Author: Dr Robert Dutch, Bristol Baptist College.
Two workshops, each lasting about 45-60 minutes, addressed Muslim Background Believers (MBBs). The speaker, Colin Edwards of Interserve International, used his wide experience with Muslims in South Asia.
The workshops aimed to be as interactive as far as possible and so each was structured with an introduction and then three main parts. Colin’s introduction outlined his UK role and his experience in South Asia where he had seen significant growth in the numbers of MBBs. Then in Part 1 he asked attendees ‘What are we seeing with MBBs, both abroad and in the UK?’ Part 2 was Colin’s interactive presentation on identity and identity markers for MBBs. Finally, Part 3 addressed ‘Four things to highlight for MBBs.’
During Part 1 workshop members were asked to identify themselves and their experience while answering ‘What are we seeing with MBBs, both abroad and in the UK?’ This provided an interesting opportunity to learn about other members, ministries and experiences in Asian/African countries and the UK.
The workshop members shared their considerable experiences of mission among Muslims. One person worked with networking and ‘insider movements,’ another used various methods of evangelism (e.g. correspondence courses, personal work, radio) with success. Some MBBs come to faith via visions. People worked with whole families (not just individuals), refugees, women and students. A major concern was MBBs’ identity. They do not want to be Western Christians. They need intensive discipleship and an identity. Colin usefully addressed ‘identity’.
In Part 2 Colin examined group identity and identity markers in the South Asian country where he worked previously. He began by stating that group identity depended upon people being identified as ‘Muslim,’ ‘Christian,’ or ‘Hindu.’ These three groups have separate identity markers which included differences in: language, skin colour, clothing, diet and even if men had a moustache or beard. Groups do not marry or interbreed. These three groups were illustrated on a flipchart with Muslims being a large circle, Hindus a separate, and smaller, rectangle and Christians shown as a separate, and even smaller, triangle.
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