How can Christians best love Muslims in their communities? This is one of those questions that we really need to grapple with as we see increasing numbers of refugees, immigrants, and even those who are converting Islam who are living in to your neighborhood and working with us, and in our schools and universities. So let me give you three ways really quickly that Christians can love Muslims in their community during this pandemic.
First of all, don't be afraid of them.
With or without Covid-19, the biggest barrier to Christians engaging with Muslims in their community. We have these perceptions that create false barriers and keep us from engaging with them as friends and neighbors. One of the ways we can overcome this fear of the unknow to learn what's true about them. We've got to study and understand what they do believe and what they don't. And part of that comes with, as we befriend them, asking them questions about their faith and their practice and their interests. You will find something in common, and learn about they believe is important in life.
The second thing is be their friend.
People ask me often, "How can I share my faith with a Muslim?" or something like that. "How do I get to know them?" The single best thing you can do is open up your home and invite them to your home for dinner. Islam is rooted in a hospitality-based culture. When you do that, there's a sort of cycle of inner-relational connection that happens. They're going to invite you back into their home for dinner. And it's going to open up incredible doors to share with them your faith. During this pandemic, you can change this a backyard get-together, meet to share a meal at a park, or even meet at an outdoor restaurant. Find a way to connect and be hospitable while considering social-distancing.I've shared my faith with Muslims and I would guess that over 90% of the time I've done that it's been at their invitation. Because I've begun by just trying to be a friend to them.
Finally, share your faith with them.
It sounds scary, right? Maybe you don’t know where to start. “I don’t know enough about Muslims. I hear that Muslims don’t understand what we believe about the Trinity and I hear that, you know, Muslims don’t like Jesus.” Muslims actually love Jesus. They just believe different things about Jesus than we do. You don’t have to have all those answers figured out. You need to know what Christ has done for you and you need to develop a relational connection with your Muslim friends and neighbors that’s built around the common things that you share. The sports teams that your kids play on, the same work that you go to everyday, or the university classes you attend. And get to know them. Share some of those commonalities. Recognize that 90% of what Muslims care about and think about would be the exact same things that you think about and care about. Can I pay the bills this week? How do I make sure that my kids have a safe place to grow up and become productive citizens? What should we have for dinner? And then begin to relationally communicate with them the truth about the gospel. Once you’ve built a friendship, a great first question to open up the conversation is something like: Tell me a little bit about what you believe? When you start with that, you will learn exactly what your friend believes. Each person is different and it’s important to start with listening to them. Invariably they will turn around and then say, “Well then, can you tell me about what you believe?” From there you have the opportunity to share biblical truths and plant a seed, sharing the gospel at their invitation. Removing fear, growing a real friendship and then having honest conversations about your beliefs are great ways to love your Muslim friend. Don’t be afraid to have these conversations over FaceTime or even phone calls since in-person interactions can be limited during this time. Go, be a fisher of men!