Worshiping Jesus in the Mosque
Can people from other religious traditions genuinely follow Jesus without becoming "Christians"? The question is a point of much dispute within today's missions world. Those who follow Jesus yet don't formally express Christian faith are said to belong to insider movements. And no insider movement has received more attention than Muslims who embrace Christ yet stay within their Islamic community. "Insiders" are hard to access due to cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers. As a result, many Christians have taken positions on insider movements without ever having met or spoken with someone who belongs to one. In the following exclusive interview, we hear from just such an insider.
The following is the synthesis of two interviews conducted in 2011 with "Abu Jaz," a key leader in a movement that describes itself as the People of the Gospel. This group represents several thousand Muslims in eastern Africa who have converted to faith in Christ during the past decade, but who have remained in their Muslim communities. Abu Jaz is married and has three children. He started following Isa al Masih ("Jesus the Messiah") as the Savior 18 years ago.
The interview was conducted by "Gene Daniels," a missionary in the Muslim community for over a decade, who has published many articles in missionary journals. Christianity Today has verified the authenticity of the interviewer and interviewee, whose real names are withheld so that the work of the People of the Gospel will be protected.
Describe your conversion to Christ.
One night the only food my wife and I had was a small portion of macaroni. My wife prepared it very nicely. Then one of her friends knocked on the door. I told myself, The macaroni is not sufficient for even the two of us, so how will it be enough for three of us? But because we have no other custom, we opened the door, and she came in to eat with us.
While we were eating, the macaroni started to multiply; it became full in the bowl. I suspected that something was wrong with my eyes, so I started rubbing them. I thought maybe my wife hid some macaroni under the small table, so I checked, but there was nothing. My wife and I looked at each other, but because the guest was there we said nothing.
Afterward I lay down on the bed, and as I slept, Isa came to me and asked me, "Do you know who multiplied the macaroni?" I said, "I don't know." He said, "I am Isa al Masih. If you follow me, not only the macaroni but your life will be multiplied."
He didn't tell me that he was God; he didn't tell me that he died on behalf of me; he didn't say, "I am the Son of God." He didn't talk to me about any complicated theological issues. He only told me that if I followed him, he would multiply my life. At that time, I was very happy if he only multiplied the macaroni like he did that day. I didn't understand what he meant when he said that my life would be multiplied. Now I understand what that means. But at that time, I accepted him simply as the "lord of macaroni."
Much like the crowds in the Gospels who accepted him as "lord of bread."
Yes, I just accepted him as one who satisfied my needs. That day I understood that because Allah loved me, Isa came to my home.
When I think back now, the kingdom of God came to my home. Jesus said, "[I]f I cast out demons … the kingdom … has come upon you" (Luke 11:20, NASB). Any miracle that takes place by Isa al Masih speaks of the kingdom of God. It was not because I was poor that Isa came to my home; there are many poor. It is not because he wanted to multiply my macaroni. Maybe there might be other people who can multiply macaroni, like magic. So what is the purpose? Isa al Masih came to my home with the kingdom of God. He didn't completely explain theological issues, he only said, "If you will follow."