Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Orientation Training...Bridges

Did you know that the Muslim faith of Islam is one of the fastest growing religions right now? Did you know technically, we are all Muslims? The Arabic word Muslim means "one who submits to God," therefore we are Muslims, through Christ! There is a lot of fear and hostility that strikes someone when you mention the word Muslim. And the media does a great job of promoting our fears by placing all Muslims in a negative light, as radicals, or fundamentalist, etc - it is just good business. And how are we to teach a Muslim about Jesus if we allow our fears to separate us from them? MAF understands this concern and has put us through a basic Islamic training called "Bridges" because we are learning how to build a "bridge" and form a friendship with a Muslim, rather than preaching AT one. Considering this culture is very much about relationship building, it is very important to know about the Muslim culture so that you can relate to them.

At the beginning of this training, we all talked about what we thought we knew about the Islamic religion. It was very sad to say that 99% of our information came from the news and hardly any of us had taken the initiative to learn the truth about their culture. I am included in that percent! Not only was most of our information lacking, but a lot of it was misinterpreted hearsay! Did you know Muslims believe Christ was born of a virgin and that He was sent by God? Did you know their holy book (the Qur'an) instructs them to follow the Psalms of David, the Books of Moses, the Prophets, and (most) of the Gospel?

The training took us through the history of the religion as well as discussing a lot of their beliefs and rituals. Using all of this information, we learned there are surprisingly quite a few similarities in our religions. Drawing on our similarities, it gave us many examples on how to break the ice into "bridging" a connection. Once you have a connection, it becomes easier to talk more freely and openly, which will hopefully lead to more opportunities to discuss Jesus.

One of the biggest reality checks for me was when the Muslims in the video talked about what they knew of the Christian culture. Since they also get all of their information from the news and movies, they are just as misinformed about us! Chew on this: when we call Jesus the Son of God, they take this literally. So they believe we are Pagans because we worship the half-god Jesus who was born because God had a physical relationship with Mary. Oh my! They also think we as Christians are polytheists (meaning we worship multiple gods), because of our belief in the Trinity. They are under the misconception that our Trinity includes God, Jesus, and Mary.

One of the things that I appreciated the most were the testimonies from people who were once Muslims and then converted to Christianity. Their testimonies were powerful and their desire to look beyond their own faith was because of their own personal strength. When talking to the person who introduced them to Christianity, there were two main characteristics: a desire and perseverance to connect, and a desire to share their knowledge of Jesus. That's it. No judging, no condemnation, no finger pointing or accusations, just being an ambassador of Christ through relationship building.

*If you are looking for more information on how to share Jesus with a Muslim, I would be happy to share some of our sources.

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