CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP) -- Muslims aren't just people "over there" in the Middle East and parts of Asia. They live in major cities across the U.S. and many smaller towns as well. More are arriving daily and the vast majority want to live quiet lives making a living for their families.
To many Southern Baptists, evangelizing Muslims in this country may seem to be a daunting task best left to professional missionaries and skilled pastors. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Sharing Christ with people who represent some of the rapidly growing faiths in America (these include Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists) doesn't have to be scary or complicated. Most people of another faith are quite open to hearing about Christianity. Learning a few simple steps and having conversations with adherents of other faiths about Christ actually is quite simple.
Muslims throughout the world regard Christ as one of their prophets and turn to Him to save them from their sins. At the same time, the pervasiveness of Islam in the news and the seeming fervency of Muslims' beliefs unnecessarily strikes fear in the hearts of some Christians about talking to Muslims about Christ.
If we follow a few simple rules, we can find a bridge to talk with many Muslims about Christ. In my book, "How to Share Christ with Your Friends of Another Faith," I spell out steps that help build these bridges. None of the plans is complicated. Each provides a step-by-step blueprint of what to say.
With a Muslim friend, for example, consider these four steps toward sharing your faith:
1. Befriend a Muslim. A simple act of kindness such as bringing a small gift to a new Muslim neighbor can set the stage for the process of friendship.
2. Avoid the urge to be only a friend. Look for opportunities to bring God into your conversation for the purpose of letting your Muslim friend know you are a person of faith. For example, invite a friend out for coffee and then incorporate into the conversation something about how God recently has blessed you personally.
3. Look for "spiritual clues" that your new friend is interested in God. If the person mentions any desire to know God, you will know that God must be working in his or her heart. In preparation, read John 12:32 or 16:8 for proof that only God draws individuals to Himself.
4. Take the opportunity to share your faith even if clues don't present themselves. If you have invested in several visits with your Muslim friend, you have earned the right to share Christ.
For approaching a cultural Muslim who is not fervent in his faith, meanwhile, Wade Akins, an evangelist who has worked in Muslim countries, gives this suggestion:
"My main objective is, as soon as I can, to get this person into the Word of God. I will do this simply by offering a New Testament or Bible. I simply say, 'I have a love gift for you.' Then I watch the facial reaction.... My objective simply is to get Muslims to receive God's Word. They may read it at night in secret or openly. If they react positively ... then I might say, 'May I show you a few verses that explain to you how you may know for sure you will go to Paradise after you die?' If the response is, 'Yes,' then I share with them either the "Good News of Jesus" (previously mentioned) or the following verses that explain the gospel: 1 John 5:13 and Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9 and 10:13."
Remember: In any encounter, whether your effort to share Christ is successful is not up to you. God is the one who changes hearts, not us. We just need to watch God do His work.
Jeff Brawner is chairman of the department of missions and assistant professor of missions, theology and church history at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn. His book, "How to Share Christ with Your Friends of Another Faith," is available at www.hannibalbooks.com and such online sites as amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.
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