Sharing the gospel with Arabic-speakers in a UK city

J works in a large UK city, building relationships and seeking opportunities to share the gospel with Arabic-speaking newcomers to the city.

When working with Arabic-speakers and those from other faiths, it is always striking to see how much they know – and how much they miss. Some are very familiar with the stories of the prophets in the Old Testament. However, they usually have not followed the pattern of God promising a rescuer into the New Testament and miss Jesus the rescuer in the gospels. I have been using a course called Al Massira which means ‘the journey’. The course is designed to be an open place to walk with the prophets, read and understand their prophecies and ultimately meet the Messiah.

Al Massira starts with the story of Adam and Eve and explores how their actions result in a breakdown of their relationship with God. Yet we see how God graciously promises a rescuer of humanity, who will restore our relationship with him and crush the power of evil and death. Al Massira then works though the prophets of the Old Testament asking whether each one could be the promised rescuer. Time and time again, we examine whether this prophet is the one – but each time, he is not enough to rescue the whole world, just the people at that point in time. Each prophet acts as a signpost, pointing us to the one to come.

We also follow the theme of the need for a perfect sacrifice or offering in the story of Cain and Abel, the Passover lamb in the Exodus and God’s provision of a ram for Abraham to sacrifice instead of his only son Isaac. We discover how these sacrifices are forerunners or shadows of what is to come when God sends his Son to be the perfect sacrifice. As we consider these patterns from familiar stories, the prayer is that Al Massira participants begin to see how it all fits together to point us to Jesus Christ.

In some Arabic religions, prophets are considered to be perfect messengers, so the failures of Noah, Moses and David (among others!) present a real challenge for them. This often opens up discussions about the need for a perfect messenger from God who never sinned, and which figure in the Bible this could be. I often point out that Christians consider Jesus to be a prophet (Luke 24:19), but more than a mere human prophet. We look at how Noah, Moses, Elijah and David point to Jesus and how he stands apart from them.

Surprisingly, some of the obstacles about Jesus in Arabic religions can be overcome by asking Arabic-speakers what they believe about his conception. They also claim that the Spirit of God came upon Mary and she conceived a Son. However, the death of Jesus on the cross continues to be a major stumbling block and barrier to belief. They cannot understand why the perfect messenger from God would have to give up his life and die. Even though they have come to understand that a blood sacrifice is required to restore humanity’s relationship with God, they cannot grasp why God would expect this of anyone, least of all his Son.

I long to see these souls won for Christ and believe the prophets who point to God’s gracious provision of his Son for their sins and the life he offers. Join me in praying that Al Massira would continue to lift the veil over their blind eyes so they can clearly understand and believe what they only see in part.