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How a Muslim Holiday can Help Your Muslim Neighbor Understand the Gospel

Discussion in 'Missions, Evangelism & Witnessing' started by Mark Corbett, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This Thursday evening (August 31, 2017) is the beginning of the Islamic holiday of Eid Al Adha. This holiday provides an excellent opportunity for you to share the gospel with your Muslim friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Muslims receive friends (including non-Muslim friends) for several weeks after the holiday to celebrate. So if you miss the exact day, that's alright.

    Eid Al Adha celebrates the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, but then not having to because God provides a substitute sacrifice.

    When I had the opportunity to live among Muslims for fourteen years, I longed to help my friends understand the core of the gospel, namely that Jesus Christ died as a substitute sacrifice to rescue us. I learned about the customs and traditions of my neighbors, and I also learned from other Christians who had been working to share the truth of Christ with Muslims. The Lord helped me to take what I learned from others and refine a method of explaining the gospel which I used many time. I would like to pass that method on to you.

    A Father is Asked to Sacrifice His Son

    Just as Christians around the world celebrate two major holidays, Christmas and Easter, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al Fitri and Eid Al Adha. For Eid Al Adha, Muslims sacrifice animals and give some of the meat to the poor. They do this to commemorate the time God tested Abraham by asking Abraham to sacrifice his son, but then provided a substitute sacrifice at the last moment. While the Quran is not a true revelation from God, Muhammad did include portions of Bible stories in the Quran. While the stories in the Quran include corruptions, sometimes they retain enough truth to make them useful for introducing the gospel. The story about Abraham being tested, originally told in Genesis 22, is also found in Sura 37:100-107 of the Quran. The English translation given here is one of the most popular among English speaking Muslims, from The Noble Quran (parenthetical notes are part of the translation):

    100. "My Lord! Grant me (offspring) from the righteous."
    101. So We gave him the glad tidings of a forbearing boy.
    102. And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: "O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!" He said: "O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha' Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)."
    103. Then, when they had both submitted themselves (to the Will of Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (or on the side of his forehead for slaughtering);
    104. And We called out to him: "O Abraham!
    105. You have fulfilled the dream (vision)!" Verily! Thus do We reward the Muhsinun (good-doers - see V.2:112).
    106. Verily, that indeed was a manifest trial
    107. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice (i.e. ßÈÔ - a ram);​

    Here’s a step by step example of how to share the Gospel beginning with Eid al Adha and the eight verses above from the Quran:

    Step 1: In order to get the conversation flowing smoothly, begin by asking your Muslim friend how they celebrate Eid Al Adha. They will probably discuss things like sacrificing animals, giving meat to the poor, and visiting family. Your sincere interest in their life is important.

    Step 2: Ask them, “What does the story that Eid Al Adha commemorate?”

    Step 3: Ask them to read the story about Abraham from an English translation of the Quran, Sura 37:100-107. Some Muslims only have the Quran in Arabic, so be sure to bring your own copy of the Quran. (Or you may use an online version from the internet.) Most Muslims believe that only the original Arabic is the true Quran, and so want to see the original Arabic alongside any translation. So, I recommend that you bring a copy of the Quran which has both English and Arabic, even if you are like me and don’t speak Arabic.

    Step 4: Ask them what lessons they learn from the story. Be sure to affirm any reasonable lessons they share, like how important it is to obey God.

    Step 5: Share what you learn from the story. Say something like this:

    To me, the first seven verses talk about how much people should love God. Abraham loved God more than anything, even more than his own son. We should love God so much that we will do anything He asks us to do, no matter how hard it is.

    But the last verse talks about something even more wonderful than people loving God. The last verse is about how much God loves people! Verse 107 tells us that God did not make Abraham sacrifice his son. Instead, God saved Abraham’s son by redeeming his son with a substitute sacrifice.

    The sacrifice is called a “great sacrifice”. I don’t think that means that the ram was a very special ram. I think it means that the ram is a symbol of God’s very special love for people.

    Imagine I owned a cow. One day while I was away from my house one of my neighbors was having a party and needed a cow and came and took mine and fed it to his guests. When I came home my cow was missing! My neighbor admitted that he took the cow, and he offers to redeem it. He then gives me a chicken to redeem my cow! How would I feel?

    Of course you can't redeem a cow with a chicken! The value of the cow is way more. Neither does it make sense for God to redeem a human, like Abraham's son, with an animal. So the animal must be a symbol.

    Every time I have shared this, my friends have wholeheartedly agreed that the animal must be a symbol. I then point out that symbols always symbolize something. Symbols always point to something else.

    Step 6: Ask them to read John 1:29:

    The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, ESV)

    Ask them what they think John meant by saying that Jesus is the Lamb of God.

    Step 7: You can now explain that the ram God used to save Abraham’s son was a symbol for Jesus, who saves all of us. Just like the ram was killed in place of Abraham’s son, Jesus died in our place. We all deserve to die. Jesus is the only person who ever lived who never sinned. He did not deserve to die. But God loves us so much that He gave Jesus as a substitute sacrifice to save us.

    Step 8: Ask your friend if this makes sense. Then, if they have followed along this far, invite them to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

    Four practical notes about using this method:

    1. This method requires preparation. You will need to purchase a copy of the Quran with both English and Arabic. (Or you can use one online, but a physical copy may be a little more effective.) You will also want to practice this method with a friend several times. The preparation you make will be worth it! How much more time do people spend preparing for things like an athletic contest, an academic test, or even a party? You are preparing to win souls!

    2. Muslims believe that it was Ishmael, rather than Isaac, whom Abraham was asked to sacrifice. But notice that in Sura 37:100-107 the son’s name is not mentioned. I recommend simply referring to him as “Abraham’s son” to avoid a distraction.

    3. Sometimes it will not be practical to use this method. Remember, it is alright to use other methods which you might already know to share the gospel with your Muslim friend, such as “The Roman Road”, “The Four Spiritual Laws”, or just putting the gospel in your own words. A short, simple method designed to help Muslims understand that they cannot be saved by good works may be found here. The simple gospel message is incredibly powerful!

    4. There are strong forces opposing our Muslim friends accepting the gospel. We are utterly dependent on God’s power. Actually, we are always completely dependent on God in evangelism and ministry. It is just more obvious when trying to win someone who may pay a very high price for accepting Christ. So pray a lot! And trust God.

    This was originally a post on my blog. If you know someone with Muslim friends, neighbors, or coworkers, please pass this on to them!
     
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  2. Papias

    Papias Listening to TW4

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    It seems to me that using someone else's holiday as a "tool" to but into their celebrations with proselytizing and insulting them is an exceptionally unhelpful thing to do. Would you like them coming over while you are opening presents on Christmas morning and start telling you about how Jesus wasn't God and how Jesus was actually a Muslim? Of course not.

    Sometimes I wonder why so many people think negative things about Christians. Then I read something like this, and think about how it could be perceived, regardless of good intentions.

    Maybe follow what Jesus said himself in Mt 7:12?

    But maybe that's just me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2017
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  3. GeorgeJ

    GeorgeJ <Insert Custom Title Here>

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    ...although I wouldn't mind if one of 'em shot the Easter Bunny and invited me over to share a nice dinner of roasted rabbit!
     
  4. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you do it with grace and the right motives it is not at all "jerky". Muslim cultures tend to be less "private" about things like celebrating holidays. Many Muslims would sincerely be delighted to have a non-Muslim friend visit. Now, certainly you should use wisdom about when it the best time to attempt to share the gospel. But don't be so wise that you end up not sharing at all!

    I have no idea if this applies to you. Perhaps it does not. But it seems to me that those who criticize evangelism ideas and methods often do very little evangelism themselves. Have you shared the gospel with Muslim friends? If so, I would sincerely be glad to hear about your methods, ideas, and experiences.
     
  5. Lucian Hodoboc

    Lucian Hodoboc Active Member

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    So... Abraham symbolizes God, Isaac symbolizes the world and the ram symbolizes Jesus?
     
  6. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In a sense, yes. That the ram symbolizes Jesus is quite clear, as the whole OT system of sacrificing animals to atone for sin points forward to Christ.

    NIV Hebrews 9:12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.

    Abraham's action is similar to God's in a way. Rather than saying that Isaac symbolizes the world (although I wouldn't say that is wrong), I would say he symbolizes each of us who deserves to die for our own sin, but is rescued by a substitute sacrifice provided by God.
     
  7. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If anyone desires to try to share the good news with a Muslim friend, if you let me know, I'll pray for you and for her/him. Either post a comment or send me a personal message.
     
  8. Papias

    Papias Listening to TW4

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    OK, consider this. Imagine that you move to a place where Christians are not the dominant culture, like, say the Philippines. There in the Philippines, you have a Sunni neighbor. You also hear in the news time and time again that Christians are targeted by Sunni's and that small incidents were a Christian refuses to join the Muslim Friday prayers are sometimes followed up by violence - killings, arson, assault, etc. You hear some people make comments that are not so subtle "reminders" that you are not fully welcome here, and that you would be safer converting to Islam. You routinely hear politicians disparaging Christians, and see that some people feel that this is giving them a green light to attack. It's Christmas morning, and you are opening presents with your family, when you Sunni neighbor comes over, and starts telling you and your family that Jesus is actually a Muslim who also wants you to convert to Islam. Take a second to put yourself in that position. You aren't home all the time to protect you house and family. How does that feel? You'd respond awfully politely, I'd guess, because you aren't stupid. You wouldn't feel so good, I'd think - because you are human.

    Now consider your neighbor. Islam is not the dominant culture here. He's reminded every day that much of the Christian culture hates him. In fact, he knows quite well that the poll data shows that Muslims are hated more than any other group here in America. Here's the data:
    Americans Express Increasingly Warm Feelings Toward Religious Groups

    He hears our president, time after time, suggest that Muslims are not fully acceptable. He sees the news stories (or perhaps even the burned out mosque wreckage) that shows that hate crimes against Muslims are rising fast here. He hears some people make comments that are not so subtle "reminders" that he and his family are not fully welcome here, and that they would be safer converting to Christianity. He routinely hear politicians here disparaging Christians, and sees that some people feel that this is giving them a green light to attack. He sees that these hate crimes are up 70%, amounting to hundreds of attacks each year.
    Hate Crimes Against Muslims in US Continue to Rise in 2016

    Now it's Eid-Al Adha, and he is starting to forget all that for just one moment of safety as the celebration with his family distracts him from the Christian hatred of Muslims in the dominant Christian culture he lives in. He begins to forget the schoolyard bullying his kids face from Christians because they are Muslim, he begins to forget the politicians that push Christianity using their political power, and the feeling he gets when pulled over by a cop car with a Christian Bible verse on it, and all the similar displays that remind non-Christians that they often face dangers that Christians don't have to worry about.

    Then, into that, his evangelical Christian neighbor comes over. He knows that of all the different people in the United states, Evangelical Christians hate Muslims more than anyone else hates them. That's clear in the data here:

    [​IMG]
    Mark, do you see that "37" three squares down in the top right? That's nearly the lowest (most hateful) spot on the whole chart - only two are worse. It shows that White Evangelical Christians are the people who hate Muslims the most, out of everyone.

    So here comes this white evangelical Christian. He hopes that maybe he won't feel intimidated again, that maybe, for once, this Christian is an exception, someone just coming to share the enjoyment of the holiday - maybe even to learn, to understand, their sacred time. But no. Soon, the Christian starts off with the same "suggestions", and "explanations" that sound like veiled threats, about how he should be a Christian - about how he doesn't understand his own sacred time, and how this Christian is going to mansplain it to him, showing how it is actually pointing towards the dominant culture here.

    Think of how he feels.

    They seem that way because they aren't stupid. Look at both of the situations above, and you can see that the endangered minority person is going to be "polite" and not speak back when proselytized, because doing so is often a very bad mistake.

    Not if that "friend" is going to use their sacred holiday as a tool to push the dominant religion on them - as if they don't get that every day from the TV, Radio, coworkers, schoolmates and so on. Do you seriously think that he isn't familiar with Christianity, living here in America?

    When someone already knows something and hears it all the time, then your bringing it up unsolicited is not "providing helpful information", it's harassment - and that's exactly how it feels.

    Don't be so silly as to say "oh, I asked him if it felt like harassment, and he said it didn't, so I'm OK!". See above - he's not stupid. Of course he'll say it's OK, even as he considers how to get out of the conversation.

    Many Muslims would indeed be delighted to have a non-Muslim friend visit - if that person actually was a friend and respected their holiday, and maybe even took a minute to learn from them about it - without any proselytizing.

    If you really think that respecting their holiday and keeping your proselytizing out of it would not be "wise" then that's pretty sad.

    Great, the subtle insults come next. You're building up a great track record here.

    FYI - yes, I have, and I have the common decency to first be a friend, and to never bring it up. I'm there when they ask, which sometimes happens, and sometimes doesn't. Because I don't see them as some mission trophy, I'm fine either way.

    The decent thing to do is to never bring up religion, to let them know that you love them, period. That you respect them and that includes their being Muslim, and that you like to learn about their culture without preaching to them about ours (which they learn about every day anyway). To do things the help them, and especially things that help them celebrate Islam itself, without ever bringing up your religion. If that doesn't feel good to you, then ask yourself - are you more interested in being their friend, or are you more interested in converting them? If you are more interested in converting them, then you aren't actually their friend, and all the stereotypes about you are true.

    That's up to you, Mark.

    In Christ-

    Papias
     
  9. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Papias,

    Thanks for taking time to respond so thoughtfully. You do bring up some excellent points.

    It is possible that some people, in a misguided moment of zeal, might apply my suggestion in ways which are harmful as you suggest. My OP was already long, but I can honestly see that I should have added an important note that this method of sharing the gospel is best used in the context of a relationship of love and trust built over time. You point out something similar:

    I honestly thank God for Christians like you who go against our cultural tide and befriend Muslim neighbors.

    I think (and hope) that most people who would be interested in my post at all are people who already have Muslim friends. But I agree there is a risk of someone applying the method I suggested in a context and in a way that is hurtful. Thank you for alerting us to this real risk.

    Now, let me reply to some of the other things you wrote.

    A minor note: Most of the Philippines is mostly Christian (overall, about 95%, I think). You may be thinking specifically of the Southern Philippines where in some areas Muslims are in the majority and where there has been tragic fighting recently. Of course, for the sake of our discussion you could have mentioned any one of many Muslim majority nations as an example.

    I don't have to imagine what it would be like to live in a setting like that. I was blessed with the opportunity to live in a Muslim majority city in a Muslim majority nation. I lived there for 14 years. We had excellent relationships with our neighbors and many dear Muslim friends, some of whom we still have contact with. There was indeed significant anti-Christian violence in our city and on our island. But this was carried out by a relatively small minority of the Muslim population.

    As was common, some of our Muslim friends did visit us on Christmas. We were delighted to see them. And if they wanted to discuss religion, even for the purpose of converting me to Islam, I was thankful for every opportunity to discuss what I believed.

    I'm not suggesting you interrupt their family activity. As I said in the OP, they receive guests for these holidays for several weeks after the actual day. Of course a person should use good sense in when to visit and when to share about religion.

    A few thoughts.

    First, yes, we need to be very aware of how a Muslim in the US may feel and we need to be sensitive to this. That's an important reminder and entirely valid.

    Yes, it is best to share Christ in the context of a relationship and friendship and not just barge in. (However, there are times when we can and should share the gospel gently with someone we first meet.)

    I think you exaggerate the role of government in promoting Christianity. Cop cars with Bible verses? I've never seen one. I read about one rare example where the verse was "Blessed are the peacemakers." Hardly a frightening use of police power.

    Tragically, there are in fact people who identify as evangelical Christians who hate Muslims. But the majority of the evangelical Christians I know are not like that at all. In fact, most of them sincerely love all their neighbors regardless of race or religion.

    People sometimes use the word "proselytize" to make sharing the good news about Jesus sound like something bad and mean. It is not.

    And when has speaking back during a gospel presentation ever been "a very bad mistake"?


    Do you really think that people get an accurate view of Christianity and the gospel through TV and radio? Occasionally, yes. Most of the time, no.

    As far as getting it from coworkers and schoolmates, that's exactly what I'm encouraging!

    There is a big difference between having a general familiarity with Christianity and having a friend sit down with you and explain the gospel, if you are open to that.

    I'm interested in converting them precisely because I am their friend. If you believe that Jesus is the source of salvation and forgiveness and the only way to the Father, then you will desperately want every friend you know to become a follower of Christ. Sometimes this will involve patience. Sometimes it should involve taking the initiative to "bring up religion".

    Jesus commanded us to be His witnesses and to make disciples. He specifically told us to do this among all nations. The Apostles who gave us an example of how to do this took a lot of initiative to win people to Christ.

    In conclusion, you have added a helpful reminder of how important it is to really care about our Muslim neighbors. We should see them as people and not "evangelism targets". Yet, I feel that you are wrong about not taking initiative to share the Good News of Christ with them.

    Grace and Peace, Mark
     
  10. Papias

    Papias Listening to TW4

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    Thanks. : )

    Yes, you supplied a better example. I think your security of your situation (or just personal differences) may have made your experience different, but I think you know what I mean.

    No, it's based on evidence. Ted Cruz and others have stated they are "A Christian first, and American second.". And a large chunk of Republicans want a constitutional amendment making Christianity the official relgion of the United states, and so on. Can you imagine a Muslim winning the presidency? Of course not. Would you feel safe as a Muslim if the constitution were amended to make your religion outside, like that? Would you be confident in expecting equal protection under the law?

    Being that the "blessed are the peacmakers" states that it's from the Gospel of Mt, it says that other scriptures are second class at best. Imagine a police car that said "Allah is most merciful, and just". That too would be a frightening abuse if you weren't in that religion, and saw violence around you time and again. Other verses are used too, such as this one:

    [​IMG]
    https://lintvksnw.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/9b36e60c4a5145aca69ae053756c46bf.jpg?w=650

    Rom 13:4 is For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

    Anecdotal stories like ".... all the plumbers I know are honest" is not data. I gave the data. Evangelical Christians were the ones who expressed the most hatred towards Muslims - and that study was based on responses from thousands upon thousands of people.

    Sometimes the sharing of the good news of Jesus is perceived as bad and mean. That's sometimes the case whether it is intended that way or not. The only way to know is to listen, when someone feels safe enough to talk openly.

    With this kind of stuff going on hundreds of times a year in the United States, a Muslim can never be sure when speaking back will be a very bad mistake. It could well have been a very bad mistake in this case, here:

    [​IMG]

    Take a moment to look over some of them, here:

    Spate of mosque fires stretches across the country - CNN

    I'm glad that we've had this discussion, and especially glad that we are on the same page on a lot of this. We do have a few minor disagreements about what it feels like to be an oppressed minority and about when it's OK to start with the sharing, but those aren't nearly as huge as they might have been, and our overall approach might not be all that different.

    Thanks for listening.

    In Christ-

    Papias
     
  11. Delanie

    Delanie Newbie

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    Some interesting thoughts here, sometimes the best way to bring the Gospel to someone new is to show how it's far less foreign to them than might have been drilled into their minds.Our group has been very successful at converting Muslims in Europe in part by reaching out to them and showing how the Gospels already speak to the questions and concerns that they've had lingering in their minds and that have gone unanswered. This kind of engagement is often the first step to bringing someone into your heart and then into the church.
     
  12. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I thank God that you are seeing Muslims come to Christ. Praise the Lord!

    Yes, the Gospels do speak to questions and concerns which EVERY human has, including Muslims. What a great way for them to be drawn to Christ's love and the truth of the Gospel.

    I pray that God will encourage, strengthen, protect, grow, and multiply these new followers of Christ.

    And may He continue to give you success as you serve Him!
     
  13. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for posting this. It is a great way to reach out to muslims, as you say if planning to use it one should prepare in order to know what one is going to say and be able to say it without stasmmering etc.

    I have only one point/querry.
    I was told that because muslims honour the quran we christians should be careful in how we handle it. I was told never to put a copy on the floor and never to mark, underline etc any passage in it.

    In your experience how relevant are those instructions?
     
  14. Mark Corbett

    Mark Corbett Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I think it is good advice to not put the Quran on the floor or mark in it. This is not because I think the Quran is a book that truly deserves honor. It is in fact false prophecy and false teaching. However, Muslims are people who should be honored even though they have been led astray. Handling the Quran in a way which would upset their emotions will most likely only create barriers to the truth.

    I also advise not putting the Bible on the floor when you are with Muslims to help them understand that it is a Holy Book. We know that there is nothing wrong with putting the Bible on the floor, but we could send a confusing message to them by doing so.

    But I would not worry about marking in a Bible. Instead, I would explain that the way we honor God's Word is by studying it and seeking to learn and understand it so that marking in it is actually a way of honoring it.

    While there are many detailed issues which can help or hinder our witness to Muslims, the basics are the most important. Love them. Listen to them. Share what you believe about Jesus.

    I would also recommend praying not only for them (that, of course, is essential), but offering to pray WITH them in Jesus Name when they share any need. This is a very powerful ministry strategy. I wrote about it in another thread which you may find here:

    Listen and Pray, A Powerful, Practical Ministry Method

    May God bless you as you share his love and truth with Muslim neighbors and others!
     
  15. Tolworth John

    Tolworth John Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your informativereply.
     
  16. Debp

    Debp New Member

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    Thanks very much Mark for the good information. Enjoyed reading all of your comments, too. I have some close Muslim friends. Would appreciate your prayers for them and also me in speaking with them of Christ.
     
  17. Jerri

    Jerri Member

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    I find the way of Christ witnessing/reaching out more effective. Christ used words of knowledge e.g. with the Samaritan woman at the well which made it easier to approach her and evangelize. I find that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can give us an edge, therefore my prayer has been for God to arm the body of Christ with those gifts esp when going to minister to people who worship other gods. Regarding the timing of the mission I think anytime is good as long as one is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit because as we fail to minister to them in the hour they may die shortly after, still in sin while we would have helped to alter their destiny if we stepped up at the right time.
     
  18. Achilles the Second

    Achilles the Second New Member

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    I like this perspective and approach, it shows openness and a humane desire to teach and provide outreach while understanding the faith background and spiritual world of those we are reaching out to. We have had similar success with such strategies in Italy where we are currently focused, achieving the conversion of many thousands of former mostly Moroocan Muslims and bringing them into the flock of their new Christian brethren. A lot of this is showing that the distance they must travel is not nearly has great as they have often been told, and that there is a kinship already there that they can fulfill when they join the Church, in whatever denomination they find a home. Knowledge of Muslim customs and holidays has been essential to this.
     
  19. Sammy-San

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    What do you think high priest means-a symbolic reference to the similarity between our function and that of OT clergy?
     
  20. Sammy-San

    Sammy-San Newbie

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    You should pray every day that more christian laborers reach the muslims in Europe.
     
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