Battle Cry recently interviewed Tim Berends, who has spent many hours handing out tracts and witnessing in Arab neighborhoods and festivals, and near local mosques. His insights can be a great help to soul-winning churches concerned about the arrival of a Muslim worship center in their community.
BC: What is the usual reaction of Christians when a Muslim worship center shows up in their community?
BERENDS: Fear! They think that confronting Islam can be dangerous. Most of what they have heard about Islam is their tendency to retaliate, sometimes with violence, to any attempt to witness to them.
BC: What is the first thing a church needs to know before trying to witness to a Muslim group?
BERENDS: Well, first of all, God loves Muslims. Christ's attitude was deep compassion for the multitudes, [who are] without shepherds, deceived by the unscriptural traditions of the Pharisees, and hungry for spiritual truth. Muslims expect a confrontation, but are disarmed by someone who obviously has an unconditional love for them as individuals.
BC: Instead of a love for Muslims, why do most Christians fear them?
BERENDS: It is scary scenario. There are over a billion Muslims in the world and their book, the Qur'an, tells them they need to take over the world for Allah. Their plan is working in the local neighborhoods of the Western World. A Muslim charity provides money to build a mosque or worship center. Muslim families purchase houses around the worship center.
BC: Churches are more likely to see the threat rather than the opportunity.
BERENDS: Absolutely. The threat is there, but trying to stop them by law won't work. The only way is by winning them to Christ. Then they will give up the jihad idea and see that obedience to the God of the Bible is the better path. They will learn about a loving God who tells us how to have true peace. There is no true peace and unconditional love in the Muslim world.
BC: I read that, 50 years ago, the leaders of Islam would not advise Muslims to come to America for fear they would become Christians. It appears that has changed.
BERENDS: Sadly, yes. Today, our churches are not a serious threat to Islam. But a church can turn that around by training soul winners to witness to Muslims.
BC: What techniques do you suggest?
BERENDS: First, pray until you have Christ's compassion for the precious Muslim people. It's got to break your heart: the 5-a-day prayer rituals, the bondage of the women, the abuse in the families. When witnessing, I see the women in full length burkas on a sweltering day with men in short sleeve shirts. I see men on the streets abusing their wives and children, just like in the tract, Is Allah Like You?
My goal is to get a tract into their hand. I give them a warm smile, say As Salamu Alaykum, "peace be upon you" in Arabic. When they ask about the tract, I tell them, "It is our love letter to you." If they ask if I am a Muslim, I say, "No. But I love the Muslim people."
I usually wear a t-shirt with "I (heart) Muslims" on the front and "John. 9:35-38" on the back. If my attitude is friendly and compassionate, they will seldom refuse the tract.
If they come back to talk about it, I point out that they call us "the people of the book," that the Qur'an calls Jesus a prophet, that prophets never lie, and Jesus said in John 9:35-38 that He is God.
I stress that Jesus showed love to everyone; but Muhammad killed a lot of people and wasn't even sure, himself, that he would go to paradise. Why follow a man like that?