How can we attain our Muslim neighbors in Ramadan?
A Muslim woman in North London.(Photo: OM)
Between the locks, I went for a walk with a neighbor during my lunch break. Over the weeks and months we talked about the weather, football, the merits of different cars and much more. But over time we have spoken more personal and more vulnerable. We spoke of God about the painful and unexpected divorce he went through, and I shared my faith. My neighbor happens to be a Muslim.
As Ramadan and 30 days of prayer for Muslims begin this week around the world and here in the UK, we should consider the opportunity to share the love and message of Jesus with Muslims more than ever.
The idea of sharing our faith with anyone could be daunting, and maybe especially with our Muslim neighbors. We are afraid of the unknown. We don't know what they believe in or what they understand. The occasional one-sided portrayal of Muslims in the media and the atrocities committed in the name of Islam have led to Muslims being viewed with suspicion and unconsciously shunned.
In reality, the majority of Muslims living in the UK are just like you and me. Your daily life is consumed by bills, school runs and jobs, much like ours. Like us, they worry about their careers, their children, the mortgage and the lockdown. Indeed, it is often easier to talk to a Muslim about our faith than to our worldly friends and neighbors because they accept that there is a God.
So how do we go beyond our fears to give testimony to our Muslim friends and neighbors? As British, we often have a certain reluctance to enter a person's private space – we don't want to break in. But we must try to get to know our Muslim neighbors.
There are nearly 3.4 million Muslims in the UK alone, many of whom may have little to do with Christians in their lives. Beyond our shores, the Joshua Project estimates that 85% of the world's unreached peoples – those without a church or with a very small church that makes access to a testimony of the gospel difficult – are Islamic.
That's why I'm looking for opportunities in everyday life. I often have conversations with the person delivering my packages or the waiter at my local restaurant. I develop a rapport and sometimes get their contact details to send the links to the Jesus Film or YouVersion Bible app in their own language.
Reaching can also take the form of legal counsel. My wife became friends with an Iraqi woman who lives at the end of the street. When she was told that her children were being granted asylum and she was not, my wife dropped everything to help her. She also teaches English to women from different Muslim backgrounds through our church.
During this time of Ramadan there are some easy ways to build bridges of understanding and develop relationships and empathy. First, ask how Muslim coworkers, friends, and neighbors are celebrating this year, how the fast is going, or how you can pray for them. You can celebrate with them, albeit via Zoom. You could even share a scripture passage, psalm, or Old Testament blessing.
Ask them what they believe in and from there we can build bridges of understanding and develop relationships and empathy. The daily prayer topics on the 30 day prayer website or OM's Prayer Reach app are a great place to educate yourself, as is reading books like Nabeel Qureshis “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Pious Muslim Meets This Christianity "and" A Wind In "The House of Islam" by David Garrison.
How do you contribute the gospel when you meet your Muslim neighbors or co-workers? Our fear can be due not only to a lack of understanding, but also to a lack of trust in what we believe in. Muslims seem so secure in their beliefs and we fear we feel less secure in our beliefs and theology. What if we cannot explain the gospel clearly? What if we don't have answers to their questions?
We need to equip ourselves with understanding and trust in the gospel. to remind us of the incredible news of Jesus' work of redemption on the cross, of the power and love of the God who created the universe, the God in whose name we go out.
In all of my years of service, I have found that it is not deep theological insights that are most effective, but our stories. Be quick and ready to share your testimony. At Operation Mobilization (OM), we train people to share their story in three minutes. In these three minutes you explain the gospel and its effects on you, make yourself vulnerable, and then end on a hook. A question, something to keep her occupied: "So I started reading the gospels and was amazed at what I found. Have you ever read a gospel?" You ask a question; You're building a bridge. They share and invite them to do the same.
And pray through everything. OM is a representative of the World Prayer Guide Collaboration and has developed a prayer outreach app for the 30 days of prayer that guides you through a targeted tour of cities in the Muslim world.
Sharing the gospel with Muslims doesn't have to be scary or even difficult, but we have to make an effort. So, build understanding of the Muslim community, learn your story, pray, and confidently step into the power of God who promised to gather all tribes, tongues, and nations around His throne.
Alan Hallmart has worked with OM among Muslims for over 40 years. He has worked in Turkey, the Middle East and currently with his wife, assisting church planting teams around the world while based in the UK, and coaching the executives of many global brands in cross-cultural leadership. Alan teaches Islamic at theological colleges. For more information on how to reach out and pray for your Muslim neighbor, please visit https://www.uk.om.org/30-days-prayer