Face the Facts But Dont Fuel the Fear
25 January 2013
We are being presented with an unprecedented opportunity to reach out in love to the thousands of Muslim people who are now living amongst us across Europe.
Almost 7 years ago, the seeds were planted for what has now become a national network to reach these precious Muslims. What began in Oxford as a weekly early morning cross-church prayer meeting for those with a passion to reach Muslims, has now become a cross-denominational ministry called “Mahabba” (meaning “Love” in Arabic). Mahabba groups have already begun in about 16 cities in the UK, with the support of CRIB (Christian Response to Islam in Britain) and the Evangelical Alliance/Global Connections and some have already started in Belgium, France and the States!
In Oxford, after 2 years of weekly prayer, the ministry saw Muslims start coming to Christ, the planting of an Iranian fellowship, and the training of over 400 ordinary Christians to reach Muslims. A converted Mullah, who had been trained in Sharia law in Cairo, joined the team, as did other missionaries from the Muslim world, and slowly a dynamic team emerged. Out of this strong prayer base, other activities were launched: prayer walking the Muslim parts of the city, a book table at the centre of town, Jesus film distribution to all Muslim homes, the development of a 6 Session DVD “Friendship First” training Course, reaching asylum seekers, a “Move-in” strategy to encourage Christians to live right in the heart of Muslim neighbourhoods, new believers gatherings, summer outreaches to Muslim visitors and students, gatherings each term of young students called to the Muslim world, and plans to open a centre for Healing in the name of Jesus with the backing of the Imam (to name a few!). This was a totally prayer-based relational network, involving many of the local Oxford churches. In 2009, we connected with Al Massira (‘The Journey’: a 13 week Alpha-Style DVD course in Arabic and English to walk with Muslims on their journey to believe in Jesus as saviour.)
Mahabba, whilst not being an Agency, has proved to be a God-given catalyst in the networking together of agency experts and church leaders towards mobilising ordinary Christians to love their Muslim neighbours. The Mahabba Network is becoming a significant catalyst at this time, as more Muslims are now turning to the Christian faith than at any time in history - both in UK and Worldwide.
Sadly in the UK, too many Christians are focusing on the effects of Islamization and on the plight of the persecuted church, and are therefore responding with fear, alienating themselves from this face to face friendship with Muslim people. Mahabba encourages Christians everywhere to “face the facts, but not fuel the fear”. The Mahabba approach will help Church Leaders to motivate and mobilise thousands of ordinary Christians to reach Muslims for Christ, and to mentor and multiply dynamic communities of disciples in Islamic neighbourhoods. We help Church Leaders train ordinary members of churches to be able to relate to Muslims in love and be able to explain the gospel clearly.
So how can a Mahabba Network help members of the Gather Network?
Mahabba is able to help networks of Churches, who intentionally and regularly gather in united Prayer, and who are seeking God to unveil Jesus to their Muslim friends. Mahabba’s role in encouraging new prayer-based, locally initiated networks will typically include some of the following aspects:
Catalysing the Vision and Prayer: We’ll meet with local groups of believers and any agency people who have already started to pray together and are beginning to reach out to their Muslim friends and who may want to work with Mahabba’s vision. We will seek to give them initial advice and help them communicate the Mahabba vision locally.
Connecting with Churches: We will then seek to connect with local church leaders who are meeting together in unity and prayer. Church Leaders do not need to be experts on Islam themselves, but we believe that they are the best people to motivate and mobilise their congregations. The Gather network makes this so much easier!
Starting a Prayer Movement: Once championed by Church Leaders, many more ordinary believers will be encouraged to get involved in the weekly Mahabba prayer meeting. Everything is fuelled and directed from this core of persistent united prayer, and is carried forward through this network of Christians.
Training and Equipping: We encourage every believer to do the “Friendship First” Course, which will empower them with simple tools and understanding about how to unveil Jesus to their Muslim friends and neighbours.
Building the Local Network: Mahabba is all about building strong networks of Christians across the local churches, which challenge, enthuse, and support ordinary Christians in engaging with their Muslim neighbours.
Using the website: We strongly encourage people to make use of the secure Mahabba website (www.mahabbanetwork.com), with its topical Forums, and shared resources. Through this website, they will be linked to a multitude of other people in the national Mahabba network.
Discipleship and Church Planting: As Muslim people come to believe in and follow Jesus, Mahabba are then able to advise the local Church Leaders, and the local Mahabba network, about how to mentor these believers, with a view to them being able to multiply within their own communities. We are developing and collecting resources to empower Churches. Some believers will be most effective remaining within their own culture and context, provided they have a strong relational network to mentor and support them.
Contact us: www.mahabba.co.uk / firstname.lastname@example.org