In one large city in the UK, numbers of Muslim asylum-seekers have become Christians in recent years. There was no improper pressure to convert at the cathedral they went to for advice, friendship, and other essentials. Local Christians, who wanted only to help and serve, did so with grace and charity.
Curious questions were asked — “Why do you do this? Why would you help strangers?” — and feet were shuffled in a typically English fashion as slightly embarrassed volunteers explained why they were called to act like Christ.
Those asylum-seekers now make up 40 per cent of the volunteers at the cathedral’s foodbank, as they seek to pass on the love and generosity which they themselves were so freely given.
Our evangelism must be deeply rooted in Christian ethics: above all, the call of Matthew 7.12 to “do to others as you would have them do to you”. We must start by putting ourselves in the shoes of others, understanding and respecting that other traditions offer people community, solace, and even deep wells of spirituality. In our conversations, we must seek to speak of our faith without belittling or ridiculing the faith of others. As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has said, “If you value faith, then you value the faith of others.”
Monologuing, manipulation, and marketing can be smelt a mile off. Engagement with others needs to meet them as, when, and where they are, like the volunteers at the cathedral whose witness was rooted in care and concern for those whom they helped.
Indeed, we can be born afresh in our faith, and gain a deeper understanding of our own tradition, when we converse with the religious other.
“When you communicate joyfully the glory of the Gospel story, therefore, be prepared to listen deeply to people of other faiths, and learn something yourself — perhaps even encounter something of God that you had not found before.” – @JustinWelbyhttps://t.co/lis9Hg69IX
— Church Times (@ChurchTimes) March 8, 2019