Q & A

Ladies, did you know that one out of four females(babies through adulthood) in the world is a Muslim? With the world-wide population of Muslims at approximately 1.5 billion there are a lot of females! Due to Islamic cultural norms it will demand Christian women to reach Muslim women with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Praise God for the number of women God is awakening for this purpose. Do you have a question you would like to ask pertaining to reaching out to Muslim women in our western nations? There is no question that is insignificant to ask. You may only be curious, developing your first friendship with a Muslim woman, or been ministering many years among them. It is easy to love Muslim women. They are beautiful, warm, and hospitable people. If you have a question you can contact me. You will be given a pseudonym if it is posted.

Section 1 Cultural  #1-31
Section 2 Evangelism and Discipleship  #1-44

Section 1   Cultural

1. Laura:
Why do Muslim women look down when I meet them, let’s say, in the grocery store? Does it mean they don’t like me or that they don’t want to talk to me? I really want to make conversation but I’m not sure why they won’t look at me.

Take heart, Laura. It usually doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. I commend you for wanting to make conversation with the women. In the Qur’an they are told to cast their gaze downwards in the company of men. But if they look downwards with you as a woman, it is probably just a cultural habit. They might be feeling shy, too. Shyness is a part of appearing modest which is a high virtue in Islam. Some women may look downwards with you because they don’t feel sure of relating to you. Try not to be thrown off by that downward gaze. In any case it would be only upon initial meeting. Afterwards it won’t be a problem. Just go ahead and say hi and welcome them to our country. I might add there are many Muslim women who don’t look downward when meeting women strangers. We really can’t generalize here.
2. Amy:
Help! I’m afraid I won’t know what to talk about if I meet a Muslim woman. Where do I start?

You know how western people normally talk about the weather whenever we meet a stranger or even with acquaintances for that matter. It’s a way of easing into further conversation. Talking about the weather with a Muslim woman stranger is usually not of key interest to her; especially if she spends a lot of time inside her home. But there is one subject that always gets her interest. Names. She will appreciate being asked what her first name is. Try pronouncing it until you say it correctly. She will be pleased at your effort. Then ask her if her name has a special meaning to it. Her name most likely will and she’s proud of it and tries to aspire to its meaning. If she has children ask her what their names are and their meanings. Don’t ask her about her husband’s name, however. This will ease you into further conversation. A lot of conversation can take place just over names and their meanings.

3. Jody:
I’ve been reading books about reaching out to Muslim women but I don’t know where to meet them. How can I meet them?

That’s great you want to meet them. I hope you read the right books! Some books could produce some big misconceptions and those are hard to wipe out. The best way to learn about Muslim women is from actual contact with them and I’m glad that’s what you want to do. The first thing is to pray that God will design you meeting a Muslim woman. We really don’t need to strategize. We need to pray and wait for God to bring a meeting about. There is no particular special place to meet. It could be anywhere: in a hallway, in a store, on a bus, in a park, next door, at your child’s school, in a doctor’s office, etc. The place is not as important as whether she has been prepared and hand-picked by God for you to meet. Not all Muslim women you could meet are ready for a friendship. But if God has been at work before you come on the scene then you will sense that within your spirit. Keep your spiritual eyes open while you wait and pray.

4. Kathy:
God has given me a love for Muslim women but one thing holds me back in meeting them. I am a single mom and have been divorced. I'm afraid they will look down on me. Do you think God can use me?

Of course, He can use you. The message of Jesus is one of grace and redemption, not of performance and perfection.  It may be hard for a Muslim woman to understand at first but when she sees your joy in your Savior she will be mystified. You will have a wonderful opportunity.  Furthermore, she will watch how you handle "shame" - what she is terrified of. There are also Muslim women who have walked your road and they need to hear your personal testimony of hope and wholeness. Don't let your fears hold you back any longer!

5. Sheila:
It seems that Muslim women can't process me being a single woman, like I have some kind of defect or my parents didn't take care of me.  Do you think it's possible to have a real ministry among them with me being single?

Most Muslim young ladies do get married, either by choice or by arrangement. I know of many Christian single women who have fruitful ministries among Muslim women. I think in all cases they manifest and communicate that their lives are completely set apart for serving God and people, whether it is in teaching or nursing or whatever. Muslim women understand nuns and have high respect for them. I'm not single but if I was and I'd be questioned by Muslim women about why I'm not married I would talk about nuns and say that I am like them. I'd share that it is a high honor to be free to serve God. You don't need to elaborate more.

6. Nancy:
I met a Muslim lady and gave her my phone number. I told her she could call me but she never has. I did that once before, too, and never heard from her either. Is there something I'm doing wrong?

Bless you, Nancy, for trying and not giving up. You did the right thing giving her your phone number. But you need to get her phone number, too, when you meet her. It's not often a Muslim woman will call a Christian woman. It will be up to us to take the initiative and call them. I'd wait a week or so to call her. If she sounds hesitant to see you or she says, "I'll call you" or "I'm very busy" that will mean she isn't interested. But most of the time they are delighted when we take the initiative to call them and visit them. In our culture we usually don't take initiative like this so this will require courage and a change. Taking initiative is the key to most Muslim ministry.
7. Mandy:
I've finally met a Muslim lady. It was in a store. We exchanged phone numbers. My question is should I invite her to my house first or I visit her in her home? Will she be offended if I ask if I can come to her home to see her?

Way to go!  You are taking your first steps in establishing contact with a Muslim lady you met.  Her home is her comfort zone.  I would suggest you call her and see if you could come over to visit her. If she is like most Muslim women I know, she will be delighted and honored. It would be best if you visit her after her lunch meal, let's say around 4 p.m. You don't want her to make a big meal for you. A cup of tea is fine. So be sure to say you'd come after she's finished with lunch - and what time would that be? If she's a working woman, you might suggest a Sunday afternoon visit, maybe around 5 p.m. She won't be offended by you asking to visit her. Her culture is extremely hospitable.

8. Carol:
Every time my friend, Afsana, invites me over it is either my lunch hour or supper hour or on the weekends when I'm busy.  How can I get her to see that those aren't good times for me to visit?

Welcome to Muslim ministry, Carol!  It often happens just like you state. I have found over the past 32 years in ministry that I have to give God my time and schedule. It's not been easy. East and West operate on different time schedules. Just today, for example, a lady asked me to visit her at 6 p.m., just when I eat supper.  She herself won't be eating until maybe 8 or 9 p.m.  And then what often happens is that she will want to serve supper to you at 9 p.m.  You have already eaten early and now you feel pressured to eat a second supper. She could feel offended if you refuse her food but you feel full. Just take a little and she'll be happy. Explain to her it is your second supper.   Next time you will learn to eat just a small snack before going. If you want to cultivate a good relationship with Afsana you will do well to become flexible with your time.  Expect anything! It's pretty futile trying to insist on visiting according to your schedule.

9. Patty:
My friend, Amira, invited me for a meal for 6 p.m. She said alot of her people would be coming, too. I got there at 6 p.m. but the other Muslims didn't come for about 2 hours. I was frustrated waiting for the meal to begin. Is this common?

It takes time to figure out cultural nuances. If I know I am the only one invited I will come at the time my Muslim friend says. But if I know there will be other Muslims coming I will plan to come at least one hour later, because that is the norm for their culture. You will pick up the customs with time. Punctuality is more a Western value.

10. Irene:
How should I greet a Muslim woman?

With warmth and affection. Muslim women are demonstrative with their affection towards other women. In especially Arab cultures many of them will kiss each other's cheeks 2,3,4 or even 5 times when they meet. I visited a North African lady recently and she had to have the last kiss - #5. You will get used to it. Shaking hands is not that common. Sometimes it's just hugging. Westerners aren't used to kissing cheeks. It will soon feel normal. It is also common in an Arab women's party that every time a new lady enters the house the rest of the ladies will stand and a fresh round of kissing will take place with everyone. Sometimes after kissing they will put a hand to their heart. Just watch what they do. Some Muslim women have noticed that we just shake hands. I always tell them, "No, I want to give you a hug rather." That pleases them.

11. Fran:
I was visiting my Oromo friends over Ramadan at 3 p.m. They insisted on me eating the big meal they prepared for me but I knew they wouldn't be eating with me because they were fasting. I felt very uncomfortable eating alone.  How should I handle this if it happens again?

You could either visit them after sundown when the fast is over or if you visit during the day time again and offered their food suggest that you would love to take some of their food home and eat it later because you want to show respect to them not to eat infront of them. They don't seem to object sending food home with you. The important thing is not to decline their food.

12. Heidi:
I was visiting my friend, Amina, who just got pregnant. I was so happy for her and expressed my congratulations to her. She didn't respond like I thought she would. She seemed a little nervous or afraid. What was that all about?

There are many things we learn along the way, Heidi.  She will be happy that you congratulated her but she would have been waiting to hear the expected protective response of you saying, "masha'Allah". That means "Allah wants it to be" or "Allah wills it to be." If that word is left out she could be afraid that you might have an evil eye of jealousy and it could bring harm to her baby. We might call it a superstition. She will call it protection and giving credit to Allah. Should you adapt and say masha'Allah when you give a compliment or congratulations with Muslim women? Personally for myself, I don't use the word because I see superstition in it.  But I will offer to say a prayer of blessing or thanks for what I've just heard. For example: you just heard Amina is pregnant. At the end of your visit you could ask her if you could pray with her and thank God for what He has done.

13. Eunice:
My Muslim friend is hesitant to come to my house because I have a dog. Why is that?

We are so fond of dogs but most Muslims aren't.  Mohammed didn't like dogs but he did like cats.  Muslims consider dogs to be ritually impure or unclean, but that they should be treated kindly.  Most Muslims won't have a dog as a pet or kept inside a house. How could one say their prescribed prayers where a dog walks around?  It is believed that angels don't enter a house which contains a dog.  If you have a dog as an inside pet I would encourage you to put the dog in a closed room while you visit or have your dog outside so that your friend can relax.  She might refer to dogs being dirty. Why not take the opportunity to explore why she feels that way?  Listen to her carefully. It's serious for her.

14. Miriam:
I was shocked when Nabila gave me an expensive punch bowl set for inviting her family for supper.  Does she expect me to give her expensive gifts if she invites me to her home?

Gift giving is complicated in Eastern culture. They try to outdo each other in showing honor.  Sometimes the gifts are extravagant. One time a lady gave me a very expensive floral arrangement for inviting her to supper. It was too much in my opinion. A simple bouquet would have been fine. It made me feel uneasy how I could reciprocate the same way on my limited income. One thing is important to remember: everyone loves to be honored and appreciated, but sometimes simple things like a homemade dish or cookies(something that took time and effort) or a plant you have started in a cute pot can communicate love, too. Just don't go empty-handed. I would encourage you to keep gift giving simple, yet honoring and symbolic if possible. I don't find gift cards mean much to them. For refugees an international phone card or one month bus pass can be a treat.  One thing to remember about giving gifts is to not be surprised if your Muslim friend won't open your gift infront of you, but later when she'll be alone. That is common in many cultures. You could give her permission, saying, "You can open it now if you like. We do that in our culture." When you receive a gift from her you could ask her, "Is it okay if I open it now?"

15. Krista:
I've had a few situations where my Muslim friends have asked me if I would sponsor their relatives to come to our country.  I'm not able to do that and when I tell them that suddenly I don't hear from them again. I feel used. How should I handle their requests?

This is common, Krista. I understand your pain. We have to remember some of these Muslims are very desperate to get their families out of deplorable situations. Many of them believe we are loaded with money to make sponsorship possible. You did the right thing saying you weren't financially able to. It isn't always wise to take on sponsoring as a lone individual. You might be left with an unrealistic responsibility. It's better if a group can undertake that. Besides that I would have suggested they go to the local mosque and ask for assistance. We have to expect some of our friends will not understand and will move on from us if they can't get help from us. Uppermost in their minds is to find someone to help them.

15. Rhonda:
In one of my university classes I met Hamid who is a Muslim. He is so sincere and talks alot about God and praying. He's very religious. He treats me with respect. I know it's not right to marry a non-Christian but he talks more about God than most Christian guys I know. What do you suggest I do?

I would suggest you not get emotionally entangled with Hamid.  Many Christian girls land up getting married to Muslim men because they talk alot about God and are polite and respectful. But you won't have fellowship in Christ with Hamid. If you got married your children would be considered Muslims according to Islam.  Perhaps you can introduce some of your Christian guy friends to him so they could introduce him to Jesus. When it comes to social relationships it's wisest for Christian women to relate to Muslim women and Christian men to Muslim men.

16. Elizabeth:
My friend, Habiba, gave me a good luck charm. I didn't know what to do. What should I have done?

I understand your discomfort, Elizabeth. I have had good luck charms given to me, too. One time my Turkish neighbor gave me a blue eye charm meant to counteract the effects of the evil eye for my birthday. I didn't know what to do as it was a birthday gift. I did take it but I inquired about it. It was meant to protect me. I voiced how I trusted Jesus to protect me. Later I threw it in the garbage. Now, not everyone would handle it this way. Some would have refused the gift entirely. Someone sent me the hand of Fatima(khamsa) for protection in the mail from Iran. I disposed of that, too. It gives opportunity to witness of Christ's power to protect. It's important to witness to that truth. They are trying to communicate that they love you and don't want anything to harm you. I feel two things are important: to witness to God's protection, and to dispose of the charms. But all must be done in love. They don't know of Christ's love and power.

17. Mary Anne:
I have such a burden for my Muslim neighbors but I am 78 years old and I use a walker. Realistically, do you think I am too old for God to use me?

Not at all, Mary Anne!  You will be surprised that the older you are the more respect you will receive from Muslim women. They will view you as a grandma figure. Eastern nations show honor and respect to the elderly. I have Muslim friends that adore elderly Christian women. They will listen to you. They will help you and feel honored in doing so. You won't be a threat to them, nor a burden. Just go ahead and love them and speak up for Jesus. In the East an elderly woman has great power and authority.

18.  Alvina:
Well, I have just the opposite doubt. I'm 23 years old. Am I too young to be effectively used by the Lord with Muslim women?

Not at all, Alvina! God uses each age; young or old or in between. Your life will be watched closely. Are you modest, pure, respectful, etc?  Are you an honorable daughter or wife?   If you are then you will be respectfully listened to when you share about Christ. An older woman may be respected automatically because of her age. A younger woman will be respected by her modesty and purity. Talk much of your love for God. You will have tremendous impact upon university age girls. May you be a powerful influence, Alvina.

19. Isabel:
I think my Muslim friend is offended by something I must have said or done because she doesn't talk to me now or seem interested in seeing me. Should I ask her?

I would approach her about it. Assure her you love her and wonder what has happened and ask her if you did or said anything that bothered her? In most cases  there has usually been a cultural offense either in word or action. Dealing with two cultures and two languages will definitely produce some misunderstandings. It could be over what you consider the smallest thing but it will loom large to her. What will really impact her is your humility and apology. I remember the time in Pakistan when I had hepatitis and a Pakistani lady came to visit me in my bed at home. I was very tired and closed my eyes. She didn't talk to me for a whole year. Finally I went to her and asked her if I had done something wrong. She told me she had taken the effort to visit me and I had closed my eyes. After I had apologized our relationship resumed. A Muslim lady had sent me a Christmas card in the mail and I hadn't thanked her. That was the end of the relationship. When I approached her long afterwards and asked what the problem was she explained I hadn't thanked her for it. She couldn't forgive me for that. I have since learned to always remember to thank every Muslim for any card sent.

20. Roberta:
Have you found it more difficult to befriend Muslim women after 9/11?

When 9/11 happened all my Muslim friends retreated indoors for a few weeks, afraid of repercussions of discrimination towards them. I sent all of them  cards assuring them of my love. Eventually they recovered from the initial shock of 9/11 but I would say they retain memories of being associated with the attacks. That has caused fear, shame, embarassment, confusion, helplessness or anger with some of them. Every time something new happens at the hands of terrorists a fresh wave of those feelings arise. Some of them find it easier just to withdraw from non-Muslims.  I have to work much harder now in befriending Muslim women than I did 20 years ago.  Christian women will need to pray alot more now about God opening doors in  befriending Muslim women. Not all desire to withdraw and isolate themselves but a bigger percentage do today than 20 years ago. Whenever you get a chance reassure Muslim women that you welcome them here.

21. Martha:
What exactly is the evil eye?

I've not met a Muslim woman who isn't afraid of the evil eye. There may be some who aren't but I haven't met them. In short, it is a great fear that if someone is jealous about someone's good fortune which might be a pregnancy, a child, a house or certain possession, wealth, business, crops, health, etc., a glance/look from that jealous person upon the fortunate person could bring about bad fortune. Perhaps ill health, miscarriage, or barreness, loss of crops or business misfortune, break down of a marriage or separating a lover, a curse, etc. will result. If a Muslim woman talks about any such fear you can talk about "hassad or hasood" which means jealousy or envy. Much is attributed to the evil eye; especially sickness or sterility. Both Muslim men and women have a fear of the evil eye. When they come to the Lord it still carries on. There must be clear teaching about the Lord's good eye upon us which is for our good and not harm and that His eye is stronger than any jealous person's eye. It is a spiritual stronghold that needs to come down. When evil eye effects occur, as they conclude, Muslims will often try to find someone who is endowed with "good powers" to reverse the effects and bring baraka(blessing).

22. Crystal:
My Muslim friend, Tahareh, asks me so many personal questions which I feel are private and invasive. How should I handle these questions?

I have had Muslim women ask me many personal questions. In the beginning it was most uncomfortable.  I remember constantly being asked in Pakistan what kind of birth control I used. Finally I replied, "My husband would not want me to talk about this. I'm sorry."  They know they have to 'obey' their husbands. There have been many other questions about whether I fast, pray, swim in public, drink alcohol, will have more children, why not have more children, did I have a boyfriend(meaning, was I a virgin when I got married), do my children drink alcohol, did they live at home until marriage(meaning that they were virgins), do we circumcize, how much did my house cost, etc? They want to know why my sister is not married. There might not only be what we consider personal private questions but also open talk about sex.  You don't need to answer any question you consider personal or private. Try to evade it or change the subject or speak lightly into it. They are not trying to be offensive or intrusive. When they realize you don't want to talk about those things they will respect our wishes. 

23. Amber:
My 13 year old daughter is really good friends with a 13 year old Muslim girl. She keeps inviting my daughter for sleep overs at her house. Do you think it would be okay for my daughter to sleep over at her house?

Would the friend's parents allow their daughter to sleep over at your house? My guess is that the parents wouldn't allow that. Most Muslims feel very protective of their daughters.  I would say that if they won't allow that then why not have a mutual agreement that your daughters can spend time together but not over-nighters in each other's homes? I'm glad to hear that your daughter is befriending a Muslim girl. 

24. Vivian:
My 18 year old daughter, Ivy, is going out with a 21 year old Muslim fellow, Hassan.  It is so scary what is happening. Ivy seems to be under Hassan's control. He is trying to take her away from her Christian faith and slowly she's turning away from us. She doesn't listen to anything we say. We don't know what to do. We're really scared we're going to lose her. What should we do?

I have heard this same story many times. It is scary. There are other powers at work here which you need to understand. It's important you don't view Hassan as 'the enemy'.  It's important to keep loving Ivy and offering your home as her nest. If she's not listening to you or to any warnings you probably should not antagonize her further. The most important issue is really what's happening to her faith. I know it is difficult and maybe feels shameful to open your heart to some Christians friends about everything but this is too big for you to handle alone. Our God is powerful and can work miracles. He is jealous over Ivy. He loves her and wants to rescue her from her trap. Find some supportive praying friends who understand spiritual battles. Not all do. You don't want a pity group of friends but those who understand spiritual warfare. Your own faith will be stretched.

25. Rosemary:
When I see Muslim women wearing hijabs and niqabs they seem oppressed.  But when I'm with Muslim women they seem so proud of it and like it.  Do you feel Muslim women who wear hijabs are oppressed?

Overseas it is viewed as normal and part of their culture and traditions. Here in our western nations Muslim women are encouraged to keep wearing the hijab or to start wearing it.  Many do it voluntarily while some feel pressure from their communities or families.  From all sides they are told to be proud of wearing the hijab; that it identifies them as Muslim.  For some it's a reaction to not wanting to be associated with Western ideology and values.  Some families will psyche their young daughters up to start wearing it in elementary school so that they will be conditioned to it by puberty time.  Many believe they will avoid sexual harassment from men by wearing it.  All feel they are obeying and pleasing Allah this way.  I don't believe that it is the hijab or niqab that oppresses women per se.  Rather, if any woman feels oppressed(Muslim, Christian, Jew, secular, etc.) it will be because of control from someone in authority which might be a husband, father, mother, in-laws, religious cleric or system, etc.

26. Brenda:
Today I got an e-mail from a friend whose mom works with a Muslim man from India.  This man's father passed away and as I understand it he has gone home to India for the services. My friend's mom is wondering what is appropriate to do for Muslims for a funeral. They were thinking of sending flowers. Can you please give some insight on this?

The important thing in funeral etiquette is to respond as soon as possible when you hear the news. If the mourner is a woman you should ask her if you can come over to her house to give condolences. She will appreciate this. When you arrive(especially in the first two days)there will be many women from the community gathered at the mourner's home. Give the mourner a hug and whisper you are sorry about the news.Men and women will usually be segregated from each other. There will be mostly silence or some crying. Just join the women's group and sit among them. No required need to take flowers, a card, or food but if you want to that's fine. That's what we do in our culture. The thing they value the most is your company. There is no need to say much. Perhaps stay there in quietness about an hour and then get up and again hug the mourner, whisper a  few words to her privately about praying for her and assure her that God loves her and cares about her sorrow and then feel free to leave. If the mourner is a man, it would be wisest to go with your husband to the mourner's home. Otherwise, just convey words of sympathy to the male mourner at work. After a week or two inquire how she is doing - is she sleeping well? That often opens up opportunities to talk. There is fear about death and the afterlife.

27. Alide:
I've just been invited to an Eid party at the Islamic Center. Should I eat the meat that has been slaughtered the Islamic way?

That's great you've been invited! I hope you will have a wonderful time even if it is not your religious holiday. You will probably notice that Muslims will be watching you closely at the party. Don't worry about it. We do the same when a Muslim comes to church. As far as eating the meat I don't worry about that. Ask God to sanctify it for you by His authority.

28. Lillian:
 You've lived both overseas in Islamic countries and in the West. What similarities have you observed between Muslim women in the West and Muslim women living in predominantly Islamic countries? What differences?

Depending on the Islamic country a woman comes from the differences may not be large at all but for some the differences can be quite significant.
Similarities:  Women here still think of themselves as Muslims and being Pakistani/Afghan/Somali, cultural traditions continue to be held on to, they experience some of the same fears of the evil eye and jinn, still uphold the high value of motherhood and try to honor parents and keep their unwed daughters pure sexually. Conservatively dressed women retain their modesty and segregation rules here. 
Differences: Muslim women in the West may experience more role of women confusion here, at least temporarily while adjusting.  Many are blessed by the rights and protection laws Western governments grant all women. Many don't fear the possibility so much of a second wife being taken in the West as in their homelands. All females will be able to go to school in the West. I think alot of Muslim women feel happier and more secure as women here. However, some Muslim women feel discriminated against in Western nations or disliked or feared because they wear the hijab or niqab, whereas in their Islamic homeland it wasn't an issue. There are many Muslim  brides overseas who have no option but to live with their in-laws  but here they(most of them) can live separately and enjoy a marital/family relationship just with their husband and children. Of course there are those who choose to live together with in-laws. A Muslim woman will know she will probably be able to have custody of her children if there would be a divorce here and that means alot to them. If the woman is from Saudi Arabia she could drive a car here. Depending on which country they come from they might be able to vote for the first time. There will be protection(and be heard) in the courts if they are beaten here by men. FGM is illegal in Canada so theoretically females could be spared from undergoing it, but sometimes they do take trips(like back to Somalia)to have it performed. Living in a pluralistic society or multicultural one like Canada can present a huge difference for women.

29. Beckie:
What are some of the discoveries you've made being involved with so many Muslim women from all over the world?

I'm speaking about Muslim women in Canada here: I've discovered that alot of Muslim women have significant power in the home and that there are truly good marriages. If given permission (freedom of choice) many more women would leave Islam and follow Jesus. Wearing the hijab means everything to a Muslim woman and that we are not able to fully comprehend that.  I've discovered how easy it is to love Muslim women. Experiencing shame is unbelievably painful for them and avoided at all cost. I've discovered that a large number of Muslim women are happy and don't feel particularly oppressed. Their Islamic community, I think, is more important to them here than even overseas, where perhaps their families would be foremost. And I've discovered that many Muslim girls and teenagers live in two worlds; that of their ancestor roots and that of living in a western nation.

30. Loralee:
My Muslim friend called me again about all the problems in her marriage. They are quite complex. She gets hysterical about the possibility of losing her husband. What should I do?

Numerous Muslim friends have done the same with me, too, Loralee. I believe it is important for her to speak with her parents about the problems first, whether they live here or in the homeland. Then your friend needs to be made aware of a professional counselor she could go to even though she will be reluctant to do so because it isn't cultural and she will feel shame, and maybe because she will feel she will get into trouble with her husband. But, it isn't fair that you should be the person to burden down with her problems. You probably can't do much and would be considered interfering if the husband finds out - or more. I always pray with such a friend but I try to direct her to her parents or to a counselor. If she is a Muslim background believer I urge her to talk to her pastor or lady in charge of womens ministries.  If she refuses then I tell her that I really can't help her.

31. Vivian:
I have a Muslim background believer friend who spoils her only child. She never disciplines him. One day I really was upset how he wouldn't listen and I held onto his arm when talking to him. The mother was so upset that I would touch her child and cut off all relationship with me. What should I do?

It is tricky speaking into these situations. I try to stay out of getting involved in such situations. I would say something like, "don't throw or hit, etc." but not touch him or her.  I'm not the child's mother and I'm not in a position of authority like the child's teacher. I would talk about Biblical child raising principles during our on-going relationship but she has the authority to choose how to deal with situations. It may be difficult to restore a friendship with the mother but you might try phoning or emailing her. Perhaps after some time she may miss your friendship and want to restore it.

Section 2 Evangelism and Discipleship

1. Carla:
I'm afraid to meet a Muslim because I don't know enough about Islam. I'm afraid I won't know how to answer their objections. I'm not sure I can remember all the facts. How can I get over this fear that holds me back?

First of all, relax, your fears are common. It's not more information you need or a better memory. The most important thing is to know God well and His Word. Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Muslims are not won to the Lord Jesus by means of arguments or knowledge. They are saved by the drawing power of Jesus and His love. There are many books out there. Some are good and some are not. Just love Jesus and Muslims.

2. Amber:
I like to cook and sew but I don't consider myself an evangelist. Do you think God can use my gifts to reach out to Muslim women?

God uses every gifting. I have a friend who loves to cook. She plans all kinds of parties and picnics and invites both Muslim and Christian friends. She also loves swimming. She invites Muslim women to the pool for women-only swim times.  Just bringing them together is part of a reconciliation ministry in itself. Christian and Muslims have been insulated and separated from each other for the last 1500 years. You never know what will result from conversations as you party or swim together. The important thing is to use your gift and pray that God will open doors that will lead to spiritual discussion. Let everything flow naturally.

3. Anita:
I’m both excited and nervous. My husband and I just invited our Muslim friends over for supper to our home for the first time. Will they be offended if we say table grace before we eat?

Congratulations on getting the courage up to invite your friends for supper. It will be a new experience for you. Maybe for them, too! They are probably more nervous than you. Anita, Muslims are not offended when we say table grace. You can just explain to them that to thank God for your food before you eat is your custom and would they mind if you do that? I have never heard a Muslim refuse to have table grace said. They respect prayer and believe in it. I would encourage you to thank God for the food and to bless your friends by name and their families in their homeland. You may want to lift your hands with palms open when you pray. They will quickly understand that you are praying that way. Begin your prayer by addressing “God” and you can end your prayer by indicating that you are praying “in the name of Jesus”/or Isa al Masih. It could well be the first time they will have heard a Christian pray.

5. Susan:
I would like to give my Muslim friend a Christmas card.   Is it okay to give her a religious one?

Muslim women love receiving cards. They treasure them - sometimes even more than a gift. I try to find as many opportunities as possible to send them cards.  I always try to find cards with religious sentiments and verses written in them.  They love bright colorful cards.  Most of them don't object to Christmas cards with the Christmas story depicted on them. Muslims do believe that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary.  If your Muslim friend won't view the Jesus dvd because she feels strongly that the image of Jesus shouldn't be seen then she probably won't appreciate a Christmas card showing the face of Jesus, either. On the whole I haven't had much problem. I have seen my cards on display in their houses or offices many months later. One of my friends has all the cards I have ever sent her stored in a box. To send her a Christmas card showing Santa Claus won't be very beneficial as far as a Christian witness goes.

5. Connie:
Will Muslims be offended if I talk about Jesus?  I'm afraid I will offend them.

Muslims will not be offended if you talk about Jesus Christ/Isa al Masih.  He is written about many times in the Qur'an. He is especially honored for His healing miracles. Muslims think of Jesus as an honored prophet or nabi but don't believe He is God who appeared in the flesh. They also think we Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God, born of sexual union, but of course that is untrue. The term Son of God is metaphorical when we use it. Talk often, Connie, about Jesus and what He means to you. You could start with stories and parables He told and some of His teachings and miracles. Stories that are about Jesus and women He helped or healed are of special meaning to them. Muslims won't agree with everything we believe but they do admire a strong witness. They don't like weak faith. So, don't be shy. But always speak gently and humbly with Muslims.

6. Linda:
I want to start a Bible study with Sahar. What book would you recommend we study together?

I personally don't use any book with Muslims except the Bible itself.  It would be confusing to her if you study another book about the Bible.  The Bible works great and is sufficient. A good introductory question to ask Sahar is: "We have alot of problems in the world, don't we? Do you know when they started?" You could then suggest looking at what the Bible says. If she is ready for it go through Genesis 1-9. Everything was perfect in the beginning. Then Adam and Eve individually made wrong choices and sin entered the world. Then it spread within the family, then the world. Genesis 3 is very important to introduce: free will, disobedience, what sin is,  fear, shame, guilt, consequences. From there I suggest we look at the life of Jesus: His birth, OT prophecies, teachings, miracles, authority, divinity/incarnation,  death, burial, ressurection, ascension to heaven, and second return, etc.  There could be alot more said but that is a beginning. The important thing is to use the actual Bible. Give her one to follow along in - perhaps in her language. Depend on the Holy Spirit completely.

7. Rosanne:
My Muslim friend is a refugee who is semi-literate both in her language and in English. How can we study the Bible together?

I find a simple Toddler's Bible Story book helpful. It has pictures and the English is simple. You will be teaching her both English and Bible truths at the same time. If she has young children they will enjoy listening in, too. You will need to add some Biblical information to the stories that are written for children. For example: the reason for the flood in Noah's time, etc.

8. Priscilla:
I have known Nasrin about three months. I invited her to my church but she didn't seem interested in going. Should I just stop seeing her since she's not interested?

Most Muslims are not interested in visiting church for awhile. To the average Muslim going to a church is making a big statement. She doesn't want anyone to think she has decided to become a Christian. We view it as visiting, but she is probably more concerned what message is being conveyed to other Muslims who may find out.  Occasionally a Muslim woman will go out of curiosity. It's not necessary to push visiting a church until you sense she is ready. In the mean time, you will be the 'church' visiting her! Perhaps introduce her to some of your Christian friends.  Muslims are most open to visiting church for a Christmas program. If you have a good friendship with her, please don't stop seeing her.

9. Evelyn:
I've never invited a Muslim woman to church before. What do you think impacts Muslim women the most when they visit church?

I would have to say that it usually is the worship music - not so much the music itself, but the words of the songs. Also Muslim women pick up the presence of God through corporate praise and adoration. If the drums are quite loud many don't like that part but if they are beat in moderation they can concentrate on the music. If your church has a ministry prayer time for people to come forward for healing that will impact Muslim women for sure. So much will be a new experience and they might not even understand the language but they will pick up the presence of God.

10. Lily:
I met a man from North Africa on a chat line. I've been witnessing to him. He's become a Christian.  We talk a few hours every day. What kind of material can I send him?

I would send him the website:  http://www.maarifa.org/ and then encourage him to be in touch with an Arab believer ministering on that site who could follow him up with his questions. He could also speak in his language. I would strongly recommend you pass him on to a Christian man on that site and not get entangled on a chat line with a man you haven't met in North Africa.

11. Ruth:
I just started meeting with Amal but I am stressed out. She always brings up her anger towards United States and Israel and I don't know what to do or say.  What do you suggest?

This happens often, Ruth.  It can be discouraging partly because it doesn't create a friendly spirit of friendship but also Christian women aren't, generally speaking, very politically minded. We don't think about politics much, nor do we get very heated up about political matters. That may be new territory for us. I listen to them initially because it helps me to understand them better. I discover there are often two sides to every story. There are times when I feel the need to make some apologies and other times when I need to ask more questions and then times when I need to say I agree with them on certain points. But there comes a time when you want to talk about other things, too. Try to steer the conversation on to other topics. You want a friendship, not a political debate every time. There may be certain people you will just need to step back from if a congenial friendship just isn't taking place.

12. Esther:
I want to tell my friend about Jesus but I'm afraid that if she becomes a Christian her husband will beat her or divorce her. Doesn't that usually happen?

In an Islamic country that could and sometimes happens. But we are in the West where women know they have rights. I have been surprised at the husbands who want me to share my faith with their wives. Some have professed Christ and I have been surprised they haven't had repercussions. I always ask women, who are interested in hearing, if their husbands will mind if we study the Bible. I think just about every Muslim man whose wife I visit knows that I will share my faith because I'm very upfront even with him. We have the idea that all Muslim women will be abused but that isn't true. Of course there are exceptions. The important thing is to show respect to the husband. The husband is not as concerned about the wife being influenced as his children. We have to proceed very carefully with children. If we put ourselves in his shoes we would be the same.

13. Janelle:
What do you consider to be the most significant issue in discipling Muslim Background Believers(MBBs)?

There are so many things a new believer must learn about following Jesus. I hope in the near future to write on this blog about key issues in greater depth. There is a difference between teaching new facts and information and developing a new nature. Both are needed. But if there would be one main issue it would be about understanding forgiveness the Jesus way. Forgiveness their cultural way and forgiveness the Jesus way are quite different. I believe there is nothing more important than to become a forgiving person the Jesus way. When a MBB is held back from growing spiritually, it's not usually because of lack of new facts and information but learning to forgive the Jesus way. It's the same for us, too.  Fortunate are those of us who have grown up hearing about and seeing forgiveness the Jesus way. We could never teach enough(or practice)about forgiveness the Jesus way.
14. Connie:
My friend, Iman, seems close to making a decision to become a follower of Isa al Masih but she keeps pulling back. It tires me. I know it is a spiritual battle. How do you cope with spiritual battles?

I'm proud of you that you recognize the challenges and are walking alongside of Iman.  To decide to follow Isa al Masih is a huge decision for a Muslim woman.  She often needs a supernatural confirmation to help her. You can't bring that about at all. Keep praying for her. This is the work of the Holy Spirit all the way.  I have had my share of spiritual battles and they tire me also. Everyone may have a different way to cope.  I listen to worship music, write my heart out in a journal, go for long walks and pray, and read the Word. Often the Holy Spirit speaks to me in dreams at night comforting and assuring me. He will give me a song or a verse to strengthen me. I am keenly aware of the presence of angels caring for me at times of opposition or slander. I have learned to go to God first and people second for encouragement and strengthening. Hang in there!
15. Marilyn:
Do you find Muslim women resistant to the Gospel?

No, not really resistant per se. In Islamic countries the resistance may be there, not so much because of the message of the Good News, but because it disrupts the familiar and secure upbringing. Muslim women, like most women anywhere, don't want conflict, chaos, or change. We all want peace and an orderly life.  In the West Muslim women already have undergone changes just coming here and adjusting to a different culture. When  I observe resistance in Muslim women about the Good News it's often due to busyness crowding out discovering Christ.  Either it's we're too busy to go to them or they are too busy going to school or working and raising a family. Discovering Christ takes time which usually means cultivating relationships. Busyness on both sides can nip a relationship pretty quick. Resistance doesn't always mean opposition of beliefs. It can mean resistance to taking time. I have found that where busyness doesn't crowd out a relationship there is more opportunity for truth to be absorbed.
16. Paulina:
How can a Muslim woman make a decision to follow Isa al Masih when she is under her husband and she doesn't make individual decisions?

We are such an individualistic culture and making individual decisions is the norm but it's true, that isn't the situation in Muslim culture. It is hard for a Muslim woman to see that no one is the authority over her soul except her Creator. What she believes in her soul is between her and her Creator. I don't try to get a Muslim woman "to make a decision to follow Christ." I watch her come into an understanding and witness her heart moving into accepting the Savior. One lady said to me, "My husband has my body but Jesus has my heart." I look more for moving towards Christ than an actual transaction/decision. At what exact moment does anyone enter the Kingdom? In the West it's popular to believe it's when you verbalize a 'sinner's prayer'. I believe God's Spirit is looking at the moving of the heart. We'll be in for alot of surprises in heaven! When I sense a woman's heart has moved strongly towards Christ I go into deeper teaching.

17. Suzanne:
Would you recommend reading the Qur'an?

If you are trying to reach out to a Muslim woman I would recommend you read the Qur'an.  It would help you to understand where she is coming from. You will understand why she is afraid of the evil eye, fearful of where she will go after she dies, and many other things. You can talk more intelligently rather than ignorantly after you have read it. I tell Muslim women I have read the Qur'an and then ask if they have read the Injil(the Gospels)? They often speak ignorantly about the Injil because they haven't read it - only been told about things. I share that the Qur'an speaks some of Isa al Masih but the Injil tells the full story of His life.

18. Jennifer:
I have some Iranian friends who always want me to explain their dreams. Have you ever explained any dream? I've never done that and I feel uncomfortable.

This is quite common, Jennifer, especially among Shi'ite Muslims. Many of them are wired for the supernatural or paranormal. Some of them possess books that interpret dreams. It is also common for Muslim women to visit women endowed with powers like psychics to explain dreams, do istikhara for them, magic on someone(jadu) or whatever else brings hidden knowledge to light. These activities are forbidden in Islam but prevalent in their cultures.  Even Muslims who come to the Lord still wrestle with these practices. Today I was with a lady who has been a believer for twenty years and she's still involved. It is hard for these women to break with occultic activities. There is an overwhelming need among Muslim(and believers) women to understand why something bad happens or what will happen to them. It is hard for them to trust God alone, be fully convinced that God is good all the time and loves them all the time. As far as dreams go, yes, I have interpreted dreams for both Muslim women and Muslim background believers. If I sense a dream is truly from the Lord and can help direct them into understanding truth or reveals Christ I ask the Lord to help me to interpret a dream for them and always point to specific Scripture verses. That was very hard to do in the beginning. In fact I refused to do that even though that first dream I heard was clearly of a spiritual nature. I regretted I had the opportunity and refused to use it. I often have to explain to women what dreams are of omen nature, superstitious, of Satan, of the flesh, mean nothing, or are from God. I refuse to interpret any dream that is not pointing to spiritual truth or Christ. I also don't want any woman, Muslim or believer in Christ, to ever look to me as a psychic type of woman. I don't want to create any trust in me - only in God. This is a big topic that is essential to understand for any Christian woman reaching Muslim women. I recommend the book, "The Unseen Face of Islam" by Bill Musk to gain further insight.

19. Pearl:
Some of my Muslim friends refuse to take a Bible, even in their own language. Do you find this common?

Yes, it is common except perhaps among Iranians. There are various reasons why Muslim women often refuse to take a Bible. There may be a belief that the Bible has been changed so why read it? Or a fear that if they read it they might be punished by Allah. Many don't enjoy reading. Some will read a Bible if it is in English but not in their mother tongue. And some will read it from a 'historical' perspective but not want to indicate they have any particular spiritual interest. My personal experience is that the majority of Muslim women I have encountered who have resisted taking a Bible is because they are afraid to. I assure them that God will not punish them for reading it. Some are willing to read the Bible on-line from evangelistic websites.  I have numerous ones listed on my blog. You could just write down the website on a piece of paper and offer it to them that way. The important thing is to often tell stories from the Bible or pull one out of your purse and read a comforting verse to her, etc. She needs to see your joy and peace in the Word of God.

20. Lucy:
My problem is I can't remember where certain verses or stories are in the Bible. How can it work to take my Bible with me on visits when I can't remember where the verses are?

You could write down on an index card or in the front blank page of your Bible where key stories or verses are found. These are just a few samples:
Protection/Safety:  Psalm 91 (seems to be the #1 favorite passage)
Warning Against Occult Activities:  Deut. 18: 10-14
God's Love For Us: I John 4: 7-19
Power of Jesus:  Romans 8: 38-39
Jesus is the Good Shepherd:  John 10: 1-14
What Sin Can Look Like:  Galatians 5: 19-21
Beginning of Sin and its Effects and Consequences:  Genesis 3
Hagar and Ishmael:  Genesis 21: 8-21
Revenge and Forgiveness:  Matthew 5: 38-48
Jesus Can Forgive and Heal:  Luke 5: 17-26
Jesus Can Expel Evil Spirits:  Mark 1: 21-28 (power over evil eye, too)
Jesus Calms the Storm(and our storms): Mark 4: 35-41
Jesus Can Give You Rest From Burdens:  Matthew 11: 28-29
Jesus Reveals His Deity and Gift to a Woman:  John 4
Miraculous Conceptions:  Luke 1: 5-23(Elizabeth), 26-45(Mary)
Stories of Salvation: Luke 15
Book of Life:  Revelation: 20: 11-15
Heaven:  Revelation 21: 3-4
Jesus' Death, Burial, Ressurection and Authority:  I Peter 3:18 (concise)
Jesus Broke the Power of Death and Satan:  Hebrews 2: 14-15 (fear of dying)

21. Valerie:
Shahina is a believer in Jesus. Last week her husband, who is also a believer, came over and told me he was very upset with Shahina because she doesn't respect him. I didn't know what to do or say. What would you have done?

Muslim women who come to the West soon discover women have rights and can exercise them. They also see an independent and individualistic lifestyle among Western women, and even among Christian women. There is confusion especially for  Muslim Background Believer women when they see all this around them. They can misuse their earthly freedoms and rights causing a breakdown in marriages. If a Christian sister can help a MBB woman to understand Biblical respect it would be useful. Respect is not thrown out the window by becoming a believer. Rather it can be beautified and purified.  A Christian man will also need to help the MBB husband to understand Biblical respect and love, too. The key is to talk about these things. The confusion needs to be cleared and Biblical truth taught. This is new to them, but not to us. As Christian women we must not immediately pounce on the husband. It takes time and teaching and modelling.

22. Lynn: 
 I read in your book that you use your Bible in your visits. How does that work? Won't they be spooked off?

In the Qur'an it says to ask the People of the Book their questions. We are People of the Book but we don't use the Book like we should!  I am a strong believer in using the Bible. I don't want to rely just on my opinions but on the written Word of God.  I have a big enough purse to put my Bible in. It goes with me wherever I go. And my Muslim friends know it. Often in conversation I think of a verse or story that would speak into it.  I ask them if they would like to hear what Jesus said about something or what is written in our holy Book? Seldom will they say, 'no'.  When I get their permission I read from it. I can't recall a single time I've had the response from a Muslim, after reading from the Bible, that the book has been changed. But they will bring up that objection if they never see a Bible or never hear from it. Muslim women may initially be nervous hearing you read from it the first few times - or maybe feel guilty. Just press on. Soon their nervousness and fear will lessen.

23. Theresa:
Do you really pray with Muslim women? I've only prayed with a Christian.  Do the Muslim women pray for you? I'd feel very uncomfortable about that.

Yes, I pray often for Muslim women. Just yesterday I prayed for a Muslim woman in hijab whom I took to a surgical center. Her baby was to have a circumcision and she was nervous and afraid of him experiencing pain. She said she hadn't slept all night. So, there I prayed for her in the waiting room.  In the afternoon I prayed for a Muslim lady I was helping with conversational English. Her husband walked in unexpectedly while I was finishing praying. He showed no disapproval but rather smiled. He seemed pleased. The day before I prayed for a North African woman soon to deliver her first baby. Today I prayed for a Muslim woman who was being tormented with shame. I want Muslim women to know I will pray for them about anything at any time and in any place. I'm available for prayer. It is the biggest part of my ministry. I really don't care whether I do everything just right culturally speaking - I can't. I often pray for them over the phone, too. They are hungry for prayer. And I always pray in the name of Jesus. Only once has a Muslim woman said a prayer for me in her presence. It came from her heart and not in an effort to convert me. It isn't common for Muslim women to pray for Christians face to face, though they may say they will pray for us later.

24. Terrie:
I've heard it's almost impossible for Muslims to become Christians.  Don't you think it's a waste of time and energy and we should just concentrate on reaching our own culture?

It's not a matter of choosing to reach one over the other. Both our culture and Muslims need the Savior. Both are challenging to reach. Sometimes our culture is being re-evangelized. You might discover an auntie or grandma has been praying for the person. Our culture has many churches reaching out to them but very few are aware of Muslims or have the compassion to reach them. No one in their family line has ever been a Christian. They have had the least chance to hear the Good News in an understandable way. They aren't being re-evangelized but evangelized for the first time. We can't honestly say it's a waste of time or energy when not many have even tried to share the Gospel. We need to be careful we don't make assumptions and conclusions by our impressions. It is true that reaching Muslims will require more perseverance and long term effort. We tend to want evangelism to be quick, easy and spectacular in the West.

25. Ashley: 
How come some Muslims who say they became Christians fall away?

There may be a number of reasons. In my personal experience I would say a number of  them never understood the message of the cross. They may have just been moved by the love and suffering of Jesus but not understood the seriousness of sin, nor our inability to atone for our sins, nor been convicted of or repented of their sins. Perhaps they were drawn to a wonderful Christian friend but not necessarily to Jesus. Or they might have been drawn to a friendly and loving church but not primarily to Christ. Sometimes a dream speaks to them but it doesn't have sustaining power. They may have decided to follow Jesus on the basis of an euphoria a dream gave.  Often they fall away because money has lured them or busyness crowds out growth. They may have not received much discipleship or mentoring custom-designed for a Muslim Background Believer. In the West, self-sufficiency and independence can hinder developing trust in a miraculous God. Maybe this is beginning to sound like us??

26. Joanna:
Do you feel that giving a Bible as a gift to a Muslim woman is manipulative?

Yes, it could come over as manipulative if she has not asked for one or indicated interest.  You may be ready to give her one but she's not ready to receive one.  She may actually be afraid to receive one and not know what to do with it.  There may be fear about someone seeing it and being questioned.  As your friendship develops you will discover whether she's curious, interested, opposed, afraid, etc.  Go about things gradually.  Over time tell her Bible stories, read from it and see how she responds.  If she's afraid to have a Bible you could suggest a website she can read the Bible on-line in the privacy of her home.  There are numerous evangelistic websites in various languages listed on this blog. You could write one down on a piece of paper and give it to her.  Don't push evangelistic materials on anyone.  Rather create curiosity and interest.

27. Marion:
How many Muslim women do you feel it is feasible to minister to?

Good question and not easy to answer. It all depends whether you are freed up from a job or have alot of family responsibility. Some Muslim women are well adjusted in our culture while others take alot of time to help them assimilate. Since I'm freed up from a job and my children are married I am able to invest in more women. I like to have about a network of approximately 10 Muslim women at one given time and a handful of Muslim Background Believers. I don't believe we do justice to ministry by having large groups of Muslim women in our lives. Discipling MBBs is labor intensive. There is much individual teaching and care that is needed to be given.  Then our friends have different seasons in their lives. Some move on or get jobs or get busy having more babies. We have to flow with all the changes.

28. Kathleen:
Have you found that Muslim women get disturbed about Halloween?

Yes, I frequently do; especially among newcomers. They are faced with having to see witches and goblins and ghosts and black spiders in the grocery stores, banks,  schools and on peoples lawns. They don't understand why we expose ourselves to the supernatural realm of Satan and jinn, etc., of which they are afraid of. They don't take it as make believe but real. They are afraid of curses and omens. You will find that your Muslim friend will probably address these things. Instead of dismissing it as just a game or make believe use the opportunity to talk about the spirit world and how Jesus has the power over Satan and evil spirits. She will notice that children dress up. You can use that as an opportunity, also, how we all cover up and pretend we're somebody else(a real good, religious person for example) but that we can't fool God. Although He knows us, He loves us even when we're bad. That is a brand new revelation to Muslims! And you know where you can go from that point.....You might bring up the fact that many churches provide optional fun times for children on Halloween.

29. Jessica:
How can I learn how to pronounce the names of the Old Testament prophets in Arabic?  My Muslim friends don't understand whom I'm talking about.

You can learn the Arabic pronounciations by going to the following website:
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prophets_of_Islam  Remember that not all the prophets Muslims would recognize we would recognize. The word 'nabi' means prophet and the word 'rasul' means messenger.

30. Jana:
What's the best Bible story to tell first to a Muslim woman?

There is no best story. I tell stories according to the woman's need of the moment. But one story that never fails to interest them is the one about Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness. Muslims would call her HAjar and him Isma'eel. We sometimes jump too quickly into the Gospel stories. They are acquainted with Old Testament prophets so inorder to get a better and quicker hearing in your friendship it is good to use Old Testament stories in the beginning.

31. Faith:
Do you always ask for permission to pray for Muslim women?  Do you always say before you pray that you pray in the name of Jesus(Isa al Masih)?  What if they decline your offer?  Do you touch them or lay hands on them when you pray?

Yes, I always ask for permission first. I don't jump into this quickly. It usually comes within a relationship context and after I listen to their stories and see the need for prayer. They are usually open to be prayed for. If they would decline I would not pray for them obviously. I have never had that happen in 32 years of ministry. I always make clear that I pray to God in heaven, in the name of Isa al Masih. They might think Christians pray to Jesus whom they don't consider God. We understand what we mean but they don't. The first couple of times I pray with a Muslim woman I don't usually lay a hand on her but rather hold out my hands like Muslims do for prayer(palms open, raised to God). She will understand you mean to pray by that gesture. Later on I do lay my hand on her arm or shoulder if I feel led to do so but it isn't necessary.

32. Angelica:
I want to share about Jesus with my Muslim friend but I don't like talking about hell. How can I get over this reluctance in me?

It's important to realize that Muslims, like Christians, believe in hell. You will not need to inform your friend about hell(jahannam) as if she is ignorant about it.  She will be keenly aware of it and afraid of it.   Many of my Muslims friends say: "Joy, life is about punishment, punishment, punishment - now and in the next life." The Qur'an speaks frequently of hell. The Injil(the Gospels) does, too, but we're always presented with Good News of how Isa al Masih(Jesus Christ) makes it possible to be spared from hell and its punishments and go to heaven(jannat). We have a sure hope in a Savior who can save us from going to hell. It's not dependent on our good deeds which can never be enough for a holy God but that Isa al Masih's death on the cross, as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and the consequent punishments we deserve, makes it possible for our guilt and shame to be taken away and forgiven. Isa al Masih took the punishment we deserve upon Himself on the cross(the saleeb). Our salvation is in the blood of Isa al Masih shed on the cross - not in our good deeds. He died and was buried in a grave for 3 days and broke the power of Satan and came alive. We have a Savior who didn't escape death - a fantasy Isa al Masih, but one who is victorious over death and Satan.   All we need to do is repent of our sins and accept His sacrifice in faith. We don't work for heaven. It's a gift from God. This is the love of God demonstrated to mankind.  We surrender our entire lives to Him as a grateful response to His gift - not in order to get it.  You have Good News to share with your Muslim friend! She already knows the Bad News. She needs to hear Good News now.

33. Serena:
You frequently say or write 'MBB'.  What do those letters mean?

It is common around the world to use the letters 'MBB' to refer to a Muslim who has decided to follow Jesus.  The letters mean Muslim Background Believer. Most MBBs like to refer to themselves simply as 'believers'. Some people refer to them as BMBs or Believers from Muslim Background. The labels are not terribly important.

34. Marg:
Is it really possible to reach out to Muslim women if you don't know their language?  A missionary overseas told me you had to know the language and that has discouraged me from making a friendship with a Muslim woman.

I'm sad you were told such. The language of love is so powerful. Even a smile or a hug is powerful. You could know a Muslim's language fluently and still not reach her heart.  Don't let those comments discourage you. Of course you can reach out to a Muslim woman who speaks a foreign language and you don't know it. Most Muslim women in our western nations go to school to learn English. Most of them need practice speaking it. What an excellent opportunity for you to help her. Ask her to teach you a few important words like greetings or what you should say for their holidays, etc. You can use Oxford Picture Dictionaries for help. Sometimes I have even taken a little whiteboard and markers and drawn pictures as we talk. Do you know you could pray for her and she might not understand a word but she can pick up your spirit of care? Just forge ahead. I reach out to Muslim women from all over the world and I don't know their languages.

35. Monique:
It's strange but sometimes I feel like I'm discipling my friend, Iman, and she hasn't even decided to follow Christ yet. Do you ever encounter this?

Welcome to the wonderful ministry of evangelism and discipleship of Muslim women! While we are presenting the Good News we usually find ourselves discipling at the same time. We have to present alot of background teaching of the Bible and what all kinds of doctrines mean and explain the attributes of God portrayed according to the Bible, about the Triune God and deity of Christ, etc. We teach her about a new kind of prayer and relationship with God. We explain about living by grace versus living by the law. We teach about the difference between living by faith and living by sight. We talk about healing and deliverance and the deceptive dependence of wearing charms and a dependence on dreams, the Holy Spirit, etc. If you are sharing the Good News you will be discipling all at the same time. It's wonderful. Enjoy it!

36. Caroline:
Do you disciple MBB women together at church or how do you go about it?

No, I don't disciple MBB women in a group nor at church. I disciple(come along side) them on a one-on-one basis either in their homes or in my home. Discipling is really being a supportive friend and looks unstructured. Most of them don't feel comfortable in a class situation at church watching a discipleship dvd or going through a manual. Some do but that's not often. Rather we will be in each other's homes, the TV will be on, phone rings, kids play around us, baby cries and perhaps a visitor will pop by. It won't be your comfort zone for Bible teaching but it won't be a problem for her! I usually visit socially with my MBB friend for 30-60 minutes and drink tea and chit chat. Then I will ask her if she would like to read something together from the Bible and pray together. I have a plan in my head where I want to take her in teaching but most often what happens is, she will say, "Oh, Joy, I have a question about something....." and that is where the teaching will land up going. I may need to ask her if the TV could be off during that time. She will understand the need for more quietness. If she doesn't have toys for the children perhaps you could bring some coloring books about Bible stories and crayons, etc. She will get the point. When we have a prayer time I wait for quietness. Sometimes I whisper to children to be quiet because we are going to pray. There are often interruptions. I flow with them. This is normal and to be expected. Discipling can happen any day or night at any hour. This is what it looks like. It is not like Western discipleship which is a program on Wednesday nights at the church for 2 hours with child care provided.  As I mentioned in Question #6, I only use the Bible in discipling; not another book.

37. Dorothy:
What are some of the secrets of effectively reaching Muslim women for Christ?

-being available at any time of the day or night by phone or a visit - being able to cope patiently and graciously with cancellation of appointments at the last minute - being humble - being transparent - personally experiencing an intimate and supernatural walk with the Lord - having a genuine spirit of love for them - learning to take initiative to go to them over and over - being bold in witnessing - being resilient and to keep going after you have been hurt or shunned - using the Word of God alot - praying for them often when with them - dressing modestly - showing respect to the Muslim woman's husband.

38. Dana:
What are some of the greatest joys you've experienced in your missionary career? What are some of the hardest things?

Greatest joys: complete legal freedom to share about Jesus, getting into homes of those coming from the most closed countries and having private times of spiritual discussions, praying for Muslim women and seeing them 'melt' being in the presence of Jesus, observing them move towards Jesus, get baptized, renounce charms and grow in the character of Jesus.
Hardest parts:  friendships with Muslim women being cut off due to misunderstanding, fear or community pressure without any explanation, loneliness due to pastors not understanding what evangelism/discipleship among Muslim women entails, knowing that it is hard for MBB women to fit into local church in the West, and dealing with cultural, linguistic and spiritual difficulties that arise taking curious Muslim women to church. Also after so many years spending so much time with Eastern Muslim women and going to Westernized church I have become a misfit and that is painful.  

39. Sharon:
What are some of the most significant lessons you've learned over the years?

- Witness was enhanced when I put away my jewelry(except wedding rings) and make up and dressed modestly. It really did change things!
- It did wonders when I began to share my weaknesses, temptations, fears, anxieties, needs, and sins with the women. I'm human, too.
- They love hearing about Biblical heaven.
- They are unable to understand the cross until they understand sin and get convicted of their sin.
- Animistic practices which are not condoned in Islam, but often done, are sometimes stronger at work in the lives of certain women than a pure belief in official Islam. Belief in the evil eye is bigger than I first imagined.
- For more of my comments go to "Discoveries" page on this blog.

40. Ulla:
Have you ever felt like quitting, Joy? Sometimes I feel like giving up.

Many times actually, Ulla.  The temptation usually comes when I'm very tired of taking initiative or when I've had to walk through too many appointment cancellations in a row.  Also when I've sensed that a church isn't able to understand how laborious and lonely Muslim evangelism(among women) can be.  When Ed was working full time as a mechanic for 14 years and I worked mostly alone in this ministry I often wanted to quit.  It makes a huge difference for both Ed and me to be in this ministry together now.  I also wanted to quit when I got sick with hepatitis. That's not a good time to make such a big decision.

41. Janet:
You have been reaching out to Muslim women for 32 years now. If there was one thing you could do over what would it be?

Probably the first thing would be to give more attention and priority to Muslim children when visiting in homes.  The second generation is already somewhat removed from Islam.  Secondly, I'd not take so long to tell Muslims what I do when they ask me.  I'd be more direct and clear about that.  The other two things would be to be more bold in exercising spiritual authority when praying for their needs. And I'd not take being cut off in relationships(rejection)so personally but commit them to God to complete His purposes.

42. Ruth Anne:
What advice would you like to give us who are getting involved with Muslim women?

Most of us don't have a problem talking about cultural things like recipes, child-raising, values, fashions, etc. - it's learning to share Jesus in word and deed that is more difficult.  Don't be afraid or shy to talk about eternal soul issues and the Good News.

43. Ellen:
What do you think the best and most effective way to reach Muslim women in the West will look like from now on?

I believe it will be a grassroots movement where Christian women will have their own individual Muslim contact at work, school, neighborhood, etc.  What I do full time probably won't happen with many.  I believe that this movement has started and is gaining momentum. At least I pick that up from letters to me and conversations on my travels.  But this grassroots movement needs to have coaches and mentors to help encourage and equip all these individual Christian women.  It probably won't be coming from within a local church or a pastor or missions committee, though it would be both wonderful and ideal if it would! A number of letters I receive reveal that God is raising up women coaches in USA, Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand. A new day has come. Yes!! It's not organized or structured but it's happening.

44. Louisa:
You reach out to Muslim female university students, refugees/newcomers and professionally skilled citizens.  Whom do you consider the easiest to reach - the hardest?

Some are hard to reach and some easier in all of these groups, but from my personal experience I have found Muslim university students are the easiest and most responsive but also difficult in that they are very busy people.  The easiest to have access to and the easiest to show love to are the refugee/newcomers but from my  experience they are the least responsive to the message of the cross; probably because they have so many adjustments to make - an overload of new information. As I have talked to hundreds of Christian women now across the nation I have observed that we tend to first pour most of our energies into reaching refugees/newcomers, secondly students and last of all professionally skilled Muslim citizens like doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, etc. I would like to see us reach all three groups equally.