A political ambassador stands on his government’s authority, speaking on its behalf to those of another nation. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, Paul refers to Christians as ‘ambassadors’ for Christ. The role is quite similar: an ambassador for Christ stands on His authority, communicating His Word to those outside His Kingdom. Later in the same verse, Paul presents the core message ambassadors declare: ‘Be reconciled to God.’
Crescent Project was founded on this principle: to equip Christians to represent Christ to the Muslim communities around them. Founder Fouad Masri says, “our job is not to make a Muslim a Christian. Our job is to show them the love of Christ.”
Stepping into our role as Christ’s ambassadors can be intimidating. If you’ve given thought to how you can share Christ with Muslims, the following five questions have likely crossed your mind. We hope that through these answers you’ll find the ideas and encouragement you need to represent Jesus well!
1. How can I meet and befriend Muslims?
A 2015 Pew Research Center study estimates that 3.3 million Muslims live in the United States. Some cities and neighborhoods have a higher percentage than others, but Muslims are all around us. And the most significant barrier to befriending a Muslim isn’t proximity, but availability. Specifically our availability.
A packed schedule, for some, is a badge of honor. It connotes value or purpose. But little margin in our time means little opportunity to experience moments where true friendship develops, or where God moves in a life. Moments like a dinner conversation that lingers into the night, or spontaneously helping a neighbor with yard work. Because hospitality and quality time are so highly valued in Middle Eastern cultures, investing meaningfully in the lives of Muslims requires loosening our schedules.
With this foundation, you might be able to befriend Muslims in the following ways:
- Have dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant. Ask your waiter or the owner where they’re from, what makes their culture and food unique, where they worship.
- Look online to find a mosque near you. Some host public programs about Islam or hold community festivals.
- Seek out local churches or ministries that serve international students. Many have language partnership programs or openly accept volunteer help in hosting meals, providing places for students to spend holidays, etc.
- Practice hospitality; invite the Muslims you meet for dinner or tea, and gratefully accept the same.
*For more ideas on how to connect with Muslims in your community, see Humus, Haircuts and Henna Parties, a booklet full of great ideas
2. When and how do I bring up faith in conversation?
The Islamic faith is deeply intertwined with a Muslim’s culture and daily life, so it’s not a taboo topic. Most Muslims love talking about spiritual things; there’s no need to fear awkwardness.
So the short answer is: Anytime!
You’re probably looking for more than that, though. Here are some ways you can give these conversations a Colossians 4:5-6 quality:
- Ask about your friend’s faith, about the significance of Islamic traditions and holidays, about how they see and relate to God. Practice good listening and let natural curiosity take the conversation deeper.
- Be open about how your faith affects your everyday life. Share things you’re praying for, sermons you’ve heard, struggles you face and how you’re bringing them to God.
- Mention Scripture, especially as it ties into the above point. Share a specific verse you’re meditating on and how you’re seeking to apply it.
- Offer a Bible as a gift. The Quran affirms that God sent the Bible through the prophets and Jesus the Messiah. Many Muslims are curious to read it since it is not accessible in their community.
- Ask how you can pray for them, and follow up to see how God answers.
3. What shouldn’t I say or do, so I don’t offend?
You may not know much about Islam, and you don’t want to say something offensive or angering, potentially creating an argument.
This is understandable, and much of it is allayed by having a humble, warm demeanor. Cultural faux pas will happen. If you approach from a position of friendship, genuinely seek understanding, and be quick to apologize, your friend will likely respond in kind. Your demeanor is a real way to offer the “fragrance of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14-15).
Fouad Masri, in his book Ambassadors to Muslims, mentions a few specific ways to present this friendly, loving attitude:
- “Don’t criticize Islam, Muslims, or Muhammed. Our role is not to embarrass and put down Muslims, but to respect and accept them.”
- “When I meet a Muslim, I even go so far as to avoid criticizing his or her country’s government. I’m here to represent Christ, to be a friend, not an antagonist.”
- “Don’t argue. You can respect your friend’s opinions, even if you disagree.”
- “Avoid elongated discussion about the Quran or Islamic texts. But rather introduce biblical concepts and words by our savior Jesus into the conversation. To the Muslim, you are an expert on your book – the Bible – not the Quran.”
4. What objections to Christianity should I expect to hear?
Many Muslim leaders teach erroneous information about Christianity. So your friend may bring up some surprising objections. Be patient - you may be the first Christian with whom they’ve ever had a friendship, and you have the opportunity to lovingly correct their misinformed understanding.
Crescent Project’s Bridges Study prepares you for the most common questions - belief that the Bible has been corrupted, objections about the Trinity and Jesus’ Sonship, arguments about the crucifixion and resurrection - and how to engage them. Further, Crescent Project staff member Jenny G. offers a valuable insight relevant to any conversation where objections are raised:
“Ground yourself in one or two verses [for each question], and offer your ‘challenge’ to each lie or distortion through God’s Word. You won’t likely get a long window to speak to any of these. You’ll get a few minutes, sometimes 30 seconds, then they’ll move on to the next question. Don’t be frustrated - be patient and share your next verse. When they see you have an answer and that you know your book and your God, they’ll choose which question to come back to for longer conversation.”
5. Should I be concerned for my safety when witnessing to Muslims?
This is a reasonable question, especially in light of the violence and supremacism that Islamic doctrine teaches, and what 1,400 years of bloody and oppressive history has shown.
In spite of all this, most Muslims do not want to wage violent Jihad to advance Islam. Most Muslims today are cultural in nature and are easily approachable, friendly to Christians, and open to spiritual discussions. So, you should not be overly concerned about your safety when witnessing to Muslims.
But, as the Bible teaches, we must be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves.” Prayer is the essential foundation of any outreach effort and the Holy Spirit must be our guide in discerning who to engage and how. This does not mean that devout Muslims should be avoided! They need the Gospel too! In fact, their hunger to please God and earn salvation at any price will often make them open to spiritual conversations and to the liberating truth of the Gospel.
According to a 2007 study published in Evangelical Missions Quarterly, approximately 1 in 3 Muslims in North America don’t know any Christians personally. Simply by following the advice here, you can help change that sad statistic and encourage many warm, wonderful people to ‘Be reconciled to God!’