church

Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family

Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family

Today in Britain growing numbers of Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family. We need to understand their needs, care for them and help them grow in him. And we want to learn from them.

God is answering the prayers of many over years and now there are churches across the country grappling with the joy and the challenge of welcoming believers from a Muslim background.

This month we are highlighting Joining the Family (JtF) resources – here is a message from Roxy, JtF coordinator.


I love the word hospitality which for Muslims often starts in the heart attitude of honouring guests into their own homes.

The Greek word for hospitality, Xenia (guest friendship), is again a heart attitude offering friendship to someone who may be far from home.

The word Xenophobia is the fear or distrust of someone who seems strange or foreign.

May we ask God to change our hearts towards people from Muslim backgrounds and not be afraid but be open to those who are far from home when they enter our churches, places that may seem strange and a long way from their spiritual home if not their physical home.

Hospitality is something I appreciate about Eastern cultures. I have visited many countries of Asia and the Middle East, and in each place it’s the same. When I enter a home I will automatically be offered refreshments… It’s biblical too. Do you recall the account of Abraham rushing to kill the fattened calf for three random strangers who passed by his tent? That kind of elaborate hospitality seems extravagant to western readers but makes sense in an Eastern culture… But this full-blown treatment of guests can all get too much… That’s why I like the idea of ‘laid back’ hospitality. I want my friend of Muslim background to feel welcome and I will always offer drinks and nibbles if they drop by… Laid back hospitality lowers the barriers for me and, I believe, makes it easier for my friend to know they can come and I won’t have to make special arrangements.
— Joining the Family book. P. 74-75

I pray that as described by Tim Green (above) we would be people who offer guest friendship to people of Muslim backgrounds in laid back hospitality.

Joining the Family aims to enable churches to be places of welcome for believers of Muslim backgrounds through providing resources, training and support to church leaders and those who disciple believers of Muslim backgrounds in the UK. Our vision is threefold:

  1. Churches are more confident to receive believers of a Muslim background

  2. Theological trainees have an increased awareness and knowledge of the needs of believers from a Muslim background

  3. Believers of Muslim backgrounds receive better emotional and spiritual support

To find out more or to contact JtF head to:

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 planted another local Mahabba group 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?

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Image: Daniel Burka,  Unsplash

Image: Daniel Burka, Unsplash

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur'an readings in church?

Carl asked the following question off the back of a meeting for better understanding (MBU) with local Muslims:

Is it right to allow Muslim prayers or Qur’an readings in church?

Dear Mahabba,

MBUs have built good relationships and sown the Gospel among Muslims. It has also resulted in requests for the use of our places of worship for Muslim events. One of them was for an Eid el Adha event.  This would include the reading of the Qur'an and Muslim prayers. What would your response be to this request?

 

Our response

This is a tricky one, and has caused quite a bit of debate and controversy recently, as we explored in a blog, 'Islam in church: some questions'. Rather than lay out a definitive answer, here are some responses from individuals on our online community area, The City.

 

How strongly do you feel?

"I’d be quite happy with the idea, although I know that some Christians strongly feel that such acts are totally unacceptable. Maybe believers from a Muslim background might be more strongly of the latter persuasion."

What is your perspective on the consecration of space?

"We have churches that meet in schools and pubs. We also have church traditions that consecrate space. I think to invite Muslims to confess that Muhammad is God’s messenger in consecrated space violates that consecration.

"Whether we like it or not, we tend to be secular Christians, and so we don’t take the consecration of space very seriously. We don’t do symbolism. But Muslims do, much more so than us anyway.

"I think the question is much more about how we regard our church space. Would you invite a Jehovah’s witness to preach there? How about a militant atheist? Would you allow Hindu gods to be praised in it?

"The question of whether to allow or invite Muslims to pray and confess their creed needs to be set alongside this sort of question to give it context. If space is just space, then you have no problem. If consecration means something, that is another matter."

Provision for personal prayer

"If the space is consecrated: I would not make provision for another deity to be worshipped. I would tend not to give a platform for another religion to be preached and lifted up without a counterpoint or moderation by a Christian.

"But someone who wants to personally pray, I would have no problem with, especially if they are meaning to seek the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob, even if their idea of Him is corrupted.

"If their prayers are together in community and include a led confession or declaration about Muhammad, in a Christian consecrated space… that's another question."

A former Muslim's viewpoint - what does God say?

"My response would be: 'what is God asking me to do?' Bearing in mind Scripture such as Peter’s vision that all food was now clean or that circumcision or non-circumcision was not the deeper spiritual issue. Is God trying to lead us to think and react differently to the changing society we now live in?

"Having come from a Muslim background and being able to see both sides, I would drench that church in prayer and plead protection over it through the blood of Christ and then invite another faith to hold their event. If just one heart is changed through that event, if seeds are sown, would it not be worth it? I think the answer to this dilemma lies in prayer and isn’t that what we as the Mahabba Network do? And do so well, might I add!"


"I agree that we need to pray without ceasing, for discernment and for God to use the relationship to His glory. Here is an example of a church that opened its door to its Muslim neighbours on a more permanent basis."

What does Muslim tradition say?

"According to traditions, the Prophet invited Christians to worship in his mosque.

"As to whether this is a practice that Muslims emulate, Muslims have been known to say this too.

"Some Christians have often prayed quiet individual prayers in a mosque, explaining that they are making their own dua, and had no problems.

"I have known this to happen in a more public or congregational way. 

"In a dialogue meeting, Christians had an impromptu prayer meeting in the mosque, while the Muslims perform their prayers (salaat). The Muslims did not have a problem with that."

Gracious hospitality vs. faithfulness to truth

"I think there are two quite different themes at play here. One is gracious hospitality and the other other is faithfulness to truth.

"If we come across people who are marginalised and excluded, trying to find space to honestly meet their religious obligations, how could we not offer them space? That is an application of loving our neighbour and we do so in the name of Christ.

"However, if we so order things that our actions seem to communicate that obedience to Muhammad is the same thing as faith in Christ, if we seek to join the two, blurring the differences then we are being unfaithful and no longer witnesses to the truth. Nor do we witness to the Muslim guest.

"Our love for the other and our security in Christ should enable us to be hospitable, but it should not lead us to bend over backwards so that we affirm the denial of Christ."

 

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?