Drew Dyck spoke with T.V. Thomas, who is the director of the Centre for Evangelism & World Mission.
How should Christians respond to the growing number of Muslims in North America and Europe?
We need to deal with our fear issue propagated by the media. A lot of Christians don't realize that most Muslims are nominal, and nominal Muslims are more apt to respond to the gospel if they can see Christianity lived out for them.
What are some of the obstacles Christians face in relating to Muslims?
Most Muslims think that Western Christianity is morally degenerate. They have a point. So don't use the word Christian. I describe myself as a diligent follower of Christ. That really throws Muslims and saves me from having to defend somebody else's activity or lifestyle.
When talking to a Muslim, is it best to start with similarities or differences between the faiths?
Don't start with the differences. There is a lot of common ground. The Bible clearly calls for holiness, righteousness, and prayer. It also stresses the importance of the family. These are commonalities we should focus on. Of course, talking about these similarities often leads to discussion of the differences, but focus on the similarities first.
Once you've established a rapport, how do you broach the differences? How do you talk about Jesus?
They have a great respect for Christ, so I let them read in their own language what the Koran affirms about Jesus. Most of them don't know their own scriptures.
Can you say to a Muslim that as Christians we worship the same god?
The God of the Bible is far different from the god of Islam. But at the beginning of our conversation, if a Muslim wants to use the name Allah, I'll give him room for that. Don't fight over it at the beginning because then you don't have any starting point. So I would say to a Muslim, "We can refer to Allah, but we need to carefully look at the God of the Bible and Allah that you refer to."
How can the average person reach out to the Muslim people?
The Muslim woman is key. They are not accessible because they do not always freely interact with others outside the home, but Christian women can reach out to them in their homes. Most Muslim women are stuck at home, so go there when their husbands are gone and learn about their cooking and show them how to bake. Women from the Middle East jump at this sort of offer. Stick to baking because it's neutral. Don't work with meat and halal food. The other opportunity to serve them is teaching them English. Hold lessons at a location outside the church environment. Most Muslim women will not come to a church, or their husbands won't let them to go to church. But if you teach English just for women in a neutral place, you sidestep those obstacles.
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