The taxi driver was trying his best to convert us to Islam. “After all,” he grinned into the rearview mirror, “Islam is the final religion. It completes Judaism and Christianity."
He was convinced his words were truth and passionately presented his beliefs to us. We, on the other hand, remained cowed and silent in the backseat, smiling and trying not to offend his high view of his religion, though we strongly disagreed in our hearts. We’ll get a little better versed in Islam and be more prepared the next time we meet a Muslim, we thought to ourselves. Better to respect them at first by not picking an argument.
He let us off at the corner and we waved goodbye. The taxi sped away through the busy traffic, taking our opportunity with it.
We have all experienced these times of silent shrinking back, doubting our abilities to accurately and boldly defend our faith. Good intentions to train ourselves better and prepare for next time rarely come to fruition, and the opportunity to share the Gospel with others slips away.
Perhaps what we don’t realize is that Muslims respect it greatly when we are bold and clear about what we believe. When I returned to the United States after a decade of living in a Muslim country, one of the most common questions Christians asked me was, “Was it hard to share your faith in a country where Christianity is outlawed?” My answer always surprised them. In many ways it was actually much easier to share my faith there than in my home country. Muslims are very open and willing to discuss religion, and they often demanded I tell them what I believe as they attempted to persuade me to become Muslim myself. I became rather adept at explaining my faith during those years.
Because of their natural willingness to discuss spiritual matters, we should be even that much more eager to engage with Muslims. It is often an open door we hesitate to walk through. When we don’t, it can appear that we are weak and lacking in faith.
We never know how much time we have with someone. Every encounter is a gift of time and possibility.
One day a Muslim friend asked me, “Why are Christians ashamed of Jesus?”
I was appalled and asked him why he thought that.
“You Christians never want to talk about your religion. You must be strong and bold, declaring it, if you truly believe it! Like a Muslim!”
His comments got me thinking about my own lack of boldness. In the name of respect, cultural carefulness, even friendship building, I had often hesitated to clearly state my beliefs. At least at the beginning.
After I brought this up at a seminar one day, a distraught woman approached me. With tears in her eyes, she said, “I have been friends with a Muslim family for two years now and I have never shared Christ with them. Is it too late?”
Her dilemma echoes many others’ today. How do we build sincere friendships with Muslims while remaining authentic and bold about our faith in Jesus? How do we represent Him accurately and clearly from the beginning?
Paul called himself God’s co-worker. It is God’s work to reveal Truth, and it is our work to represent it. We are given the honorable privilege of working together with Him. 2 Corinthians 6:1, 6-7 reads like a resume citation of Paul’s qualifications: “As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way… in purity, understanding, patience, kindness, dependent on the Holy Spirit, sincere love, truthful speech, the power of God, weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left.”
To commend means to present as suitable for acceptance (New Oxford American Dictionary). We present ourselves, redeemed by Christ, as suitable and acceptable ambassadors of the Gospel when we engage honestly and boldly with Muslims about our own faith. Our boldness gains their respect, and their attention. Paul shows us how it’s done.
Educate yourself about what Muslims believe by reading a book or attending a conference. Listen and seek to understand the person behind the label. Let him teach you about his culture. See her first as one created in God’s image, worthy of an authentic witness of Christ.
Dependent on the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is a Counselor, a Comforter, a Teacher. Pray in all circumstances and He will counsel you how to best encourage and share truth with your Muslim neighbor. He will show you how to comfort her. He will teach you wisdom and through your obedience reveal wisdom to the Muslims in your life.
Sincere Love and Truthful Speech
It is okay to tell the truth to Muslims about what you believe. In many cases, the truth you have believed has led to a complete rescue and transformation in your own life. Tell your Muslim taxi driver the difference Jesus made in your life. Let your love be sincere as you share your own testimony. Take time to listen and respond with the love and truth of Christ.
Weapons of Righteousness in Our Hands
Ephesians 6:16 and 17 admonish us to take up the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. In this Pauline passage, we see the Christian armed with “weapons of righteousness in the right hand and the left,” those weapons being our faith and the Bible. Hold tightly to your faith and don’t hide it from the Muslims in your life. Spend regular time reading the Bible and let its Truth strengthen and guide you. In doing so it will easily flow out of you into the lives of others as you grow bolder and more passionate about its life-changing power. Don't be afraid to give your Muslim neighbor a copy of the Injil, or New Testament, to read for himself.
We never saw that particular taxi driver again. But with him in mind, I have boldly shared my faith and many Injils with countless drivers since. And as I exit the taxis, they often smile and say, “No one has ever told me this about Jesus before!”
Be bold about your faith in Jesus. Muslims will respect you for it and want to know more.
Assemble some outreach resources appropriate for the next Muslim you meet and have them ready in your car, office, purse, etc. For ideas on what to share, visit our bookstore.
Think through some ways that you can share some biblical truth when you do meet Muslims (i.e., key scriptures, spiritual questions to ask) and cultivate a posture of preparedness. Then PRAY and expect for God to answer!