To Consider: Muslims on American University Campuses

The new issue of Intercede is now available. During March and April we focus on Muslims on American university campuses. Should we be worried or should be we encouraged?

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2014 March-April Intercede cover

Muslims on American University Campuses:
A Threat or Opportunity?

Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16 NIV)

Only ask–and I will give you the nations as your inheritance–the ends of the earth as your possession. (Psalm 2:8 NLT)

So often I have observed it: about one-hundred Muslim students, men and women, dressed in Islamic clothing, bowing to Allah at their Friday prayers. Where is this happening? In the outdoor amphitheater, right behind the Student Center, the busiest place on a major American university campus. What else have I noticed? American non-Muslim students, standing nearby, watching. What are they thinking as they see the Muslim students do their prayers? No doubt, many different attitudes are forming.

This scenario is not at all uncommon on American campuses. Many universities have hundreds of Muslim students from different Islamic nations. Muslim students strongly exercise their rights to openly practice their faith on American campuses. Do we, as Christ’s followers, view this fact passively or negatively, or, are we asking our Savior Jesus to give them to us to increase His Kingdom?

As true followers of the one true God of the Holy Bible, it is essential for every Christian to adhere to the doctrine of the absolute sovereignty of God. He is Lord over all the peoples of the earth and Jesus Christ is the ultimate “mover and shaker” of all nations. Our eternal God is a God who works in time. In recent years, it has become very difficult for Christian missionaries to get long-term visas for living in restricted access Muslim nations. Amazingly, at the same time, thousands of Muslim students from these very countries are coming to our American campuses to study. God has orchestrated a purposeful opportunity at our universities–the chance for Christian believers to meet and befriend Muslim students. God is sovereign over their lives and in His love He desires that they engage in friendships with Christ’s true followers. Could that be YOU? Are you open for such a friendship with a Muslim? Our loving God wants to use Christian students on our campuses to reach Muslims for Christ.

Sadly, it seems at present that the majority of Christian university students are either disinterested in Muslim fellow students or they feel threatened by their aggressive presence on their campuses. Therefore it is vital that we clarify to Christian students that the presence of Muslims on American university campuses is by God’s sovereign purpose. Their chances to have a clear gospel witness are greatly increased when they leave their Muslim homeland and come to study or live in America.

Let me urge you to view Muslim people who live near and study on our university campuses as an opportunity for Christian witness, not as a threat. Christ’s love in you will overcome any negative feelings or fears you may have. The clarion call of the Holy Spirit is that we reach out to them—and not lose the opportunity. Matthew 22:1-14 tells of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet. In it, the King prepared a wedding banquet for His son. He sent His servants out to those who had been invited . . . and urged them to come! Our Lord wants us to go out—in our case, to Muslims on our campuses–and in a wise, loving and respectful way invite them to know the biblical JESUS as Lord and Savior.

Spirit-filled university students have the power that will enable them to purposefully reach out in friendship to a Muslim. Muslim-perpetrated terrorist attacks may be legitimate reasons why some American university students sometimes feel resentful or threatened by fellow Muslim students. To be fair-minded, hateful acts have also been carried out by those who claim Christian beliefs. We must not allow what has been done in the past to hinder us from doing God’s will today. I believe the following is what Christ wants to make clear to His true followers on American university campuses: For such a time as this have I sovereignly purposed you to be My witnesses on your campus, a time when I have orchestrated the lives of thousands of Muslims to be on your campuses and in your cities. Muslims who may never have a true Christian friend or ever hear and see the gospel of Christ unless you act on this great opportunity to reach them.

Some years ago, I began to share a phrase among university students that said simply this: Befriend a Muslim. I began a small group study and called it the “BAM Study Group.” In it we spent an hour or more together once a week. Half the time was used in learning what Muslims believe and practice, and ways to effectively share Christ with them. The last half was spent in fervent prayer for Muslims on our campus to be saved–especially praying for those we knew by name. This was a true faith building use of our time. It changed mindsets from feeling fearful or threatened to being inspired in faith and love to reach out to Muslims with the powerful message of Christ. Perhaps there are some reading this who could start a “BAM” group on your campus or in your church.

The opportunities I have had over the last five years in my area have been awesome. By God’s strength, I have tried to make the most of them. I have met Muslims from many Islamic nations and have done a lot of sowing of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16-17). And a lot of praying! On my campus I have never once felt threatened while attempting to share Christ and His love and truth. For sure, I have been strongly opposed by Muslims, ignored, rejected, and probably even spoken evil of–all of which my Lord Jesus suffered Himself. As true followers of Him, we must be prepared for and willing to face the same. In Matthew 10:24-25, we learn that the servant is not above his Master.

In his book Response Evangelism, author Randy Hurst offers much wisdom and practical advice. Here are two examples: “We must be diligent and faithful to share the gospel with people, even if they do not ‘appear’ to be responsive.” And “Most people who come to Christ through personal evangelism are not reached by strangers but by someone they’ve gotten to know.” Both these observations are especially applicable when witnessing to Muslims. I suggest you to get a copy of this little book and read it and pray to do what he teaches from Colossians 4:2-6.

Have any Muslims on your campus or in your city gotten to know you because you took the initiative and befriended them? Paul the Apostle wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” How is that to happen for us in our relationships with Muslims? The answer is by spending quality time together. If we ask our loving God for these types of relationships, He will lead us to Muslims who are searching for true friends. Maybe you could ask a Muslim friend to take you with him/her to their Friday prayers on your campus or at a local mosque. You could both learn about them and pray for them. I do this regularly and it has opened many doors.

The highest purpose of God for every individual is that each one might know Him, the One True God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. In that knowledge is the gift of eternal life (John 17:3). Our dear Muslim friends, from the biblical perspective, are in a tragic dilemma: trying to earn something that cannot be earned—salvation from sin and escape from hell. Our sovereign Lord is grieved that they are in this deceived state. As followers of Jesus, we should be, too. The God we know acts on behalf of those who love Him and who search for Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). Even now He is acting in order that multitudes of Muslims in America might receive His gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23).

Our attitude will largely determine our response to the opportunities God has arranged to reach Muslims on our university campuses. An excellent example is found in the classic Christian epic Ben Hur. At the end of the film, Ben Hur stands near the man Masala, who opposed him, his beliefs, his family, and his country. Masala, near death, says to Ben Hur, “Look at me, enemy vanquished.” The awesome response of the man of God was, “I see no enemy.” How will we view those Muslims among us who may oppose us, our belief in the Holy Bible, and our precious Lord Jesus? Do we see them as a threat, as the enemy . . . or as a glorious opportunity, arranged by God? In 2 Corinthians 2:12 the Apostle Paul teaches that God gives tremendous opportunities and opens doors for proclaiming Christ’s message. Let us, as Christ’s servants, act upon the opportunities and enter the open doors.

Christ is able to save any Muslim. PRAY that Jesus will use you to lead Muslims to the light–and see what He does. Many of the Islamic faith on our American campuses are searching for spiritual fulfillment and assurance of eternal life–something they do not have as a Muslim. Believe that you can be the person to help them find both in Christ. Nothing is too difficult for God (Luke 1:37).

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One Response to “To Consider: Muslims on American University Campuses”

  1. Rebecca says:

    I really liked this article and there is much truth within it. Just recently, God has opened doors of oppurtunity to reach muslim students on our campus. We are a secular college and have about 300 muslim students. Before this semsester, I would say I didn’t really care at all about Muslims, but now, God has changed my heart, and I love these people. We all are called to make disciple of all nations, and while that might or might not mean you must travel to a foreign country, it does mean you are called to be a missionary wherever the Lord has placed you. College campuses are GREAT because most of the students are fairly young and influencial. God is moving within the Muslim world and it is such privilage to serve this nation of God’s people. I like the idea of the BAM group too, I think I will say something to my campus pastors. Great article, thanks for the good read!

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