made for short-term periods of transition be extended indefinitely?
These are just some of the contemporary pressing questions in ministry to Muslims. Those involved in direct (face-to-face, or hijab-to-face) ministry to Muslims realize these are not merely hypothetical questions, but enigmas with potentially life-and-death repercussions. These questions hold dramatic implications for discipleship and extending Christ’s Kingdom into the Muslim world.
Like mountain ranges formed by the collision of great tectonic plates, the particular questions related to identity continue to be thrust to the top in this discussion. In this article, I plan to do the following: 1.) define the concept of identity; 2.) consider key issues related to identity in ministry to Muslims; 3.) evaluate current missiological thinking that results in “permanent identity bifurcation;” and, 4.) recommend the pursuance of an “Integrated Identity in Christ” (IIC) model as the best identity paradigm for ministry to Muslims. Indeed, this is the type of model Muslim-background believers in Christ globally are already pursuing and creating.
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