Welcoming Muslim Neighbors into God’s Kingdom in East Africa
In certain Eastern African contexts, significant numbers of Muslims entered the kingdom of God over the last decade or so despite very little initial contact with the Bible or Christians. Together, with various local partners, it has been our privilege to offer discipleship training and leadership development to two such movements.
Toward the end of 2011 we interviewed 390 Muslim-background believers from these two movements. We wanted to know why these Muslims decided to follow Jesus as their Savior and how they share the gospel with other members of their Muslim communities.
Our research shows significant correlations between the factors which brought them to Christ and the ways in which they now share the gospel. It is encouraging that a remarkably high number (more than 90%) of those surveyed do share Christ with others.
I first did a pilot survey with a limited number of interviewees using the two, open-ended questions below. Based on their responses I transformed the questions from open ended to multiple-choice with the option “Other”. Some of those surveyed were literate, others illiterate. Some were interviewed by myself, others by other interviewers under my supervision.
Question 1: Why did you decide to follow Jesus the Messiah? — because of…
By clustering some of the above mentioned factors, we identified four-main areas that led to their conversion: Jesus verses found in the Qur’an (64%); the witness and love of other followers of Isa al-Masih (57%); supernatural experiences such as dreams, visions, healings or deliverances (41%); and the Bible (30%).
Our research also indicates that most disciples decided to follow Jesus as a result of multiple factors (an average 1.9 factors). It would therefore be inaccurate to say, for example, that “one third of all believers from a Muslim background came to saving faith in Christ through a dream or vision.” It would be more accurate to say that “as a part of their spiritual journey towards salvation in Christ, one third of those surveyed experienced a dream or a vision.”
Question 2: I have told other Muslims about Jesus the Messiah through…
The correlations between these two questions show that these believers also used the same four factors in leading others to Christ that were influential in their own decision to follow Him: Jesus verses in the Qur’an, prayer for God’s supernatural intervention, the Bible, and demonstrated love and verbal witness. And just as a combination of several factors were used by God to bring them to Christ, so they also used similar multiple approaches when sharing the gospel.
The data in figure 3 suggests five ways that Christian neighbors of Muslims can work with God to welcome an ever increasing number of Muslims into the Kingdom.
God is drawing Muslims to Himself. You can participate by learning and sharing what the Qur’an and Bible say about Jesus, praying for and with your Muslim neighbors, showing them love in your daily life, and sharing the Good News whenever and wherever you find an open door; trusting that God will do his part!