Twenty seven years ago we knocked on doors in a street in France, to share the gospel. A conversation with one man led on to Bible studies. Next week we will see this man in Paris: a keen believer whose journey to faith started in that doorway.
After 12 years as ‘real missionaries’ in France, we left ‘la France’ in 2002 to come ‘t’up North’ – a different language from France (and Bedford where I’m from!) and a different culture – baguette to butties. What was not a change for us, was the large number of Muslims. Of course, we intentionally chose such an area. We have had a heart for reaching Muslims for the last 30 years and still return to France and Belgium to help in evangelism weeks with Muslims.
In his excellent book on Muslim Evangelism, The Gospel for Muslims, Thabiti Anyabwile shares his burden, that the great need is to preach the gospel. Christ crucifi ed and risen is the message Muslims need to hear. The power is in the Word of God. Of course, discussions about Islam, Muhammad, the Qur’an, etc., are unavoidable. Muslims see to that. Yet our objective is to present salvation in Christ’s name.
Let them tell you what they believe. Some may not believe what you assume
A good way to learn about Islam is simply to witness to Muslims and let them tell you what they believe. Some may not believe what you assume or may even have beliefs inconsistent with Islamic teaching. Recently one told me he believed Jesus died on the cross for sinners! I have often been surprised by unorthodox beliefs that probably result from living in a non-Muslim culture or even some previous contact with the gospel. We should not hesitate to go out and speak with Muslims we meet. Share the gospel. Share your testimony. Speak well of Christ.
Why street evangelism?
Speaking with those you already have a relationship with is ideal. But in a country with fewer and fewer Christians, how will we reach the millions around us? Praise God, we still have freedom to go out and meet those with no contact with Christians!
Christians join us in fear and trembling, to finish rejoicing
We go out weekly in four towns with a simple book-table and offer literature to passers-by. We work with local churches who join us. Each week we produce a list of contacts for prayer. Last week, despite bad weather, we had over 30 on the list. Sometimes we have spoken of Christ with 50 or more.
Do numbers matter? We all recognise this is God’s work. We all know that even one soul is precious. Yet it is a real encouragement to know that many have heard the way of salvation; “How shall they call on him of whom they have not heard?” (Romans 10:14)
Is there fruit?
How can we evaluate what the Lord has done? We do know of some fruit. Last July an Italian woman took an invitation, went to a meeting and has since trusted the Lord. A Muslim man, who spoke to us the previous year, came back to tell us he had trusted the Lord. I study the Bible with a Muslim whom I originally met at an open air meeting two years ago. He is not yet converted but happily hears the truth week by week. Many go away seriously intending to seek the Lord.
One pastor told me of the difference in their prayer meeting as they pray for the contacts made. Christians join us in fear and trembling, to finish rejoicing. It is an immense blessing to share how wonderful our Saviour is!
And there is the encouragement of new people coming to services, curry nights, coffee mornings, meals for the elderly, and toddlers groups.
Persevering is not easy, but we sow in hope of a day coming when the Lord will work powerfully, and we will witness many seeking the Lord. Pray that it may be in our life time!
Jon and his wife live in the North of England and work in outreach to ethnic minorites
Names and identities have been changed in this article