USA (MNN) — If you’re someone who has a heart for Muslims, or maybe just want to learn about the Islamic religion and culture, then the “Summer Institute on Islam” might just be for you.
From June 16 -24, at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, PIONEERS USA is helping host the annual intensive 8-day institute.
Years ago, back in 1983, the summer Islam institute began in Philadelphia as a night class during one summer month. Now it has morphed into what it is today, an eight-day intensive learning institute.
“Churches in Philadelphia were rubbing shoulders with a growing Muslim population there. There’s problem more than 33 mosques and Islamic centers in the city of Philadelphia itself,” explained Martindale.
To better serve and minister to their neighbors, the Philadelphia Christians decided to get together and learn about both the Islamic religion and culture. But once it started, more and more people decided to do the same.
Over the years, countless mission organizations, as part of their training, has sent their missionaries to this institute prior to going overseas.
But, you don’t have to be a missionary to find this institute useful. For anyone living or interacting regularly with Muslims, this is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the people you see everyday.
- Participants have the opportunity to visit mosques, Muslim prayer services, and witnessing the weekly sermon.
- Participants get to examine the questions, “What is Islam” and “Who are Muslims?” As well as discover how to view Islam, as a religion, culture, etc.
- Participants compare Christian doctrines side by side with Islamic doctrines.
- Participants look at women’s roles in Islam, the conversion process, and different strategies of witnessing to Muslims.
The Institute is open to the public, though it is more geared toward adults. However, in the past there have been high school students who’ve been able to attend. And for those who attend, there is no need for a background in theology or missions.
However, the light media has painted Muslims in lately hasn’t been good. In fact, it seems to have been one promoting fear, whether intended or not. And for the record, Muslims shouldn’t be feared.
“Muslims are wonderful, hospitable, family loving, you know generous people. They’re individuals, just like us, and we really need a good place to shatter some of the prejudice, fear, preconceptions that we kind of unconsciously absorb.”
The summer institute will be led by Paul Martindale, who is also the Lecturer in Islamic Studies at GCTS, as well as a former radical Wahhabi turned Christian, will lead the institute along with others. But with the advantage of having a former Muslim lead the institute, participants learn what questions Muslims most often ask and how to answer them.
“I think it’s very important that all of us, in whatever forms, whether it’s the Summer Institute on Islam, whether it’s reading good books, whether it’s getting to know Muslims as people, all of us should really be attempting to become better informed as Christians about Muslims and about what Islam teaches,” expresses Martindale.
In fact, Martindale has received responses from various past participants encouraging him in how the institute has prepared them to work with Muslims. So if ministering to Muslims is something on your heart, come check out the institute!
To register or learn more, click here!