How do I meet local Muslims?
Churches and ministries approach me with questions about ministry to Muslims and ask for our advice and help quite often. It is a part of our ministry I really enjoy. One of the most common questions is, how do we meet Muslims?
Picture it: you have a group of Christians committed to praying for Muslims, you have studied some of the basics of Islam, have read a couple of books, have listened to some of my world famous lectures on YouTube, and you are ready to get to work. But now what? You know there are many Muslims in your city. Where to start?
Each city is different, but here are a few things I’ve seen work throughout Europe and North America:
1. Shopping: is there an ‘international grocery store’ or a place that advertises itself as selling hallal food? (Hallal is Arabic for ‘permitted’, and means that the animals have been slaughtered in the manner mandated by the shari’a.) Make it a habit of shopping there from time to time. Ask the Spirit to do something surprising before you go in and be expecting him to do it!
2. International Students: are there any ministries that cater to international students in your area? Call your local university or college and ask about hosting someone in your home, or at least showing them around town. Get off your butt and call around! You'll be surprised at what you find. If your church is close to a college or university then maybe start something at your church.
3. English: you speak the international language, and there are many international students, business people and refugees who want to learn it. Still other already know it but want a conversation partner. Other people speak it well but would like to improve their accent. Look around on the internet and find out who is doing this in your city and see if you can volunteer. You might not be paired with a Muslim, that is true. But that’s ok, because Buddhists and Hindus need Jesus too.
4. Refugees: so many of the unstable regions in this world today are majority-Muslim: Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, etc. Furthermore, the political instability of the Muslim world shows no signs of going away—quite the opposite. Beyond that, I just don’t see President Trump’s efforts at decreasing immigration from the Muslim world holding up in the courts over the long term. So, call your local refugee settlement group and ask if you can help. Follow their rules! If they say you can’t evangelize as you volunteer, then don’t. But after you are done volunteering, you will have some wonderful friendships where you and your new friends can decide what to talk about.
In the Bible we find Jesus going out of his way to connect with people a Jewish man would not normally get to know--think of the Samaritan woman at the well, think of Zacchaeus. We should imitate him and be intentional about forming our lives and habits in a way so that we can make friends with local Muslims. Hopefully some of the above ideas can help you do that.
Rev. Dr. Duane Alexander Miller has an MA in Theology and one of the main areas of research for his PhD in divinity was religious conversion from Islam to Christianity. He has taught all over the world and is currently an at-large lecturer and researcher at The Christian Institute of Islamic Studies. Duane and his wife, Sharon, now live in Madrid with their three children where they teach and minister at the Anglican Cathedral of the Redeemer. You can contact Duane here.