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Relationship-building with Muslims key to their relationship with Christ

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Relationships and conversation can lead to evangelism.

“The best way to win a Muslim to Christ is through your example,” said George Braswell, a former missionary to Iran and professor of missions and world religions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

It’s a simple process and, coupled with a sincere desire to understand Muslims, is one that can prove effective in leading them to a relationship with Jesus.

Most Muslims live peaceful lives, separated from the violence and terrorism often associated with the faith as reported in the media, Braswell noted. He added that learning to move past negative preconceptions is vital to witnessing effectively to Muslims.

God can work mightily through relationships, Braswell emphasized, and Christians must build relationships with Muslims in order to evangelize them.

“Both sides have been suspicious and distrustful of each other,” he said. “It makes it difficult for conversation to occur. It’s not that biblical Christianity accepts what Islam believes, but if you’re going to have a Muslim friend, you’ve got to communicate about what is vital in your life. We’ve seen missionaries who disagree but don’t go on the attack. They’ve been able to befriend Muslims and share the gospel with them.”

That’s a lesson Braswell believes Christians should learn — especially as they seek to reach out to a world in need.

“There are non-negotiables, as we well know, between Islam and Christianity,” he said. “But those non-negotiables can be used strategically.”

In his book, “Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics and Power,” Braswell gives detailed insights into Islam, including:

— The Islamic beliefs about the concept of a distant God who cannot participate in a personal relationship, an acceptance of Jesus as a prophet but not as God’s own Son and Savior of the world, and adherence to the Koran as the perfect and complete law of God.

— The five pillars of Islam, which entail a confession of Allah as the only deity, prayers five times a day, fasting, almsgiving of certain percentages of their income and possessions, and a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

— The various branches of Islam that exist, most notably the Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, a division that formed over disagreements about leadership following Muhammad’s death in 632.

— The growth of Islam worldwide, noting that currently there are more Muslims than Episcopalians in the United States, and that tens of millions of Muslims live in Central Asia, China and India.

Braswell also clarifies that the most well-known Islamic group in the United States, the Nation of Islam, is not accepted among most orthodox Muslims as a viable form of the faith.

Braswell’s books, “What You Need to Know About Islam and Muslims,” “Islam,” “Understanding World Religions,” and “Understanding Sectarian Groups in America” can be purchased at LifeWay Christian Stores or through www.LifeWay.com.
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  • Mandy Crow