Overcoming stereotypes with genuine Christian faith
June 2021

By a member of SEND’s Diaspora | North America team Do you always agree with everything that goes on in your own country, religiously or politically? I would guess that the answer is probably a resounding, “No!”

I love my country, but there are still things that happen across this great land with which I am certainly not in agreement. I say this because too often we get caught up in grouping people together unfairly based on stereotypes. We hear someone is from so-and-so country, and we feel negatively toward them because of our dislike for the country’s leader.

The current leader in Iran, for example, is accused of sponsoring terrorism in the past and present. But we have Christian brothers and sisters in Iran. According to Operation World, the church in Iran is growing rapidly, with estimates of over a million new believers in recent years! God is not bound by borders, time, or religious fanaticism. When he moves to change peoples' hearts, lives are changed!

In fact, the religious fanaticism found in Iran has caused many former Muslims to come to Christ. This also happens in other Muslim countries that forcefully push their faith and punish their own people when their Islamic faith is not “vibrant” or “visible” enough. In Afghanistan, I saw fear in people’s eyes as Islamic religious police drove around in pickup trucks, looking to pounce on and punish unfortunate Muslim men for not growing their beards long enough or not going into a mosque at prayer time.

Many of the Muslims who have immigrated to North America have moved from being religious Muslims to being cultural Muslims. They have fled brutal regimes. They are fed up and tired of Islam. Because of what they were taught growing up, Muslims typically consider all Americans and Canadians to be Christians. So, what do these people think when they come to the United States or Canada and see secular society and stale churches? If true Christians never have  conversations with Muslim immigrants to show them what genuine Christian faith requires (loving God with all our heart, soul, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves), how are they to know the difference?

Until Muslims hear and see Christians living their lives surrendered to the Word of God, how will they know the difference between those who follow Christ wholeheartedly and those who don’t follow him at all? This does not mean that you have to quote every verse you have ever memorized to each and every Muslim you meet. Think of them as being on a spiritual journey, taking one step at a time. It can take many years to walk the full path to becoming a Christian.

What are some ways you can come alongside Muslims on this journey? Ask if you can pray with them, and offer to tell them a story from Scripture. Don’t forget about the Old Testament, because the entire narrative of the Bible is essential from beginning to end. Both the Old and New Testaments help Muslims to understand the complete picture of God’s grace. Give them time to process what you are telling them. You can even ask them to repeat the story back to you and then share it later with another family member. We do this with some of our Muslim English language students, and the next time we meet we ask, “Did you share the story we talked about last time?”

As you talk with Muslims, don’t feel that you have to have all the answers before you approach them. If they ask you a question and you don’t know the answer, just tell them, “That’s a great question, but I don’t know the answer. Can I get back to you?” Then research the question and bring the answer the next time you meet. There is not a lot of openness to questioning things in Islam, so your honesty and transparency can go a long way. In our interactions with Muslims, God will use some of us to plant seeds, some of us to water, and some of us to reap a harvest!

Prayer for the Muslim world

• Join with Christians all over the world praying for 10% of the Muslim world to come to Christ in the next 10 years. Sound crazy? It sure is, but with God, all things are possible! Let’s also pray that we will be ready to disciple the multitudes when God opens the floodgates of heaven!

• Pray for those still suffering in the darkness, who have never been told of the love God has for the nations and who still don’t know that he alone is the Light of the world.

• Pray that those living in difficult circumstances in Iran, the Middle East, and other Muslim countries will turn to Christ for their salvation. Pray for Christian radio, TV and internet broadcasts to go out with strong signals and to reach every corner of this vast area.

• Pray that SEND workers ministering in Muslim countries will have perseverance and wisdom for each conversation. Pray for spiritual discernment on how they should share of God’s grace and mercy. 

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