In his testimony, Jewish background believer Bob Siegel shares his experience of leaving his old faith and way of life to become a Christian. As for Muslims, becoming a Christian from a Jewish background was a huge change of not only faith, but culture and family for Bob.
Bob shares that a big influence on him was the Holy Spirit. He sensed the Holy Spirit through the lives of Christians he knew, and he knew that they had something special. Later, as he opened his heart to the message of Christ, he was flooded with a sense of peace and truth by the Holy Spirit in what might be called a “natural miracle.”
Guest Rev. Georges Houssney and Dr. Cynthia discuss especially common occultic practices with Muslims and former Muslim Christians. Since the Bible renounces such practices, they comment on ways to recognize and combat them.
Although pure Islam is against occultic practices, superstitions, amulets, spells, reading of coffee grounds, and astrology are a common in most Islamic cultures. Sometimes this is called, “Folk Islam,” but it is more than just the common folk that follow these. Thus, sooner or later a Christian working with Muslims or a Muslim background believer will need to confront these practices.
Even verses of the Qur’an can be used as a talisman by Muslims. For example, they can be worn in a necklace or inscribed on a surface for protection. Most schools of Islamic thought reject using the Qur’an as an amulet. However, since the words of the Koran in Arabic are felt to have power and gain credit for the speaker at the Day of Judgment, we can see how Muslims could fall into this trap.
Dr. Nabeel Qureshi shares with us his spiritual journey, and decision to follow Jesus from a Muslim background. Nabeel came from a very loving and spiritual family. His parents came to America as missionaries to bring what they believed was the truth of Islam to Americans. Nabeel was 100% sure Islam was correct. But during his university years a good friend began to challenge him about the truth of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, as well as unpleasant details about Islamic history and laws.
As Nabeel grew closer to the truth, the cost of believing it began to dawn on him. If he crossed over to Christianity from Islam, he would deeply hurt and risk loosing his precious family. God confirmed the truth to him with dreams, but also challenged him through his word. He read in Matthew 10:37-39 that whoever loves his family more than Jesus is not worthy of him, and that to truly follow Jesus we loose our life for his sake – but will end up actually finding it. This is what Nabeel did. (You can read more of Nabeel’s story in his book “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus” available at Amazon.
A Christian co-worker shared an opinion with Dr. Cynthia in the case of a Muslim student. Since this student came to America partly to learn about Christianity and met Dr. C 10 days later, he said, “You are that person’s miracle!”
Acts 17:26,27 tells us that God moves people around so that they can have experiences which will lead them closer to him. We see this happening now with the obvious migration of people groups from restricted nations into the West, where they have greater opportunities to hear the gospel. Both this sort of “natural” intervention of God, as well as more glamorous supernatural manifestations, are all “miracles” through which God draws us to himself.
As a young girl Huda received a Bible from a friend. She hid it because she was afraid for her parents to see it, because she was not even allowed to touch the Bible. If she had been allowed to learn about the Bible she would have become a Christian long before. After studying religions as an adult in the free world, she says is very clear that Jesus is the one Son of God. However, she was not given the ability to choose what religion she wanted to follow until she moved out of the Middle East.
Each letter of the Qur’an is believed to have power. Reciting the Qur’an in Arabic is like an incantation. Whether a literal spell or not, the power of the Qur’an keeps people’s minds in a box so that they can not think about other faiths or even question their own.
In Matthew 16:4 Jesus told the religious leaders who demanded a miracle from him that “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign.” When does this passage come into play, and is it wrong to ask for a miracle? Bob Siegel tells us it has a lot to do with the attitude of those asking for the miracle.
Dr. Cynthia explains that growth takes time. As with a child, it takes time for a new believer to become strong: knowing the Word of God, being able to withstand temptation, and reflecting Christ in their every day life. So, the episodes of the TV series these videos are based on were filmed over years of the life of new believer Huda.
Huda explains to us in this clip her reasons for joining this project.
Huda had only been a believer for six weeks when we began filming this show, and she agreed to put the reality of her life on camera. It is amazing that a former Muslim would make himself or herself available to face the world openly with their new identity, let alone appear humbly as a learner of the new ways of following Jesus.
Huda says that she looks forward to learning things about Jesus and the Bible that were kept from her during her youth and early adulthood in the Middle East. She is also happy to share them with Muslims who might be going through the same process she did of questioning Islam and coming into the light of Christ.
Professor Scot formerly taught mathematics at a university in Pakistan, before he was chased out by radical Islamic elements who were openly trying to kill him.
Daniel Scot has been active in discipling new believers from Muslim and Christian backgrounds. In this clip he shares with us an acronym about growing as a Christian, based on Ephesians 4:11-13 and John 14:16, as follows:
G – Grace
R – Read
O – Obey
T – Teachable spirit
H – Holy Spirit
From her side, Dr. Cynthia shares with us the goals she has for Huda as her disciple – and for any disciple from a Muslim background. Although they are mostly the same as for any believer, since former Muslims are often put on the spot early on to defend their faith, the process and goals are thus a little different.
Dr. Cynthia’s goals for discipling a former Muslim are:
- to have a Solid Understanding and basis in her faith
- to develop a strong Personal Walk with God
- to be able to Share and Defend her faith
- to Withstand Trials – persecution, hardship, and ridicule
In contrast to the impact the Qur’an has had on Huda and others, Dr. Cynthia gives us encouragement to read the Bible. Its words comfort us. It is a light to our path. As we allow its words to abide in us we bring forth spiritual fruit.
In this video clip, Dr. Cynthia shares her frustration with what three separate Muslim friends are telling her at the same time, all basically with the same story. They say they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and he saved us by dying on the cross for our sins, that the Bible is the Word of God, and they understand the Trinity. Conversely, they no longer believe Mohammed is a true prophet, do not accept the Qur’an is from God, and no longer believe or follow Islam.
Dr. C does not believe in pushing people to become Christians; however, having heard these statements of faith, she asked these three if that meant they were ready to become Christians. All three told her independently, “I have been hearing and watching on-line the testimonies of Muslims that become Christians, and they all seem to have a dream or a miracle. So, I will wait for a dream or a miracle.”
Dr. C wonders if we have “created a monster” by publicizing the frequency of supernatural dreams and miracles with Muslims who come to Christ. Perhaps we have increased their expectations?
Nabeel Qureshi answers “no,” that God knows what each person needs to come to faith, and that that is what he will give them. Nabeel did receive three miraculous dreams. He believes that his decision was so wrenching that he needed this affirmation to convert. However, he says it is not the same for everyone, and that God will tailor the experiences for each individual.
As a follow-up note, in the years since this clip was originally filmed, two of these three Muslims did become Christians. The third received both a dream and a miracle in answer to specific, detailed prayer requests, but has not become a Christian. (See also the video clip with Georges Houssney called, “The Place of Miracles.”)
Jesus’ most famous sermon is called, The Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon (Matthew 5-7), he uses several teaching techniques to illustrate how to live for God’s kingdom. Rather than focusing on rules and condemnation, the way the religious leaders of his time, as well as the teachings of Islam do, this sermon presents love and challenges inner change.
The Sermon on the Mount itself is a powerful evangelistic tool for Islam. Distributing it, or encouraging Muslims to read it in the Bible, or even quoting a small part of it in the right setting, often opens their eyes to the dramatic difference between Jesus’ teachings and that of Islam, and gives them hunger to know more.
“The Beatitudes,” somewhat poetically phrased blessings, kick off The Sermon on the Mount. One beatitude is “Blessed are the peacemakers.” As an illustration of this, Kevin, a mature Christian, is caught in a reality scene being a peacemaker between arguing neighbors.
Elsewhere in The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used nature, objects, stories, and exaggeration to get people’s attention and help them remember that the Kingdom of God is more important than the physical world.
Huda reminds us that while she was growing up in the Middle East there was much information she was not allowed access to, especially regarding the truth of God. She hopes that all those who have a chance will learn the wonderful things we are discussing in this video project.
Imitating the way Jesus would use the surrounding environment and activities to teach important lessons, Dr. C here gives us lessons from surfing. We get to follow her and Huda in reality to a famous surfing spot in California to watch surfers catch waves, and sometimes loose them.
Notice how first Dr. C talks about how good it feels when we catch a wave in life – either literally or figuratively. We feel like we are sitting on top of the world! But as we watch surfers either loose the wave, or even crash, we are reminded that life is a ride of ups and downs. God is our foundation whether we are doing well, feeling left out as life passes us by, or when the waters sweep over us.
Our attention is also drawn to the tremendous physical effort it takes not only to catch and surf the waves, but also to simply carry a surfboard up and down the rocky cliffs to reach the surfing ground. This reminds Dr. C of I Timothy 4:8. In this verse Paul tells Timothy that although physical exercise is of value, it is of much greater value to put effort into praying, reading the Bible, serving others, and be close to God.
The setting of this clip is a lovely gazebo surrounded by a lake in an urban area. Dr. C and Huda draw analogies from the natural and urban world around them there, in a manner similar to what Jesus did in his teaching style.
It is important to understand the style of teaching Jesus used in order to:
- Fully absorb the point he was making
- Keep from being confused or finding it a stumbling block
- Explain to others who find it confusing or a stumbling block
- Not misinterpret or misapply what he says
- Be able to use similar techniques when we share God’s word with others
To do this his style used various techniques, including to drive home the points he wanted to make:
- Drawing illustrations from the environment surrounding him
- Using common everyday objects and activities
- Telling stories (parables, which we study in detail in the episode, “Jesus’ Parables”
- Using similes and metaphors
- Speaking plainly
- Occasionally speaking poetically (beatitudes)
- Exaggerating (hyperbole)
- Setting an example with his life
We see Jesus speaking plainly about things prayer, money, and forgiveness (Matthew 6:5,6,19,20 & 18:21,22). He also clearly prophesied his own death (Matthew 16:21), the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and the end times (Matthew 24). Jesus’ life is perhaps his teaching example (John 13:12, Mark 10:43-45.
We open this clip with Huda catching Dr. Cynthia’s attention by the pool where she is distracted typing. In our electronic age, flashy things grab our attention; but such things did not exist in Jesus’ day. He had to get attention by other means. One was miracles. Another was through his special teaching style.
The purposes of Jesus teaching were to: draw a crowd, keep attention, challenge people’s thinking, touch hearts, teach about God’s kingdom, and prophecy. His teachings about the kingdom explained what it would be like in a society where God’s ways were followed. He prophesied his own death and resurrection. Although his disciples did not fully understand before he was resurrected, he wanted them to know that he was not taken by surprise, and that he was in control.
We are told in Matthew 7:28,29 that Jesus’ teaching amazed the people, because he taught with authority, but from a different perspective than the religious leaders of the day. Jesus used common illustrations from everyday life, and things in the surrounding environment. He spoke to encourage people in their needs, yet challenge them to go further with God.
Dr. C explains to Huda that a common way Jesus taught was with metaphors. He said we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), and that he is the light of the world (John 8:12). To demonstrate the importance of light as a guide, Dr. C visits a lighthouse.