Thursday, July 15, 2010

Three 'evangelical lies' about reaching Muslims

Karim* grew up in an Arab Christian family in a Middle Eastern country — part of the “1 percent of Christians among the 99 percent Muslims,” as he describes it.

When you’re part of a tiny, historically persecuted minority, you tend to keep your head down and your mouth closed. You also tend to believe what your elders tell you about the majority, whether it’s true or not. Karim did — for a time.

Now an evangelical pastor in the Middle East, Karim fervently believes the Christians of the region “are responsible for reaching the 99 percent.” But too many still accept three “evangelical lies” that prevent them from sharing Jesus with their Muslim neighbors:

* A spirit of fear. “Most Christians are afraid to go and reach Muslims because of fear,” Karim declares. “We [Christians] say, ‘They will kill us. They will kill our family, our children.’”

* Muslims won’t believe. “Many, many Christians say that Muslims will not follow Christ” — ever. End of story.

* Christians lack the resources to evangelize Muslims. “We say we don’t have the money,” Karim says. “This is another lie, because if I have the heart to reach Muslims, I can go out and reach 1,000 people and share Christ with them. Maybe I need $5 to put gas in my car. If I go walking, I don’t need any money at all.”

But it took Karim a long time to reject the lies.

As a young man he wandered in the spiritual wilderness. He worked in a nightclub (“I was a big sinner,” he confesses). Weary of cultural Christianity, he even converted to Islam for several years. When he returned to Christ with his whole heart, a Muslim friend quickly noticed the change in his life.

“I was so excited about what happened to me, so the first thing I did was to share it with one of my best friends,” Karim recounts. “He said, ‘Karim, if Jesus did that in your life, I want to follow Him.’ I said, ‘No, no, no.’ You see, the fear is there inside us. He said, ‘But I want to follow Christ as you did because it is very good.’ I said, ‘OK, think about it, and we can talk tomorrow.’ The next morning at 8:30 he came to me and said, ‘I decided to give my life to Jesus and to follow Him with no conditions.’”

A second friend believed, and a third, and a fourth. All were Muslims. Not all decided to follow Christ as quickly as the first, but Karim could no longer deny Muslims wanted the priceless gift he had to share.

He began to sense what a Saudi friend later put into words: “We Muslims are beloved people, but we are cheated” — cheated out of knowing about the One who loves them because other followers of Christ are too timid or indifferent to tell them about Him.

“You know the difference between leading a Christian-background person to Christ or a Muslim?” Karim asks. “The first is like a tree planted in your backyard, and in six months you start to get fruit. But to lead a Muslim to Christ, you are digging in a mine. You may spend years, but what you find there is not fruit. It is diamonds!”

What keeps him digging? Every day he hears about — or personally witnesses — a Muslim coming to Christ.

“This is the fuel I’m getting from the Lord.”

*(Name changed)


David said...

Great article. Muslims are coming to faith in Christ. Perfect love (i.e. Christ's love) alone is able to overcome the fear that keeps us from sharing the good news with the Muslims around us and throughout the world.

Great word, Erich!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It is sad, but true that these precious people, most loved by the Lord, have been cheated out of their inheritance. They have not been told the riches that are available to them in Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

Erich, I just read your story about Karim. I agree of course. More Muslims are coming to the Lord today around the world than ever before in history. One caveat: Killing does sometimes happen. Hundreds of Christians have been killed by Muslims in areas like N. Nigeria or around Jos, or in Sudan, or in Eritrea, or -- the list could go on and on. While we were still in Lebanon a young man who had become a believer in Jesus sat in our living room, grieving, saying, "Brother David, What can I do. I won three of my Muslim friends to Jesus and now they are all dead, killed by other Muslims." That's hard, but it is sometimes reality. Nevertheless we must continue to share our faith with them knowing that, in spite of whatever dangers they may face, their eternal home is with Jesus in paradise and some may be able to persuade others to come to faith before they go to heaven. David King

Erich Bridges said...

Very true, David K. I remember a believer in Egypt saying a few years ago that God would bring "Egypt my people" back to Himself as Scripture promises, but that it would come with much suffering. This is a reality the church must face. Erich

Stephanie said...

Great article. I love reading stories about Muslims getting saved! God is doing an amazing work among Muslims and I hope to be a part of it! Thanks for sharing!

tomc said...

Erich, I really like the articles here. Lots of food for thought (and action). One twist to reaching Muslims for Christ: Here in Germany in 2009 news came of several people being killed in Jemen. Apparently the young ladies were also witnessing a bit in a cafe and had to pay with their lives. In the press here the missions organisation(s) were blamed for their deaths! And those saying they would die for Christ were compared to Muslim suicide bombers. This has far reaching implications for all commited Christians - which has become reality in Europe - following Christ means the world rejects us in many different ways. But it is and will be worth it. As in Hebrews: "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth." The door is still open for all sinners to come to him, especially in countries we deem impossible. Our God reigns!