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Quiet witness

"Quiet witness" Continued...

Issue: "Millions cut down," Jan. 17, 2009

Even in America, Muslims persecute Christian converts. In September 2007, Jesus for Muslims opened a refuge center for Muslim converts in danger and need. Before the center opened, Farrokh knew one Muslim convert who had to sleep in a car, and also an ex-Shiite whose father beat him and kicked him out of the house. This kind of community pressure makes Muslims hesitant to express any public interest in Christianity, so missionaries leave CDs and DVDs in phone booths, grocery stores, and anywhere else Muslims might find them. Those work well since Muslims can watch behind closed doors and on their own schedule, since some work up to 100 hours a week.

A lack of Christian workers also blocks Muslim evangelism, Farrokh said. Christians are intimidated by the stereotypes they see in the news, so Jesus for Muslims educates churches about Muslim beliefs and culture, taking Christians to mosques and showing them many Muslims are friendly, hospitable people. Farrokh sees more people stirred to evangelism. The Arab-American Friendship Center, a Brooklyn center that teaches English with the intent of building Muslim friendships, now has almost enough volunteers to provide one-on-one tutoring.

But sometimes the dream or the miracle comes-that supernatural experience they can't explain, that sense of peace, or that illumination Farrokh felt when he read the Bible as a Muslim college student in 1983. Some Muslims have always hidden a curiosity about the Christian church, said Gail, and when they go "they have supernatural experience they cannot understand" but often describe as a sense of peace: "A lot of the times those who become Christians, they are already ready. They are just so ripe. All you have to do is tell them, OK, this is how you pray."

In their three days as missionaries to Muslims in Harlem, Rose and his men experienced their own moments of intimidation when a Muslim cleric heard their CD and reprimanded them for spreading lies. But the trip finally brought the four First Baptist Church volunteers into contact with the Wolof Muslims, and their next goal is to learn French or Wolof to communicate with them.

More than 10 each day-some who spoke limited English, some who spoke only Wolof-stopped to talk or listen to the Wolof CDs. One West African Muslim working at the nearby Red Cross facility brought a friend to their table, asking them to give the man Wolof CDs.

"He knew what we had and so he brought someone who had no English to us. . . . It was Muslims bringing Muslims to us," Rose said. "We knew at that point we stumbled onto something and God is at work."

And Clayman hopes his health will soon allow him to visit Mali and return there once or twice a year. His plan, though, is to live where there are many Muslims but fewer mosquitoes and less disease-in New York City.

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