The Chinese church is central to fulfilling God’s purposes to rescue the Muslims of China. The Chinese church, similar to Christian’s around the world, must overcome their fear and ethnocentrism in order to bring the love of Christ to the Hui, Dongxiang, and Salar. Cross-cultural training is vital for getting the gospel to all the Muslims of China. In a recent cross cultural training, the teacher gave the students an assignment to interact and share the gospel with Muslims. One of the leaders of a large house church wrote of his first experience trying to share the gospel with Muslims:
On that day, I entered into a halal restaurant near where I lived. The restaurant is small with only about ten tables inside. Because it was not lunchtime, there were few people eating. I chose a table near the counter and ordered a mutton dish with three salty meat pies. I observed on the wall two pictures, one was verses from the Koran, and the other is a picture of the place where Muslims make the pilgrimage to in Mecca. The place where I was sitting was right under the Koran verses. Soon a forty-something year old waitress delivered the lamb flavored meat pies. While eating I was able to share with the nearby counter staff.
Me: Your restaurant’s mutton dish tastes really good. The meat pies are also good.
Waitress: Yeah yeah. Thanks. We have lots of repeat customers.
Me: Are you a local from here or are you from Gansu?
Waitress: We’re not from Gansu, but we’re also not local, but we are Northeasterners.
Me: Oh, you are originally from the Northeast. Are you followers of Islam?
Waitress: That’s right. The few workers in our restaurant all are.
Me: I heard that Muslims from birth are dedicated to Allah by their parents to become Muslims, is that right?
Waitress: Yes, just as with me. I was from birth a Muslim.
Me: Oh, northeastern Muslims are not too many. In Gansu there are especially a lot.
Waitress: Yes, here in the Northeast just a few, over in Gansu everyone believes in Islam.
Me: I’m interested in Islamic culture. I’ve read some of the Islamic scripture, the Qur’an, but don’t understand it.
Waitress: Really? That’s wonderful. There’s an annotated version of the Qur’an that makes it somewhat easier to understand.
Me: Huh! the Qur’an also has an annotated version. Do you regularly read the Qur’an?
Waitress: We often look at it.
Me: Now do you understand it?
Waitress: In reality, we also don’t understand it, we just look at it, we don’t know its meaning.
Me: So do you go to the mosque to worship?
Waitress: We opened this restaurant and are pretty busy, so we’ve never gone.
Me: I’ve read one of you other Scriptures, the Bible, have you seen it?
Waitress: I’ve heard of it, but not seen it.
Me: I downloaded it onto my phone. I often read it. This is the Injil . . . this is the Torah.
Waitress: Oh, Android phones can download the Bible? I’ve never seen it.
Me: My understanding is that the Qur’an mentions the Bible. Do you believe the Qur’an but not the Bible?
I opened my Bible app to the “What does the Qur’an say about the Bible” page, and I let the waitress look at the verses from the Qur’am.
So if you are in doubt, [O Muhammad], about that which we have revealed to you, then ask those who have been reading the Scripture before you. The truth has certainly come to you from your Lord, so never be among the doubters.
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel (Injeel), in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. And let the People of the Gospel (Injeel) judge by what Allah has revealed therein (in the Injeel). And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed (in the Scriptures) – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.
It is not for a human [prophet] that Allah should give him the Scripture and authority and prophethood and then he would say to the people, “Be servants to me rather than Allah ,” but [instead, he would say], “Be pious scholars of the Lord because of what you have taught of the Scripture and because of what you have studied.”
Me: Look at this. The Qur’an teaches that Muslims should believe the Bible and recite the Bible.
Waitress: Yes it does.
Me: When you have time you can also download the Bible and look at it.
Because the restaurant was continually having people come in to eat, the waitress had to leave the counter to take orders and deliver food, so our conversation ended. When I finished eating and needed to pay the bill, the waitress came over again.
Me: Waitress! Check please.
Waitress: One mutton dish and three meat pies, that will be fifteen yuan.
Me: (Taking the money out of my wallet) Thanks. Today, I enjoyed talking with you about Islamic culture. I live nearby here, and hope to have time again to ask you more and understand Islamic culture.
Waitress: Ha ha. Yes, we welcome you to come back often.
Me: I also hope you’ll download the Bible to take a look.
Waitress: Ha ha, good. (Implying that she will)
Even though this time of communication was short, it gave me a lot of courage and enlightenment. Before, I had never gone to a halal restaurant to eat. The first reason is that I thought Muslims were terrible and frightening. Thinking about Muslims causes me to think about 911 and the car attacks in the Middle East, etc.
Secondly, I had some theological prejudice; I thought eating at a Muslim restaurant was an idolatrous action. Those of us who are spiritual Christians should not go to those places. These thoughts and expressions were an egocentric attitude, making it so that I had never had contact with Muslims.
Through studying cross-cultural evangelism, God adjusted my attitude and allowed me to see God’s love revealed to the world is through us entering into their midst, becoming their friend, and not keeping away from them. Through this time of study and this experience, I saw the ignorance and need of Muslim followers. They and us alike need Jesus Christ. Their hearts need to be opened. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to break through. We need to ask God to give us more wisdom and courage. We need to be a friend to Muslims and introduce the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ to them.
Please pray not only for this house church leader, but for the many others in Chinese churches who need to have attitude transformations. Pray for the people of your own church as well.