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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Reflections on Islam

Two full days of ABO were dedicated to learning more about Islam and the world of Muslims.  It is no small matter that this is the predominate religion in Africa and is spreading.  As rookie missionaries, regardless of the primary ministries we are going to, we need to be well-versed in at least the basics.
For some of our colleagues, daily interaction with practicing Muslims is what they’ve been called to, what they’re passionate about, and the very people that God is asking them to love into His kingdom.  A lot of our classmates here at ABO are headed to places where you can’t legally go as a missionary, places usually with Islamic strongholds, and they’re going as tentmakers like the apostle Paul.  These are people with families, kids the same ages as ours, loved ones at home and yet with a God-given desire to reach out to a very hard-to-reach people.
We were being trained by a Kenyan man named Eric who shares this passion – a gifted evangelist who is now working hard to train others the methods, means, and mannerisms necessary to share Christ’s love with Muslims.  One of his first lines to us was that we make sure we are seeing the distinction between Islam and Muslims clearly:   Islam is a false religion, like many others, that blinds people to the truth.  Muslims are people, just like us, who need to be introduced to Jesus as Savior and Lord.  First and foremost, we need to make sure we love them.
The training included in-depth Quran and Bible study, comparing many facets of the two religions that can seem similar on the surface, but are not.  We looked deeply into the faith and practice of Islam, which boils down to a works-based system with a very distant god, Allah.  Muslims are left completely lacking the assurance of salvation, the grace and mercy offered by the true God of the Bible, and the knowledge that the punishment for our sin was paid once and for all by Jesus’ death on the cross. Tips and strategies were presented for avoiding unfruitful arguments and instead getting to the heart of the matter when sharing Christ with them. 
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We even visited a mosque in Machakos and listened to an Imam share what Islam is to him.  There were many mixed emotions as we were given a brief tour of their place of prayer– an unmistakable heaviness surrounded that place.  As we left, I observed a gentleman washing head to foot outside the mosque, a ritual they must complete to cleanse themselves before entering for prayer.  My heart ached for this man and the burden he feels he alone can bear; no hope of a Savior who has done the work for him. 
The whole experience really brought home for us this video we’d seen before.  It’s only a few minutes long and worth watching if you have a few to spare.  CLICK TO VIEW VIDEO

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