Evangelizing the Assamese Muslims

( [email protected] ) Dec 02, 2003 12:19 PM EST

GUWAHATI, India – The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination in the U.S., began their weeklong International Missions Emphasis on Sunday, Nov. 30. Throughout the week, themed, “That All Peoples May Know Him: Follow God’s Purpose,” the millions of Southern Baptist members and congregations will be encouraged to donate to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which provides fifty percent of the income of the IMB.

Several of the missionaries will travel to Assam India to share the gospel with the “untapped” Muslims within the region.

According to the Christians currently working in Assam, the Muslims in the region readily hear the Gospel. However, they are unwilling to change.

"The Assamese are a soft people. Hinduism here is not hardline Hindu. And the Muslims here are adaptable, open to making new friendships, listening to new ideas," said an Assamese Christian leader.

"They're almost Hindu, with a very universalistic mindset -- you have your way and we have ours," explains a Baptist worker. "It creates no desire to know the truth. If all you need to do is be a good man, then what's the point?"

Some of the evangelists believe Islamic revival may trigger Christian growth in Assam.

"The Koran says that a good Muslim should know the Pentateuch and the Gospels," explained a Baptist missionary stationed in Assam. "Teach them what their own book says -- because they don't know -- then transition. Use their book as a bridge."

"I believe that if the Muslims knew more about Islam, more would come to Christ because Christ is right there in their scriptures," he explained.

The IMB missionaries hope to more deeply embed the Christian message within the hearts of the Assamese.

"Christian churches have celebrated more than 100 years here, yet I don't see one single church involved directly with Muslims," observed an Assamese Christian leader. "This office now supports four evangelists [among Muslims] -- this is remarkable! My predecessors would have said, 'Why bother?'"

"The Christian message is here but there's no one to take it [to the Muslims]," observed an international Christian worker. "There are thousands of Muslim villages in Assam that have never been presented with the truth."

Assam, a state of 26 million people, holds only a few dozen known Christians from Muslim backgrounds. If the Assamese church decides to engage its Muslim neighbors, it will find an unreached people ready for dialogue.

"Milk is better than water; diamond is better than rock. If you see the one of high quality, you will choose it, will you not?" asks Annul Hoque, a Muslim lawyer in Guwahati. "Not all religion is true or real. We should discuss to understand.

"We should investigate to see which is real and then follow it."