It is an understatement to say that Islam is a hot topic these days. Once a largely regional religion that was, for the most part, confined to north Africa, the Arabian peninsula and the middle east, this faith has grown exponentially in recent years. More than 1.5 billion people around the world call themselves Muslim, and the faith they seek to follow has now earned a respected voice in many nations all over the world. Any faith that large and that wide-spread will also be incredibly diverse (think about the difference between an eastern orthodox Armenian priest and an Alabama Pentecostal pastor. Both are Christian!) That means if we are to understand those we befriend who adhere to this faith, we don't arrive at that understanding by merely reading their authority sources--in this case the Koran and the Hadith. We understand them and what they believe by building relationships and asking questions.
As a missiologist, I look at this challenge from the standpoint of the Great Commission mandate the Lord Jesus gave to His followers. As one who has many dear friends in the Muslim community, I want to engage this issue in a way that honestly represents who I know those men and women to be. Doing so requires that followers of Jesus share their faith in the context of unconditional friendships. My friends know what I believe--to the extent that it will neither surprise or offend them to find this blog post. But they also know of my love for them, and that this love isn't conditioned on whether they become Christian. Its a love that seeks to understand who they are and what they believe.
"Seeking Allah: Finding Jesus" seeks these same goals. Dr. Qureshi has "walked in both worlds," growing up the child of a Naval officer Father and a mother whose parents were Muslim missionaries. He will describe his journey toward faith in Jesus Christ, along with what it cost him to make that decision, and he will do it in a way that still honors his father and mother, while standing firm in what he now believes: that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of the Living God.
Regardless of your faith, this is a compelling story that both Christians and Muslims should hear. Muslims who hear Nabeel's story will come away with a much better understanding of the Gospel--which too many times has been presented to Muslims in a way that sounds less like the best news on earth, and more like a cultural invasion. Christians likewise, will come away with a better understanding of the passion that resides in the hearts of most who follow Islam. And in the end, the clear distinctions between these two faiths will be made known. Jesus is either God or He is not. Salvation is either by faith alone, or through human works and submission. Both cannot be true, and eternity hangs in the balance. Therefore, the greatest expression of love for another human being is to share your faith with them.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, pick a site that is near you and join us at this event this Sunday night, and through it, learn to stop talking "about" Muslims, and start talking "with" them. To my Muslim friends, I hope you join us as well. The four churches hosting this will welcome you with open arms! And regardless of your personal conclusions about this young man's story, I think you will walk away with a much better understanding of what it means to be Christian.
Again, the locations for the simulcast can be found here: