Palestinian Muslims Coming to Christ, Story #6

This excerpt from my dissertation is the conversion-story summary of Respondent Six, a male from Nablus. Feel free to interact in the comments or download my dissertation as a free PDF!

The following is ©2014 University of Pretoria and Craig Dunning, and if used elsewhere, should be cited as:

Dunning, CA (2014) Palestinian Muslims converting to Christianity: effective evangelistic methods in the West Bank. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria, PhD thesis, pp. 320-322.

Respondent Six – male – Nablus

Respondent Six’s conversion was closely connected to the conversion of his parents, Respondent Four and Respondent Five. His first encounter with the gospel was the result of his parents inviting some Christian men to their home in order to solicit some medical assistance for the respondent’s sister. Over time the men discussed their Christian faith with the respondent’s family and provided him the Jesus Film and the book Glad News! God Loves You My Muslim Friend.

Initially the respondent was unhappy about the meetings with the Christian men, which began when he was about fifteen-years-old. He had two main issues with the visits. First, though not overly religious, he considered himself a faithful Muslim, and he was not interested in becoming a Christian or even hearing about Christians. He was satisfied with being a Muslim. Second, he feared that word may spread that Christians were coming to their home regularly, which might result in some type of retaliation or punishment form the community. The last thing he wanted was for his family to be branded as traitors to Islam.

The respondent said that in spite of his anger about the meetings and lack of desire to hear about Christianity, he also felt drawn to sit with his parents as they met with the Christian men. At the time of his interview, the respondent still was not sure if this desire was the result of actually wanting to know more, though unwittingly, or if he simply desired to protect his family. At one point, he warned them that they were going to turn into monkeys if they continued meeting and praying with the Christians. The longer the Christian men continued to visit, the more he did not want them to visit, and, ironically, the more he wanted to sit with them.

After a few months, he began to secretly watch the Jesus Film. He had received an Arabic version of the film, which was very important for him to be able to understand the dialogue. He had several months of internal struggle, being moved by the life of Jesus and how he was mistreated and punished while at the same time feeling guilty for thinking about Christianity. In fact, he said he regularly asked Allah to forgive him for sitting with the Christian men. While he was drawn to the message of the Jesus film, he also was afraid he would be kidnapped and tortured as Allah’s punishment for his interest in the film. The idea of becoming a Christian was repulsive and frightening, yet each time he watched the film he felt more drawn toward Jesus.

The respondent’s conversion came about in stages. At times he felt drawn toward Jesus, which usually occurred while watching the Jesus Film or after certain visits from the Christian men. At other times the respondent felt shame and remorse for watching the film or asking questions of the men, so he moved alternately closer and farther from Jesus from week to week.

Though it was often upsetting to meet with the Christian men, he now sees how important it was because from the outset they gave a good first impression, and they continued to do so. “They acted like believers by being kind and patient even when I spoke harshly to them,” the respondent said. He sensed a genuine love for his family from these men, and “not because they were trying to convert us.” The Christian men built a relationship with the family that did not fade when the respondent insulted them or his father forbid them to return.

During their visits, the Christian men did not seem to have an organized plan, other than to be patient and show Christ any way they could. Sometimes, they taught something about Jesus from the Gospels. Alternatively, they might simply answer questions about Christianity, or compare the Qur’an with the Bible. Whatever the situation dictated, the men were flexible and faithful in showing patience and love. The respondent also noted that the Christian men were very familiar with the Qur’an and Islamic teaching and culture, which suggested they were not outsiders from a distant land who had come to change the people’s religion.

As a result of the home meetings, the respondent was invited to meet some MBB young people (teens to early twenties) to play basketball and volleyball. He assumed these young people would be social misfits and unhappy because they were living outside the parameters of Islam. But, to his surprise, they seemed normal and happy. After a few meetings he became friends with a couple of the guys and began talking to them on the phone every few days.

A turning point came in his journey toward conversion when his friends invited him to a MBB conference. Afraid that his parents would not approve, he only told them that he was going to visit his friends. He said, “At the conference, everything seemed to come together. My fears were taken away and I became convinced of what I had been learning while listening to the Christian men who were visiting our home. The testimonies that I heard at the conference were similar to what I felt and saw in the Jesus Film. I didn’t say the sinner’s prayer, but I was definitely a believer in Jesus,” he concluded.

Themes that emerged in this interview: Formal Bible studies, being “drawn/compelled,” being “moved,” Q and A, the Qur’an vs. the Bible, evangelists familiar with Islam/Qur’an, the kindness of Christians, prayer, retreats/conferences/special events, Group/Family conversion, the Jesus Film, Christian literature, meeting Christians/MBBs, the “sinner’s prayer,” pastoral/evangelistic visits, satisfaction with Islam, fear or shame as a barrier to the gospel, and negative assumptions about Christians/MBBs.

NEXT: Palestinian Muslims Coming to Christ: Story #7

Download my dissertation as a free PDF!



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