Lebanon (MNN) — In a country where religion is such an essential part of identity that it is marked on every person’s ID card, Horizons International is teaching Christians how to minister to their Muslim neighbors.
Houssney and the Horizons team just finished a training event in Lebanon called Engaging Islam Institute that lasted from June 4-15 and saw almost 140 attendees. Most of the training was done in the classroom, but they also sent people out with bags full of Bibles and Christian t-shirts to share the Gospel with Muslims.
“The way that we are engaging Islam is through engaging Muslims one at a time, so our training curriculum has been built to help believers understand who Muslims are, what they believe, and how we can begin practically sharing the Gospel with them,” Houssney says.
“Whether online, through video, audio, in-person training events we do in churches around the world, or our ministry centers, we want them to go out and, wherever they have contact with Muslims, start converting that contact into loving conversations that are bold.”
However, there has been pushback from locals, and even Christians aren’t all pleased to see the work Horizons is doing. Many believers are averse to the idea of loving Muslims so directly. One man even interrupted a conversation between Horizons students and Muslims to rip the Bibles from the hands of the Muslim young men.
But Houssney says that often changes after an intentional conversation. “Many of them, when they realize that Muslims are becoming Christians because of this event, because we’re training hundreds of Christians in how to reach out effectively reach out to Muslims based on our experiences, people get really excited about that.”
And the more Muslims come to Christ, the more people are interested in sharing the Gospel.
“We actually have dozens of converts from Islam among the 135 people at this training event here in Beirut that are themselves learning how to reach other Muslims for Christ, so it’s a very exciting event.”
But Houssney says it can’t just be about numbers. The Gospel is meant to be lived out.
“It’s not just about learning something hypothetically or theoretically in the classroom, it’s about actually seeing the power of God to change hearts and lives right before our eyes,” he says. “Unfortunately, the church has become focused on the inside, and instead of saying ‘Go out among the nations’ the way Jesus called us to in the Great Commission, we have sat in the churches and said “come to us.’”
That’s why Horizons and its partners are working to equip Christian leaders in Lebanon.
“You can just pray that the Lord continues to open the hearts of Muslims, but honestly the bigger prayer request is that God would move his Church to get out of the four walls of churches and be called out.”