Loving Muslims into the Kingdom

Terrorism, unrest in the Middle East, spiking oil prices, and Qur’an burnings. With this constant barrage, it’s no wonder we’re afraid and agitated. But our fear has caused us to become muddled about what our responsibility is to Muslims.

After clearing away the clutter, it’s still our task to share the good news of the love of Jesus Christ with Muslims. Having served with Christian Reformed World Missions in a country that is 96 percent Muslim, I bear witness that the vast majority of Muslims I’ve met are friendly, warm people. They’ve shared from their meager resources to embrace us with hospitality. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Muslims came to our home to offer their sincere condolences for the evil that was perpetrated in the name of their religion.

Our task is not to denounce the errors of Islam. Our task is to introduce people to Jesus.

Yes, there are extremists. But is it not our task to pray for them as Jesus asks us to (Matt. 5:44)? God does something in our hearts when we’re on our knees, praying for perceived enemies. None of us works well when fear controls us. But the perfect love of Christ casts out our fears (1 John 4:18).

I’ve had the great joy of seeing Muslims come to know Jesus. And in every situation it was the love of Christ demonstrated in the life of a Christian that drew him or her to Jesus. For example, a dear friend of mine who was a Muslim was dying of AIDs and shunned by his family. He decided to follow Jesus after Christian Reformed World Relief Committee staff and other Christians nursed him back to health.

Of the Muslims I know, an interest in Jesus never came about by a persuasive argument for the Trinity or by criticizing the prophet Mohammed.

Our task is not to denounce the errors of Islam. Our task is to introduce people to Jesus by our life and the words of the gospel. Then, as Muslims study God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will show them the errors as they turn all of their life over to Christ.

Every day Muslims pray the Fatiha, the first chapter of the Qur’an. Verse six of the Fatiha reads, “Lord, show us the straight way.” You and I are God’s answer to that prayer. We know the One who is the Straight Way to God the Father (John 14:6)! In sharing the gospel with Muslims and refusing to be controlled by disturbing headlines, we become the messengers who introduce people to Jesus, the Straight Way to God.

The Advancing Ministry Among Muslims Team (AMAM) in the Christian Reformed Church is preparing training for congregations who want to know more about Islam and share the Good News with Muslims. If you are interested in learning more, please contact AMAM by emailing hpersenaire-hogeterp@crcna.org.

About the Author

Henry Persenaire-Hogeterp and his wife, Ardell, are Christian Reformed missionaries in Niger, West Africa.

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Comments

It is indeed our task as Christians to pray for those who would kill us or torture us or who try to stamp out the Gospel. Far rather they come to the Truth than die in their sins and error.

It is also the task of our soldiers, Marines, sailors, and airmen to identify the potential threats, isolate them, and destroy the threat.

The Christian soldier must do both. Col. Keizer's article gets at the inherent tension in those two statements.

PNR:

I agree with your statement.

In another post I mentioned living within a block of a local mosque--a peaceful place but that I did not extrapolate their peaceful co-existence to all Muslims everywhere

any more than I would extrapolate the acts of terror in the name of Islam to all Muslims.

I will say that when the first World Trade Center bombing occurred in the 1990's (?) someone who has been featured in our local Religion section as an imam, did seem to support it.

I also have talked to a long term missionary to Nigeria who commented that Nigerian Christians consider North American CRC Christians "hopelessly naive" regarding Islam. Go figure.

I commend you all for discussing this in Christian love, as I have done on bakerfree.blogspot.com

Some of us are not afraid and agitated about terrorism, unrest in the Middle East, spiking oil prices, etc. We know what to do about these things but unfortunately the current administration is not solving them. But we are optimistic and confident, because our wise founding fathers wrote into the U.S. Constitution that we, the people, get to throw out our President and pick a new one every four years.

I could not agree more with Henry that it is still our task to share the good news with Muslims. I don’t know anyone who is muddled about our responsibility to Muslims as Christians.

I would agree that many Muslims are friendly, warm people. A good example of that is Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. (see http://www.aifdemocracy.org/about/members.php He is the founder of The American Islamic Forum for Democracy's (AIFD) at http://www.aifdemocracy.org

Dr. Jasser advocates for the preservation of the founding principles of the U.S. Constitution, liberty and freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. AIFD seeks to counter political Islam which is the ideology that fuels radical Islamists. Dr. Jasser directly confronts the ideologies of political Islam and openly counters the common belief that the Muslim faith is inextricably rooted to the concept of the Islamic State (Islamism).

I agree that our military should destroy the threats and also that we should pray for our enemies, but I don’t see any inherent tension in those two statements. Of course we pray that people like bin Laden, Hitler, Ahmadinejad come to know Jesus. But the task of destroying threats to our children and ourselves is not incompatible with that prayer.

For example, if an evil person is committing violence against your loved ones, you act. Let’s say you are at the Grand Canyon and your young daughter is sitting looking in awe at the wonderful creation God has wrought. You pray for the people there, that they may know God and that peace and love may be with them and their families. Then you see one guy pick up a large rock, ready to crush your daughter with it. Of course you charge over and knock the guy over, even if he was standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon when he was about to crush your daughter. You knock him over and he topples over the edge.

Did you do the right thing in saving an innocent child and stopping the evil doer? Of course you did. We can believe both things simultaneously -- pray that everyone gets to know God but I also protect the innocent! There is no conflict in God wanting both things and there is no conflict in me wanting both things.

Many Muslims are peaceful and we work side by side with them and introduce them to Jesus by our life and the words of the gospel. Simultaneously, we know that some who have hijacked the Muslim religion are plotting and planning an attack on America greater than the one on 9-11-01. They think it is their duty from Allah to kill and wipe out all Christians and Jews, or to subjugate them in a state of dhimmitude under shari'a law. We prepare for those people and we do everything in our power to stop them before they kill more innocent people, just as a good father does everything in his power to stop someone from killing his daughter. In both cases the protector of the innocent has a moral, God-given right to protect his loved ones and stop evil doers.

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