Befriending Muslim Immigrants
What are Christians doing to extend a hand of welcome?
By Randy Hoffman
Several Christians recently told me about a Muslim man they met at an immigrant welcome centre. The Chris- tians were there to serve a Christmas meal and give gifts. This Muslim man couldn’t believe total strangers – especially Christians – would show this kindness to
him. His countrymen in the Middle East had tortured him and
left him for dead.
He had come to Canada just a few months before, carrying
with him some horrible memories. God is bringing thousands
of people to our doorstep from parts of the world least reached
by the gospel. Many, like this man, are leaving their homelands
because of persecution, war and disasters.
Despite their varied histories, today’s Canadian immigrants
have some things in common. Virtually all of them would like
good lives for their children, better than the lives they left behind.
And, depending on which statistics you trust, slightly more than
half each year’s inflow is now coming from Muslim countries.
(Canada’s population included 7. 2 million first-generation immigrants in 2006, according to a recent Pew Forum report. Muslims
then made up 9 per cent of Canada’s total immigrant population.)
Whatever numbers the experts eventually agree on, we can already say there is a real opportunity here for Christians to reach out.
How are Christians responding to Muslim immigration? Let me
share some true stories, although I’ll change the names for privacy.
two Iranian Lives
Amira fled Iran, together with her family, because of persecution.
One day the Iranian secret police (the Savak) knocked on her
door. They wanted her husband for questioning, which was to be
only a few hours. Days turned into weeks, and Amira was frantic.
Where was her husband, and what was happening to him?
Finally, after three weeks he showed up at home – thin, beaten, frightened. Amira cared for him, and they began to make their
plans. After some time they quietly left home as if going to visit
some relatives. They made their way out of Iran, and after some
time ended up in Canada.
One day Amira met Catharine. Catharine invited Amira over
to her family’s home for some tea. Over time their friendship
grew, and Catharine regularly prayed with Amira for her needs.
Catharine helped Amira with her English and assisted her in
After some time they began to trust each other and became
close friends. Amira began to ask questions, and Catharine
shared about her living relationship with the Lord Jesus. One
day Amira was praying with Catharine. At the end of the prayer,
she looked up and said, “Catharine, I have to tell you. I have fallen
in love with Jesus! I want to follow Him.” Amira prayed with
Catharine, received Christ as her Saviour, and has been growing
in her faith ever since. She and Catharine remain close friends.
Another Iranian Muslim in Canada is a man named Ali. He
began coming to church and started making some friends. He
was attending because he was curious and searching. After some
time, one of the men in the church came up to him and asked if
he wanted to become a Christian.
Ali was surprised, and responded, “I am a Muslim. I like com-
ing to church and making friends. I see that there are good people
here.” The Christian man replied, “We are very concerned that
people who come here are Christians. If you are not interested
in being baptized and becoming a Christian, then this is not the
place for you.”
Ali was shocked and hurt. He left the church and never went
back. He feels bitter at the way he was rejected.