Outreach to Muslims During Ramadan
For Muslims, the vestiges of a hope for the forgiveness of sins, rooted in the Jewish Day of Atonement, still pervade the Muslim mind. Believers in Jesus should be prepared to answer the nagging spiritual question of their Muslim friend: “How can my sins be forgiven?” The open door to answering this kind of question may never be spread as wide as during Ramadan.
How can a Christian share the Truth about forgiveness? I have found that one of the most effective ways is through sharing Bible stories. Everyone loves a good story, and about 75 percent of God’s Word is in narrative form! Furthermore, the Qur’an refers to many of the same characters that we find in the Bible; therefore, sharing stories of Adam and Eve, for instance, builds a quick bridge with Muslims. The following stories could be shared with Muslim friends to show that sin requires a payment and that God has provided that payment:
Genesis 3:21: God slaughters an animal and covers Adam and Eve (Hawa in Arabic) with the animal skins. One could emphasize in this story that sin brings shame, but God himself provides the covering for this shame.
Genesis 22:1-14: Abraham (Ibrahim in Arabic) takes his son* up the mountain to sacrifice him. Before carrying out this act, the angel of the LORD stops him, and instead a ram is sacrificed in Isaac’s place. The focal point of this story is verse 8, when Abraham says to Isaac, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” Christians could emphasize three things here: first, that even though Isaac was rescued from the slaughter, a sacrifice still had to be made; a payment was still required. Second, the sacrifice of the ram was substitutionary, that is, in place of the son. Third, God himself provides the sacrifice.
Exodus 12:1-32: This is the story of the first Passover, when God tells the people of Israel, who were slaves in Egypt, to slaughter a lamb and sprinkle its blood on the doorposts of their homes. Then the LORD will “pass over” the homes of the Israelites but will slaughter all of the firstborn sons of Egypt who do not have the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. Two things could be emphasized from this amazing story. First, it is the blood of the sacrificial lamb that saves the people of Israel from God’s wrath. Second, this is another picture of substitutionary sacrifice. Imagine how the firstborn son of an Israelite household felt the night of Passover as he sat looking at the cooked lamb on his family’s table. He may have been thinking, I’m sitting here right now because that lamb died in my place!
After sharing these stories from the Old Testament, the Christian could bring his or her Muslim friend to the story of John the Baptist’s encounter with Jesus in John 1:29, when the former says of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Sharing these stories with Muslim friends like Ahmed shows them why Jesus had to die, that He was the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. The Bible is indeed one great Story, the Story of God saving people from their sins and drawing them near to himself.
As Muslims fast and pray in the hope of finding divine favor and forgiveness throughout Ramadan, and in particular during the holiest night of the Muslim calendar, the Night of Power, they must hear from their Christian friends about a different Holy Night that took place long ago. On this night, God’s Word didn’t come down by way of an angel to a man in a cave; His Word came to a stable. God’s Message was not one of law and submission, but of grace and redemption. This Word would bring atonement, for the Word himself would be the payment for sins. This is Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh and dwelt among us. And every Muslim deserves the chance to hear the Truth about Him.
How You Can Engage:
During Ramadan, set aside time for prayer and fasting for Muslim people. With thousands of Christians praying and fasting for Muslims—all at the same time—it could lead to unbelievable miracles in the lives of these dear people! When you fast, remember the 1.9 billion Muslims who need our fervent prayers!
Pray that God would open the door for you to share the love of Jesus with Muslim people in your community. Find ways to extend hospitality. With Good Friday (April 15) and Easter (April 17) just around the corner, invite your Muslim neighbor, co-worker, or friend to church and a meal afterwards. They might be curious about how Christians celebrate Easter. Ask God for creative ideas on how you can share Jesus with Muslims who desperately need to know the Truth about Jesus!