Missionaries Engage Our Muslim Neighbors
PLEASE FORWARD TO ALL RELEVANT NETS Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh While we may be enjoying our "freedom" to live as Muslims in this country, consider that there are people actively planning to pounce upon the most vulnerable in our communities...believe me interfaith dialogues are not for the faint-hearted Muslims and this article extends beyond formal dialogue to directing Christians to penetrate our households....it is something to think about... The following article was forwarded to me by a professor in Islamic studies. May Allah (swt) reward her for her efforts. Ameen. wassalamu alaykum altaf husain ********************
Engaging Our Muslim Neighbors
The Church faces a challenge not just to understand Muslims, but to
By Wendy Murray Zoba
March 30, 2000
God-fearing Muslims from every corner of the earth are moving into American
neighborhoods. Are we ready to welcome them and tell them the truth about
Jesus? This week at ChristianityToday.com, we take a look at the basics of
Islam, how Muslims view Christianity, helpful models for relating to
Muslims, and how to engage our Muslim neighbors boldly and lovingly.
The South Asian Friendship Center is a bookstore in the heart of a Muslim
business district in Chicago. (More than 400,000 Muslims live in Chicago.)
The shelves are lined with books in Urdu (the language of Pakistan),
Arabic, and English with author names like J. I. Packer and John Stott. The
center makes no apologies for its overt Christian beliefs.
SAFC, a multidenominational effort of many area churches, opened in
September 1997 and carries out a fourfold vision.
First, SAFCs bookstore is a legitimate business. A "mini-Borders" for
Asians, it is a haven where people can read and relax on a couch or other
chairs, nibbling on free cookies and sipping chai (Indian tea). SAFC sells
Christian literature, books, videos, and cassettes at reasonable
prices--and often gives these items away.
Second, SAFC strives to serve the community by offering tutoring in English
as a second language; after-school homework help; classes in Hindu and
Urdu; help with immigration issues; legal counsel; home visitation; and
The third aspect of SAFCs vision is what staff members call passive
evangelism: "People come to us and we pray with people unashamedly in the
name of Jesus," says Roy Oksnevad, director of training and development. He
describes how one Muslim man desperately needed a job. SAFC workers asked
if they could pray for him in Jesus^Rs name. "I really like this place," the
man said before he left. "You are our friends."
Fourth, SAFC trains students, missionaries, and churches that want to
develop similar ministries. The SAFC sponsors weekend "vision trips" for
people to learn about the center and visit a mosque or Hindu temple to
expose them to the need. The SAFC also will send staff members to speak in
"In this country, I^Rm not worried about what Muslims are doing," says SAFC
director Sam Naaman. "I know what they are doing. They are active--far more
active than we Christians are.
"That^Rs why we started the center. We have to be out on the street. These
people who are passing by and see the Scripture portions from the door,
they cannot say when the Lord comes, ^SQo I didn^Rt know about Christianity. "
Naaman is worried, however, about what Muslims are doing in his home
country, Pakistan. When his father was actively distributing Christian
literature and evangelizing, people threatened to harm his family or to
kill him if he did not stop. "My father was [once] a fundamentalist Muslim
who fought for Islam. It was not easy for him to get scared by these
threats," Naaman says. "But I think he underestimated the threat."
Muslims killed his brother Obed, 26, in 1990. "It was very unexpected. He
was a devout born-again Christian who wanted to serve the Lord in our
country." The death of his brother plays a major role in Naaman^Rs
motivation to minister to Muslims today. "When the best thing you have is
taken from you--you ask yourself, What else is there to give up for the
Lord? A brother is like your arms. His sacrifice will never be in vain.
Once you have given up everything for the Lord, I don^Rt think anything can
The SAFC incarnates key principles that apply to any Western Christian
attempting to befriend Muslims. These include:
Take the initiative. "If you want to encounter Islam, you have to go where
they are. That^Rs where we are going to face Islam^Wnot in our churches, but
on the street," Naaman says.
"My dream is to have a center like this in every city in the U.S." (SAFC
has opened another center in New York and is working on one for Toronto.)
Be bold, yet loving, about our faith in Jesus. "Lets not be too humble.
Lets not apologize for believing in Christ," Naaman says. "Lets stand
very strongly on our faith and practice what we preach. With all due
respect, the Western church is very naove. You talk about contextualizing
and befriending Muslims--and I have no problem with that^Wbut I also know
that Islam is a religion of power. You have to become strong--confront them
in love--but be very strict that this is our faith and that Jesus is the
only way. If that doesnt happen, we just make fun of ourselves."
Encourage Christian women to get involved. "Women will play a major role"
in affecting Islamic cultures, Naaman says. "As a woman, you can go and
enter the inner section of the house. You can have a cup of tea or you can
cook with her. You can make conversation with her and she will open up to
you." There is "a wall of genders in Islam," he says, which means that
sometimes a Muslim woman can relate more closely to a Christian woman than
to her husband. "Once the husband knows that you really care for his wife
and that, as a Christian, you dont like the sin in American society
then--boom--the bond is there. Once the bond is there, once he knows that
you really take time, you will see--they will break down in tears and cry