Let me start by saying I am no expert on Islam nor on witnessing to Muslims. This may surprise you as I have former Muslim believers from seven nations in my various house churches. I work with Imam’s and have them teach me each week I am in Kenya, but still, I am a babe at what I am trying to convey to you even now. I am the face of the persecuted to you the Westerner, and I am watching over several house churches discipling many former Muslims, and this still leaves me in a position of taking baby steps in understanding the culture and issues relating to Islam. That being said I have learned much.
Let me share with you some surprising observations. Less than ten percent of Muslims come to Jesus as the result of missionary efforts from Westerners. We have an important role in working with people from Islam but evangelism is a very small part of it. I have led a handful of people to Jesus from Islam but most of them were not from traditionally Islamic nations. They are mostly from non-Islamic countries in Africa. Like Tanzania and Kenya. Here is where it gets interesting.
The typical believer from Islam comes to Jesus after seeing dreams and visions. God is at work, divinely revealing Himself among the nations of Islam. The process looks typically like this. Muslims place great stock in dreams. It is believed in Islam that Mohamed was visited by the angel Gabriel and given his calling and mission. It is not unusual for a Muslim to have a dream and be spoken to by one revealing himself as the angel Gabriel. Other times Jesus Himself reveals Himself and other times there is just a light telling them to find and read a bible. After this happens, sometimes multiple times, the Muslim begins to go to the mosque and seek guidance from his Imam. Many times the Imam tells the seeker that it is indeed God revealing Himself and other times the seeker is warned that this is the devil. The seeker begins to ask many new questions of his Imam. Questions about sin and the possibility of knowing one is loved by God and going to heaven are typical. The Imam can only answer that Islam teaches no such certainty in any of these situations. This pushes the seeker to press for answers elsewhere. Surprisingly, many never return to the mosques again, after this point.
The next typical action is for the seeker to begin to look for a bible. There are story after story of seekers having divine appointments to discover the Word of God. Finding a bible in a Muslim book store, a relative mentioning they have a copy or even a stranger showing up and announcing the Holy Spirit has sent him to give the seeker a bible and disappearing to never be seen again. It is not unusual for a seeker to then read the bible cover to cover at least 5-8 times in a year and some as many as 22 times. Many come to Christ with a profound exposure to scripture. Remember, Jesus, called Isa in the Quran, is called the Word of God, is said to have risen from the dead and Muslims are told to learn about Him.
Finally, the seeker then come into contact with an in-culture or near culture believer who answers many other questions and is instrumental in their surrendering to Jesus. Again, very few come to the Lord Jesus from the work of a missionary or Christian evangelist from the West. God is not waiting on the Western Christian to be obedient to the call to go. If He did there would be a very long wait. There is less than 1 worker from the West for every 750,000 Muslims in the world, in spite of a huge increase of movement in the church in this area.
You may be asking what our role is in all of this, and if we have a role at all. It is amazing that the thing the former Muslims need from outsiders is the impetus to be gathered into the body and participate in the church and enter discipleship. I can tell you that I mostly have new Christians brought to me and I baptize them and disciple them. That is my primary role in this process. I gather them into the Church, the body of Christ. Jesus said He could do nothing of Himself, that He only did what He saw the Father doing. I always found this statement somewhat mystifying. I think I better understand it now. Let me continue. In the Hindu world we see people coming to Christ in a much different way. Again, this is information I have gotten from others, I have no personal frame of reference among the Hindu. They typically come to the Lord like this. A group of believers goes to an area and start to speak to the masses. A huge crowd gathers as the Hindu find this opportunity to hear from others as intriguing. The believers offer to pray for any sick among them and begin to pray for healing and cast out demons. After this time of healing and deliverance they invite those healed and delivered to come to know the One who healed them. Former Muslims do not understand Hindu’s and Hindu’s do not understand Muslims even when they live side by side. The Hindu go to the Muslim to speak and find few interested in gathering to hear. The Muslims, typically more affluent and having access to healthcare have little concern for healing. The Hindu are not having dreams that need explaining nor do they run to the bible. Muslims and Hindu alike will likely give up trying to reach the other people group thinking them unresponsive.
My point is that Jesus watched and saw how the Father was interacting with the Israelites. It seems that the Lord God is at work in a variety of ways among a variety of people. Jesus joined into how the Father was working among the Jews. We should follow His example. Now my frame of reference is in Africa. I am not saying that you should necessarily follow my observations in the West. I have no insight into how the Lord is working among Muslims in the US for example. I would suggest that if you have interest there you would prayerfully seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and those reaping a harvest among that particular specific people group. I will tell you this. Jesus left us a powerful insight. He sent out His disciples two by two and told them to seek a person of peace. A person that they would be received by with warm hospitality. He mentions, staying in their home and eating what they set before you. In other words immerse yourself into their culture and accept the hospitality. Now it is unlikely you will stay in a Muslims house in the US. You can take this direction from the Lord and be informed from it that God has people out there that are interested in showing you kindness and hospitality. They are welcoming. It is not necessary that you lead each person you meet from Islam to the Lord. I know this sounds odd, but Jesus sent them preaching, meaning proclaiming, the Gospel of the Kingdom and healing the sick. They shared about the Kingdom and met physical needs. That is all you know. Our calling is to be obedient, God is the Lord of the harvest. There is no specific instructions on what makes up a person of peace other than their hospitality.
This form of outreach is biblical and would apply to all cultures as we obediently apply it. Go out with another, met people in their homes and proclaim the Kingdom of God. Met physical needs especially healing where appropriate and look for the person of peace. The person of peace is the key. If one slams the door have no disappointment. That just means they are not your person of peace. But their next door neighbor may be and that person of peace may be the key to the neighbor that just slammed the door on you. I have much experience in this type of evangelism, having done it many times. It is one of the key ways that God has for us to expand the Kingdom and was given to us in the scriptures in multiple applications in the New Testament. But as I have pointed out the Hindu respond more to the public aspect of encountering the proclamation of the Kingdom. We are wise, however, to follow the model of two by two evangelism presented by Jesus. He is the ultimate authority.
God is doing a great work among the nations. He has called us all to come along side Him and play our role in the expansion of the Kingdom of God. I hope you find this helpful in your own walk to share your faith. Perhaps it is insightful for you to understand my role in working with the people from Islam. Look and see how the Lord is at work around you. The gospel that works inside your personal sphere of influence within people attending church may be very different from the one that works among the unchurched and never contacted by a believer. I once went witnessing with a man from a seminary background. After he left each house where people did not respond, he would announce that the person in that house was trusting in their own works to get them into heaven. I found this odd as we were in an area that was predominately animist. Meaning, they spent their entire lives trying to manipulate events and their personal good fortune by appeasing spirits and customs in the hope of making their lives more fulfilling and prosperous. The brother from a Western culture focusing on leading the churched to saving faith, views everything through the reformation theology of the West. Especially those from seminary. This brother only saw and only heard what he had been taught to practice in the only context he worked in. We must seek guidance from the Holy Spirit and we must look and see how God is at work among the peoples that are unchurched and unreached, if we want to impact them for the Kingdom. We must unlearned our formulas and learn to see what unique ways God is at work among the lost. I promise you, He is at work. Let us join Him. Let us learn His ways. Let us go.