A few days ago, Fox News ran a grim special titled "Jihad USA: Confronting the Threat of Homegrown Terror." It was a warning of the continuing danger of Islamo-fascism.
The program probably deepened many Americans' fear of and hostility toward Muslims. That is unfortunate, because most Muslims are not would-be jihadists. But we Christians especially need to guard our emotions so we can be a good witness to Muslims—a caution raised by Dr. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller.
Woodberry, aware that throughout the world Muslims have been turning to Christ, was curious about the reasons why—especially in countries where the cost of converting is so high.
To find the answer, he created a detailed questionnaire. Over a 16-year period, some 750 Muslims from 30 countries filled it out—and the results are eye-opening. The number one reason Muslim converts listed for their decision to follow Christ was the lifestyle of the Christians among them.
As Woodberry, Russell Shubin, and G. Marks write in Christianity Today, Muslim converts noted that "there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of Christians" they knew. An Egyptian convert contrasted the love shown by Christians "with the unloving treatment of Muslim students and faculty he encountered at a university in Medina." Other converts were impressed that "Christians treat women as equals" and enjoy loving marriages. And poor Muslims observed that "the expatriate Christian workers they knew had adopted, contrary to their expectations, a simple lifestyle." They wore locally made clothes and abstained from pork and alcohol, so as not to offend Muslim neighbors.
Second, converts identified "the power of God in answered prayers and healing." For instance, in North Africa, a Muslim family asked Christian neighbors to pray for a sick daughter; and then the girl recovered. Some converts "noted deliverance from demonic power as another reason they were attracted to Jesus."
Converts also mentioned unhappiness with Islam itself, especially the Koran's emphasis on God's punishment and the uncertainty of salvation. By contrast, Woodberry notes, the biblical teaching that God loved us so much that "He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" is deeply attractive to Muslims.
Converts are also attracted to "the love expressed through the life and teachings of Christ." Ironically, Muslims first learn about Christ through the Koran, but then read the Gospels to find out more about Him.
Finally—and this is the key—"When Christ's love transforms committed Christians into a loving community, many Muslims [identified] a desire to join such a fellowship."
Woodberry's research shows that when the Church is being the Church—witnessing to the love of Christ and of His transforming power—Muslims are drawn both to us and to Him.
When is the last time you welcomed a Muslim family to the neighborhood, or invited a Muslim co-worker for a cup of coffee?
Even though we are in the midst of a worldwide war against Islamo-fascism, we must never forget Christ's command to witness to our neighbors—to all of our neighbors—of His redeeming love.
This is part two of a two-part series.
This is part one of a two-part series.
From BreakPoint®, April 23, 2008, Copyright 2008, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship