If you think of five people you know, you will probably find that you met them five different ways. There is no guaranteed formula for meeting Muslims and building meaningful relationships with them, although there are certainly things we can do to be more intentional in our pursuit of friendship and understanding.
Like others in our lives who were once strangers and are now friends, Muslim friendships are built through common experience and intentionality.
What common experience do I possibly have with the veiled woman at the park, you may ask. How could I possibly be anything like the man marching in front of his hijab-hidden wife and three little boys through the mall?
What you and I and every Muslim have in common is the same exact need for a Savior, a Redeemer, a Mediator between God and man. That Redeemer is Jesus Christ. In this most basic way, we are the same. It is our essential starting point.
Once we realize this, we are faced with an unavoidable question. How will we respond to the Muslims in our community? Will we ignore them, or we will learn how to reach them with an authentic witness of Jesus Christ? If you choose the path of relationship, here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Begin praying that God will bring Muslims across your path. Pray with the help of a guide like the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World, where you will learn about Muslims from many different cultures and backgrounds, many of whom live in our cities. Your understanding of Muslims will grow along with your love for them as you pray. Join a Bridges course in your area, or lead one yourself. As you learn about Islam, you will also learn how to be an ambassador for Christ to the Muslims near you.
Find out where the Muslim communities are in your area and make it a point to be in those places. Let them be the parks you go to, the routes you run, the restaurants you frequent. If you are unsure where to find them, search a website like Salatomatic.com or islamicfinder.org. Both sites provide information about local mosques and businesses.
Serve University Students
Serve on a college campus with foreign exchange students. The holidays are a great time to host a Muslim student in your home. One area coordinator for Crescent Project recommends the Saudi Advocacy Network as a great resource for meeting students. The exchange student agreement between Saudi Arabia and the United States is nearing the end of its term and this opportunity may not exist much longer. Find out which campuses have exchange students and ask how you can get involved.
Not only can you connect with groups like World Relief or Catholic Charities, but also consider coming alongside the Muslim community in its refugee assistance. Many Muslims are highly involved in the refugee relief effort. This offers a great opportunity for relationship and service together. On that same note, visit your local mosque and ask the Imam if they are reaching out to refugees. If they are, ask how you and your church can help.
Extend an Invitation
If you are aware of Muslims in the community already, maybe in the school car line, down the street, or even at the local grocery store, think of ways to invite them to a community event at church. Does your church have special programs for families, mothers, children, or youth? Bake a batch of cookies and knock on someone’s door with a flyer. Carry flyers around with you so you will have them handy when God answers your prayer and brings a Muslim across your path. Vacation Bible School is often a great opportunity to invite Muslim families to your church. Just be ready for them to accept your invitation!
Above All, Be Sincere
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Romans 12:9
Our motive for meeting Muslims must be sincere love. We hate the evil we see committed in the name of Islam today, but we cling to the good of a good God who made all of us in His own image, called us by name, and bestowed value upon us, regardless of merit. As a follower of Jesus, you are equipped to be the authentic witness Muslims deserve. Choose relationship with them today.
- Choose one of the above suggestions and implement it over the next month. Write to us at Crescent Project and tell us how it went!
- Get Fouad Masri’s practical handbook, Hummus, Haircuts and Henna Parties for more ideas on creative ways to reach out to Muslims.