A few years ago while living in Turkey, my auto mechanic called me. The miraculous survivor of a hand grenade attack by terrorists, this faithful Muslim, 35, was always cheerful. However, he was most serious this day and told me he urgently needed my help. Peculiar to me was that he insisted I take him to my church and “counsel him.” Of course I was very curious what he had in his mind. So on a Tuesday afternoon, The mystery unfolded as he told me with foreboding how a foreign woman, a stranger, had told him that she knew he had gold stashed in his families cherry orchard in the village. As he was so freaked out about it, all I could think of was that he had met some kind of medium or psychic. But after an hour of talking to him and praying with him, the answer to this riddle dawned on me. The foreign woman was a Christian and had told him “you have treasure hidden in a field!” (Matt. 13:44). This woman had left him with a thought seed that was so loaded, it wouldn’t leave him alone! She accomplished something significant, namely stirring deep thought.
Do you have any Muslim friends you would wish could discover the treasure you have found in Christ?
Usually Christians hold back from spiritual conversation in an attempt to be polite, however the reality is that most devout Muslims are eager to find someone to talk about sacred things with, because they are as alarmed by the secular de-evolution of society as true Christians are.
In this sense, when witnessing to a Muslim, it is prudent to begin your spiritual conversation, viewing them as an ally rather than an opponent. Remember you are talking to a person who appreciates they are created; who values prayer and prophets; who has a view that time will end, and who has convictions that there is a straight path to live by.
Obviously the ‘detail’ that makes all the difference is — what is the straight path! We know Jesus said, “I am the way.” That isn’t so obvious to your Muslim friend. So respect of the Bible is an initial building block you can address. The big question is how to get them to dig into that “field” of the Bible and find the treasure? (Christ)
One of the primary ways Christians drive a wedge between themselves and Muslims is to be the “know it all”. We must remember we are working with someone who is as certain they are right as likely you are. So to make declarative statements of “the Bible says” rarely go anywhere with your Muslim friends.
Rather, consider, how you can creatively get your Muslim friend to see with new eyes. Here are three ways to do this:
One of my friends who loves Jesus when asked, “Are you a Christian?” responds, “A little bit.” That is a redirect. Because the obvious next step is for the Muslim to ask, “what do you mean?” (This gives my friend opportunity to explain that not all of what is called “Christianity” is what Christ intended.) The principle is to turn questions in a direction the hearer least expects. To the man who asks if I believe the Quran, I may say, “The Quran and Bible serve two different and important purposes. The Quran reminds us to love Allah. While the Bible reminds us that Allah loves us. That is something that really erases my fear.”
Fear is the greatest enemy of all humans. Unfortunately some religions do their adherents the disservice of heaping on loads of fear. I often like to ponder hopeful things in the hearing of my Muslim friends. In this way, they find conversation with me especially rewarding. As King Saul would bring in young David to play the harp, so everyone who has the hope of Christ, has an ability to minister to Muslims through verbalizing Scripture promises, visualizations of grace, encouragements of God’s love, and hope about certainties that God has given the faithful.
Asking questions of one’s faith isn’t a normal thing in Islam. So creating curiosity is stimulating to them. The woman who planted the seed about “the treasure in the field” in my mechanics mind did this most effectively. A grain of sand for the oyster to turn into a pearl. Curiosity can sometime be found by eluding to a subject, but not advancing. For example ask, “What do you believe happens to a wicked person after they die?” Let them answer, and then say, “Oh, that is much different than what I believe.” Then stop. Or ask, “How do you believe Jesus was Jesus born of a virgin?” Let them answer and then say, “Hmmm. I wish you could read the words that Gabriel spoke to Mary, it is so interesting.” If they tug for more. Give a few delays, like. “It really is something very different.” or “I am not sure you would want to know as it is based from a Jewish prophet.” Their curiosity will allow you to go much further than you could if you are the one pushing your thoughts.
Sink your plow deep — there still is much treasure in that field!