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Father Zakaria- It’s about preaching Jesus, not Western culture to Muslims

September 2, 2011

Today we continue with Father Zakaria Botros’ answers to questions presented to him by the Frontiers staff. Father Z is a well-known and enthusiastic worker for Christ throughout the Muslim world. You can read the first two sections of our Q & A with him here and here.


People in the Muslim world are thirsty for the truth. "But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again." John 4:14

Bob: Our ministry at the US Sending Base is praying to God to send out laborers into His harvest. Our message is that Americans should sell their possessions and leave all that they know to make disciples in the Muslim world. What advice do you have for us to prepare us to go?

Fr. Z. We have to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ. When God wanted to save people, He came as a man to live among us, to feel what we feel, to share life with us. So, if any person wants to serve God and reach Muslims, he should “incarnate” as a Muslim. He should adopt his language, his culture, his way of thinking. He should learn the lifestyle. Speak Arabic to Arabs. Arabs have a stumbling block; they hate the foreigners, because it reminds them of the invasions of the West; the French into Syria and Lebanon, Italy into Libya, the British to Egypt and Jordan.

Islam is not just a religion; this is a misunderstanding in the West. You think that Islam is like Judaism or Buddhism, so we give Islam lots of opportunities to grow in the West. No, Islam is a State, and religion is a factor to establish this state. It is a Kingdom, the Kingdom of Islam. Non-Muslims in their country are invaders. The invaders brought missionaries with them.

So, if you want to reach Muslims, it’s a very hard thing, but we are obliged to do that. We are obliged to learn their habits and adopt their culture, as God did, when He came as a man and spoke as a man, and behaved like them. So I think any missionary should know that he is not preaching his culture, but he is preaching Christ.

Samuel Zwemer wrote a book analyzing why the West failed in its mission to succeed among Muslims. He said that we have too much preached our culture and too little preached Christ. And if we preach Christ to Muslims, we must become as Muslims. St. Paul said, “I became like those who have no law in order to win those who have no law.” For this reason I learned to speak Arabic, the Arabic of the Qur’an, better than the Arabs themselves. Also, we should prepare Arab Christians—native speakers—to be missionaries to the Muslim Arabs.

But all missionaries have to learn the right words in order to reach Muslims. It is good for Americans to go and preach, but success depends on learning, learning, learning.

Bob: We look at Matthew 10 and Luke 10 where Jesus sent out His disciples, and sent them out to find the man of peace. Jesus said, “When you find a man of peace, stay with him.” We are trying to understand what Christ means by the “man of peace” or the “woman of peace” in the Muslim world, that is, to find the influential believer through whom many, many more Muslims will come to faith. Would you comment?

Fr. Z. Yes. This is Biblical teaching. It’s good. It’s right.

Next: Father Z answers our questions having to do with making disciples in a Muslim context. 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 8:07 pm

    Yet again, Bob, heavy-duty information…I am going to seriously get to work on my Arabic, both the classical and rosetta-stone stuff. Blessings, Pat M.

  2. September 5, 2011 1:33 pm

    Bob and Pat,
    I desire to learn Arabic, but I have no idea how to start. I heard Rosetta Stones program for Arabic was terrible. I’m willing to give out $200.00 for a program that teaches me, but not for a program that is full of language flaws.

    What do you recommend?

    I read this interview and while I plan to go with CCI (God willing) spring/summer of 2012. I also wonder if maybe this is a start to me moving into more Islamic based cultures. I guess what I want to know is, how does one prepare to leave his western ways and adapt to Eastern ways?


  1. Father Zakaria talks about Muslim-Background Believers « Bob Blincoe

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