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  • PhilipZ

Day 56

Tuesday, January 29, 2019 -

Last evening, I finished reading Nabeel Qureshi’s superb autobiographical book Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. I believe every Christian should read this excellent book to understand Muslim thinking and beliefs about Christianity. I have never read, prior to consuming this book’s valuable information, such a detailed treatise from a Muslim perspective of why it is so difficult to fully walk away from the Islamic faith. I use the word faith because they do have faith that what they believe is the truth.

Qureshi grew up in a devout home, part of the Ahmadiyya sect of Islam. They do not teach violent jihad and ignore and suppress the truth of the character of Mohammed, claiming and believing that Islam is a religion of peace, contrary to Shia Islam (10-15%) and Sunni Islam (80%). Ahmadi Muslims make up only 5-10 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Qureshi explains how Western culture impacts even those devout Muslim children of immigrants, and the conflicts such young people have with their religion and parents. Most take what their parents teach them as fact, and while taught to adamantly defend their faith, few delve into its roots, nor read the Quran or Hadith.

I’ve had a few friends in my life who were true evangelists. The two I’ve admired the most are both named George. One was (he is now deceased) a piano tuner, who shared the gospel with nearly every person he encountered in every home he went into. He’d tell them he could tune their piano, but also would tell them how to tune their hearts. That would often pique their interest and open the door to the gospel message.

The other George is the editor of an evangelist gospel newspaper published in Katerini, Greece. As a teenager, my father would send me to Greece over the summers to study and learn the Greek language. I would live in a tent at a Christian camp on the beach in Leptokaria, about a 30-45 minute train ride to Katerini, where I would go several times a week to meet my tutor. I would love to go to Katerini because I got to spend the day with George and his family. George’s wife, Ermioni, was an amazing cook and always fed me very, very well.

And George would take me with him everywhere he’d need to go in Katerini. I was amazed at how he could turn EVERY conversation with every stranger to the gospel. It seemed not a person he came in contact with did not hear the truth of the gospel.

All my life I’d wanted to be like these two Georges. But it just never seemed to happen. It seems it is just not my gift, and Ephesians 4:11 seemed to confirm my thinking.

Fast forward to the present, when my family and others are telling me God is sending me to prison so I can evangelize the prison. I’ve prayed and prayed for God to give me the boldness, and I believe He has to a degree – I’m still not an evangelist in the sense that both Georges were.

I have come to realize since I’ve now spent nearly two months in prison, that I merely need to be open about being a Christian, never being ashamed of it, and seek diligently that the fruit of the Spirit is evident in my life. While some need to be told point-blank that they need Christ, most will recognize their need for something different in their relationship with God just by watching me and being around me and noticing how I am different. Many call this “friendship evangelism.” This is particularly true when it comes to reaching Muslims, who are taught lies about Christianity. It’s only when we invite Muslims into our homes and befriend them, will they begin to recognize the truth.

This is how Qureshi came to faith, as his best friend was a Christian.

He says in Chapter 20: “There is a simple reason I never listened to the street preachers: they didn’t seem to care about me. It wasn’t that they were annoying. I found their passion admirable, and I appreciated people who stood up for what they believed. Rather, it was that they treated me like an object of their agenda. Did they have any idea how their message would impact my life? Did they even care?

“Sure, there are street preachers who share their message while greeting people kindly, getting to know others’ troubles, and praying over personal pains, but I never saw them. What I saw were men who would stand on the street corner accosting the public with their beliefs. No doubt they reached a few, but they repelled many more.

“Unfortunately, I have found that many Christians think of evangelism the same way, foisting Christian beliefs on strangers in chance encounters. The problem with this approach is that the gospel requires a radical life change, and not many people are about to listen to strangers telling them to change the way they live. What do they know about others’ lives?

“On the other hand, if a true friend shares the exact same message with heartfelt sincerity, speaking to specific circumstances and struggles, then the message is heard loud and clear.

“Effective evangelism requires relationships. There are very few exceptions.

“In my case, I knew of no Christian who truly cared about me, no one who had been a part of my life through thick and thin. I had plenty of Christian acquaintances, and I am sure they would have become my friends if I had become a Christian, but that kind of friendship is conditional. There were none I knew who cared about me unconditionally. Since no Christian cared about me, I didn’t care about their message.”

However, Qureshi, in his first year of college, met that person – and he says of him, “Even though the gospel was his passion, he did not bombard me with his beliefs straightaway. The discussions arose much more naturally after we became friends, and in the context of a life lived together. In fact, I was the one who brought it up.”

This is what I have learned, or am learning, here in prison. Evangelism here is a process and takes time. It took Qureshi around five years, and he set out to prove Islam as the truth, and disprove Christianity. It’s an amazing story I encourage you to read. Nabeel Qureshi is now a speaker with the Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. A great deal of information is supposedly on the website, but I’m not able to access the internet.

He first set out to try and prove what he had been taught all his life about Jesus, that He is not the son of God, nor ever claimed to be, that He did not die on the cross and hence there was no resurrection, among other things. He learned otherwise, that from a historical perspective, these things are all true. He then sought to prove that Mohammed is a prophet and that the Quran has never been altered but remains to this day unchanged, as he’d always been taught. So he turned to the source of truth in Islam, the Hadith, and came to understand what he’d learned in his sect of Islam, passed down from generation to generation is a myth. Mohammed was actually a terrible man, the Quran had been altered many times and lacks authenticity, and Muslims are taught to conquer and kill until they have subdued the entire world. Even after realizing Christianity was the one true religion, he prayed and asked God to provide him with a miraculous vision, which God gave him. Yet still he wanted God to prove Himself, so he prayed for a dream, which happened. Then he prayed for two more, which God gave him. The one detriment was hurting his family and relatives, but it wasn’t till he picked up the Bible and began to read Matthew 10:37, that he realized he had to decide between his family and Jesus.

Qureshi had known many who called themselves Christians before but saw no difference in their lives. There are many here in prison who call themselves Christian, but they act just like the rest of the criminals. We are called to be different, and that sets us apart! Being a Christian is more than just saying a prayer, it is taking on a new life, setting our old selves away, depending on the Holy Spirit to change and transform us!

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