Our approach and the way we present the gospel to the Muslim goes a long way in determining the end result. A comparison of John 3:1-21 with John 4:7-26 shows that the Lord presented the gospel to Nicodemus in a totally different way than He presented to the Samaritan woman by the well. Likewise, the way a Muslim would respond to the gospel depends on so many factors. It’s important to know that it takes an average of five (5) or more years of witnessing for a Muslim to accept Christ.
The following is the seven musts for those who reach out to Muslims:
Have a Genuine Personal Relationship with Christ
Our personal relationship with Jesus Christ helps us to present the message of salvation to Muslims in a clearer, precise, simple and positive manner. The Muslim is not so much interested in listening to stories of what Jesus can do but what Christ has done in your life. He wants to see that change, positive and useful life that Christ lives in you. Many Christians fail in helping the Muslim make a definite decision because the Christian is himself doubtful of his salvation. Jesus could discuss and help the Samaritan woman, Nicodemus, and many others because He had a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father (John 4:10-14; 8:48-58). You must be sure and confident of your salvation if you are to effectively help the Muslims understand and accept salvation in Jesus Christ. It is also that personal relationship with Him that gives you the inner love, boldness, courage and wisdom to witness to a Muslim despite all hostilities and frustration. This is the first step to a meaningful outreach.
Maintain Personal Intimacy with God Through Prayer
Paul’s concern for those he preaches to, caused him to pray for them always (Philippians 1:3-11). Realizing his own needs, Paul encouraged others to pray for him (Ephesians 6:17-20). Brethren, we must pray without ceasing for the Muslims that God Himself will open their hearts and give them understanding. We should pray for protection, courage, boldness for the Muslim so that he can make a decision without fear or pretense. We should pray for ourselves and all those involved in this work. It is only in the Lord that we shall succeed. In Matthew 12:28-29, Jesus taught us the secret of effective witnessing is by binding the strong man. Every unbeliever is within the custody of Satan who is the strong man. Satan (the strong man) will do everything within his power to prevent them from understanding and accepting the gospel. Prayer is the means to which Satan is bound, enabling the power of the gospel to have access to open the eyes of the Muslim to accept Christ.
Be a Student of the Bible
We live in an age where many scholars including Muslims like Sheiks Ahmed Deedat and others use Biblical passages to deceive and confuse ignorant people about Christ. This makes it necessary for every Christian to study his or her Bible well if he desires to help the Muslims out of the cobweb. We must know the Bible very well so as to be approved unto God, workmen who need not to be ashamed, but rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15-16). A good knowledge of the Christian witness must discipline himself to memorize Bible verses correctly.
Allow the Holy Spirit to Convict and Convert
Because of the length of time and energy that it takes to lead a Muslim to Christ, some Christians try to do the work of the Holy Spirit. They unconsciously force the Muslim to declare his faith in Christ – pre-maturely. Such new convert easily fall back or have difficulties maturing properly in Christ.
It is only the Holy Spirit who changes the human heart. When we have done our work we must allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work of salvation (John 14:15-27; 16:5-11). When the Muslim is truly convicted of his sins and assisted by the Holy Spirit to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior it goes a long way in helping him stand firm no matter the tide. If we are to succeed we must learn to patiently wait and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us all (Acts 1:8).
Establish Good Rapport
Beside our relationship with Christ, we also need to have good interpersonal relationship with the Muslims. This is one important lesson that Christians must learn from the Lord Jesus Christ. Despite His exalted position, Jesus maintained rapport with everyone He counseled. His discussion with the Samaritan woman, Nicodemus and others clearly shows His humility, courtesy, patience and good teacher-student relationship. Even when the Pharisees attacked Him openly, He was composed, understanding and tolerated them. In my life, I have learnt that bitterness, hatred, and poor relationship only repels. But genuine love and forgiveness attract the Muslims to the transforming power of the gospel. It is only through good human relationship that we can communicate better.
Having a Good understanding of Islam
From my interaction with many pastors, church elders, and missionaries, I observe that most Christians have developed prejudices, misconceptions, and negative attitudes against Muslims out of ignorance and lack of knowledge. Our lack of proper knowledge about Islam has contributed to our past failure in effectively witnessing to Muslims. Our proper understanding of the historical development of Islam, its theology, and ethics will go a long way in helping us to be more sympathetic with the Muslims. However, I must caution that one has to be careful and prayerful in the study of Islam. It must not be studied for mere academic comparative purposes. We should understand Islam to be more enlightened and efficient in our evangelistic outreach.
Encourage Discussions Instead of Arguments
In most cases, the Muslim would want to engage in arguments to discourage, side tract, confuse, and frustrate the Christian during evangelism. History also has it that Islam always advances through open debates with Christians. Ahmed Deedat has used the debate method effectively. In arguments, the aim is to get a winner and a looser. In a debate, there is intimidation and humiliation. The Christian must therefore, watch out, it is best to suspend the witnessing session when it’s turning toward arguments. Emotions and anger usually accompanies arguments, but discussion aims at presenting facts and encourages meaningful dialogue. The Christian witness must learn to be precise, clear, and wise in answering questions from the Muslim. Always answer prayerfully in love, when you do not have an immediate answer, admit your limitation and tell your Muslim friend that you will find out the answer. Also, avoid the use of foul language. Do not crack jokes about Islam, or make mockery of Islamic beliefs and practices, such careless statements can block the opportunity for meaningful communication (Matthew 12:36-37).
by Rev. Philip Nache – Philip spent 23 years in Muslim ministries in Nigeria, where he is from. He now resides in the Twin Cities and is continuing his work among Muslims. Philip is pastors of Hope of Nations church, a Sudanese congregation meeting in St. Paul launched in 2015. For more information about Philip and his ministry, please email Minneapolis@namb.net