It is important to follow a proven model for discipleship and multiplication. This is true for work with Muslim background believers and ministry in the heart of Islam.
Western Christian workers in the Muslim world must learn the language and culture of their focused people group.
Author and missionary Nik Ripken said persecution caused by outsiders is low when Americans who serve in the Muslim world learn the language and culture of their focused people group. The opposite is true, too.
“Persecution caused by outsiders can kill locals when outsiders don’t learn the language or culture,” Ripken said.
Ripken added persecution soars in Islamic nations when Westerners baptize Muslim background believers.
“We don’t do the baptism,” Ripken said. “We said, ‘Okay, let’s just be at the baptism to show spiritual support,’ and that got them persecuted also. We don’t run or go to the event. If persecution comes, it should be for who Jesus is, [and] not because of the outsider.”
In Somalia, the Ripkens saw 150 believers reduced to four. Every martyr had a relationship with a western worker.
“That directly contributed to their death,” Ripken said. “That’s not acceptable. They were killed for who they work for. They were killed for who they worshipped with. They were killed because someone gave them a 12- to 14-pound Somali Bible. Everyone paid to evangelize their neighbors and families using western methodologies is dead.”
Muslim background believers face persecution even in the west. It usually won’t include torcher and death. Muslim college students often visit churches to check them out. If they come alone and we single them out, their most conservative uncle on their father’s side sends them back to their home country.
If the student is a young man, he goes to the most conservative part of his family and will lose his status. A young lady who comes to Christ and refuses to recant her faith might have to marry a much older man. If so, she will disappear as a second or third wife in her mother-in-law’s home or the first wife’s house. She will never come out.
“Muslim background believers can only flourish in the body of Christ that’s made up of people from a Muslim background,” Ripken said. “They don’t thrive going to a western church. They don’t thrive marrying a Westerner. These things, we find them all the time, but the principle is in America you should reach Muslims and gather them.
“We must reach them and gather them as if they’re still in their home. Taking them to church, they’ll never learn how to write their own songs. When you walk in someone always speaks for you, to you. You don’t have to study the Bible. Somebody will study the Bible for you. You don’t have to sing. Somebody’s going to sing to you. You don’t have to pray. People are going to pray over you, so you become a passive believer from a Muslim background.”
Muslim background believers must learn to study God’s Word, pray, fast, and write songs in their cultural way before they attend a western church. Otherwise they become too passive in their faith. If they go back home to face overt persecution, their faith will not join them on the plane.
– Ben Doster, Global Gates Director of Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org
*In case you missed it, you can find the rest of our multi-part series covering important topics author and missionary Nik Ripken spoke on during an interview with Global Gates by reading Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Should Christians Pray for Persecution to Stop?” (Part One of Six), Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “The Pearl of Great Price or a Bucket of Pearls?” (Part Two of Six), Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Do Not Fear” (Part Three of Six), and Nik Ripken, Muslim Background Believers, and the West: “Intentionally Engaging Muslims with Gospel Purpose” (Part Four of Six). Stay tuned for our next segment.