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New course for Muslim background believers

Join the Family, a unique course to help UK churches integrate new believers from a Muslim background, was launched this week ...

'See you next Sunday' doesn't work! That was the message from Canon Phil Rawlings at this week's launch of Joining the Family, a unique course to help UK churches integrate new Christian believers from a Muslim background ...

"People joining churches from such a background show us what family is really all about. They are way ahead of us," said Rawlings, interfaith officer for the Church of England in Oldham and one of the architects of the course. "We have to change our churches if we are to see them grow in Christ."

Iranian Reza Jaffari became a Christian after his mother's conversion. "We are looking for family inside the church," he said. "When my mother became a pastor, all the young people from a Muslim background called her 'Mum'. They were missing their own families."

Endorsing Reza's comments, Rawlings said: "Many converts have lost their families and face financial loss and physical threat. Our British reserve is often deemed as rejection. We are perceived to be more interested in services than community. 'See you next Sunday' simply isn't good enough. Building a relationship takes time and hospitality is very important."

Also speaking at the launch, Canon Dr Michael Green said: "In current mission activity we are seeing a reluctance from British students in making a commitment to Christ. Many more are taking that step from other cultures, mainly Islam. Is the church ready to receive them? No. Will this resource help? Yes!"

Joining the Family comprises film clips, participants' workbook, facilitators' guide and accompanying book. It is part of a trio of resources including Friendship First and Come Follow Me. Church groups can run the course themselves without outside help.

The project's core group has been chaired by Rawlings and comprises believers of Muslim background (BMBs), church leaders and disciplers connected with several mission agencies. The teaching content includes 25 interviews with Christian believers of Muslim background and experienced mentors speaking from the heart.

Tim Green (Interserve) and Mojdeh Hawkesley (Elam Ministries) co-present the course. The production is by Interserve with Carfax Media in partnership with Elam Ministries and the Mahabba Network. The resources are published by Kitab.org.uk.

"In the long term we are looking to develop a movement, a network of people available to Christian leaders to offer advice and help," said Rawlings.

PHOTOS: Top: (left to right) Louise Yeghnazar (Elam Ministries), Reza Jaffari (Iranian believer from a Muslim background) and Canon Phil Rawlings, interfaith officer for the Church of England in Oldham
Above: (left to right) Manaj Raithatha (South Asian Forum, Evangelical Alliance), Reza Jaffari and Chrissy Taylor (Elam Ministries)

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