Christians Encouraged to Engage Muslims, Refugees With ‘Gospel Love’ at SBTS Great Commission Summit

Ayman S. Ibrahim (center), Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, encourages students at March 31 GO Talk to offer the "gospel of hope" to Muslims in America. Boyce College professors John Klaassen (left) and David Bosch (right) also shared their outreach experiences with Muslims. SBTS Photo by Emil Handke
Ayman S. Ibrahim (center), Bill and Connie Jenkins Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, encourages students at March 31 GO Talk to offer the “gospel of hope” to Muslims in America. Boyce College professors John Klaassen (left) and David Bosch (right) also shared their outreach experiences with Muslims. SBTS Photo by Emil Handke

In order to fulfill the Great Commission, the church must learn how to teach and make disciples of the 1.6 million Muslims around the world, doing away with cultural fear and embracing them with gospel love, said Southern Baptist leaders during the Great Commission Summit at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The three-day event, March 29-31, featured leading thinkers in the Southern Baptist Convention in engaging Islam and handling the refugee crisis, along with student-led prayer for Muslims around the world.

With millions of refugees fleeing their home countries, many of them from Muslim countries like Syria and Sudan, Christians should view the refugee crisis through the lens of God’s posture of mercy and compassion to the foreigner demonstrated in the story of Ruth, said David Platt, president of the International Mission Board, during a March 31 chapel message at Southern Seminary.

“Our God seeks, shelters, serves and showers the refugee with his grace,” Platt said, pointing out Boaz’s response to learning that Ruth, a Moabite woman, was working in his field. Boaz’s actions in the Old Testament book did not just demonstrate godly kindness, but also functioned as a critical moment in redemptive history, building a lineage that would “lead to the quintessential kinsman redeemer, Jesus the Christ.”

Platt said the world has never before faced such a significant refugee crisis, with 60 million refugees leaving war-torn and impoverished countries. The American church needs to look beyond its own country’s political troubles and see the needs of millions of destitute people worldwide, he said.

“I fear that most people in our churches and maybe even in this room are paying very little to no attention to this — or if we are paying attention to it, we are looking at it through political punditry and partisan debates regarding whether or not we should allow relatively few refugees into our land,” Platt said. “It is a sure sign of American self-centeredness that we would take the suffering of millions of people and turn it into an issue that is all about us.

“Whatever response is seen [in our churches] often seems to come from a foundation of fear, not of faith, flowing from a view of the world that is far more American than it is biblical,” Platt noted, “and far more concerned with the preservation of our country than it is with the accomplishment of the Great Commission.”

Instead, believers should recognize the needs of people all over the world, he said, and commit to helping them with the love and compassion of the Christian Gospel.

“Our God has not left the outcast and oppressed alone in a world of sin and suffering, he’s come to us and he’s conquered for us,” Platt said. “Brothers and sisters, as followers of Christ, self is no longer our God, therefore safety is no longer our concern. We go and we preach the Gospel, knowing that others’ lives are dependent on it.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press, SBTS