How should a Christian witness to nominal Muslims?

Hi Abdu. I’m from Indonesia. Do you have any practical suggestions on witnessing or challenging the spiritual assumptions of nominal Muslims in a way that doesn’t make them feel like they’re being challenged? Religion is of course a sensitive issue here. You could go to jail if found out you’re trying to ‘convert’ Muslims, but not to believers of other religions.

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Lena:
Thanks so much for your very important and understandably sensitive question. I think there are two ways to do this that will minimize risk while maximizing impact.

First: Challenge their assumptions about the gospel. Even nominal Muslims are told by their parents and peers mischaracterizations of what Christians believe. Which means they they end up rejecting a false gospel you don’t believe in the first place. Many Muslims reject a misunderstanding of the trinity, salvation by faith, and the reliability of the Bible. So, a powerful yet inoffensive way forward is to ask them questions about what they’ve come to believe about the gospel. Something like “When you think of Christianity, what comes to mind?” or “What have you heard about the gospel?” An important question gets to the heart of how they got whatever knowledge they think they have: “Where did you learn about Christianity? Have you ever talked with a serious Christian about it before? Have you read any books about Christianity that were actually written by Christians?” Often, I’ve found the most Muslims learn about Christianity only from other Muslims. If this is the case with someone you’re talking with, I would follow up: “Do you think it would be fair or even in the spirit of true learning if I only asked Christians or atheists what they think of Islam? Wouldn’t I get a fuller view if I actually spent time talking with Muslims or reading their books? Would you be open to talking about what Christianity is really all about with a Christian, like me?”

Asking questions is usually a non-threatening or aggressive way to get someone to see their hidden motivations or even their ignorance. But we have to be prepared to give the substance and credibility of the gospel because at some point, Muslims will ask you a few questions back!

Second: Find a common platform upon which to talk with a Muslim friend. In my second book, Grand Central Question, I point out that Muslims and Christians share a few common beliefs: (1) That there is an all-powerful, eternal, uncreated God who deserves our worship; and (2) Whoever that being is, He must be the greatest possible being. From here, we can show Muslims that the gospel message, of a triune being who incarnated himself in Christ and sacrificed himself for our salvation is the greatest possible being there could be. By finding the common platform from which to observe what Islam and the gospel have to offer, we can better determine which swimming pool actually has water in it! The gospel, fortunately, is deep as an ocean.

In these ways, you’re not trying to convert anyone. You’re only having conversations. They may end up being long discussions, with seemingly little ground gained. But rest assured, God can be working in those conversations in ways that you may not see for quite some time, but will surprise you in time to come. And that leads to the final point: Pray, pray, pray for wisdom and insight before every conversation.

I hope this helps. Blessings to you!

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