Over the last year, Christian students from GHAFES Ghana have been making an unprecedented strategic and concerted effort to reach Muslims on campus. Supported by an IFES Innovation grant, they’ve organised activities including discovery Bible studies, Q&A sessions and public debates. We heard from one of the leaders of the project, who told us more.
What prompted the students in your movement to start doing Muslim outreach?
Islam is the second fastest growing religion after Christianity, with an estimated global growth from 1.6 billion adherents in 2010 to 2.8 billion by 2050. Any attempt to obey the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18–20), without a strategic approach to reach out to Muslims, betrays a serious deficit. The influx of Muslim international students is also rising dramatically — some coming from closed countries. Sadly, many Christian students have become ‘Islamophobic’. But we believe intentional evangelistic conversations with our Muslim friends for whom the Lord Jesus died must be a top priority.
We also want to encourage better mutual understanding and friendship. Hans Küng, a Swiss theologian, once said: “No world peace without peace among religions; no peace among religions without dialogue between the religions; and no dialogue between the religions without accurate knowledge of one another.” The university is a place where healthy dialogue can and should happen, and we want to promote that.
What different approaches are being taken to reach Muslim students?
There are many different aspects to our campus evangelism. Firstly, training. We need to learn more about Islam and how to engage our Muslim friends in evangelistic conversations, how to answer their questions. We’re also conducting research to find out what questions Muslim students are asking about Christianity and Jesus.
In terms of outreach, a whole range of things: one-to-one evangelism, discovery Bible study groups, developing evangelistic tracts and software, and organising debates, radio lectures and Q&A events. We’re also trying to disciple and support Muslim students who come to faith in Jesus.
Why is it so important to support Muslim students who come to faith?
Muslims who convert to Christianity face many challenges. Some will be rejected by their community, friends and family. We met one new Muslim-background believer recently and we are meeting with him every week to help build his faith. We’re also putting support systems in place to ensure his fees are paid and his social needs are met. Please pray for him!
How have the big events gone?
We’ve held debates and lectures on topics like:
The turn-outs have been amazing. Through these events we’ve engaged more than 800 students. Auditoriums have sometimes been full 15 minutes before the start of the event. We’ve invited both Christian and Muslim speakers to present, and we’ve left time for questions and answers at the end. You could see the thirst for truth in the eyes of the students who gathered. The moderator for one of the dialogues (the Head of the History Education department) said, “I have not seen anything like this in Ghana before”.
What did the students make of it?
One Muslim student shared his reflections:
“It was mind-opening. Seeing the two major religions present their views on the concept of peace and the identity of Jesus was commendable. It gave those in the audience with doubts the opportunity to get their doubts cleared.”
Christian students have commented:
“I marvelled at how Muslim students filled the place. I think Muslims were 80% and Christians were 20%.”
“This has really triggered my passion to evangelise, and also to learn so that I can give answers to my Muslim friends.”
“I had the courage to speak to some Muslims for the first time. The fear and stereotyped perceptions I held have gone.”
What’s your prayer for the year ahead?
We thank God for this strategic and significant evangelistic initiative on our campuses. It’s our prayer that the fruits born by this effort shall last and be effective in turning the hearts of many Muslims to the Lord.
This project was supported by an IFES Innovation grant. Find out more about the Innovation project and apply for an Innovation grant on the IFES website. Applications for 2018 Innovation Grants are open until Thursday 31 May.