Discipling a new Muslim background believer

June 4, 2018

Hopefully you have been following this series from the beginning (insert link here). If so, then you have been praying for Muslims, found a way to intentionally build redemptive relationships, and hopefully have seen someone come to faith in Christ. Now what? Even if you are just getting started in this ministry, it is not too early to start preparing for making a disciple.

Honestly, when I first thought of writing in 800 words how to disciple a new believer from a different world view and possibly speaking a completely different language, I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry. Then I thought about writing the word “time” 800 times. Just spend time with them. Let them see your family in action. Pray with them. Allow them to walk with you as you forgive others for hurting you and as you ask the Lord for forgiveness. Take them along as you do an act of kindness, share the gospel with a lost person, or worship Jesus with others. Discipleship is not an event, it is a lifestyle.

But, with that said, there are some “events” that you can use to help a new believer grow in Christ. Here are a few for you to consider: 

Start making a disciple even before they make a decision
The discipleship process begins the moment you begin introducing someone to God and his Word. In the last blog post, we talked about opening the Bible with a friend. Showing that the basis of your faith is the Word of God is an essential first step in making a good disciple. (By the way, if you are having trouble finding one in the language your Muslim friend is most comfortable using, the Gideon Bible app has Bibles in many of the languages Muslims speak, including Arabic, Urdu, Turkish and English—and it is free.)

Other aspects of disciple-making will be demonstrated by your obedience to share and pray, as Christ commanded. As you answer questions and share stories, you are making a disciple. After your friend becomes a follower of Christ, be sure to refer back to these important disciplines.

Teach them the basics
Some people like to create their own material. My suggestion for you would be to make a list of what you think a new believer needs to know. Many such lists are out there, usually based on Acts 2:37-47, and they generally include: Bible study, fellowship, worship, ministry and evangelism. Other lists include stewardship, missions, prayer, preparing for persecution, and the ordinances of the church (baptism and Lord’s supper.) Once you know what you want to cover, develop Bible studies that cover the basics of what it means to follow Jesus.

For those who prefer not to reinvent the wheel, a great tool is the Seven Commands of Christ, developed by George Patterson. This will take you to videos presented at Southeastern.

With your studies ready, ask the new believer if they know anyone else who would like to hear about following Jesus. If possible, let them pick a time and a place where their friends and family can come and hear stories from God’s Word. This way, you are helping them learn to share and make disciples at the same time. This is a good step to take even before they believe—hearing the gospel in groups can make it easier to form a group of new believers once people start following Jesus.

Get them involved in a local church
We often assume that the church that is a good fit for us would be a good fit for everyone. At least consider the possibility that your church might not be the right place to begin. Language is one factor to consider. Another is acceptance–how will your congregation react to a former Muslim? My prayer is that they would be warm and accepting, but if you already know that they will not be, consider finding a congregation that will. Also, if you are able to help them start a new congregation based on the group that is gathering together for discipleship lessons, you could be helping to plan church multiplication into their spiritual DNA right from the beginning!

Be available when they encounter difficulties.

Accepting Christ does not make all of our problems go away, but it does introduce us to the One who can help us face our difficulties. But knowing how to apply God’s grace to a given situation does not always come naturally. Being there for your friend when they are kicked out of their home or face persecution, or are simply confused about the meaning of a word in the Bible or don’t know the right way to share the gospel with their children, will be a tremendous blessing for them as they grow in Christ. And you will also be blessed!

Obviously, these few blog posts are just a start. Keep learning and, more importantly, keep listening to the Lord as he leads you to walk with and guide your Muslim friends into a right relationship with Himself.

by Brad Roderick  
/  Chairman of Missions Department  /  Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary

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