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“We Can Easily Overcome Those Barriers…”

Embrace LogoThe stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 19:34 (NKJV)

There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims (800 million females) living in the world today and 26,000 live here in North Carolina (NC) along with other people groups.  The NC Muslim population has increased 30% in the last ten years and is expected to double globally in the next 40 years. God has brought the nations to us right here in North Carolina.

Leviticus 19:34 is as real to us today as it was to the Israelites. God cares about the nations that live among us and so should we. He brought them here because most of us cannot travel to Muslim countries to share the gospel. We should welcome them and be intentional in sharing the gospel with them. We must obey the scriptures and if we don’t God will not be pleased with us.

Let’s not forget what Mark 12:30-31 says about how we should treat our neighbors. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” There is no commandment greater than these. If we love God with all our heart we will love the Muslims. We must obey God’s word.

I will never forget the words of Nabeel Qureshi, a former devout Muslim and now a Christian author, as he spoke at the 2013 Baptist State Convention Evangelism Conference. I couldn’t wait until February when I found out he was going to be one of the main speakers. I wanted to hear his story about his conversion and learn more how to relate to and share the gospel with Muslim women.

He told the crowd that his mother had been in this country for about 30 years yet not one Christian woman befriended her. The words he said pierced my heart. It hit hard. Maybe it was that the women she encountered daily didn’t understand her culture and didn’t know how to approach her or maybe they had so many misunderstandings about Muslim women they didn’t want to befriend her.

Qureshi went on to say, “It is our biblical command to love our Muslim neighbors and to reach them with the Word of God and with the hope of the gospel.

He said too many Christians fail to put this principle into practice because of unfounded fears and misconceptions.

“There are a lot of things people don’t know about Islam and about Muslims and Islamic culture that prevent them from engaging,” he said. “I think we can easily overcome those barriers.”

It is up to us to learn more about their culture. We have to be intentional.

I asked Zac Lyons, Ethno-Demographic Researcher, who was a missionary child in a Muslim country his thoughts.  He said that Muslim women are human beings. They put on make-up like we do, paint their nails, and play with their kids like we do. They have the same struggles as other women. We should treat them like we do other human beings. We should engage them as a human being first, wife/mother/woman second and Muslim third.

Since Ramadan starts today, it’s a good time to put all of this in perspective. Ramadan is an annual month of fasting observed by Muslims all around the world. This year it will be observed June 28 – July 28. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drink and from a few other daily routines. They can have food and drink, but it has to be before sunrise and after sunset. According to Islam, fasting brings many rewards but during Ramadan the rewards are believed to be multiplied.  Not only do Muslims fast during this time but they prayer more and recite the Qu’ran.

How would you feel as a Christian woman if you grew up in a works-based religion? What can you do to reach out to Muslim women during Ramadan? You should spend time learning about their culture and their religion. What problems do Muslim women face living in our culture? What problems do they face working with women of other cultures, with raising their children? What is her role in her home? What are her fears living in America? What does she think when she sees women here do what they want to do when she has to adhere to the law? What misconceptions do they have about us and how can we help clear up those misconceptions? We must communicate and build relationships with them and be intentional about it. Can you put yourself in her place for a few days?

Christianity and Islam share some of the same terminology, but it’s profoundly different. Islam is a works-oriented religion and Christianity is based on salvation by grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22

Not only do we have misconceptions about Muslim women but they have a misunderstanding of Christian woman. Some of the misconceptions come from what they learn from watching movies and TV shows. They believe America is a Christian nation and that everything we do is Christian. Can you imagine Muslim women perceiving us like the women portrayed in movies like, “The Other Woman” and other movies and TV shows? We must live exemplified lives around them so they will have no doubts that we serve a loving and forgiving God.

Will you be willing to be intentional about building relationships with Muslim women especially during the month of Ramadan? They may not live in your neighborhood now, but you encounter them every day in the marketplace, in the workplace and in educational settings. Will you use the time of Ramadan to pray for them? There is a 30-day prayer guide you can use that will lead you through 30 days of praying.

I would like to recommend you reading “From Fear to Faith: Muslim and Christian Women” by Cate/Downey. “This book is for those who want to share Christ with Muslim women but are sometimes afraid or unsure of how to go about it. It will also help to explain the fears that Muslim women face as they encounter the truth of God. It is written for those who want to move beyond fear, to faith.”

If we are intentional, I think the words of Qureshi will be true and “we can easily overcome those barriers.”

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