American Muslims rejoiced earlier this year when Secretary of State Clinton overturned a long-standing visa refusal to allow Muslim missionary Tariq Ramadan back into America (comment: Tariq, of course, would never identify himself by using the Western word missionary but every Muslim in the world understands that he is a Da'in, performing the work of Da'wa by proclaiming and defending the truth of Islam). The news was not so rosy, however, on the other side of the world where Morocco abruptly closed down an orphanage led by Western Christians, and Egypt last month refused to allow American missionary Josh McDowell through the Cairo International Airport.
What interests me is that the orphanage leaders as well as Josh McDowell bent over backwards to avoid offending Muslims in any way possible. The following statement appears at the orphanage website, "The Village of Hope fully understands that the Moroccan law prohibits people from promoting a faith other than Islam and has always sought to abide by this law and recognises the right of the authorities to enforce this law. All parents, volunteers and visitors to the Village of Hope were required to sign a declaration stating that they will abide by the Moroccan law prohibiting evangelism."
Describing his ordeal in the Cairo airport, Josh McDowell said, "No Muslim has ever heard me speak one word against the Quran, against Muhammad, against Allah, and against Islam. I am known all over the Muslim world as being pro-Jesus, pro-Bible, pro-resurrection, and pro-faith in Christ." Josh even has a video called Shariah Love in which he describes with glowing terms his three-day visit to the Arab-American Festival in Dearborn Michigan where he set up a booth and distributed one of his books.
I could be totally wrong and would be glad to be corrected, but I would like to make two suppositions. The first is that Josh McDowell went to Dearborn for the same reason he went to Cairo; to persuade Muslims to leave Muhammad behind and follow Jesus. The second is that he was no more successful in Dearborn than he was in Cairo.
Like many missionaries, Josh believes that the way to a Muslim's heart is to smile a lot and talk about Jesus. He doesn't understand that he is talking to an audience already convinced they know the truth about Jesus - the Quran tells them so. They learn from the Quran that Isa was one of only six prophets given a direct Risalah, a message from God. Isa was born of a virgin, lived a righteous and peaceful life, performed miracles, and proclaimed the true message of Islam which is submission to Allah. He is even coming back to the earth at the end of the age to defeat the Dajjal, the Anti-christ, and wrap things up for Allah. Josh also doesn't understand that when he talks about the distinctive things Christians believe about Jesus, such as his dying for the sins of the world and being resurrected from the dead, his audience just tunes him out. But as long as he doesn't say anything to challenge their faith in Muhammad or the Quran, they will give him plates of delicious Couscous and Baklava and be the most friendly people in the world. It takes quite a jolt of electricity to knock a Muslim off the pedestal of faith, and just talking about Jesus doesn't cut it.
There is a difference between tactic and strategy. If the Emir of Qatar allows you to build a large new church building for the hundreds of thousands of Christians working in the country on condition that the church not have a visible cross, it's a no-brainer tactical decision. Forget the cross. But if your strategy depends on thinking that bending over backwards to avoid asking hard questions about Muhammad and the Quran will cause Muslims to be more receptive to your message, forget that as well. You won't make it through the airport.