Muslims often come to Christ in the context of friendship, and friendship can begin with a simple greeting:
"May peace be upon you."
It can be muttered in passing or proclaimed loudly. Accompanying this blessing of peace can be a glance, a head nod, or just a cautious smile. Then a light grip between my pale right hand and her darker one. That handshake can lead to a kiss where cheeks touch, where a veil is shifted to welcome me into her personal space.
In my years of relating with Muslim women, I have found that with some women, it stops there. Pleasantries are exchanged and we move on. It is run-of-the-mill politeness, and I have come to expect nothing less – and sometimes, nothing more.
But there are other women with whom the conversation moves on. Starting with, "What is your news?" it can deepen to "What is your faith?" They may open their homes and, after some time, even their hearts.
Amina was one such open woman I met at a park not long ago. With a quiet "Salaamu alaikum (peace be upon you)," she sat next to me under an awning covered with flowering vines.
We were past formalities when she shared, "I come here to pray, to recite verses from the Quran as I walk." She showed me a little book of surahs and the prayer beads she carried.
Then Amina startled me with her confession: "When I walked into the garden today, I saw you and a voice inside me said, She will be your friend. This is why I came over to talk with you."
My eyebrows raised. A voice inside you? Clearly, this was no chance meeting. This was what I call a divine appointment. And it all started with a simple greeting.
Jesus used a greeting similar to the Muslim "Salaamu alaikum" when appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. His words "Peace be with you," are recorded twice in John 20. His greeting made his friends aware of his presence, resulting in their joy and belief in Him (see John 20:19-29).
"Peace I leave with you," Jesus said (John 14:27). He encouraged his friends who believed in God to "believe also in Me" (John 14:1). With Jesus as our Lord, we can be ambassadors of peace to Muslims who may in turn believe in Him.
It is true that some Muslims persecute Christians. But it is also true that many, many Muslim individuals are peace-loving. Like Amina, they are curious about Jesus, and may even desire a Christian friend.
In the coming year, I hope to share a realistic picture of Muslims and explore ways God is working among them. One of the primary ways Muslims come to faith in Jesus is through the consistent witness of a Christian friend (source).
Although God alone orchestrates "divine encounters," I believe Christians must take the initiative to befriend and reach out to Muslims. That could mean shopping where they shop, sitting down beside someone new on the bus, or greeting your Muslim professor or classmate.
Muslims often come to Christ in the context of friendship, and friendship can begin with a simple greeting. What's more, when the children of God speak those peace-filled words, they are backed by the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. May His peace be upon us all.
"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.
Join the Discussion:
Have you ever tried to befriend a Muslim? What are the obstacles to meeting Muslims in your city?
“Stops my pity party in its tracks”
Each day VOM receives letters from readers all over the United States. Some compliment VOM; others have questions or complaints. Many write requesting more information on how they can pray for and minister to persecuted Christians. For today's blog post we wanted to share part of a recent letter received from a reader named Millie, who wrote to share how the materials from VOM have affected her life and faith:
It's difficult to put into words how [The Voice of the Martyrs newsletter] has impacted me. First of all, it has given me profound gratitude for my freedom as a believer. I know the Lord has put me in the place I am (Acts 17:26) for this time of human history; why He allowed me to live where I may proclaim faith in Him freely and not in a place such as North Korea gives me unspeakable gratitude to Him. Before I started reading VOM's magazine I didn't realize the plight of believers in other nations. Like many Americans, I had a vague "idea," but no real knowledge. I have used your materials when I teach high school students at our church, praying that they will also have an appreciation for the blessing they have received by being Americans and to give them a heart for those who are being persecuted around the world. I have used some of the pictures and stories (if I can make them age appropriate) for my fours and fives in my Sunday School class. I believe that even at a young age they are capable of understanding there are those who love Jesus in other parts of the world who need encouragement and prayer.
Second, it has made me more vocal about my own faith. Believers around the world are risking death or unspeakable acts against them and their families for speaking of Christ, and yet I fear ridicule and rejection by certain people? I have become more bold as I am encouraged by the stories of those who have not just suffered persecution, but CONTINUE to risk persecution, all for the name of Jesus! I'm still not as bold as I would like, but pray the Lord will give me the strength to be bolder.
Third, it makes me stop and consider what I THINK is important in my life. So much of what I want is not a need or even a remote necessity. I think and pray more carefully as to how to use the resources with which God has blessed me. When I start to feel sorry for myself over something that may not be going according to MY plans, images from your publication will come into focus and of course I can hear the admonition of the Holy Spirit prompting me with, "Really, this upsets you? Are you suffering for My Name?" That usually stops my pity party in its tracks.
There is a small thing that has always impressed me and it doesn't have anything to do with the magazine. Whenever we have sent a donation, there is always a handwritten verse or verse reference on our donation [receipt] we receive back from VOM. It shows that someone personally took the time to put that particular verse on the page. It just gives me satisfaction to see this small human element inserted into a process that could be totally handled by technology.
It is a privilege to pray for VOM and those who are being persecuted. Do I pray faithfully every day? No, if I am honest, I don't, but I do pray often for you at headquarters and for different nations where persecution seems to be more severe. I especially pray that God will reward those being persecuted with new believers from the witness they bear to those around them.
In Jesus' Love,
YOUR TURN: How has reading VOM's newsletter affected your life and your walk with Christ? Share in a comment on this post, or email VOM.
Posted by VOM_MediaDev on January 23, 2013 at 10:41 AM in Comments | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
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