In this Lecture, Vivienne Stacey discusses the value of using stories, poetry, songs and analogies to share the Gospel with Muslims. Sometimes it isn’t the Gospel message that is rejected but rather the form by which we communicate the Gospel. These lectures were given at Columbia International University in partnership with the Zwemer Center for Muslim Studies. The Zwemer Center was founded in 1979 and exists to offer comprehensive courses on Islam, facilitate research, foster dialogues, offer seminars, conduct training, and provide resources for effective witness and ministry among Muslims. We also have a course study guide for these lectures that you might find helpful.


Here starts the auto-generated transcription of Vivienne Stacey’s Lecture on creative ways to communicate the gospel with Muslims:


So we’re continuing, to consider communicating effectively with our Muslim friends, and we’re continuing considering how Jesus communicated in different ways. Through stories is another way. So collect stories. I gave some stories. I mentioned, the pot which somebody cooks in.


If you clean the outside and not the inside, it’s an example of outward cleansing from sin, but the heart is not changed. And and chickenpox, if you start treating every pox, and don’t get the inside changed, a a remedy for what is causing the trouble from within, is trouble. And no Muslim woman treats every pox of her chickenpox, but, they will recognize it’s comes from something within. Use find examples, and there are many. Poems.


Sometimes Muslims are very keen on poetry. And, one of my Muslim friends, was a poet, and he used to write poetry and recited at, Mosheira. A Mosheira is a gathering of poets. And in the home of my friend, Bill Keese, I once attended a a mashayra. There were about 40 people present, half of them about 16 of them were women, and we sat round in this lovely room in her very wealthy home. And the television came, to take put it on TV, a moshire, a poetry reading. There was one other foreigner there, Anna Marie Schimmel, who’s a famous, writer on and, student on scholar. She’s German. She lives in the United States, and she’s a professor in one of the well known universities here. She’s an expert on the life of of Muhammad Iqbal, the poet, or the, yes, poet and writer, philosopher of the subcontinent.


She was there, and I was there. I was there because I was a guest in the house, And, various people it started quite late. Various people recited poems, men and women. And, she was asked for a poem, and I she is very fluent in about 6 or 8 of the languages that Muslims speak, like, Farsi, Persian, Pashto, Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, and Arabic, and a few more. So she had probably made a poem up, and so I was asked for a poem.


So I said, well, I’m not a poet, and I haven’t actually got a poem, but I am in Hyderabad because one of my books is being published here in Hyderabad for the centene jubilee of the Henry Martin Institute, and I’ve written a book about Henry Martin. And, in in my book, I’ve, got a picture of the or, yeah, a photograph of some of the well known poetry of a Sufi Sufi poet, Saadi, whose tomb is in Shiraz. And so I’ll read you that, and it’s Sufi poetry which talks about Jesus. So I I just read it. And, I knew this whole thing was going on in Urdu.


I knew that, if there was anybody who wanted to talk to me about Jesus over, probably at midnight over refreshments, they would come and find me. And sure enough, one woman came to to talk to me about Jesus. Anyway, that’s, poetry. It means a lot, much more. We don’t have these kind of poetry readings about Jesus, but in Muslim setting it might be good if we had some poems and like my friend, Taq Kashmiri, he he, took part in these kind of activities as a Christian.


Songs. I learned certain something about songs from a situation that 2 friends of mine told me in a they went to visit a remote part of Northern Pakistan. We used to go on holidays to these or vacations to these parts of Pakistan. Lovely places in Gilgit and, Chitral and Baltistan and Skadu and Hunza right up to the nearly to the border of China, lovely areas. Anyway, we all had our adventures. And, one adventure for her was that she was in a certain area with her husband and the horse owner. They’d hide horses. The horse owner was a local leader, and he he invited this couple, to his home for a meal. And, my friends learned that the leader’s father-in-law had recently been murdered. And, so the the woman, the Christian woman, tried to talk to the women about Jesus’ victory over death, but they weren’t keen to hear the message. But she had a lovely singing voice, and she sensed that maybe they would accept it if she sang. She asked if, she asked if she should sing, and she did. And they asked her to sing again. And then she asked if she could pray for them. They asked her questions about the song.


They listened to the same message, that she had spoken before, but they didn’t receive it in as a a message told, but they received it as a message sung. And then the the man whose friend had been the leader’s father-in-law who had been recently murdered, the leader, said, well, I know you live in that city over there, that city, and I’ve got a relative there. I’ve got a brother there, and I know that that family would like to hear you sing. So it was an opening through song. They asked and then they asked the husband to sing too.


So here’s an example of the same message but put in different form, and it is acceptable. Illustrations, I’d like to say something about that. What I really want to say is that use curiosity. I like using curiosity. I find it most effective.


Sometimes you will have seen me with a bag, that’s I have those 2, but I’ve got another one with which I put books in. I used to have them use it in Pakistan, and I would put tracts about Jesus as the his name is called Wonderful. It’s a lovely tract in Urdu, and it’s in it’s in Farsi, and it’s in Arabic, and it’s in several other languages. Anyway, lovely tract about Jesus. He is he is incomparable in his birth, in his sinlessness, in his in his life, and in his death, and in his resurrection, and so on.


Okay. Well, I used to carry them, and I still carry them around. I’ve actually got couple with me. And, I had been spending Christmas day with a Pakistani couple, a pastor and his wife. He had about 30 villages, which he was responsible for.


So he got his elders and his wife and me, and we split up into teams, and we took so many villages each to lead Christmas services. And at the end of that rather busy day, he put me on a minibus to go to the city where I lived. It was about 8 miles or 10, and there were I think there were 3 seats left, and there were about 10 farmers already in the minibus. And I sat at the back, And, I had my this bag with me, which actually had tracks in it. And I wasn’t gonna particularly do anything with my tracks and give them out in the bus, but after we’d gone a mile or so, another farmer got on, and he had a bag not so different from mine.


So the men said, what’s in your bag? And he said, carrots. So then I just sort of piped up, and I said, I have a bag, but I don’t have carrots in it. Dead silence. See? So they all want to know what’s in my bag. And so, well, I said, I’ve got I’ve got seed in my bag. Well, I said, actually, I’ve got, some little booklets. And, so they didn’t really want to engage in conversation with me, but 5 6 men in front put up their hands. So I was in the back, so I put 6 of them in the different hands, and then there was dead silence for, 10 minutes, I think. And, then they one man said, this is foreign seed. So I said, oh, no. This seed was first sown in Asia. It’s not foreign seed. And then they started to ask me questions.


They said, do you prefer living in Pakistan or in your own country? That’s the question. Okay. So I said, well, when it’s the will of God for me to live in my own country, I like that better. And when it’s the will of God for me to live in your country, I like that better. But, actually, I I don’t belong that closely to any country. I am like Abraham, who I am like Abraham who seeks a city which is above, whose builder and maker is God. So I’m like Abraham. I’m a pilgrim in this world and so and so on. But I had an excellent opportunity to to share, and they took the tracks away with them.


It’s not so cultural, perhaps, for a woman to get into this, but, I mean, I seem to get into these things. So and if you’re the older you are, the easier it’s to get in and to get out. So, but if you try it when you’re too young, it’s not such a good idea perhaps. Anyway, but I I have to tell you about, I think he came from, oh, he was a Maori from New Zealand working with, Muslims in the south of Thailand, and he happened to come to my one of my seminars in India. And, so he used curiosity.


So let me tell you how he did it. He used to go to the tea shop. Easy for him as a man. I can’t go to sea shops so easily. But, anyway, he went.


He would go, and then he would meet some young men, just sort of meet them. And, on the back of his motorbike, he had things all wrapped up. And, they were very interested to know what he had wrapped up on the back of his motorbike. And he said, oh, you wouldn’t be interested in what’s wrapped up in the back of my motorbike. And and then he he it became a thing of curiosity for them.


So he said, oh, well, I’ve got some, got some material that tells about, about the prophet Jesus. And they said, well, show us what you’ve got. And he said, well, you wouldn’t be interested in what I’ve got. He said, well, then come to our village and and show us so that, show the people in the village. And he said, well, if I come to your village, I’m just going to that village.


If I come to your village, people will get, very restive or they won’t give me peace and it I probably they won’t accept what I’m gonna show and all the rest of it and what I’m gonna say. And they said, no. We guarantee. We will guarantee to keep everyone will be very peaceful in our village, but please come and show us what you’ve got on, wrapped up there on your motorbike. He would go on, you know, for half an hour, and they’d do this.


And, so they’re all dying to see what he had, and they guaranteed that the village would behave very properly, and it would all be quiet. And, so then he would go to their village, which was one of his ideas in the first place anyway. So curiosity. Don’t tell it all. I remember once, there was a woman grinding.


I was going out to some other villages to to share the good news and coming back to this village while I was stay staying at night. And, so in the morning when I was going out, I saw this woman grinding, And I said, you know, before the end of the world, it will be like this that there will be, 1 woman grinding, 2 women grinding. And 1 woman will be taken to be with God, and the other one will be left. And I then I said goodbye. And she spent the day worrying about this.


She spent the day thinking about this. And, so when I came back, she was glad to learn more. Curiosity, probably, or not just curiosity, maybe. If you’re grinding like this and you’ve just heard this thing and you it goes in your mind through the day. So illustrations.


Now let’s think about using people’s points of contact. I’ve already touched on it perhaps, but amulets, I’ve mentioned, asking people what’s inside, and if it’s some word of god, some word from the Quran, then offering in them a word of god from the scripture, from from the bible. The wearing of the veil. Sometimes I’m asked, why don’t I wear a veil? And I don’t know what if, I mean, I everyone has their own ways, so, you might think that some of my methods are a bit strange.


But anyway, I say, oh, I’m I I do wear a veil. And then I say, I wear I wear a spiritual veil all the time. I wear a veil all the time, a spiritual veil. I’m clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The prophet Isaiah said, whatever he said in chapter 61 verse 10.


It’s about, the bride bridegroom no, the bride being clothed, and I just can’t remember it by heart. So you see how bad I am at remembering things by heart, but somebody got it. It’s 61110. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord. My soul will exalt in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of righteousness.


He has covered me with the robe of righteousness. And And I explained that spiritual burqa, which I which I have, that spiritual, veil, which is an entire veiling, and we can disc we discuss on the bus journey. Then sometimes a Muslim lady sitting next to me may say, well, you know our creed, there is no god but god. What’s yours? And I give John 17 verse 3 as my answer as I’ve already mentioned.


There is one god and one mediator between god and man, the man Christ Jesus. I know that’s not the summary there, but there is a summary in 1 Timothy about that. This is life eternal that we may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he has sent. Well, nothing too startling for a Muslim. One God, Jesus, his apostle or sent one, but it has the idea not of just statement of belief, the idea of knowing god, the idea of of relationship, and so we talk about that.


Sometimes we talk about prayer. Always, we talk about fasting during the month of fasting. And I’m looking for more and more answers about how to reply. Sometimes, why don’t you why don’t you fast? Well, the the bridegroom’s with us, so we’re celebrating.


Why should we fast? Or in the holy angel, it’s written, come, let us keep the festival. The festival in the original language, which is Greek, in the original language, it means, let us go on keeping the festival. For the Christian, every day is festival because Jesus is alive and he’s risen. Some some of these answers.


Or, how do you fast? And so that’s another discussion. When I travel where people are keeping the fast, I don’t generally, eat or drink so that my fellow passengers don’t feel uncomfortable. I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable. I have to say that, in the very burning heat of the northwest frontier, in the summer, sometimes when the men go off to say their prayers, I do have a sort of swig at my, my water in the thermos flask.


Generally, there are 1 or 2 women only on the bus. But, but in in principle, I try not to eat or drink in front it’s not because I’m fasting, but because I don’t like to, advertise eating and drinking or to make people feel uncomfortable about it. Pilgrimage, well, my line is, yes, I’m, I’m a pill. I’ve been on pilgrimage, but I’m always on pilgrimage because I’m seeking that city which is above, the Jerusalem which is above. Jerusalem is the 2nd most holy, shrine, I think 3rd most holy in the Muslim world, actually, if you’ve mentioned Jerusalem.


And you can talk about the pilgrim the pilgrim and the pilgrim city and the pilgrim way. Jesus is the way, the truth. Jesus is the way, practice. This is we follow him. The truth, belief, and the life experience.


The way, the truth, and the life. The Pilgrim way, the Pilgrim and the Pilgrim City and the Pilgrim Way. Other words well, I’ve had some very interesting conversations with over words, and one of them was, in the northern areas of Pakistan when it was the time when Baynazir’s father was in jail and likely to be hanged. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, her father, sentenced to death, prime former prime minister. And, one of the chaps in the we had a we go we got seats in the back of a an open kind of, vehicle, kind of Jeep, and there was one seat left, and some young man, got that seat.


So he told us how terrible this was that that Buto was sentenced to death, and he said if, some of us would like to die in his place. So I said, oh, really? I said, there was a a case, a law case, and, and I went on about this law case a bit. And I said and and there was a, a man who who died in someone else’s place, and I went on to talk about Jesus. Well, anyway, that was or or at least a seed sown.


And, there’s another sometimes, you get an opportunity. I used to go when I was learning Punjabi and living in a village, I would go for a walk. No. Nobody goes for a walk in a village. I mean, if you well, at least without a purpose.


If you’re going for a walk through the village or you might be going to the place where women go to the toilet in in that kind of cane field for sugar field on there’s another one that men use. So you might be going, that’s might be the purpose of your walk, or you might be going to get water at the well, but you don’t just walk, but I just walked. And I met a Punjabi woman going the other way, and she stopped to chat. And she she asked me some questions. She said, how many houses do you own?


So I said, well, I don’t actually own any house. My parents have got a house, but it’s not mine, and they live in England. And I’ve got a job here in the city, but then the house goes with it. I have a house to live in, but I don’t own it. So I don’t own any houses.


She said, my extended family, we own 200 houses. So I said, oh, really? I said, well, come to think of it, my extended family, we own more than 3 200 houses, and we have wonderful houses. We have houses that don’t need any, any whitewashing, and no thief can break in and steal. And, they’re they’re utterly secure, so I’m getting on about these wonderful houses. And so she said, well, how can I get one of those houses? Oh, I said it’s very easy, and I had my Punjabi New Testament with me. So I got out, John 14, I think it was, in my father’s house are many mansions and so on and so forth. And so I was able to to talk to her about that and how you can get one of those houses. Well, you never know.


It’s good to think of ways of contact either through religious terminology, which comes up all the time as in the five practices of Islam, or just things that come out of daily life. And, if you get in the habit of it, it becomes sort of a way of evangelism, and, it’s just becomes fairly natural. I heard the Indian students laughing when I told them, well, once I was having a ride in a rickshaw, and the the rickshaw set me down, and the driver. And, so he asked me what the time was. So I said it was the time for salvation.


So but I’ve only done that once. But, anyway, he listened. And, I always offer taxi drivers, and and, I offer rickshaw drivers. I always get a whole stack of gospels or and a whole stack of tracts when I go to Pakistan. I don’t use them in the frontier because it’s not the place to use them. But in Karachi and Lahore, I I use them regularly. And, one of my friends thinks there are gonna be a lot of taxi drivers in heaven, but I I don’t have quite as much faith perhaps as she does. I hope to be some there’ll be some. So one one man said, well, I’m I’m secular. So I said, well, he didn’t want to accept it.


You see the the gospel? So I the tract. So I said, well, does it mean if you’re secular, you can’t read any religious meth anything religious? And he said he he laughed and said no, and so he took it. So there’s a great opportunity. I see 786 up on a on a taxi. I say, oh, I see. You’re a religious man. Or I see there’s no god but god, and Mohammed is his prophet up on the taxi. So I see I see you’re religious.


Maybe you would like to read about this prophet, and they know about this prophet. And I said it was his birthday next week. I I was in Pakistan in December, so I this is what I did in December. Say, well, it’s the birthday of this prophet next week. So would you like just to read this?


Can you read? Yes. Can you read? No. Nobody in your family can read? 

Oh, yes. My son can read. He’s going to use in 8th grade or something. Okay. So there are there are opportunities like this.


So many points of contact. Generally, the one off. This is we’re talking about one off. But a seed there and a seed there, and God is amazing when you listen to people’s Muslims who’ve come to Christ to hear how God used a seed there and a seed there and a seed there. So you’re not the only person, who’s doing this kind of thing, and, so there is much opportunity in this way.


Any question you would like to ask? Or any comments you would like to make? Don’t worry if you can’t, you know, turf out the whole packet of seeds. One seed was probably quite enough for 1 person for one day, and you don’t know who’s coming the next day or the next year or the next month. I like sometimes to make my, statements credal, so I’m very keen on saying I believe in one god.


That’s a creedal statement. I am very keen to make statements which say I believe in in very simple terms so that it’s not it’s not negotiable, it’s not arguable in one sense. And Muslims identify with the statement, I believe in one God. I think we’ll conclude, and let’s look out at for ways of teaching, like having a syllabus of the parables. And then let’s think of creative ways of sharing good news as we travel, take you take long journeys.


People want to chat. They don’t have much to do. We can have very interesting stories and travels. And, yeah, there’s one one I’ll tell you 1 or 2 more another time.