“We do not understand the movement [i.e.,the Islamic State], and until we do, we are not going to defeat it”. ~Major General Michael K. Nagata, special operations commander for U.S.Central Command, confessed in late December 2014.
The same happens when we don’t understand the Muslim faith, their source of inspiration, expectations and what they are able to do AND try to reach them with the Gospel. Last week a church planter in Michigan told me how his American friends have no clue how to reach Muslims. At one instance they went at the shop owned by an Albanian Muslim who is a leader in community. Immediately the American preacher attacks the Muslim religion and declares: “Do you know that Quran is from the Devil?”. Immediately the business owner stepped back and said: “We don;t have any conversation to do from now”.
The preacher learned his lesson. He didn’t had any experience outside his normal American environment and talked to the Muslim as he was talking to a Christian friend. He didn’t had wisdom. I’m talking about the wisdom as a summary of knowledge and experience.
If you are looking to have conversations with a Muslim with the desire to bring Jesus as Savior, you need to be prepared. Not only with your Bible verses, but knowing what this religion teaches, what they say publicly and what they say among themselves.` if you need to prove that your God is better than their God you need to know what their God did and said to bring in perspective with what your God did and said.
Once I’ve got a lesson from God. Years ago while my wife and I were renting in a certain neighborhood, we found that the convenience store next to our apartment was owned by a visible Muslim family. The man had a 5 inch beard and his sister was wearing a hi-jab. They were the first-fruits of the post-communism era of young people dressed in a Muslim dictated clothing. Not everyone was friendly to them and I decided to do my shopping at them, instead of using our church member shop 5 minutes away. I wanted to build relationship. As days passed with normal conversations regarding family, corruption, the system that didn’t work, one day they opened a spiritual discussion. They knew that I was a pastor and that day the brother in law was there. He was not friendly at all. They begun explaining the beauty of Islam and it was the first time I didn’t debate. It was like God said: “Zip it” and for 20 minutes they preached to me their gospel. While I didn’t know when they will finish and if I would have my turn to tell them how wrong they were, i was asked: “why do you believe in Christianity”.
I knew that was my time. I had their ears. I used what they told me about what they need to do to get a unsure approval from Allah and offered a better insurance. Brother in law was “eating” me from distance with angry eyes, but his fiance and her brother were listening. I was their friendly neighbor, who had listened interrupting them for 20 minutes and I was just answering their question. I felt the hand of God in my explanation of the Gospel. I learned too that before I speak, I need to listen carefully. I started that day being careful on every detail I could gather on the life or theology of Muslims. I was building my “internal library” with information ready to be used.
As I’m closing my thoughts here, I would like to ask you: “What books do you have in your “internal library”? What is the level of expertise you would like to achieve to be able to defend your faith as the only saving faith and to be able to expose other claims as insecure and not trustful? Our choice comes with the price, so comes the reward.