Decades ago, I set out to get “skilled-up” to share the Gospel with Muslims—I wanted to know the most effective way to engage them. I didn’t think it’d be too hard because I’d grown up in the Middle East. I began to study the Quran and all the various “methods” for reaching Muslims. I started to consume countless books and seminars on the topic. I learned about different schools of thought on Islam based on country, generation, etc.—it was endless. And yet, it seemed the more I learned, the more overwhelmed I became. I ended up confused and struggled knowing how to apply it all. It seemed I’d hit a brick wall.

Necessity = Mother of Invention

Around that time, I started meeting many former Muslims who’d become followers of Jesus, and I listened closely to their coming-to-faith stories. I heard countlessstories from Muslims who came to believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I asked lots of curious questions. And over time, I noticed five interlocking patterns emerging in all those testimonies. Those five elements were like grooves in a key that opened the door, and what’s more is that all five can be found in scripture! I call them the “Five Essentials,” and they’ve since empowered thousands of Christians to help thousands of Muslims find and follow Jesus.

Love: A Powerful Essential

One of the five essentials is love. Without it, the other four essentials are almost like doing nothing—they’re just not effective. In every testimony I’ve ever heard and read from former Muslims, the love of God was on display through a Christian who interacted with, prayed with, studied with, and/or gave a Bible to a Muslim. Loving a Muslim person of peace through a loving and genuine personal relationship is the greatest Gospel-planting seed ever.

As I’ve engaged with Muslim refugees, international students, immigrants here and Muslims in nations where the Gospel is illegal, I’m often asked variation of this question from Muslims, “Why do you love me so?”I love that question because that’s how I know I’m doing that fifth essential—loving Muslims well. It’s a great setup for me to share, “The love of Christ compels me because God is love.”

I’ve found that Islamic apologists cannot defend against the indefensible force of the power of God’s love. Love has no cultural or language barriers—it’s universally accepted and even embraced.  It’s something we all have within us. God says that out of all the gifts, the greatest is love [1 Cor. [13:13].] That’s right, love. There’s no need to complicate it. Love is the one essential that wraps the other four essentials like a bow around a gift and allows your efforts to bear fruit.

Can You Learn to Love?

Many Christians come to iHOPE workshops to learn about what they should “do about” Muslims. I’ve had many ask questions about how to change their hearts toward Muslims. They ask questions like, “I know I need to share the Gospel with Muslims, but I don’t love Muslims. Is it possible that I can grow to love them? And if so, how?”

I know how they feel. It took years after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior for me to start loving Muslims.  (Hear more about my story here.) In my own heart and life, the Spirit of God removed my hate for Muslims and replaced it with His love. And God can do the same for you. Here’s how to get started.

Next Steps

When you begin intentionally practicing the five essentials, it will help amplify the message of Christ to Muslims throughout the world. Even little actions you do can make a big difference. Remember, Muslims desperately need to know about Jesus. And you can be the one to tell them the Good News. It all starts by learning to love.

  1. Assess your mindset.Growing in love starts first with being aware of any lack of love, anger, hatred or indifference you may have toward Muslims.
  2. Talk with God.As we bring the problem within our heart to God, the Holy Spirit begins transforming and filling us with God’s love. In my own life, this process took me from hating God to loving Him wholeheartedly. His Holy Spirit filled me with His love in such a way that I could not help but love Muslims (and others) because God, who islove, loves them.
  3. Dwell in the Word. Bible verses like 1 John [4:19], “We love each other because he first loved us”can be good remindersto look for opportunities to be an ambassador of Christ’s love in your everyday life.