By Darla Oksnevad
Perhaps you are aware of Muslims in your neighborhood or at work. You have been building relationships with them & sharing Christ. But it’s difficult to reach Muslims by yourself. Others in your church or fellowship group may not be interested in reaching Muslims or they don’t have time. So what can you do to motivate other Christians to reach out to Muslims around them, or to build a team?
Expectations—Don’t expect your entire church or group to make Muslim outreach a priority. Many probably have a tough time witnessing to family & friends. You may end up with a team of only a few people, but that’s a start; Jesus started with only 12 apostles & they reached the world!
Information & Awareness—The first step is to help Christians recognize that Muslims do live in their area. Muslim-run businesses, shops, & restaurants are springing up everywhere—Indian, Middle-Eastern. Do some research to find where Muslims are located. Take some photos of their businesses & mosques, then show a power point presentation to a group in your church. Take others with you when you visit the businesses & restaurants. Help them become aware of the Muslim presence near you.
Help them overcome negative responses—Many people react negatively to Muslim immigrants & refugees, because of terrorism throughout the world. But only a tiny percent of Muslims are terrorists; the majority want to live in peace & have a better life than “back home”. Talk about the fear, anger, indifference, or even hate that Christians feel toward Muslims. Share Acts 17:26-27 to show them God’s view—He moves people around the world so they can seek Him & find Him. More Muslims are coming to Christ now than in the entire history of Christianity—God is at work among Muslims! Share positive things that God is doing, along with testimonies of Muslims coming to Christ. If you know any mature MBBs in your area, invite them to a meal with your fellowship group, so they can hear the MBB’s story & needs that Muslims have.
Begin a prayer/strategy group for reaching Muslims Pray together with other Christians for Muslims you know, meet, & work with, which will deepen their awareness of the need to share Jesus with Muslims. Pray through the “30 Days of Prayer for Muslims during Ramadan” together. Share prayer requests with a prayer partner or team. Ask God to give you opportunities to meet & build friendships with Muslims, & then share Christ with them. Retired or former missionaries, MKs, or people who have lived overseas are often available to pray & reach out to people from other cultures & religions.
Teach a Sunday School class, ABF, or small group who show interest in reaching Muslims; you are probably the “Muslim expert” in your church. So inform & educate yourself, then share basic info of beliefs of Muslims, culture of the Muslims that live near you, & provide basic resources for others (see www.commanetwork.com) However, beware of “alarmist” articles & books that would build fear among your group. Offer a more in-depth class or discussion group, such as “Journey to Jesus” DVD curriculum (COMMA), or Bridges (Crescent Project), or invite a missionary or Christian college professor to teach, to increase knowledge & practical application in reaching Muslims.
Combine learning with outreach—Beware of information overload; people need to practice what they are learning. Look for outreach opportunities in your area; World Relief, various Muslim & refugee ministries, & ESL programs usually need volunteers. Help a Muslim refugee family get settled, by donating furniture, clothing, a car; help them with utilities, schools, English, & where to shop. Be a friend, who happens to love Jesus.
If you are already involved in a ministry to Muslims, then mentor someone else by taking them with you. Prepare the “trainee” to observe what you do & teach, but not to engage, as it is a time of learning. Debrief afterwards, talk about the culture, discuss any questions; then allow the trainee to participate “little-by-little”. Muslims & MBBs usually need to learn to trust a new person before they will listen to them or engage with them.
Expand your ministry to Muslims by equipping others & helping them reach Muslims that they know.