The week began by learning the importance of evangelising Muslims and the key issue here was understanding that they are sinners too - just like we were before Christ - and need Christ just as much as we do. This was followed by the more theoretical issues as the history, beliefs, practices and writings of Islam were unpacked. This was followed on days three and four with how to - and how not to - engage with Muslims. Through the method of story-telling, students were taught how to dialogue with Muslims and present them with key aspects of the Gospel without being confrontational.
A key part of the course were the practical exercises that each student had to do each afternoon following the lectures where they had to speak to a Muslim and ask questions about their beliefs. One of the things that emerged from these exercises is that many Muslims do not know what Islam teaches or why they believe what they do and some were also unwilling to talk about it, referring our students to the local Imam. However, one practical session - which was a highlight of the week - was a tour of a local mosque in Newtown. There the students saw first-hand the various rituals at a Mosque and engage with an Imam who was willing to talk about Islamic beliefs, prayers and practices and answer any questions. In the feedback session the next day, many of the students admitted that they were fearful at first to enter a mosque, or even to approach a Muslim, however, through the course and the practical exercises, those fears have been dealt with.
One thing that I was reminded of throughout the course was the attitude of the prophet Jonah who lacked compassion for the people of Nineveh - which is modern-day Mosul in Iraq. Though not a Muslim city back then, the lesson still holds true today, God still has compassion on the city's inhabitants who "do not know their right hand from their left" (Jonah 4:11).
This course was indeed valuable and enjoyed by all and we look forward to similar short courses and events at our Johannesburg campus in the future.