Conversation with a Muslim Friend

Saturday wasn't going to work after all -- some of us had a wedding to attend, and some of us were otherwise committed with appointments. Sunday morning found us in church, and the afternoon and evening were additionally called for by two separate hospitality invitations. Monday was likewise packed to the brim with pressing projects, but . . . there really never is a convenient time to witness.

With this truth in mind, our little group of six headed out on Monday afternoon to a local famers' market, wondering how many people might be there in the 90 degree heat. We agreed to set aside 45 minutes to an hour for initiating conversations about the Gospel, prayed together that the Lord would multiply our efforts for the small amount of time we had, and broke off in pairs.

Melodie and I spotted a woman and two girls sitting at a picnic table. Walking up to the woman, we smiled and said,
"Hello! Are you having a nice day?" She smiled back and indicated she was. I continued, "My friend and I are doing a little survey, and we wondered if we could ask you a few questions?"
"Oh, I do not speak English . . ." she said with a thick accent.
Turning to the young girl beside me, I asked, "Do you?" Her English was perfectly understandable, and she agreed to interpret for us.

Melodie began, "In the last six months, has your interest in God increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?"
"Definitely increased!" the girl to our right exclaimed. She repeated the question to her mother, and her mother agreed.

"Do you consider yourself to be a Christian? If so, why?"
"I am a Christian," the girl replied, "and my sister is a Christian," she pointed to the younger girl in front of her, "and my dad is a Christian, but Mom is not."
"You are not a Christian?" I asked the woman directly.
"No," she shook her head.
"What do you believe?" I inquired.
"I am a Muslim. I am from Indonesia."

"You are a Muslim!" I exclaimed. I was thrilled! "Are you participating in Ramadan?"
"Well I believe the Lord has brought us together, then, because just this very day - the 1st day of Ramadan - we have begun a month of prayer for Muslims around the world." {Ramadan is the time that Muslims set aside to fast and pray, focusing on seeking God.}

"I don't know a lot about what Muslims believe; could you tell me?" I asked honestly.
"Allah . . . believe in Allah . . . and Yesus. But Yesus --" she struggled to find the right words, "not God."
"You do not believe Jesus is God?"
"No. He good man; not God." She held her hand up and put her index and middle finger together to indicate she believed in God as the higher one (she pointed to her middle finger) and Jesus as the lower (she pointed to her index finger).

"You believe Jesus is the Son of God?" Melodie asked.
"Yes, but not God." she confirmed.
"Well, Jesus claimed to be God in the Bible," I added. "So either He was who He said He was, or He was a liar -- but good men do not lie."

"Jesus said, 'I and my Father are one.' (John 10:30) In John 14:6, Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'"

Taking a pen and paper, I drew a triangle to give her a visual image of the Trinity, writing, 'God' at one point, 'Jesus' at another, and 'Holy Spirit' on the last, to communicate that though Jesus is indeed the Son of God, He also is God. We believe in one triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.   Melodie used an egg as an illustration. An egg has three parts: the shell, the yolk, and the white, and yet, it is one egg.

In broken English, she expressed she had things to say, but was somewhat frustrated with the language barrier; we reassured her we were in no rush, and she could take her time.

She had a bag of green beans in front of her that she had been snapping.  Continuing to work with her hands, her daughter translated for her, and we learned that she was fine with her husband and daughters being Christians (though as we talked some with her daughter, we were not convinced that her daughter truly understood the Gospel), and fine with them reading the Bible, but she herself did not believe.

"I read the Bible. I sleep with the Bible." The woman used the word, "Confused . . . " and that got my attention.

"I don't know who to pray to. Read the Bible, and I read Koran. Pray to Jesus or Allah? But if I'm wrong, that's just the way it is."

I paraphrased James 4:14 for her, "What do we profit, if we gain the whole world, but then go to hell?" (interpereting through her 12-or-so-year-old resulted in a very simplified vocabulary. :) ) Hebrews 11:6 says, " . . . He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

"You and I are both sinners," I stated. "The punishment of sin is death; we do not deserve Heaven; we cannot earn it. But because of God's love for us, 2,000 years ago He became a man, the man Christ Jesus. He lived a perfect life, and, though He did not deserve to die, He chose to take our punishment upon Himself, so the justice of God could be satisfied. He is perfectly just, and justice demands sin be punished," but because God is also wholly loving, He made a means of salvation from the consequences of our own failures; we must only believe, turning from those things He hates. I pulled out my Bible and showed her I Timothy 2:5-6, "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."

Our Muslim friend describing the way Jesus shines in her dreams

"I dream about Jesus," she said with conviction, and yet perplexity. With her hands she began to motion that in her dreams, He was shining. "Always bright, always smiling . . . and then --" it took her a while to explain that, "He disappears." We got the impression she dreamt often about Him, and it was always the same: radiant, and with invitation, but then gone.

This was uniquely significant to us, as just a week and a half earlier at a local prayer meeting, a missionary from the Middle East had emphasized how common it has been for many Muslims to report of dreaming of this same, "bright, shining man." It really seems that in some cases, God has been working through dreams to draw Muslims towards the Lord.

After about half an hour of talking with her, a van pulled up and she said she had to go, that she was actually on her way to a Bible study at a Baptist church. We encouraged her, saying that studying the Bible was wonderful, and then asked her name. After praying with her, she smiled gratefully and shook our hands before leaving.

Afterwards, we marveled at God's timing. I have never knowingly witnessed with a Muslim before, and yet on the very first day of Ramadan, after specifically setting aside time to daily pray for Muslims, our paths crossed with one who clearly is being drawn by the Lord! Please pray for our new Muslim friend, and join the host of Christians all over the world who are praying through Ramadan for Muslims. For a day-to-day guide on how to pray specifically for them, you can sign up for the daily emails here and/or order a prayer guide here. In fact, you may want to order some for your church family, and encourage others with testimonies of Muslims coming to faith in Jesus. And please, be bold in sharing your faith! I myself know very little about the Muslim faith, and it may feel intimidating to talk with them about the Gospel, but if we have been saved, we know enough to start talking. There is not a doubt in my mind that very many of you would have been much more equipped to talk with Muslims about Jesus than I, and yet -- God uses weak, inexperienced, willing people to share mind-boggling truths. In fact, the more weak we are, the more glory God receives, because any and all victory can only be attributed to Him.

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