Why I love doing Discovery Bible Studies with my Muslim friendsSimply Mobilizing Canada
/Wednesday, February 1, 2023
“Who did you share last week’s story with?”
“My father. He’s an imam, so at first he was surprised that his daughter was studying the Bible. But then I shared the story, and he liked it. I think it’s even changing him.”
We were gathered around a picnic table in a park, my friend and I, and our five hijab-wearing friends. This was their first time to ever explore the Bible and they were all enthusiastic. A few weeks later, when the weather began to grow cooler, we moved our study online (this was during Covid) – and over the course of the year these ladies kept inviting their friends!
No one in this group is a believer yet, but it’s been a wonderful doorway to some amazing heart conversations. There has been no debating – just a genuine exploration of what these Bible stories were teaching each of us personally. I love this so much!
I remember the pressure I used to feel when talking to Muslim friends, and hoping I could convince them to follow Jesus. I even taught others how to engage in apologetics with Muslims. The trouble was, I found myself forgetting some of the most compelling arguments, and to be honest, I’m just not that good at it. Not only that, but I was also finding that many believers totally discounted themselves when it came to befriending Muslims. They didn’t feel qualified to engage in that arena – so they didn’t.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to present compelling reasons for our Muslim friends to follow Jesus; some people do this beautifully and powerfully. What I am caring about these days, is ordinary people who don’t have that skill, and helping them to believe that God still wants them to reach out to Muslims. What if an army of ordinary people began to reach Muslims versus just a few that have acquired some skills to do this? This is my passion!
As I follow what God is doing on the earth today, and all the places that thousands and thousands of Muslims are following Jesus – disciple-making movements – I’m filled with joy! I’m rejoicing that the vehicle God is using is not super-evangelists – but ordinary people. Like me. We simply ask our Muslim friends if they’d like to explore what the Bible has to say about life and relationships. Of course, some will say no, but many will say yes!
A few years back, another one of my hijab-wearing Muslim friends met with me each week over coffee to explore the Bible. Often, she’d ask me some challenging questions, but now I no longer got stressed about it or tried to frantically search for the most compelling argument. I just pointed her back to the Bible story and asked her what she thought. I had a new peace about this wondrous journey of a Muslim to Jesus. I saw how the Word of God and the Holy Spirit were at work. After some time, she stopped wearing her hijab. Not long after that she began to follow Jesus. Today she is a passionate follower of Jesus and is seeking to lead other Muslims to him.
One of the aspects that I love most about Discovery Bible groups is that my Muslim friends take turns leading. Yes, Muslims leading bible studies! We use the same simple questions each week and they get to lead the discussion. This takes away their concern that they are attending a Bible study where Christians are going to be teaching Muslims; that’s a rather offensive idea to them! In a Discovery Bible group, we are all discovering together – it’s a level playing field. And all of us are genuinely responding to God’s truths. This is a game-changer.
If you were to ask me to teach you how to lead a Muslim to Jesus – and to give you some tools to do this – you might be disappointed that I don’t have a bag full of clever arguments and compelling presentations to teach you. I’ve come to see – firsthand – the power of God’s Word, combined with the work of the Holy Spirit. Inviting a Muslim friend to a Discovery Bible Group is the most fruitful path I have seen. It takes the pressure off all of us to be convincing apologists – and empowers us to simply lead our Muslim friends deep into the Bible. This is the place where they can encounter Jesus and fall in love with him.
Once my Muslim friend began to encounter Jesus in the Bible stories, and she began to compare him with Mohammed – there was no comparison! I never brought up the prophet Mohammed; she did this on her own, and I watched her disgust as she recalled the words of Mohammed – and then compared them with the words of Jesus. She melted!
If we want to see an army of ordinary people raised up to bring Jesus to the Muslim world, we need ordinary believers to believe that they don’t have to become specialists in “Muslim evangelism”. Most people won’t sign up for that. We need to invite the Church to enjoy exploring the Bible with Muslims, and to understand that God is doing a great thing in the Muslim world today and that he wants us all in the game. Because we really do need an army, not just a handful of rock star evangelists.
The author of this article loves Muslims and has been working with them for 40 years. Her particular passion is to raise up ordinary people to reach out to Muslims locally - and globally. And she is seeking to "wave the flag" over the current refugee crisis - and invite the Church to step into this moment, understanding that this is an unprecedented opportunity for the Great Commission.
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