By Jonathan Akin
While I pastored, my church worked internationally among a Muslim people group in Central Asia. During training for short term mission trips, we required our members to read Thabiti Anyabwile’s book The Gospel for Muslims to prepare them to share their faith in a Muslim context.
I love that book for many reasons—one being that it is short and easy to read. But, the main reason I love that book is that the thesis is basically: the best way to share the gospel with Muslims is to share the gospel with Muslims. It’s that simple! Just have confidence in the gospel! The book is a call to have gospel conversations with Muslims, but to do so with confidence that sharing Christ—sharing the simple gospel—is powerful enough to change anyone’s life.
My favorite page in the book doesn’t even have a page number. It’s the dedication page at the front. Thabiti is a former Muslim, and he dedicates the book to a series of people that the Lord used to bring him to faith in Jesus Christ.
The first dedication is not only powerful, it’s an incredible motivation to share our faith. He writes, “To a faithful street preacher whose name I do not know, who heard all of my anti-Christian arguments and responded with gospel clarity and love.” Here is a Christian man who had multiple gospel conversations with a young Muslim man who seemed hostile to Christ, and to that Christian’s knowledge, the young Muslim walked away without ever putting his faith in Christ. That faithful preacher will not know until glory that the young Muslim man he shared the gospel with not only became a believer, but he became a gospel preacher leading others to faith in Christ!
Thabiti goes on to thank others who prayed for him and shared with him, and he ends with the most glorious dedication of all, “And to the Lord of Glory, who used all these human vessels to tell me the good news of His love…”
That’s why I love the book, and that’s why I required the members we sent to read it. I knew they were going into a very difficult context, and I knew that they may not see immediate results from their gospel conversations. So, I wanted to encourage them that the Lord uses every gospel conversation, and you never knew which one might be the one that ultimately leads to faith. You may be first in the chain or you may be third, but somewhere down the line, we have no idea how God might use our conversations, so be aggressive, be faithful and most of all, be hopeful!
That’s why I’m so excited about the GC Challenge where we’ve set a hopeful goal of 1 million gospel conversations by the churches in North America before June 2018. If we, the tens of thousands of churches and millions of members, will just open our mouths and share the simple gospel, who knows how the Lord might use it? Perhaps this year there will be many, many more like Thabiti who will pray this prayer of thanks, “to the Lord of Glory, who used all these human vessels to tell me the good news of His love!”
Jonathan Akin is director of Young Leader Engagement at the North American Mission Board.
Published October 16, 2017