So Paul, standing before the council, addressed the as follows: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.”
When Paul went into the Jewish synagogues scattered throughout Greece and Asia Minor, he was able to freely argue with all present, explaining and proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. When he arrived in Athens, however, and looked around the city, he found himself in a very different environment. The city was full of idols and its markets were frequented regularly by Epicurean, Stoic, and other philosophers He was no longer on his own turf. How did he evangelise people from a totally different nation, culture, and religious heritage? When he stood on the great Areopagus and was challenged to present his message to the locals who regarded what he had already preached as a strange, new teaching, he began: “Men of Athens….”
There are two important lessons to be learnt from this brief passage. Today we consider the first lesson – Paul made himself acquainted with the beliefs of the people be sought to evangelise. The best way of getting the impact of this principle is to accentuate certain words in his first sentence: “I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription.” Paul took time to familiarize himself with the background of the people he wished to reach. He perceived, as he passed along he also observed, and as he did so he found an altar.
In Muslim evangelism the Christian must learn as much as he can about the beliefs and practices of those he desires to reach. It is essential to learn the Qur’an and important parts of the Hadith. Then you can communicate sensitively, effectively, and intelligently with them.
Pray that God will give you wisdom and discernment to learn about the beliefs of those you want to evangelise. Make an effort today to locate sources that can help you do this.