The growth of Islam in the UK brings challenges to evangelism

By January 5, 2006

United Kingdom (MNN) — The number of people who are practicing Muslims is growing exponentially in Europe. If immigration trends continue, many believe that Islam will be the majority religion in many European countries in the next decade.

Jack Shiflett with the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism agrees. Speaking from the United Kingdom, Shiflett says Islam is growing there at an incredible rate. “40 years ago in the UK there were approximately a dozen mosques and training centers. Today, 40 years later, there are over 2,000.”

That’s why ABWE has opened the Antioch Project UK, which trains Christians to reach out to Muslims living in the region.

According to Shiflett, Muslims typically fall into the following categories. He says “Five percent support radical Islam. On the opposite extreme you may have that same kind of percentage that would walk away from the basic tenants of Islam. In the middle you have perhaps 40-percent would like to have the Muslim influence. But, the other 40-percent are just normal ordinary Muslims that would like to have relationships with westerners.” Shiflett says that’s the segment that’s most receptive to hearing the Gospel.

Shiflett says the hardest thing to overcome is the perception that that England is a Christian nation. “So, when they look out and see materialism, binge drinking, immorality in society, a show-business type of approach to life they’re appalled by it and that’s what they would view as Christianity.”

“Luke Moses” converted to Christianity from Islam. Moses is living in the UK now and says most of the Muslims immigrants are coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. He says there’s only one way to lead a Muslim to Christ. “You make a friend first. With Muslims you must have that first before you can share the Gospel with them.”

The Antioch Project began in September with partnering churches in the UK. Funding is needed to help facilitate even more training. Pray that God would protect both British Christians and former Muslims as they reach out with the Gospel.

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