As I got on the London underground, a man said: “Are you the Friendship First guy?” He was a British Christian, weary of the popular anti-Muslim narrative, which ‘rehearses the darkness’ but offers no solutions. The past 25 years of my life have been given to providing solutions – here’s how it happened.
It began (for me) on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America. I began work on a manual called Friendship First which is more than a mere title; it lays out a “relational” approach to gospel witness among Muslims.
Friendship First was an intentional response to right-wing paranoia and tabloid sensationalism about Muslims. It challenges the myth that all Muslims are violent – or worse. It aims to help ‘ordinary Christians discuss good news with ordinary Muslims’.
Discussing good news with people of a Muslim background
Since the initial publication my Interserve colleague and friend Tim Green added his skills to create the Friendship First DVD Course. The English version of the Friendship First course is being used in over 550 British churches and is being used in 7 countries; and now translated into Norwegian; Finnish; Swedish and German with Spanish planned; as well as a forthcoming culturally-adapted version for Koreans in diaspora to use among Muslims worldwide.
Receiving people of a Muslim background into a local church
Since Friendship First the migrant crisis has arisen and we have arrived at the point where an increasing number of people of Muslim backgrounds are changing heart-allegiance to Jesus Christ.
So the time has come when we need a follow-up course to help “ordinary churches” receive such believers into some form of fellowship. Joining the Family is this follow-up course which will be available from 11th April. The course is aimed at helping the Church understand issues believers of Muslim background face, equipping the Church to be ‘family’ to these believers and learning from them. Find out more about the course here.
Spiritual nurture of someone of a Muslim background, 1 on 1
When new believers in Jesus of Muslim backgrounds join appropriate Christian fellowship, they need spiritual mentoring – preferably 1 on 1 – because their needs are specific to their background.
To meet this need, a third resource is also becoming available – Come Follow Me – this is a carefully prepared discipleship tool, addressing the issues faced by people of Muslim backgrounds.
Trio of friendship
These three courses are linked, unique and ground-breaking. They are a family of resources, which are designed to help us introduce someone of Muslim background to Jesus; receive them into fellowship; and disciple them. All this is now available in a culturally appropriate way.
National Director, Interserve