At a conference of some 80 former Muslims I asked the question: How many of you have been impacted by a specific verse? About 20 hands went up. A Pakistani woman in a colorful sari who was sitting in the front row stood up, turned around and with a gleaming face and passionate voice she recited: “God so loved the World….”  I can never forget the glee on all faces. She touched a cord in the hearts of many.

When I first heard the gospel, it was God’s love that drew me in. The man who witnessed to me assured me: “Georges, if you were the only one on earth Jesus would have come down from heaven to die on the cross to save you.”  These words blew me away. They rang in my ears for years to come. When a preacher came to town and explained the cross, I was under such conviction that I was sweating like someone who had just walked out of a steam room. It was God’s love, the compassionate heart of Jesus that put me under such “hot” conviction. That night I surrendered to God and accepted Christ as my loving savior.

For several years now, I have been asking CMBs to fill out a survey which included this question: What are factors that have led you to come to Christ? There were a variety of answers. Most importantly two: 60% said it all started with a dream or vision. But more amazingly, all those who filled out the survey wrote: “It was someone reaching out to me with love.”

A typical comment international students including Muslims make when they come to our weekly activities is this: There is so much love here.

Some years ago I accepted to debate an Imam in Denver. He won the coin toss to go first. For 45 minutes he launched an attack on the Bible, Christians and Christianity. When my turn came, the atmosphere was electric. More that 600 Muslims in attendance  were glued to me when I stood up to speak. I can tell that they expected me to launch a counter attack. And as you may expect they were all ready to boo me as I have seen them do on some other occasions.

No! I was not going to give in to that. I told them that as a young man, I was trained in the “Christian Militia” to kill Muslims. At one time I hated Muslims with a passion for all they have done to me and my country. Then I narrated stories of the war I lived through in Lebanon for several years. I told them how my house was destroyed and after rebuilding it several times it was bombed again and again.
If you were in the audience, would you have thought about anything the Imam said? I was talking about real issues of life and death generated by hate.

The stage was set for me to speak about the Love that overwhelmed me when I realized God’s great love and compassion toward me. While I was giving my testimony, you could have heard the littlest pin drop. All were attentive. All were curious where I was going with this.

Next was challenging them to look beyond religious differences. I told them that Christianity was no better than Islam. Man-made religion, no matter its name, is corrupt and reflects man’s evil heart. Jesus did not come to establish Christianity on earth. That was not why he left His glory and come down. He certainly did not create religion. Religion is man’s creation. Islam, Christianity or any other religion have been a source of divisiveness, death and destruction. This is not from God. Jesus told us already that these are the work of Satan who is the thief that “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:1)

What Jesus came to do is to rescue us from the grip of Satan. He came to give us forgiveness and new life. (This is not the time to talk now about the church but of course at a certain time they need to know about the church, the community of believers, the flock of Christ the shepherd.)

I was straight forward with them when I explained that what I was about to tell them is humanly difficult for them to swallow. God becoming a man was inconceivable to a human mind. Yet if it is the truth, it is an awesome truth. Just because you do not understand God, does it mean you reject his offer of salvation? Of course I used my full 45 minutes explaining God’s cosmic plan of salvation and that through Jesus there is forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

No doubt my message of love did not satisfy everyone. When my time was up, the moderator opened it up for responses and questions from the floor.

Because I have done this a number of times, I was prepared for what was to come next. Some trouble makers wanted to provoke me. They pointed out that I did not answer the Imam and that I should. I had an entire hour to answer their questions. When a really tough question was thrown at me, I decided to handle it with all the love I could muster. I responded gently and with respect (1 Peter 3:15). I made a decision before hand that I will only speak with love and that meant sometimes not answering their questions fully or dodging it by asking them a more difficult question.  Isn’t this what Jesus did?

This was a two and a half hour encounter with hundreds of Muslims from many nations. It was an opportunity for me not to show them how bad Islam is, how evil Muhammad was or how false the Quran. Rather, it was a unique opportunity to share the love of Christ not only in direct words such as: “Jesus loves you”  Actions speak louder than words.

Some Christians who liked what I did commented: At least no one went away thinking you hate them. Well I would have preferred to hear: Everyone was blown away with your love for them. I guess I still have a long way to go.

Guess what happened next?
The official debate was over, the Imam and I shook hands and he headed home. As for me, I was surrounded by dozens of Arabs who wanted to speak in Arabic. They asked me questions and  I sought the guidance of the Spirit of God to answer them as clearly and lovingly as I could. That lasted for several hours. People are drawn by love and repulsed by hate.

The principle I followed was this:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

No one loves as Jesus did. His great love cost him much suffering and pain and ultimately his temporal life. He loved everyone and had compassion toward all including those he offended.

Interestingly, no Christian worker would admit his or her methods are not loving. We all claim that our approach is true love. The fact is that love has many facets and different expressions. In a future article I will be addressing the various missiological approaches used worldwide and how we can love in different ways. Sometimes what we think is loving is actually hurtful. I will not get to it now except to say that the Bible instructs us to tell the “truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

Brothers and sisters who are reading this blog: Live out the love of Christ. Do not just talk about it. Refrain from judgement of people and personalities. Tell the truth in love. Stick to the issues. Do not return evil for evil. Bless and do not curse.

Love love love.

Georges Houssney was raised in the predominantly Muslim city of Tripoli, Lebanon. He came to faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager. Soon God grew a deep love for Muslims in his heart, and he began to sense God's call for full-time service among them. Well-known for his work supervising the translation and publication of the Bible into clear modern Arabic, Georges and his family moved from the Middle East to the United States in 1982 to minister to international students. Georges is passionate about reaching internationals here and abroad with the great news of salvation. He writes and lectures internationally about ministry to Muslims, and he strives to awaken a new generation who will proclaim the gospel boldly. Georges is founder and director of Horizons International and does Muslim evangelism training through his training Engaging Islam.
Georges Houssney
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11 Responses to Love love love, its all about love.

  1. Karl you are absolutely right. Christianity is not what we promote. Nor do we promote a gospel of Works. Salvation is by Faith in Christ alone. But does faith cancel works? Faith and works go hand in hand always. One is dead without the other. By the same token salvation is by Christ alone but once you are saved you have automatically become a Christian. You cannot have Christianity without Christ and you cannot have Christ without Christianity. Indeed we preach Christ not Christianity. But once a Muslim accepts Christ, he becomes a Christian. The kingdom circles put Christianity and Islam on the same level and the Kingdom includes some of each. Not true. The Kingdom is Christianity though not everyone in it belongs to Christ. Christianity is the name that all Christians are known by and that is not bad. To say that you can follow Christ outside Christianity is to belong to nothing.
    One is either a Muslim or a Christian. There is nothing in between. This is the reality. The Kingdom Circles concept works against the church whom Jesus promised to build. In fact, if a Muslim does not leave the kingdom of Islam, he or she is promoting Islam and demoting Christianity which is the vehicle for God’s grace.
    Let us face it, we Protestants separate ourselves from our other Christian brothers and sisters such as Catholics and other traditional groups yet we belong to them in one big circle, the Holy Catholic (Universal Church.)
    The Kingdom of God is like a field with both weeds and wheat. Jesus explained that his church will be a mixed bag. Some are saved, others are perishing. When the servants offered to remove the weeds, the master objected because he wanted the two to grow together. Matthew 13:24-30

    The line of demarcation is between those who belong to the Kingdom and those outside of it. There is no Church and Kingdom. The church is the kingdom. The kingdom of God is the Kingdom of Heaven is the Church. Can you put the word Church in place of he word Kingdom in the circles? It would obviously be wrong.

    The Insider Movement has an erroneous view of the Kingdom of God and a low view of the the church.

  2. Karl,

    The main problem with the “kingdom circles” chart is that the circle representing Islam overlaps with the “kingdom of God”.

    Kingdom Circles

    However, the labels themselves are also problematic, and represent skewed definitions. I would relabel the chart as follows:

    1. “Christianity” should be relabeled “Religious Christianity”

    2. “Islam” is a fine label for a circle that does not overlap with the kingdom of God, if the definition of “Muslim” is “one whose creed is: ‘There is no God but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ ” (The Shahada, which is the Muslim statement of belief)

    3. “Kingdom of God” should be relabeled “True Christianity: The Kingdom of God”

    I’m sure we all can agree that not everybody who calls themselves a Christian truly knows Christ. Such a person is not a true Christian, but a false Christian, and not part of the “Kingdom of God”. Conversely, anyone who truly knows Christ IS a true Christian. There is definitely overlap between religious Christianity and true Christianity, although only God knows how much.

    However, circles 2 and 3 are simply mutually exclusive. Muhammad was a false prophet, and therefore belief in the god that sent him is belief in a false god. Yes, that’s true even if one believes that Jesus was a prophet of that god.

    I am not saying that nobody who calls himself a Muslim is saved, or in Christ. Rather I am saying that anyone who is in Christ is not truly a Muslim. The vast majority of Muslims over 10 years old could tell you that if you believe that Jesus, the Son of God died on the cross for the sins of the world, you have contradicted Muhammad and the Qur’an, and are therefore not a Muslim, even if you call yourself a Muslim.
    This obvious truth has only been obscured and twisted by western missiologists, who redefine “Muslim” and attempt to reinterpret the Qur’an into agreement with the Bible.

  3. Karl says:

    Georges, I know you don’t agree with the Common Ground approach, as this website makes clear. But when you say,
    “I told them that Christianity was no better than Islam. Man-made religion, no matter its name, is corrupt and reflects man’s evil heart. Jesus did not come to establish Christianity on earth,” you are trying to get past the common misconceptions Muslims have and get to Jesus! That is exactly what the “Kingdom Circles” diagram tries to do, and in pretty much the same way you did it. They do take it a little farther and it ends up implying one can be in the Kingdom and remain a Muslim, which I think can be misleading. But your starting point is the same: joining the Christian religion in the cultural sense does not make one a true Christian!

    We have to lead people to Christ, and that is what you are doing. As one pastor from a Muslim background shared with me, “Don’t try to take the bone from a dog. Give him meat.”

  4. No Carl, I am as far from the thinking of Common Ground as you can imagine. Read my next post and you will know what I mean by loving Muslims. All ministries claim that they love Muslims. But we need to love the way Jesus loved. Read the new post coming soon. Thank you for your participation.

  5. Karl,

    Which Jesus do you ask them to follow, the Jesus revealed in Scripture or the jesus in the Qur’an?

  6. Karl says:

    Great article! Thank you. I have to comment on this paragraph though:
    Next was challenging them to look beyond religious differences. I told them that Christianity was no better than Islam. Man-made religion, no matter its name, is corrupt and reflects man’s evil heart. Jesus did not come to establish Christianity on earth. That was not why he left His glory and come down. He certainly did not create religion. Religion is man’s creation. Islam, Christianity or any other religion have been a source of divisiveness, death and destruction. This is not from God. Jesus told us already that these are the work of Satan who is the thief that “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” Jesus came that we may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:1)

    I’ve been to the Common Ground (Insider) training and you are basically summarizing here the “Kingdom Circles” presentation which was mentioned in the Carl Medearis interview (Q#2). The religious system of Christianity includes many who are not true followers of Jesus. We don’t ask Muslims to become Christians in the general sense, but actually invite them to follow Jesus right where they are.

  7. Now you’re talking, Georges! As for our brother in Pakistan…even in the face of persecution, Christ loved and that is what he commands from us as well. No, we from Christian backgrounds or the West can never know the pain you face daily in living for Christ, and yet, I believe that I believe at as we live “as” Christ and not simply “for” him, He will give us the strength to endure and even be able to show love to those who hate us. May the Lord give you strength and grace in your journey. We all need to strive to be more like Jesus. Thank you again, Georges, for going back to the heart of the issue–we must love as Jesus loved us. Strategies come and go, but His love remains.

  8. ryan says:

    Excellent post. Thank you for sharing. Now we can try to live it!

  9. Abdul Asad says:

    Thank you Georges! I am with you on this all the way brother.

  10. Najum says:

    Dear Brother in Christ,blessings from Pakistan.
    I read the whole article carefully is good but only when one is white man or American.we too follow the same teachings of Jesus Christ Love love & Love,but I wounder if you were born black(brown skin) and born and grown up in Pakistan then might you were able to understand christian life living among other majority faith but condition is one must be born Pakistani christian to know the difference of hater and love.
    John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

  11. Georges, now there’s something we can agree on 100%. Well said!

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