The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
“There are 3 things why Muslims are coming to Christ: meeting authentic Christians; reading the Bible in their own language; and seeing a vision of Jesus”, says Fouad Masri, President of Crescent Project.
Today's headlines are filled with news about terrorism, murder, and destruction. Militant groups continuously generate headline news.
Meanwhile, more Muslims are coming to faith in Christ in the last twenty years than in the previous 1400 years.
According to Fouad Masri, Founder and President of Crescent Project, “Muslims need to hear from Christians what does it mean that Jesus is my Saviour, the idea that He said I do not call you slaves, I call you friends”.
“There are 3 things why Muslims are coming to Christ: one, meeting authentic Christians ; two, reading the Bible in their own language; and three, seeing a vision or a dream of Jesus”, Masri explained in an interview during the European Leadership Forum in Wisla (Poland), May 2017.
The President of Crescent Project believes that “Bible translation helps them to read the gospel in their own language”, and “it is also helpful in discipleship”.
Many Muslims are having dreams about Jesus, and those dreams “make Muslims question who is Jesus and why is He communicating to them”.
Read the full interview below.
Question. What do Muslims most need from Christians?
Answer. I have been trained in the gospel with Muslims since 1979. The joy for me is when they understand the gospel.
I personally believe the number one they need to hear from us is what does it mean that Jesus is my Saviour, the idea that He said I do not call you slaves, I call you friends, that is the most important thing.
However, some of us maybe cannot start there, and what they need form us is just a hello, a loving gesture, a welcoming gesture, and respect.
I always respect Muslims, but sometimes,when we are talking to them, they say something that it does not make sense, and hen I said: “thank you for sharing your opinion, I humbly disagree with you”.
I like to show them respect, even in situations when they say something strange or illogical. Any time we meet a Muslim, they need from us love, affection, in the sense of respect, compassion; not to build walls but to build bridges.
But definitively, the core of what they need is to tall them that Jesus loves them so much, and they need to know Him as their personal friend, personal Saviour, personal Lord.
Q. What effect does the witness of a practising Christian have on Muslims?
A. There are 3 things why Muslims are coming to Christ: one is they meet authentic Christians, practising believers; two, they read the Bible in their own language; and three they see a vision or a dream of Jesus.
The reason why it is important that a Muslim meets a practising Christian is that they can get their questions answered. Many times they have wrong information.
One of the gentlemen who took our training, his neighbour is a Turkish businessman. When this man came over for dinner,he asked them: why do you Christians eat bread and fish every Sunday?
And the gentleman said: no, it is bread and wine, we do communion every Sunday, why do you believe that we eat bread and fish?
The man, who is now in his forties, said that when he was 12 years old took him to Instambul, and we entered in a Catholic church, and there was a picture of Jesus holding a basket of fish and a basket of bread, so he thought that what Christians do every Sunday.
It is a simple story to explain that, many times, they need an authentic, practising Christian to explain the gospel. Whether they receive Jesus or not, that is beside the point, lets explain them what we believe.
Another church in our training was travelling to Greece to work with refugees, and this Syrian young man comes up and asks the pastor of the church: why do you call Jesus Son of God?, how can you believe that God had sex with Mary?.
And he goes on saying: that is why you call Jesus son of God, because He is half human, half divine, his mum is a human, God is his father.
The pastor says: no, we do not believe in a sexual act, we believe is a miracle, God did a miracle with the virgin Mary, and Jesus was born. We give Him the name Son of God to give glory to God. It s a term to explain the uniqueness of Jesus.
When he explained that, the Syrian Muslim said that he wanted to know more about Christianity, and he is now in a Bible study.
The beautiful thing is that when they meet a practising Christian,many Muslims get to ask that question.
Q. What role is Bible translation having in Muslims coming to Christ?
A. It is important to put the Bible in the language of the people, because it touches their hearts, whereas the language they learn in school, or maybe they never learned, is harder for them to understand.
Bible translation is very important to us, because it helps them to read the gospel in their own language.
It is also helpful in discipleship, because you and I cannot be disciples just because we meet someone, we need to be disciples in the words of Jesus, in the teachings of Jesus, as we study the epistles, the parables, the commandments of Christ, the sermon of the mountain, these are great discipleship lessons.
Praised God that the Bible is now in Tatar. For many years the Tatar did not have a Bible in their own language. We need to pray for more translations to take place.
Q. How have dreams of Jesus brought many Muslims to faith in him?
A. Dreams in Islam are a problem, because we do not explain dreams in Islam, we do not know if it is a reality or an idea.
In the Bible, in Christianity, we know that dreams are ideas that God can use, like when God told Joseph: take Mary and the child and go to Egypt, in a dream, so it is a way for God to speak to us, but the dream is just a dream.
In Islam, it is said that Mohammed had a vision when he was in Mecca, in the vision he was riding a donkey, or a horse, with wings, and that horse took him, flying, all the way to Jerusalem, and the reason why the Dome of the Rock is built in Jerusalem is that Mohammed was there.
But the story starts with him in a dream, so, was he there,or was he not there?, was that horse real or not?, did it have wings?
The struggle in Islam is that dreams cannot explained well. When they see a dream of Jesus,it is striking for them, because in the ream is Jesus, not Mohammed.
Whenever I meet someone who dreamed that, I ask them: how do you know is Jesus?. It is really ironic how they were raised Muslim, and they know in that dream that it was Jesus, the son of virgin Mary.
In October of last year, I was preaching in a city, and a couple came up after the service. The husband said: I was raised Muslim, and 3 years ago I became a believer. This is my fiancé and she has a question for you.
I asked what was her question, and she said: in the last 8 weeks, I saw 2 visions of Jesus. I asked her: how do you know is Jesus?, and she said: It is Jesus, the son of the virgin Mary, I am so sure.
I asked her what was her question then, and she goes: what is Jesus appearing to me?. I opened Revelation 3:20, where Jesus says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”.
Then I said to her: Jesus is knocking at the door of your life, and He wants to be the leader of your life, would you like to take Him as your Saviour and leader?, and she said yes , and right there we prayed.
The dream was the reason she was investigating. Many times dreams make Muslims question who is Jesus, why is Jesus communicating to me?
ABOUT FOUAD MASRI
Fouad Masri is an author and lecturer born and raised in the war zone of Beirut, Lebanon. As a third generation ordained pastor, he has a passion for sharing the love of Christ with Muslims and has been reaching out to Muslims and inspiring others to follow his example.
In 1993, he founded Crescent Project to nurture transformational relationships between Christians and Muslims and to rally the Church to reach out to Muslims to share the Good News of Christ.
Since then, he has trained more than 21,000 Christians to sensitively and purposefully share their faith with Muslims. Fouad has authored 14 books including Outreach Magazine's 2015 Cross Cultural Resource of the Year, Connecting with Muslims: A Guide to Communicating Effectively.
He holds a bachelor's degree in Mass Communication and an MA from Fuller Theological Seminary in Islamic Studies. Fouad lives with his wife and their two children.