I’ve called New York City home for three months. It’s a diverse place — over a third of this city’s residents are immigrants with permanent status. I heard about International Project while working on my bachelor’s degree. Interestingly, I immediately had a sense I would end up moving to this hectic city. I wanted to join the work of reaching some of the world’s unreached people with the gospel of peace through Christ Jesus.
Three years later, here I am participating in the Equip Missionary Training Program. One of the benefits of Equip is the in-depth training on Islam and reaching Muslims. It wasn’t until I moved into a Muslim neighborhood and began building friendships that the barriers to sharing truth with my neighbors started to seem more and more difficult to breakthrough. The realization of how little I knew about the belief system and practice of Islam hit me like a rush of cold air. Undoubtedly, it is vital to come as a humble learner of culture to best communicate the gospel effectively.
Many assumptions have been formed on either side of the line between Islam and Christianity. Here are some of the assumptions Muslims have of Christians (based on their understanding of Christian beliefs and practices): Christians are unclean because we eat pork and drink alcohol; we have no care for modesty; we believe in three gods; we believe God had sex with Mary; American secular culture exemplifies Christianity. Some of the assumptions we may have of Muslims include: all of them are violent radicals; all Muslims live in the Middle East; all Muslims are devout; Muslim men mistreat women; and all Muslim women despise the covering of the hijab. Because of assumptions like these, people from both groups end up feeling like there is no points of connection between the Muslim and Christian faith.
However, the reality is there are many points of connection between the Muslim and Christian faith, beginning with their monotheistic worldview. This worldview names Abraham as the father of all the nations and traces all human lineage to the first man and woman formed by God at Creation. In the Qur’an, the familiar men from the Bible — Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses — are prophets of God. Therefore we can lay the groundwork for the greatest story of God’s provision of the perfect sacrificial Lamb through storytelling and commonalities between some of our stories. We can use such stories of how God provided clothes for Adam and Eve in the garden, a boat to save Noah’s family, and a ram to redeem Abraham’s son.
Bridging The Gap Between Muslims And Christians
God has made a way for all peoples of the earth to know Him through Jesus the Messiah. We are working hard to make the name of Jesus known throughout New York City and, moreover, throughout the whole world. It is important to know how the gospel can be understood and received within the context of a Muslim worldview. If you want to learn more about how to bridge the gap between practicing Islam and becoming a follower of Jesus through storytelling, you should consider coming to a short or long-term opportunity with International Project.