Ministering With Muslims
During a gathering with staff-members at the EFC’s Markham office in November 2008, “Pastor Faheem” shared some thoughts about outreach ministry with Muslim neighbours and friends.
In his introduction of Pastor Faheem, Randy Hoffmann, who chairs the Canadian Network of Ministries to Muslims, noted that in the last 25 years more Muslims have come to Christ than in the previous 1,400 years.
Pastor Faheem, a “Muslim Background Believer,” is now the pastor of a church in British Columbia. Once a notorious drug dealer, Faheem was propositioned by his former government to spy on Christian missionaries entering the country. He used this as an opportunity to learn about the Christian faith.
Initially a long-haired, leather-clad biker, Faheem experienced rejection from the church, mainly because of his appearance. One Christian man saw beyond the intimidating exterior and embraced Faheem, offering him friendship built on courtesy and respect. A relationship developed that led Faheem to ask deeper questions about his new friend and the Christian faith. These questions provided him with knowledge about Christ.
Through this relationship Faheem experienced how Christ can fill the void of loneliness, rejection and lack in life. As in any relationship the two friends fought, forgave, learned and loved each other despite cultural differences and prejudices. Faheem learned that within relationships it is okay to argue and disagree, but in Christ we can never be separate.
Pastor Faheem offered several suggestions in relation to outreach among Muslim people, including the following:
Pray for them and ask God what He wants you to do
Build bridges in friendship
Do not point out their weaknesses but be encouraging
Muslims view Christians as trying to convert them to Christianity. It must be remembered that it is God’s job to convert.
Do not be competitive or argue about faiths.
Allow Muslims to ask you questions and then share God’s love.
Spiritually mature Christians need to be flexible when learning to understand Muslim culture. This requires recognizing the difference between a Canadian Christian cultural worldview of guilt and innocence (right and wrong) and the Muslim cultural worldview of honour and shame. To reach out effectively the Canadian church has to step out from its worldview and value the significance of the Muslim worldview.
“People can feel real love from your heart,” said Pastor Faheem This is not a type of ministry you simply study from a book and then apply as a project. Sincerity cannot be taught; you must be genuine. Faheem noted the importance of recognizing that we all need a healing process. Ask that God will heal you from your own wounds before beginning this kind of ministry, he said. Healing equals a sweet spirit. Confess and bring your weakness to the glory of God.
In concluding his comments, Pastor Faheem suggested that individual-to-individual outreach is preferable to church-to-mosque outreach. However, if a church-to-mosque outreach is decided on, it is recommended that a Muslim-background believer be involved with the relationship building process. Such Christians represent an organic understanding and act as an immediate bridge builder.