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July 26, 2013

MOVING TOWARD MUSLIMS: Beyond Sports and Weather

In last month’s post, I encouraged you to overcome fear and perfectionism by extending hospitality to a Muslim. Because the home is a safe environment, your Muslim friend may feel comfortable opening up to discuss deeper issues. But how can you move conversations from sports and the weather to the Gospel and Jesus?

Muslims love to talk about religion. My new Muslim friends almost always give me a primer on Islam. Once they discover that I am a committed follower of Jesus—a mu’minah in their terminology—they are often curious to know more about my beliefs. I may be the first true follower of Christ they’ve ever encountered! A Muslim Woman in Egypt

Here are some ways I’ve found to steer conversations toward deeper things:

Spiritual décor. You may already have a quote or verse from the Bible hung prominently in your home. Muslims are accustomed to elaborately gilded verses from the Qur’an hanging high above a doorway, so they may be curious about your “spiritual décor” and may ask about its meaning.

A family I know framed the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic calligraphy and hung it in their entryway. You’d better believe every Muslim who walks through their door notices that work of art! “Where did you get this?” they exclaim. This gives my friends an opportunity to share Jesus’ prayer with Muslims for the first time.

Show a family photograph. The extended family is integral to Muslims, so many of my Muslim friends love to see pictures of my cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Whether I bring out an album or just flip through pictures on my phone, they love seeing that I belong to a larger network of people who love me. But don’t stop there: tell stories of God’s redemptive work in your family’s history. Family hardship, sin and suffering don’t ruin your witness. When told in light of God’s grace, they actually enhance it!

Holidays. Newcomers to the United States are trying to make sense of the new holidays and events happening around them. A week after Easter, one of my Muslim friends asked, “So what is this bunny holiday all about?” It was an obvious opportunity to explain that Easter has significance beyond all the bunnies and colored eggs she saw in the grocery store. Even a non-religious holiday like Independence Day could be a great opening to discuss true freedom, and what that means to your Muslim friend. You could even share Jesus’ words in John 8:36, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Ask good questions. This skill is probably the most crucial one when relating to Muslims. Questions like, “What is your dream for the future?” can give you insight into your friend’s aspirations and values. When a Muslim states a belief he holds, I like to ask, “How did you come to that belief?” to help him dig deeper and think critically.

Probably one of the best questions you could ask is, “What is your spiritual journey?” When a believer asked two Central Asian Muslims this question, they were so impressed that they returned the question to their Christian friend. They scheduled a second meeting just to hear his testimony!

Now for a heads up: When spiritual subjects are broached, some Muslims will revert to textbook answers about Islam. Be patient, hear them out respectfully and then try using sensitive questions to move the conversation on to matters found beneath the veneer of religion. What are your friend’s cherished hopes, crippling fears, and itching curiosities?

It is there—in the crucial matters of the heart—where the most enjoyable and fruitful conversations will begin.

Want more ideas? This little booklet  by Fouad Masri is a powerhouse of practical ideas on how to meet Muslims, deepen your friendship and begin to share about Jesus.

YOUR TURN: What questions have you found to be useful in sharing with unbelievers? With Muslims?

"Anna" blogs about friendship, culture, and Kingdom-living from her home in the Middle East. She loves Jesus and wants to see Him cherished by her neighbors and people everywhere. Anna will be posting on the Persecution Blog each month. Feel free to ask questions or suggest future topics in the comments section for this post. Anna is a pseudonym, and all names in her posts are changed for security reasons.

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Comments

My Muslim friends often have to leave our online conversations to go pray, so I'm not shy when I leave for Christian worship. Maybe I should be a little less open about it. But this practice has opened the door to all sorts of questions like "Why don't Christians wash before prayer", which have in turn opened the door to preach the Gospel. I also like to ask questions about their religion, especially as it relates to daily life. Questions like "Can Muslim women paint their toenails?" open the door to an honest dialogue about our religions. If you take an interest in their life, they take an interest in yours.

A family I know framed the Lord’s Prayer in Arabic calligraphy and hung it in their entryway. You’d better believe every Muslim who walks through their door notices that work of art! “Where did you get this?” they exclaim. This gives my friends an opportunity to share Jesus’ prayer with Muslims for the first time.

Although I do not have any Muslim friends, I would love to. Definitely will keep this in mind when that day comes. Looking forward to it.

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