Following the star

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Following the star

This is a real-life story of recent events from a friend of Mahabba. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

An unexpected opportunity

I had been working on a Christmas tract for Muslims called, 'Following the star', but did not expect such a rapid opportunity to use it!

The very day I received the print-ready version from the publisher, I dropped in to visit some newcomers studying English as a second language at my local church.

I went with my two-year old grandson, Tom, with the intention of befriending and engaging the students in simple conversation.

There were three Muslim ladies at the table and a two year old named Mina who
was not at all shy.

The initial conversation centred around the two children. We introduced them to each other while they were eating.

Mina's mother Rachida was drawn into this conversation as well as the other two Arabic speaking women.

What happened next was rather amazing. Mina crawled across the table towards me with a beaming smile and offered me a taste of her tiny star shaped snacks.

I asked her mother (who knows very little English), 

What is this in Arabic?

as I showed her the star.

After consulting with her friends, Rachida replied,

Najima.

To cut a long story short, I then showed them the proof of the Christmas tract which I had received earlier.

Highlighted in the centre of the short article, 'Following the star', was a large yellow star.

They seemed open to hearing the story about the wise men who sighted the star of Bethlehem in the future.

Undoubtedly they will become even more curious as we draw closer to the time of celebrating Christ's birth.

We plan to serve a Christmas lunch to their class along with a reading of the Christmas story from Matthew 2:1-11 in Arabic, telling the story of the magi who followed the star in search of the newborn king.


If you would like to get hold of this tract, you can download it via Answering Islam as well as read more on its website.

 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Deep hunger

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Deep hunger

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Friendship first

For those of you that have completed the Friendship first course, you will know that building relationships and strong friendships with Muslims is often the first step to sharing Jesus with them.

All friendships take time and energy to flourish, but the more Muslims I meet here where I am, the more I see a deep hunger for it and for assurance, support and encouragement.

It has not seemed difficult to find Muslim ladies keen to chat about faith, receive encouraging scripture and to pray with.

For this I am very thankful to God.

Last week I met for a coffee with a Muslim lady and our conversation turned very naturally to our beliefs and purpose in life.

I was able to share the gospel with her and talk about what following Jesus meant to me.

It was a very extraordinary moment in a very ordinary setting, flowing from a very real friendship.

Be energetic in your life of salvation, reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is Gods energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure.
— Philippians 2:13, The Message
 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Peace

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Peace

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

My peace I give you

It is not every day you get to walk along the main road with the chief imam of the town’s most prestigious mosque, but that was my privilege.

We had a great talk.

Along with all the general things, we talked about similarities and differences between our respective faiths.

I discovered he owned a Bible.

At one point we got talking about how proper respect should be shown to the prophets.

When Muslims speak of Jesus they have to say,

Peace be upon him

I told him I could never say that.

How can I wish peace on him? He is the one who promises peace to us. I would rather say, ‘May his peace be upon us’

I took out my wallet and drew out a printed scripture text,

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid
— John 14:27

It is one of the texts I always have with me because this issue comes up.

Two weeks later he accepted my invitation to have lunch at the church café.

For him it was unanticipated view of church and church people.

Again we talked about lots of things.

At one point we got on to the disobedience of the Prophet Jonah.

The imam talked about all the prophets asking forgiveness.

I pointed out that one never needed to, Jesus Christ who never sinned.

He did not argue. Islam does not disagree. 

We are building a friendship. We will see where God takes it. There are more opportunities in round here than meet the eye.

 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Shoes

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Shoes

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

How beautiful are the shoes

I recently bought a pair of shoes.

I learnt many, many years ago that most shoes were not designed for feet like mine.

I have learnt to always look for wide fitting lace-ups of a particular design because I know I can't get into anything else.

I have never, ever, found slip-on shoes that fit me.

However, as I hobbled about clumsily in a narrow doorway trying to unlace my shoes to enter the home of a Muslim neighbour, I thought it is time to find some slip-ons.

There are so many opportunities and my footwear is a hindrance. It felt like a prompt from the Lord.

I suppressed my revulsion for shopping, girded up my faith and went hunting. I found just one pair that I could get on. Praise God, I now have my ministry shoes for my not so beautiful feet.

I put my shoes to use last night.

I was going to visit a Syrian refugee family to let them know to expect the delivery of second-hand settee.

On the way I met a different family returning from the shops and was pressed to join them for some real Arab coffee.

Shoes off

I stayed with them for about 45 minutes. Drank authentic Arab coffee.

This was the family that had joined as twice when we had open air church in the park.

The head of the family had accepted an English-Arabic New Testament.

Shoes on

Round the corner I found the other family along with their visitors.

Shoes off.

I stayed about 20 minutes, drank more Arab coffee.

Shoes on.

And I came home happy.

 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Imam Karim's story

Imam Karim's story - Mahabba Network

Imam Karim's story

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Not what you may be expecting

Imam Karim calmly talked of his upbringing, his pride in Islam and, in a matter of fact tone, how he regarded Christianity as not worth considering, as too easy to be taken seriously.

The gasps and stunned looks on the faces of the Christians said it all.

Imam Karim was being interviewed before an audience of Christians but the involuntary responses I witnessed came from my friends watching the DVD as part of the Friendship First Course.

Twenty minutes later Imam Karim was on again telling them how God had spoken to him, commanded him to follow Christ and then the hardships he passed through.

The difference in the room was palpable.

They had come to learn something about sharing Jesus with Muslims.

I think they expected it to be hard work and problem-focussed.

At the end, one of them shook his head and said,

This has been so uplifting.
 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

The final outcome

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The final outcome

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands

Sometimes what seems like a failure may not be such a crushing blow for God, after all nothing takes him by surprise!

Each week I am part of a class where people learn English and study the Bible.

It’s a discovery Bible study type of approach, with the emphasis being on living out what we have learned, as well as praying for each other.

People from a range of nationalities attend - most of whom are of a Muslim background.  Numbers can fluctuate - from a low of 3 to a high of 25+.

Last week only one person came, which has never happened before!

It could have felt like total abject failure. I felt disappointed initially.

However we used the time to visit him, help him clean his house. Then we had a drink and prayed for each other in a nearby supermarket car park.

This week ten people from four different countries showed up!

So was last week a waste of time and resources? I don’t think so!

I think it was good to spend time and hopefully encourage one person. Perhaps we can take comfort that: We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.

We can make our plans, but the final outcome is in God’s hands.
— Proverbs 16:1 TLB
 
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Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Find your local Mahabba group and join us in prayer and action to see Muslims impacted with the love of Jesus

There she was, in church

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There she was, in church

This is a real-life story of recent events from one of the local Mahabba groups in the Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

Why did the Muslim lady come to church?

It was her second time in a church service.

A modern Muslim woman, modestly dressed but with no head covering, she was nonetheless diligent in her prayers. She always spoke positively and confidently about her Islamic faith.

And there she was, in church.

It was a guest service and she had been invited, but this is not enough to explain her presence. Thousands of her neighbours were not there, but they had not received personal invitations.

Only a few of those who did get invitations had come along.

The deciding factor for her was that she had a friend. A long term, no nonsense, Christian friend of her own age who had worked with her for years and who shared life with her. Not an evangelist or a preacher, but a real friend.

Her verdict on the service:

It was really good. I loved the music. The teaching was really clear and easy to follow. I am definitely coming again.
 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below
     
  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

Across Woking annual report

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Across Woking annual report 2016-17

Dear Simon

Thank you for the annual report and an invitation to feedback to you.


Across celebrated 20 years of ministry this year and although I have only been part of the ministry for the last two years, even in that short time I have rejoiced at seeing the Lord at work in Woking, using ordinary Christians to unveil Christ's love to the Muslims.

Our ministry begins and ends with prayer. The monthly Friday prayers have taken place in Woking every month for the last 20 years. I make that 240 dedicated times of prayer solely for the varied cultures and faith groups in Woking.

Our prayer breakfasts that take place quarterly and well attended Mahabba Meals have also been great opportunities to draw Christians together to highlight and pray specifically for cross cultural needs. Just last week our Mahabba Meal was hosted by a MBB who through her own experiences has set up a charity to support other women like herself who find themselves in need of a safe house following their conversion. £300 was raised through the kind donations at the Meal, and more importantly we saw the willingness of those who attended to support this cause by opening their own homes.

A new initiative this year began in the summer when Across became active within the community to engage with Muslims on a one to one basis. We ran a free Adult craft tent at three local family events known to be well attended by Muslims. The craft tents allowed for meaningful conversations to take place in a relaxed environment. Just one story to share is that as a result one Muslim lady has been whatsapping me and has expressed an interest to come to my Church in December for our church craft event. This will most likely be her first time being welcomed into church and I can't wait to take her.

Earlier in September, armed with 400 'you are Loved' cards, a team of Christians went to the local mosque and handed them out with messages of love as men and women left the mosque after Friday prayers. We turned up unannounced and yet the Imam in his acceptance and acknowledgment of us coming, fed us all lunch before we left. We look forward to repeating this at the other mosques in Woking in due course.

In November we have a half day training scheduled thanks to Mahabba's focus on training and we look forward to church members being inspired to befriend their Muslim neighbours as a result.

We are grateful that Across can share in the Lords vision for Mahabba to love all Muslims and pray that it will go from strength to strength.

Blessings,

Riz - coordinator (Woking)

Because my friend invited me

This blog was initially published on 31 March 2017, and subsequently edited with an update on 7 September 2017.

Because my friend invited me

I was visiting with a family of Syrian refugees who had come to the UK on the government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme from refugee camps in the Middle East.

They were one of the first refugee families in our area, helping those who came after them to settle. In the process, they’ve become central figures in the resettled community.

Many local Mahabba members have helped them along the way with driving lessons, English lessons and furniture.

I’m trying to learn Arabic from them.

Last week, the husband and son were on their way out when the mum, my Arabic teacher, said I should practise my new vocabulary and ask them where they’re going.

The response was,

ila l-kanisa,

which means, 'to the church'.

To the church?

I asked surprised,

Why are you going to church?
Because my friend invited me,

was the simple response.

Dad picked up the keys and off they went, just like any other parent ferrying children to activities.

I was struck by the familiarity and simplicity of the scene – this Muslim boy is going to church because he had been invited.

So often we are hamstrung by questions about the proper way to introduce our Muslim friends to Christ:

What if I say the wrong thing? What if we serve the wrong food? What if…

Whoever this boy’s friend is, he gave me a valuable lesson that night.

Just do it!


And as it happens, a few month's later at the first Mahabba group meeting of the new academic year I heard an amazing development.

This boy had asked one of our other Christian friends, who knows the family, whether he can be a Muslim who follows Jesus.

So be encouraged - just do it and see what God does!


SINCE YOU'RE HERE...

... we have recently reached a total of 40 local Mahabba prayer groups in the UK - awesome news!

With your help, though, we would like to continue to sow, plant and support Mahabba groups.

Our work involves a small team of regional reps and central hub personnel investing in local coordinators and groups, as well as spreading the word.

To continue this vital mission to Muslims, we need to increase our regular monthly income.

Our initial target is to raise up 100 individual regular donors, giving an average of £10 to £15 per month.

Could you be one of the 100?

Network Annual Report 2016-17

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Network Annual Report 2016-17

Welcome to our annual report for the last financial year (1 September 2016 to 31 August 2017), or, as everyone wants to know, what we've done with your money!

Please do take a couple of minutes to leave your feedback at the end of the report - we particularly want to hear back from people in local Mahabba groups.

Here's a quick index, if you want to skip to particular sections (click on the links):

What's been happening >
How we've used your funds >
Impact of what we've done >
Reports from Mahabba groups >
Feedback >

 
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What's been happening

As ever, Mahabba has been up to lots. Here is a quick summary of the main things this year:

New growth!

The Network has grown to 51 local groups, and the following have joined us to pray and share Jesus with Muslims: Peckham, Basingstoke, Aston, Frenchay, Newham, Southampton, Morden, Dublin, Salford and Loughborough.
See our groups >

Prayer and action campaign

During Ramadan, for the fourth consecutive year, we have run Lovefast, a campaign to encourage Christians to pray for Muslims and engage with them in the community. Over 330 people joined us across the 30 days.
Read more about Lovefast >

Annual Gathering

For the third consecutive year, Mahabba people from across the UK, as well as other interested parties, gathered for prayer, networking and equipping with us in Derby.
Read more >

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Supporting local groups

This year we successfully distributed 500 '30 Days of Prayer' guides to local Mahabba groups. This coincided with Ramadan and our Lovefast campaign. The aim was to encourage individuals into prayer in groups, as well as among Christians in communities.

Tithe Fund

Mahabba has continued to sow 10% of all its income this year into like-minded projects and ministries. It has distributed £17,342 into over 20 individual projects.

Within Mahabba

  1. We have welcomed a new member onto the Network Team - made up of regional reps - who will focus on strategic development with other organisations, among students and strengthening the Network
     
  2. We launched our new fundraising initiative, Friends of Mahabba, encouraging individuals to partner with us closely financially as well as prayerfully. We believe this will play a key part in increasing individual giving. Find out more about Friends >
     
  3. We commissioned a brilliant animation all about Mahabba and to inspire people about what God is doing among Muslims to get involved. This tells the big story of how Muslims are coming to know Jesus as well as Mahabba's work. Watch the animation >
 

Don't forget The City!

For four year now we have continued to provide an online community platform - The City - which gives people a place to network, encourage each other and engage in issues to do with outreach to Muslims.

We actively sow into this forum, while encouraging discussions and sharing organically. There have been some inspiring and robust exchanges, which have been very informative.

We produced a popular FAQ off the back of one of these which has been visited regularly:

 
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How we've used your funds

Here's what we brought in

Income - our main sources

N.B. graph does not represent the the total income for the year, just the main areas
  • Our main source of income for the year was from major grants (£5,000 and above)
  • Although we have been successful at fundraising in this area, we want to reduce our reliance on this source
  • One-off gifts has been an equally fruitful area for us, with the same caveat as above
  • Overall, we want to build up regular giving to Mahabba from individuals and churches to give us a strong, sustainable base on which to grow for the future
 

Here's what we actually spent

Expenditure - main expense areas

N.B. graph does not represent the the total expenditure for the year, just the main areas
  • Overall, we have faced a challenging year in terms of income, so had to reduce our spending to reflect that
  • Our largest expense is for fees paid to our Regional Facilitators
  • Other significant costs incurred were for support personnel (£36,000), UK travel costs (£6,643), office rent (£5,385), hospitality (£1,984), conferences and networking (£1,006), and overseas travel and conferences (£3,585)
  • Payments from the Tithe Fund in the year amounted to £16,342
 
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Impact of what we've done

Animation

Thanks to a generous grant, we commissioned a video about Mahabba and its mission to Muslims. This has been well-received, taking central place on the website. At the National Gathering, almost 80% said that they would be prepared to share it with friends and church.

On the move

Our small team of Regional Facilitators has been on the move across the UK. Between them, they have covered approximately 1,345 miles, visiting groups, encouraging coordinators and spreading the word. This is the equivalent of Land's End to John o'Groats 1.5 times, although our teams generally didn't visit groups on foot or bike!

New growth

Through investing in our team of Regional Facilitators, who are key personnel in Mahabba, we have increased the number of groups from 41 to 51, which is an increase of almost 25%. This has released and encouraged more Christians on the ground across the UK to pray and engage with Muslims as a result.

Prayer and action

This year was the fourth consecutive Lovefast campaign, and an additional 113 people signed up to get involved with prayer and action. This was an increase of just over 50% - from 224 to 337 participants. We took out a targetted Facebook advert in order to boost numbers, which resulted in a healthy conversion rate to subscriptions.

Just appreciated reading some stories of changed lives and how to pray specifically. I appreciated the action points to keep in mind when the Lord allows me to cross paths with Muslims in the future.
— Deb
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Annual Gathering

We used funds to put on our third consecutive Annual Gathering. 73 delegates from around the UK gathered together in Derby for encouraging, equipping and networking of those interested or working among Muslims. This was an increase of 20% on the previous year.

Here's the feedback from the event:

  • Over 80% would recommend the National Gathering to a friend
  • Over 80% felt the event achieved its aims 
  • The favourite session was Adam's (session 2) - Working with refugees locally
  • 90% said they are likely to attend in future
So encouraging to see how God can use our simple skills and time in a myriad of ways to reach out and touch Muslim hearts
A great way to meet others from in the Network, be inspired and encouraged to persevere in local outreach to Muslims

Tithe Fund

We were particularly excited to hear back that one of the tithe projects that we sowed into was very fruitful. The individual, alongside other believers, was very active in praying for Muslims and sharing Jesus with them.

We met an elderly Muslim man on crutches who was in extreme pain, leaning against a wall. We shared the love of Christ and helped him find somewhere to sit to relieve the pain. While praying with him, his leg grew and the pain melted away
— Karen
 

Reports from Mahabba groups

 

Feedback

Comments are closed on this blog, but please do let us know your feedback.

We are especially interested to hear back from those of you in local Mahabba groups.

How can we continue to grow a sustainable income, and in what ways, so that we can support Christians reaching out to Muslims?

How would you like to see us spending the funds we receive?

Barcelona, Turku, Greenbelt and a Giant Samosa!

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image credit: Ruben Whitehouse/flickr

This week's media has been dominated by the Barcelona attack where a van was driven into people in a popular street, Las Ramblas, in Barcelona. 13 people were killed and another killed in a separate attack at a seaside town. Incredibly an Australian who survived the attack was also present in terrorist attacks in London and Paris.  Although recieving a lower profile in the media Finland also experienced its first ever terrorist attack.  where two women were killed and six injured. A Moroccan man has admitted his role in the attack and three other Moroccan men have appeared in court.  The President of Finland has stated:

“The people’s security and feeling of safety has been shaken.”
— https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/22/world/europe/finland-stabbing-terrorism.html?mcubz=0

In the aftermath of the attack in Barcelona thousands of Muslims have joined marches against terrorism attended by the President, Mayor and members of the local council.  A statement expressing support for the victims was read by representatives of the Islamic community in Spanish, Catalan and Arabic. Banners were also displayed throughout the protest.

The crowd held placards reading “We are also victims,” “Terrorism has no religion,” and “We are all Barcelona, not terrorisms.”

At the front of the procession was a large green banner reading: “We are Muslims, not terrorists.”
— http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/barcelona-attack-muslims-march-terrrorism-protest-islamist-violence-las-ramblas-a7909611.html

The situation in Europe will be further inflamed by yesterday's publication of a cartoon in the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine. The cover shows a white van and bodies on the floor with the words, " Islam, the religion of Eternal Peace."  The editor has justified the publication on the grounds that it is a message that the French leadership were to afraid to share. Former French MPs have stated that the publication was "very dangerous" and urged restraint. On social media many people have criticised the magazine for spreading Islamophobia

In the week after the attacks Channel 4 has aired a four part drama about Islamic State.(Available to watch here) The programme viewed by 1.4 million people has been criticised as a recruiting tool. The daughter of David Haines who was killed by ISIS in 2014 urged that programme be postponed in the wake of the Barcelona attacks. However many expressed a more positive opinion.

“One of the most thought provoking, brave and terrifying things I’ve ever seen.”
”extraordinary piece of work”.
”I thought #thestate was gripping and depressing...In no way did it glamourise ISIS if anything it should put people off.”
— http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-41035251

Following on from the drama one evening this week was a repeat of My Son the Jihadi. The award winning 2015 programme follows the story of how Thomas Evans, a 21 year old electrician, left High Wycombe to join al-Shabaab in Somalia. According to the Telegraph "it was a stunningly sad, detailed and dignified portrait of a devastated mother , and a masterful piece of television about British citizens being recruited to terrorist organisations abroad." After four years in Somalia his mum leaned that her son, a vulnerable convert to Islam, had been killed. 

Clothing is always in the media. One Muslim model has been celebrated for being the first contestant to appear in a Kaftan rather than a bikini. In another report a TV presenter has posted a picture of herself on holiday in a bikini and received death threats as a result. 

On a more upbeat note, Christians and Muslims are working together in Lebanon. Organised by a Carmalite nun based at a monastery two and a half miles away from the fighting with Islamic State, Working together up to 300 people work together to make lunches for 5000 soldiers who are battling against Islamic State.  Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross has stated, "...it is a beautiful expression of solidarity...All religions are unified with the purest love for our country, our wounded country,

In news closer to home, Greenbelt is  building bridges with the  Muslim Community as part of a commitment made after the 9/11 attacks.  However they stress that they are not promoting Islam rather to overcome the headlines and to share and to learn about one another.

And finally its official! The Guinness Book of Records has a new record. The biggest Samosa has been created by volunteers at Muslim Aid UK. They beat the previous 2012, 110.8 kg  record samosa that was held by Bradford College. The winning samosa took 12 volunteers 15 hours to make . It was created on a huge wire mesh, lowered into a massive vat of cooking oil and officially weighed in at an East London Mosque. The enormous samosa weighed in at a humungous  153.1 kg. It has been divided up into hundreds of portions to be distributed to homeless people in London by the Salvation Army.

 

Guidelines for Regional Facilitators

Guidelines for Regional Facilitators

 

Mahabba, as a movement, seeks to be a catalyst in networking together agency “specialists” with both Church Leaders and their congregations, to facilitate mobilising ordinary everyday Christians to love their Muslim neighbours.

This relational national network has a wealth of ideas, resources, skills and experience to help each embryo local Mahabba prayer group. Their role is about encouraging and supporting new prayer-based, locally initiated groups which support, train and equip these grass roots believers. Regional Facilitators all give their time on a consultancy rather than an employed basis; as such they are part of the Network Team, supported by the small Network Executive. This is a team which carries things together: they are not alone! The role has the following
characteristics, and expectations:

  1. This role is about facilitating: It is about coming alongside those who have a heart to serve as local Mahabba Coordinators, so that they catch the essential DNA of Mahabba, whilst at the same time having the freedom to create something unique in their setting, which will then be a blessing to every other Mahabba group. By facilitating, we will avoid creating a control/dependency relationship in the Region
     
  2. The role is designed to cover a manageable Region: Regions are not fixed, so that we can keep them organic and flexible (so far, we have North, South, East, West, London, and Scotland): as more and more cities join the Region, we are open to subdividing Regions, and even creating new Regions, so that the burden on the Facilitators is manageable, and they are able to easily relate to all their local groups
     
  3. The Core responsibility of the Facilitators: to help start, support and encourage local Mahabba Prayer groups through regular communication and visits, and through facilitating an annual Regional Gathering. The Regional Facilitator can give the groups appropriate advice, and communicate the Mahabba vision and the dynamics of a Mahabba group, as well as sharing the “First Steps”, and the “Toolkit” with group Coordinators who are just starting out. Sometimes, it may be best to help them, by joining in some of their prayer times, as well as praying with local church leaders
     
  4. Support from local Church Leaders: Mahabba believes in the vital importance of the local church, so it is essential that church leaders should be encouraged to be actively involved. There are many demands on a church leader’s time and not all church leaders will be active in reaching out to Muslims themselves, but some will be; so whether or not they are personally involved, it is crucial that a few church leaders champion the local Mahabba group together and support it prayerfully. Regional Facilitators can help by sharing how church leaders are involved in other cities, and in some cases they can facilitate a meeting to encourage the support of other leaders
     
  5. Helping them start a Prayer Movement: Once championed by Church Leaders, many more believers will be encouraged to get involved in the weekly or regular Mahabba prayer meetings. Everything is fuelled and directed from this core of persistent united prayer, which are the foundations, and the powerhouse of Mahabba. Some groups may need encouragement to persist in prayer before they see results!
     
  6. Equipping them with Resources: The Regional Facilitator can then encourage the local Coordinator to facilitate as many people as possible to do the “Friendship First” Course, which will empower them with simple tools and understanding about how to befriend their Muslim neighbours, and how to unveil Jesus to them. The vast majority of Christians will only need this level of Training; however whatever their need, we have a pool of Resources to help them, which they can find on the website
     
  7. Connecting them with the Hub in Derby and the wider Network: The Regional Facilitator can help the local Mahabba group coordinators to connect with the Hub office in Derby, which handles all the Communications and Admin of the wider National Network. This will help group Coordinators to build strong relationships with other local groups across the Region, as well as across the Nation. In time the Regional Facilitator will be able to identify the key Mahabba group coordinators in their Region, who have the capacity to become part of a Regional team, which then spreads the vision in churches in other towns across the Region. The aim is to develop Networks which will support people as they engage with their Muslim neighbours
     
  8. Access to an Online Community: The Regional Facilitator will encourage all those within the new Mahabba Network to join The City, our online community platform which complements existing relationships. Here they can continue the conversations as well as link into an exciting learning community. (www.mahabba.onthecity.org)
     
  9. Encouraging Discipleship: As Muslim people come to believe in and follow Jesus, the Regional Facilitator will then be able to advise the local Church Leaders, and the local Mahabba group, about how to mentor these believers, with a view to them being able to multiply within their own communities. We strongly recommend the use of “Joining the Family”, and “Come Follow Me!” as courses which will help change their mind set about integrating these believers into local Churches
     
  10. Open to Church Planting: Many believers from a Muslim background will join local churches, but some may be more effective remaining within their own culture and context, provided they have a strong relational network to mentor and support them. We recommend this hybrid model of believers being connected to local churches, as well as having the freedom to remain within their world, to bring others to Christ. A Regional Facilitator may wish to recommend that these new believers use the Discovery Bible Studies in their home settings, to connect them with the life-style of “obedience-based discipleship”, as well as making use of material like the “Al Massira” DVD’s and the T4T evangelism. There is a wealth of Resources to recommend

MOTIVATING – MOBILISING – MENTORING - MULTIPLYING

A Case of Mistaken Identity, A Spectacular Mosque, Muslim Cycling Revolution and More

Image credit: Hijab Girl Peter MacLeod/ Flickr

Image credit: Hijab Girl Peter MacLeod/ Flickr

Happy holidays! Welcome to this week’s roundup. The purpose of this blog is to glimpse what is going on beyond our immediate location, to see a fraction of what the media is reporting about the quarter of the world’s population, to enable us to see the variety of people that are called Muslim.   This week there is the case of mistaken identity, a spectacular Mosque, cycling Muslims and more.

A Norwegian anti – immigrant group have been terrified and disgusted by what they saw recently. It was ‘really scary’ and they feared concealed bombs and weapons. Comments read: “Ghastly. This should never happen,” “Islam is and always will be a curse,” “Get them out of our country – frightening times we are living in,” 23 pages of outraged comments were also posted. What they think they saw was a group of women wearing burqas. The reality was a picture of six bus seats.  The group have been ridiculed for their comments and the story has gone viral.

The head of Norway’s Antiracist Centre, Rune Berglund Steen, told the site that people plainly “see what they want to see – and what these people want to see are dangerous Muslims”.
— https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/02/bus-seats-mistaken-burqas-anti-immigrant-group-norwegian

Something else that requires another look is a fantastically decorated mosque in the Turkish city of Kirsehir. The inside was designed by an Azerbaijani architect and includes trees painted on the walls, the ceiling is decorated as the sky and the floor is covered with a grass like carpet.  The inspiration for the design comes from a verse from the Quran which states

“(Allah) Who has made the earth a resting place for you, and the sky as a canopy, and sent down water (rain) from the sky and brought forth therewith fruits as a provision for you. Then do not set up rivals unto Allah (in worship) while you know (that He Alone has the right to be worshipped).”

A group of eight Muslim cyclists from London are attempting to ride 2000 miles through 7 countries, with over 110,000 feet of elevation to Mecca.  The organisers of theride first met on a charity ride to Paris in 2015. Muhammed, one of the organisers, stated:

‘...honestly, I thought I was the only Muslim cyclist in London. I’d been cycling since the age of 9 or 10, and on a road bike since 2007, which I used to commute to university, work and to the mosque, where I currently work and am trying to get Muslims on bikes.
I think it’s working. There’s a cycling revolution happening in the Muslim community here.’
— http://www.cyclist.co.uk/news/2461/from-whitechapel-to-mecca-by-bicycle-2000-mile-pilgrimage-to-raise-funds-for-ambulances-in

They hope to raise a million pounds for ambulances in Syria. The progress of the cyclists- otherwise known as pedaller pilgrims can be followed on facebook.

This ride follows from the Ride 4 Your Mosque initiative. Now in its second year, this event aims to get people on their bikes as well as raising money for a Mosque in East London.

In other transport news, Transport for London has recently dropped a two million pound safety campaign after being accused of sexualising children. The campaign was ended after an investigation by a Times reporter, and a complaint by a Muslim mother. Sadiq Khan the mayor of London, who also chairs Transport for London, has apologised.

 

The portrayal of a pre-school female child wearing a hijab was most obviously offensive, because it is commonly accepted that Muslim women – if they choose to wear a hijab – do so in adolescence or after puberty because of the link to the growing sexuality of a woman’s body. But all the characters were lazy stereotypes. Political correctness gone awol, you might say.
— https://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2017/aug/15/hijab-not-children-drop-images-transport-for-london-road-safety-campaign

You will probably have seen a lot about India and Pakistan in the news over the last few weeks as they are celebrating seventy years of independence. So today's last link goes to three Muslim women speaking about the partition of India

Guidelines for posting on The City

Guidelines for posting on The City

The 10 Habits of Highly Reflective People

Welcome to The City, Mahabba’s online community area. Before you continue, please take some time to read the following posting guidelines. These are designed to enhance your community experience and should give you a flavour of life on The City.

  1. Consider the impact of what you write
     
  2. Be respectful - Mahabba is a thoughtful and prayerful community that encourages free expression and values civil debate. It is acceptable to disagree or have different perspectives. If you disagree with others, do so with civility. Be on guard against actions and discussions that could harm the interests of our community
     
  3. Be prayerful - as we live, and move and have our being in God we need to seek God’s wisdom as we compose and as we send our messages
     
  4. Promote topics that lead to reflection and conversation - be mindful to not close down conversations with our language and tone
     
  5. Promote family - it’s hard for people to connect with aliases or anonymous users. Please include your real name and brief personal details in the about section. Authenticity and transparency are driving forces behind social media
     
  6. Value difference – acknowledge that God is sovereign and we are all made in God’s image. The prophetic word can appear to offend but may also be the start of new insights into God’s word
     
  7. Confidentiality - remember: Is this story mine to share? If in doubt, don’t
     
  8. Be mindful of your own security - don’t overshare personal information. Never publish detailed personal information such as your address or telephone number, unless in a private message to someone you know and trust. A degree of anonymity in your profile is acceptable, given there are some involved with sensitive ministries
     
  9. Be smart - in some groups a post is visible to a wide audience, and can be shared by others in ways that you cannot control. Remember that what you write is public, and will remain public for a very long time (perhaps permanently)
     
  10. Stay within the legal framework - while sharing thoughts and reflections with friends or followers via social media can seem personal and private, it is not. By law, if one or more people can access it, content is classed as published, in the public domain and subject to legislation around libel, defamation, copyright and data protection If you wouldn’t say something in a public meeting or to someone’s face or write it in a newspaper or on headed paper – don’t say it online

Last updated March 2016

The art of Jihad, detained on honeymoon and Britain's first liberal Mosque

image: flickr Geoff Livingston

image: flickr Geoff Livingston

Welcome to this week's roundup of what's in the media.

A book The Art and Social Practices of Militant Extremists has recently been published. The book describes daily life for Jihadis. It describes their poetry, music, emotional sensitivity as well as guidance gained through dreams.  The author of the book, Hegghammer, started being interested in this subject in 2001, soon after the 9/11 attack was carried out in New York and this research has been his passion ever since. The book gives an insight into "more than bombs and doctrines. It is also about rituals, customs and dress codes. It is about music, films and storytelling. It is about sports, jokes, and food.”  

Jihadists did a lot of things seemingly at odds with their brutal image: weeping, writing and reciting poetry, singing, recalling and interpreting dreams, perfecting their manners and taking an inordinate interest in their appearance.
— https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/the-culture-that-makes-a-jihadi-thomas-hegghammer-interview-poetry-militancy

As well as dealing with what Jahadis do in their down time there is also a discussion about their religious knowledge and motivation.

“They’re not real Muslims” is now a set response to any atrocity committed in Islam’s name. It’s an understandable, perhaps even commendable impulse, but it suffers from the great disadvantage of being factually wrong.
— https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/23/the-culture-that-makes-a-jihadi-thomas-hegghammer-interview-poetry-militancy

A couple have been detained on honeymoon "because the groom is Muslim". After paying £7000 for a dream trip to LA, Las Vegas and Hawaii, the couple were detained on arrival in America. After being held for questioning - a process they believed would take ten minutes but took 26 hours, their luggage and phones were confiscated. They were then handcuffed and put on a plane to return to the UK.  They can only conjecture that they were refused entry because the groom originates from Turkey but is in reality a British citizen. The US embassy has so far denied that people are barred from entry on grounds of faith.

‘We believe that since Trump was elected, they took one look at his name, thought he was Muslim and didn’t let him in.’
— http://metro.co.uk/2017/07/25/couple-detained-on-honeymoon-because-the-groom-is-muslim-6803939/

54 year old feminist Seyran Ates, accompanied by close protection officers, visited London this week. Seyran, who has had police protection since 2006, founded a liberal Mosque in Berlin and would like open the first liberal Mosque in Britain. Despite receiving death threats she would like to open a Mosque where men and women, people of any race, as well as LGBT Muslims, and Muslims from all strands of Islam are able to pray together. She also takes a tough stance on headscarves and when the Mosque in Berlin first opened women wearing headscarves were not admitted.  Egypt's Islamic body has declared such an approach incompatible with Islam, the Turkish religious authority has called it an experiment to ruin religion, whereas Labour peers in the UK support her concept of an inclusive Mosque.

“I’m not alone with this idea. It is a movement, it’s a revolution,” she told the Guardian. “I may be the face of the liberal mosque, but I alone am not the mosque. We have millions of supporters all over the world.”
— https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/26/seyran-ates-muslim-feminist-liberal-mosque-london-britain

For more about differences between Muslims check out Nabeel Qureshi's vlog. I'll leave the last word to him. 

You have many differences among Muslims. If you just see Muslims as a monolithic set of people, chances are you haven’t spent any time with real Muslims- because you’ll realize they are all different.
— Nabeel Qureshi

Sample Mahabba group coordinator role description

Sample Mahabba group coordinator role description

Note: this is an illustrative example only, and not a requirement or strict expectation. The role will look different in each locality, so this description is purely for reference.

Overall role

  • Lead the Mahabba group, coordinating its different functions, relating with local church leaders and seeking God for vision and direction

Responsibilities

  • Pray for God’s work though the prayer group and seek his guidance
  • Ensure that the following functions are maintained and developed by the different task groups: Prayer
    • Flow of information
    • Financial record-keeping
    • Training programmes
    • Outreach/learning groups
  • Relationships with local churches and agencies, wider links in Britain, particularly with other Mahabba groups in the region and the Mahabba Network
  • Relate to the Advisory Group regularly through its chair, meeting as a group twice or three times a year
  • Manage, guide and encourage volunteer members within the prayer group, particularly the Core Team

Criteria for this role

Essential qualities

(Evident in your life, while not perfected)

  • Godly, teachable and accountable in personal life and ministry
  • Having an evangelical faith, but willing to work with churches of different denominations and styles
  • Able to inspire and encourage people who give their time as volunteers
  • Warm in personal relationships
  • Efficient and conscientious in administration and communication
  • Longing for Muslims to come to Christ and be built up in him
  • Love for the local church and commitment to working in and through local congregations
  • Having the credibility of several years’ experience of ministry with Muslim people
  • Some experience in leading a team, and in implementing vision and strategy

Desirable qualities

Would include:

  • Familiarity with local area
  • The ability to teach on Islam (but if not, facilitate an alternative)

Time Commitment

  • One and a half to two days a week [N.B. this is entirely dependent on the local situation and individual]

Appointment

  • Would be by the Advisory Group of the local Mahabba prayer group, after interview
  • It would be for a minimum of one year, ideally for at least two

Funding

  • Depending on the local group, this might be in a volunteer spirit or a stipend, depending on need because the coordinator has to give more time than others
  • Generally, a Mahabba prayer groups does not have the structure to employ anyone
 

Download this as a PDF

Mahabba Network Common Commitment

Mahabba Network Common Commitment

Mahabba is a network built on prayer and relationships, which is growing in different ways, and in different locations.

Mahabba is a very flexible, but if a local prayer group wishes to regard itself as part of the overall Mahabba Network, or use the Mahabba name, it must, enthusiastically and with integrity, share the vision and values that make up the basic DNA of the Mahabba Network.

Vision of Mahabba

Mahabba’s vision is to:

To see everyday Christians engaged with everyday Muslims under the leadership and initiative of local churches
— Our vision

This is the vision that every Mahabba initiative adopts and towards which it is proactively working.

Values of Mahabba

Championed by church leaders in unity

We believe that church leaders are the best people to motivate their congregations to reach Muslims; they don’t need to be experts on Islam themselves.

Every Mahabba group involves church leaders as much as possible in the leadership, promotion and accountability of a local Mahabba group.

Persistent prayer

Mahabba was birthed in prayer, so we see passionate prayer as the fuel for the continued development of this vision.

Every Mahabba group meets regularly for prayer.

Love for Muslim people

The word ‘Mahabba’ means ‘love’ in Arabic and we advocate living out a life of love and graciousness towards Muslims. Our greatest gift of love is Jesus himself.

Every Mahabba group adopts the ‘Ethical Guidelines for Christian & Muslim Witness in Britain’ as one of the ways to demonstrate love, respect & graciousness towards Muslims.

Mobilising everyday Christians

We dream of multitudes of Christians in Britain having the confidence and skill to reach out to Muslim people, not just leaving it to the ‘specialists’.

Every Mahabba group equips ordinary Christians, with specialists and agency personnel taking a back seat as mobilisers, trainers and facilitators.

Growing believers

We aim to mentor new believers from all backgrounds, discipling them to become catalysts who share their faith and multiply within dynamic local fellowships.

Mahabba groups take mentoring new believers very seriously, as they seek to disciple them and build growing local fellowships.

Commitments of Mahabba

Being in the Mahabba Network involves:

  • Keeping in touch, cooperating with & providing information as appropriate to Mahabba nationally
  • Being proactive in taking opportunities to share with, learn from, encourage and meet face to face those involved in other Mahabba groups
  • Support, as opportunity arises, the financial needs of the Mahabba Network overall

Download the Ethical Guideslines for Witness

Download the Common Commitment as a PDF

Lebanon, Miss World,Fashion and Mind blowing Halal Sex

image credit: flickr bellmon 1

image credit: flickr bellmon 1

Welcome to this week's edition of the roundup.

One of the Mahabba facilitators has been in Lebanon recently and has met an inspirational couple who are running a school for refugee children. They explain how they started the school and state:-

“This is a special time. You can look at the refugee issue and see it as either a problem or an opportunity. They are coming to us now, so we can ask, do we have something to give? And of course we have a lot to give...
The Syrians are coming to us. Instead of hating them, we should preach the gospel. Where others see horror, I see children of God; I see future pastors and apostles among them.”
— https://www.churchmissionsociety.org/our-stories/lot-learn-lebanon

There is also an account of a Muslim lady who started to attend church in Lebanon and came to faith.

“... She saw the love of Jesus and got baptised and then her husband did the same after a month. They are now in another country, sharing about the Lord with Muslim people there.”

“I thought I was coming to help refugees,” he continued. “But I see now they are helping me, praying for me. All the relief work this church does is now done by Syrian people. It’s like living in the book of Acts. I’ve learned not to put God in a box; I knew he was big; now I’m seeing this with my own eyes.”
— https://www.churchmissionsociety.org/our-stories/lot-learn-lebanon

I think that is a challenge to us, wherever we live!

A Muslim woman who spent time in a Bosnian refugee camp has been crowned Miss World Australia. Twenty five year old Esma Voloder moved to Australia at five months old. She has a degree in psychology and currently works as a criminal profiler. She has been reported to be using her new found fame to challenge Islamophobia.  She will go on to compete at the finals in China at the end of the year.  She has stated:-

“The Islam that I know, that is in the Quran, I don’t associate that with any acts that are occurring around the world,”
— https://tribune.com.pk/story/1461489/muslim-woman-just-crowned-miss-world-australia-2017/

Women's clothing is also once again in the news. The burkini which was often in the news last summer in France has now reached the the headlines in the Czech Republic. Apparently complaints about wearing the garment aren't  abased on religious intolerance rather concerns regarding hygiene. Water parks vary in their response to the burkini- with some banning them, others 'tolerating' them and other locations inspecting swim wear on arrival. 

A denim hijab, modelled by a Somali refugee, has also made the headlines. Staying on the hijab theme, a new hijab emoji has been created by a Saudi teenager after being unable to find an emoji that represented her. The design was accepted by Apple on Monday- and now headscarf wearing women around the world will have an emoji to represent them.

And finally a Muslim sex guide for women has been published- entitled The Muslimah Sex Manual: A Halal Guide for Mind Blowing Sex. Written anonymously, the author has received "disgusting messages" as well as praise.  

Muslim women’s organisations have praised her, saying the book will empower Muslim women and protect them from entering into sexually abusive relationships
— https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/16/muslimah-sex-manual--halal-sex-guide-muslim-women-seeking-fulfilling-love-lives

The range of articles referred to today comes from Lebanon, Australia, America, The Czech Republic, and the UK. They are about people in different situations dealing with different issues.  I am sure there are other views. But I suggest that this week's media snap shot illustrates some of the diversity of the Muslim world. So how should we respond?  I'll leave you with one suggestion:-

“Relax. Enjoy your friends. Enjoy their company along with the company of Jesus. Point Him out, freely, without fear or intimidation. You’re not responsible to sell Him to them. You’re simply saying what you’ve seen. You’re not the judge. You’re the witness. We’ll go further and further into this way of thinking until you’re free to speak of Jesus often and always. And you’ll see—people will listen. Not because we’re so good, but because He is compelling!”
― Carl Medearis, Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism
— https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/772230.Carl_Medearis

Updates from the Network

Gordon continues to have good conversation about fundraising as we look into how Mahabba can grow beyond the UK. For the moment, he is taking some well earned rest with his wife, Rachel!

On the national, UK, stage, we are now up to about 45 groups with lots of new enquiries recently. A handful of them have resulted in groups being set up across the country, with a particular flurry in London.

The Network Team of Regional Facilitators is also gearing up for a team day in August, which will be helpful for planning as we enter the busy Autumn period.

The Hub has been busy with lots of things, as usual, but has been distributing leaflets for the new Friends of Mahabba initiative to all the coordinators of local Mahabba prayer groups. If you received one, do consider becoming a Friend of Mahabba!

We've been encouraged by an enquiry in Carlisle recently, which is an area devoid of any groups at the moment. Elsewhere in the North West, there have been lots of encouraging stories of conversations with imams, Friendship First courses scheduled and even a BBQ for groups in the Manchester area!

Equally, in the East, God has been working in the local Pakistani community. One local Muslim has been seeking Jesus in a big way and come to church. We're really praying and having faith for an overdue breakthrough among Pakistanis.

Further south, there has been new growth in the Basingstoke-Newbury area, and one enquiry commented: ‘I saw on a recent shopping visit that there seem to be more Muslims in Newbury than in Basingstoke.’ Good then that a group is getting started!

Also of note is a follow up event to the Mahabba training day that happened in Croydon. This is planned for November in Woking with the possibility of involvement from the diocese.

Finally, we wrap up in the west region, where there is now a second Mahabba group in the Bristol area.

So many encouragements - God is on the move!

Is giving Bibles to Muslim refugees a good way to evangelise?

Is giving Bibles to Muslim refugees a good way to evangelise?

Alice asked us about the merits of distributing Bibles to Muslim refugees:

I have heard that giving bibles to Muslim refugees is a good way to evangelise. Do you think so?
 

OUR RESPONSE

Thanks to the help of some specialists on The City (have you joined yet?), we can relay the following advice.


Be appropriate

I would never give a whole Bible to a Muslim I didn’t know. I might give a New Testament in an appropriate language, but I would certainly give a gospel – probably Luke, because it starts with the birth narrative. Everyone loves a story. The gospels are brilliant stories, so different from the Qur’an. If you give a gospel to a Muslim he will probably read it cover to cover in one sitting, then there is so much to discuss.

The Gospel of Luke alone is the most powerful tool to use for a Muslim mind to digest.

Muslims are led to believe that Bible has been corrupted. So, if you give Bibles to Muslim refugees the first time you meet them, they may take it from you but chances are they are not going to read it. I think it’s very important to make friends first, get them thirsty, and then offer the Bible.

It’s all about putting time and effort into developing close friendships. The question is, do believers have the passion to do this, or do they just simply give a Bible and hope for the best?

 

Be specific

God can speak through his word! But even better would be someone engaging with them and the bible.

At least give a suggested list of bits to read (Creation to Christ perhaps) and questions to think about when reading.

Best of all, a recommendation of somewhere to go with questions.

 

Be discrete

Giving out Bibles to all like sweets is probably not a good idea.

It is certainly helpful to have them available and visible so that they can be picked up should someone be curious or interested.

We have a range of Bibles out on a shelf in our community cafe and sometimes one or two disappear. We pray they are being read. 

When someone asks for a Bible an offer to read it with them may be seen as awelcome invitation.

 

Be relevant

Ensure that the Bible is in the appropriate languages. If not, then they need to be - it is a must, if someone is to be able to read the word and understand it.

 

Related FAQs