By JOHN BARNETT, KBC
For over two decades, the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to serve Him by sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world. As 1.8 billion Muslims are fasting and praying during Ramadan during the coronavirus pandemic, now is the time for Christians to share Christ. Here are three keys:
1. Prayer and Fasting
Let us confess it before Christ. Christians usually fall short in this area. We profess to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but all too easily we fall into the habit of relying on our own efforts.
Among the conversions I observed, prayer and fasting were a common denominator, and God was moving. In order to reach peoples who are entrenched in other belief systems, we may very well need to engage in all-night prayer as our Lord practiced. It may mean fasting and pleading with God to break barriers and open hearts.
Prayer and fasting are not man-centered ways to manipulate God or attempt to force his hand. Rather, they convey our utter helplessness to win souls. They express our total dependence upon the power of God, and the truth of the gospel (Matt 6:16-18)!
2. Real Relationships
There is no generic Muslim. There are diverse individuals who practice the same faith. When we think our calling is only to win people to Christ, it can turn the missionary task into something detached, impersonal, and faceless.
Instead, we must realize and actively remind ourselves that it is our calling to win people to Jesus. We win individuals, and every person is not only an image-bearer whom God loves, but also every person needs Christ.
Every Muslim I know said they knew of at least one Christian they could go to with their questions when God began to work in their lives. Maybe you can be that one. But you must be a true friend, even if they never convert.
3. Jesus Stories
Serving others is commendable, but it is not enough. The gospel is a message that must be verbally shared and carefully explained.
A Muslim background believer I know once shared with me that Muslims view loving service from Christians as something that should be expected as if Christians owe them a debt. In other words, they think Christians should serve them because Muslims have the final revelation from God . . . or so they believe. It will never do to merely love and serve Muslims in the name of Christ. Humanitarian aid is wonderful, but it is not the ultimate need of Muslim people.
The Word of God must be spoken to them. The gospel must be proclaimed. Muslims must be called into account before the true and living God. The Bible calls God’s Word “the sword of the Spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Acts of love and service are good, but they are not the heart of the missionary task.
It has become my practice to speak to my Muslim friends just like I would talk to a friend in church. I share what God taught me during my quiet time in his Word. I talk about stories from Scripture or Bible verses that apply to both of us. They may ask, “Are you trying to convert me?” I simply respond, “Only God can speak to our hearts and convince us of truth.”
Until they walk away, I keep sharing the Word. As we pray and fast for Muslims during this Ramadan season, may we bring Jesus into every encounter with our Muslim friends, and trust him open hearts to gospel.
Remember, it is never a matter of if, but it is only a matter of when the next person will believe. When the gospel is preached, the Lord changes heart for His glory.
JOHN BARNETT is a missions strategist for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.