Here’s a good question Wendy and I received on Facebook:
“I know you are Christian people and I was wondering if I could request something. I know you manage a blog, and I was wondering if you would be willing to write a blog on the best way to go about sharing the Gospel with Muslims. I have many Muslim friends, and I’d like to be able to be better equipped to answer their questions. If you were to write about it, I’d greatly appreciate it.”
This question reminded me of last summer’s Training Minds Camp in Colorado. It was a great success and we very much enjoyed it, arguably the best camp ever. It was our 10 year anniversary camp, and we “trained minds for action” (1 Peter 1:13) like never before. Christian homeschoolers from across the nation gathered to be taught the speaking and debating skills to train for competition.
The day we started, we got news that we had one public school student. In 10 years over a thousand students have gone through our program, but I can count the number of public school students on one hand.
And she was Muslim.
No fingers needed. A first.
That kind of news made my coaching staff and me sit up straight. Normally at our camps, we could assume the campers were Christian, or at least coming from Christian families. Now we had a young Muslim woman attend our camp. We asked ourselves, “How should we respond?”
We have an Apologetics program, and our debate program trains young people to articulate their Christian beliefs to persuade others. One of our speakers, in fact, was a best-selling author and evangelist Mark Mittelberg. Colorado Christian University’s Forensics Director Dr. Chris Leland (Mr. Worldview himself) was also a speaker. And Christian comedian Ken Davis was our keynote.
I’ve got to hand it to her. She entered a community of believers to learn extemporaneous speaking. She knew full well, though, that this was a Christian camp. To allude to an Old Testament story, she was cast into a “den of lions.” That took guts.
“We will welcome her and respond to her with love and respect,” was my direction. Really, what other way should we respond? Corner her with Bible scriptures and force a confession of faith out of her? If that’s what some would call a successful reaction, shame on them. The Kingdom of God doesn’t march on with swords or battle, but with love.
And we got to know and respect her. I was impressed by how our coaches reacted. Shane Baumgardner (national extemp titlist) made sure current event discussions were wholesome and accurate, especially when covering extemp topics like terrorism and countries in the Middle East. Kaitlin Nelson (who roomed with her) befriended her and enjoyed the time with her. Even evangelist Mark Mittelberg — author of several evangelistic books and moderator of apologetic debates — made a conscious attempt to connect with her and get to know her.
Which makes sense, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we love first? Isn’t this the first step to evangelism? That is the step, not just in evangelism but in being a generally decent human being. Any attempt to “save the lost” without love is proselytizing and offensive, hardly walking with the Spirit of God. Arguably, unloving attempts to evangelize has hindered the Gospel, not helped it.
Our Muslim friend left with a good impression, fun memories, and new friends. On her Facebook the following week, her status read, “Who knew that Christian homeschool speech camp could be so…fun?” She left feeling welcomed and loved. I guess a Christian homeschool “den of lambs” can be a good experience for a public schooled Muslim.
This year’s camp starts in two weeks. There are still openings if you’d like to send your kids. It’s an overt Gospel-centered, unabashed, Christian camp. But even if you’re not Christian, you’ll be loved and respected, and you’ll be most certainly welcomed. See www.trainingminds.org.