I was in the town of Maiduguri in northern Nigeria many years ago when I met Mustafa. Mustafa was a young Kanuri believer, recently coming out of a Muslim background. We were together for many hours driving across almost trackless bush areas in northern Nigeria. The main road between Maiduguri and my home in Jos was blocked by militants shooting at vehicles as they passed by. I thought it best to find another way home! The mission family I was staying with asked Mustafa to guide me through the back roads used by smugglers. Calling these faint tracks in the sand by the name “road” was a real stretch, but Mustafa was able to ask directions over and over in his Kanuri language. We did arrive in Jos without a shot fired!
Along the way, I asked Mustafa how he came to know Christ. His short answer was, “Prayer.” He went on to explain that Muslims say God is everywhere but to pray, you must face a certain direction toward Mecca. Christians say that God is everywhere, and pray facing any direction. Mustafa said that the Christian teaching of “God is everywhere” was demonstrated in their prayer life by not focusing prayers in a certain direction. It attracted him to watch Christians more closely and listen to what he heard.
Isn’t it interesting to think about the little things that God uses as a testimony to those seeking to know him?
I was reminded of Mustafa today when I read an exciting article by Chuck Colson, Why Muslims Convert to Christianity. Colson refers to a 16 year study of 750 Muslims who have become true followers of Jesus, the Son of God. Colson writes, “The number one reason Muslim converts listed for their decision to follow Christ was the lifestyle of the Christians among them.”
I remember hearing stories from the horrible tsunami that killed so many in Phuket and other parts of Thailand. Our ministry and others rushed aid, people, and rebuilding efforts into the area. Muslims did not. Buddhists did not. Their perspective was that God was punishing the villagers in these areas for their misdeeds, so they deserved what they got. Christians’ worldview is fundamentally different. We see the disaster and misfortune in the world as a result of the fall of mankind in the garden, with its disastrous consequences. Our lifestyle demonstrates God’s love for the orphans and widows, his compassion in the face of disaster, and his grace with mankind. Or at least it should.
Colson ends his excellent and inspiring article with
Woodberry’s research shows that when the Church is being the Church—witnessing to the love of Christ and of His transforming power—Muslims are drawn both to us and to Him.
When is the last time you welcomed a Muslim family to the neighborhood, or invited a Muslim co-worker for a cup of coffee?
And my memory of a hot, dusty, sometimes scary day with Mustafa in northern Nigeria reminded me today that sometimes it can be something as little as what direction we don’t face when we pray.