How to Share God's Love with Muslim Women

Having lived in Senegal, Angie shares lessons from Scripture, other believers, and personal experience on how to show God's love to Muslim women.

How to Share God's Love with Muslim Women
Photo by Good Faces / Unsplash

This article was first published in English at AofR and in French at TPSG.

I sit with my daughters in my neighbour Aminata’s open courtyard, chopping onions while she and her brother-in-law butcher the sheep for the family feast. As the blood of the lamb flows toward the drain, I learn about the significance of this Muslim holiday. Eid commemorates Abraham's willingness to offer his beloved son to the Lord, and the Lord providing a ram to die in his place. I, in turn, tell the old story which this one foreshadows, of a loving God who sent Isa al-Masih (Jesus the Messiah) to die in our place.

As a missionary in Senegal, I had the privilege of serving the Lord in a Muslim context for ten years. Prior to that, the Lord allowed me to take part in numerous mission trips throughout Europe, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. As a woman ministering to women, I learned some unique lessons.

The Muslim World Is Not a Monolith

But before I do, I do want to say this: the Muslim world is not a monolith. Cultures, traditions, and religious practices vary from region to region. Even within one country you will find that, like with any other religious group, Muslims are not homogeneous. (We would assert the same to be true of us as evangelicals, wouldn’t we?). Over the years, however, I did discover some common core values that helped me understand a bit about how to show God's love to my Muslim neighbours.

The Home As the Heart of Friendship Evangelism to Women

In all my years in Senegal, I don’t recall ever getting into a debate in the public square with a Muslim woman. I do recall having several interesting discussions with men (as Senegalese men are not as reticent to speak with women as Muslims men of other backgrounds are). But women tended to be far less interested in those kinds of large group public exchanges (which are commonplace in Rémi's ministry). My most fruitful discussions with Muslim women usually took place in the home.

Because hospitality is a core value in many Muslim cultures, I’ve learned that the best way to show Christ’s love to my Muslim friends is by visiting them. You might think that I should be inviting people into my own home. That is, after all, what we picture when we think about practicing hospitality. And I did that plenty of times. But in my experience, be it in Senegal or in the West, the Muslim women I have known were happiest when they were hosting. I honoured them, therefore, by entering their home, enjoying their cuisine, and learning about their customs and traditions. Showing an interest in their culture, gathering around a common bowl, and eating heartily (I’m especially good at that!) speaks volumes.

Challenging Assumptions About the West and True Christianity

As a North American living in a country bearing the scars of colonial imperialism, I found these gestures were important tools to communicate respect and interest in my host culture. But the same principal applies when befriending Muslims who immigrate to the West. When we visit them in their homes, when we take an interest in their language, culture, and customs, we are building bridges for the gospel. These women may have left their own country in search of a better life. Or they may have been born and raised as religious minorities in a culture that at best misunderstands them and at worst demonizes them. If to them, Western culture is synonymous with Christianity, what message are they hearing regarding Jesus Christ? What can we do to change that narrative so that they learn what the essence of true Christianity is? I believe the answer is friendship and hospitality.

On Eating Meat Sacrificed to Idols

Some Christians wonder whether or not it is appropriate to attend Muslims feasts in their neighbours’ homes. Perhaps, they question, it could communicate that we affirm everything the holy day entails. I’m glad godly believers are asking these kinds of questions, as it shows a sensitivity to the Spirit of God and a desire to please him without compromise.

In answer to this question, however, I propose that we are free in Christ. I’m reminded of the believers in Corinth, who were free to eat meat sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 10:25-32). The governing principal, both then and now, is love. The question we must ask is, “Could what I am doing be a stumbling block to a fellow believer?” And while I can’t speak for every Muslim context with certainty, my own experience in Senegal concurs with that of friends I’ve known serving in other Muslim contexts.

I believe that joining Muslim friends for their holiday celebrations does not communicate religious compromise – not to them, and not to other followers of Jesus. We are not gathering at a mosque, nor at a Quranic school, but in a home. And we aren’t partaking in acts of worship. We are simply sharing a meal with friends. In fact, in Senegal, Muslims host Christians (both Catholic and Evangelical) for their religious holidays. And Christians, in turn, host their Muslim neighbours for Christmas and Easter. Neither exchange is perceived as compromise. In fact, these shared experiences contribute to the harmony that Senegal has known since its independence. This mutual respect has made the West African nation a model to the world for its treatment of its religious minorities.

Celebrate the Feasts

The question some may ask is, “But why gather with Muslim friends specifically for their religious holidays?” The reason is that those are the times we often have the greatest opportunity to build bridges between us. When we come humbly, eager to understand and learn about their beliefs, we are more likely to meet with receptive ears as we share about our own. Isn’t that what communication is all about? Not only that, but at holidays, people are often more attuned to spiritual realities. We often employ this strategy in our own secular culture when sharing our faith at Christmas, capitalizing on a holiday accepted even by skeptics as commemorating the birth of Jesus.

Muslim Women Are Just Like Us

Something important to keep in mind as you pray for opportunities with your Muslim neighbours is this: we share far more in common than we may realize. Many of us are wives, seeking to please our husbands and to build a marriage based on mutual love and respect. Others of us are also moms, doing our best to raise wise, kind, generous children. Others still share the common experience of singleness, and of hoping and praying for the right life partner. Many of us are working professionals with dreams and career aspirations. But what we all have in common is that we are created in the image of God. We share the need for community, for acceptance, for belonging, for love.

The Key is Love

The data shows that the majority of Muslims who have come to faith in Christ were won, not as much by clearly crafted arguments, as by the love Christians showed them. Do you want to share the gospel with Muslim women in your life? Go ahead and read the Qur'an. I did. Brush up on apologetics. It will help. But most of all, share your life, share your time, share love. Not only will you bless others in Jesus’ name, but your life will be enriched through the process, and you will bring glory to God.

Together with her husband Dan, Angie served the Lord in Senegal for 10 years in leadership training with Crossworld. Based in Montreal with their 2 daughters since August 2017, they continue to serve as missionaries in leadership training in the FEB/AEBEQ. Angie holds an MDiv from Moody Theological Seminary.