By a former missionary in the Middle East — As the shelves of any home décor store will remind you, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner. Most Muslims living in the US and Canada have never been invited into a Christian home, but these holidays provide natural opportunities to have Muslims over for a meal. Here are a few ideas for being a gracious, gospel-minded host this holiday season:
- Tell your guests that you plan to roast a turkey, and carve the bird on the table so that they will feel reassured that no pork products are present.
- Invite them over to help you prepare the meal! This gives you more time to interact, and it reassures them, because they are able to see that everything is safe to eat. Ask them to show you how they would make a special dish from their country. Just make sure you don’t have bacon sitting in plain sight in the fridge.
- Don’t focus on Christmas being one day, but rather use the term “Christmas season.” This gives you the freedom to talk about Christmas and have people over weeks before and after December 25. There is no rule that says you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas several times with different people. Plan ahead and celebrate Christmas for three weeks! In fact, in a Muslim’s eyes, the more attention you give to a holiday, the more important it is to you. They celebrate their important holidays for at least three or four days, so why should we do any less?
- Feel free to repeat yourself. Say what you’re thankful for more than once; tell the Christmas story many times in many ways. We cannot assume that because we have covered something in conversation once, it has been fully understood. Whether due to a language barrier, poor explanation on our part, or distraction, sometimes our friends don’t capture everything we talk about the first time they hear it. Trying to continually process new information, especially if you are a refugee, can be exhausting!
In addition, some of the things we want to talk about—Jesus and his gospel—are counter to what Muslims have been taught all their lives. It is no wonder that they have a hard time accepting things the first or even second time they hear them. If we think that we only need to explain something once, then we miss out on a great teaching tool, repetition. So, give your friends time to process, and reintroduce topics as needed.
If you have offered to pray with your Muslim friends and they didn’t respond the first time, feel free to ask again. When they give you some prayer requests, pray right then, and also later, in the name of Jesus.
10/10 Prayer Initiative
As part of the 10/10 Prayer Initiative, over 180 mission agencies have come together to ask God to draw to himself 10 percent of the world’s Muslims in the next 10 years. 10/10. Easy to remember, yet such an amazingly big task that only God can do it.
Please join the prayer initiative either as an individual or consider bringing this to the attention of your small group or Bible study. Simply start by praying, and then as God puts it on your heart, consider engaging Muslims in your circle of life with love and compassion. Remember, you might be God’s answer to bringing Muslims to Christ!
Check out this great resource for informed and focused prayer: “The 10/10 Initiative for Gospel Engagement” prayer guide. The guide covers the 52 largest unreached and unengaged Muslim people groups in the world, making it easy to pray for a different people group each week. (The file is large, so you might want to wait until you have good wifi to download!)