"I love Muslims because God loves Muslims.” Mohammed — who goes by “Moe” to blend in here in America — was shocked when he heard me say this. He knew that I was a Christian and that I knew he was a Muslim, but he thought Christians hated Muslims. That is what he had heard his whole life, and much of what he saw on the evening news seemed to validate his perception.
Our conversation occurred during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. While Muslims fasted food and water for 30 days from sunup to sundown, I became intentional about my conversations with them. I was so thankful God had given me this particular opportunity to shatter Moe’s stereotype, and, more importantly, to talk to my new friend about Jesus, the object of my faith and worship.
If you have a Muslim friend, you probably know that Ramadan ... is very special for Muslims. Even Muslims who are usually non-observant go out of their way to be “better Muslims” during Ramadan. If you are a follower of Jesus who is serious about fulfilling His command to make disciples of all people, Ramadan is a time of year when your witness to your Muslim neighbors may be more effective because they are more attentive to spiritual concerns.
And yes, demographics indicate that you probably have a Muslim neighbor. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 3.5 million Muslims live in the United States. The stereotype is that Muslims are Middle Easterners, but this is not the case. Only one-fifth of the world’s Muslim population is Middle Eastern. The overwhelming majority of Muslims come from Asia. American Muslims are racially and ethnically diverse. Many live in big cities like Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Los Angles, but they also live in smaller towns like Cowpens, South Carolina; Joplin, Missouri; and Yakima, Washington.
So, what should you do if you want to share your faith with your Muslim neighbor, whether during Ramadan or any other time of the year? Here are seven suggestions.
First, start with hello. Muslims sometimes wear clothing that sets them apart from the average American. Some are immigrants, so their English might not be perfect. Others look and sound just like you and me. You probably feel inadequate to share your faith with them. That’s okay. Just start by saying hello. After all, that’s the best way to begin any conversation.
Second, be a good neighbor. As the slogan for a national insurance company puts it, “Good neighbors are there when things happen.” Get to know your Muslim neighbor just like you would any other neighbor. Ask about their family. Get to know their story. And be sure to wish them a happy Ramadan. You aren’t compromising your faith or attesting to the truth of Islam by doing so. You’re just connecting at a human level.
Third, share the gospel — and only the gospel. Don’t be afraid to share the gospel. It’s the power of God that leads women and men to salvation the world over. However, don’t mix other issues with the gospel. You probably won’t agree with your Muslim neighbor on politics. That doesn’t matter. Focus on what’s truly important — Jesus.
Fourth, avoid arguments. Many Muslims learn from their family and friends at home or in the mosque how to defend their faith. They may argue that Jesus never claimed to be God or that the Bible is corrupted. Don’t be deterred, and don’t get angry. The Apostle Peter told his friends to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV). Be gentle, show respect, and remember that “an offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars” (Proverbs 18:19, NLT).
Fifth, pray for and with your Muslim neighbor. As you make friends with your Muslim neighbor, be sure to pray for and with them. When I say “pray for” your neighbor, I mean pray for their salvation. They can’t do this for themselves. After all, they probably think they already know the truth. You and I are called to stand in the gap for the lost, and this includes Muslims. However, when I say “pray with,” I don’t mean go to the mosque with them. I’m referring to a level of familiarity with your neighbor so that you can pray with them concerning issues in their lives which they deem important. Follow up your prayers by asking how things are going and reminding them that you are praying.
Sixth, show and receive hospitality. Muslims are generally hospitable people. This is especially true during Ramadan. So, show hospitality. Bake or buy something you enjoy, and take it to your Muslim neighbor. Just be sure that it doesn’t contain pork or alcohol. Likewise, be sure to receive hospitality well. Doing so keeps the relationship going. “But,” you might ask, “what if I don’t like what they offer?” Follow the advice of the late Elisabeth Elliot who said, “Where he leads me I will follow. What he feeds me I will swallow!” Many Muslims come from cultures with delicious food, but even if it isn’t, Jesus is worth it.
Seventh, and finally, stay connected. Muslims seldom come to Christ the first time they hear the gospel. It may take years and many conversations. Don’t give up! Jesus didn’t give up on you.
Following this simple advice can help eliminate any anxiety or intimidation you might feel as it relates to your Muslim neighbor. More importantly, it can give you the confidence to share Jesus with them. So, go for it, and see what God might do through you during this upcoming Ramadan season.
Originally released by Influence Magazine on May 3, 2019 as part of the Ramadan article series. https://influencemagazine.com/en/Practice/How-to-Share-Your-Faith-with-Your-Muslim-Neighbor
Other Ramadan Article Series in the Influence Magazine