Tragedy helps couple reach out to Muslims
How a family tragedy in Pakistan spurred Counties evangelists John and Jane Martin to share their faith ...
How a family tragedy in Pakistan spurred Counties evangelists John and Jane Martin to share their faith
The Martins, from Saffron Walden in Essex, regularly visit Muslims in their area, as well as travelling on buses in London, chatting to locals and sharing Jesus stories.
John and Jane’s passion for sharing their faith with Muslims was ignited after the tragic death of their son in 1988.
Their second son Samuel, who was 25 years old, fell and died while on a day's trek in the mountains of northern Pakistan. John and Jane (right, with a picture of their son) received genuine support and human understanding from the local Muslim community. This was a challenge to the prejudice and negative thoughts they had previously held about Muslims.
John said: “When I visited Samuel’s grave in Gilgit I met some kind Muslim friends and we drank tea together. They comforted me and said: ‘His death is the will of Allah: accept it and be at peace.’
“I was grateful for their friendship and compassion. We also met some Christian friends who showed us a beautifully written prayer hanging on the wall. It said: ‘Father I do not understand you but I trust you.’
“These experiences have helped me to hear God’s special message for me – Christians and Muslims should be friends, so do not be afraid to talk with them.
“We have come to understand that our Muslim friends share many of our beliefs, but their legalistic spirit prevents them from understanding God's grace and forgiveness. We have discovered how much they enjoy the gospel stories of Jesus welcoming sinners.”
For two years John – who has worked with Christian charity Counties since 1994 - has been meeting Muslims every month for lunch, organised by a Muslim seeker who invites his friends.
There is much reading and discussion of the Bible as well as the Koran.
John also enjoys sitting on buses in Tower Hamlets – an area with a very high population of Muslims – where he chats to locals, sharing his pamphlets, presenting Jesus stories. He finds they are really popular.
John added: “We need to listen to each other, affirming what is good and true. Christians and Muslims actually have more in common with their beliefs than many people realise.
“It’s always best to establish common ground, in order to talk about our vital differences in a friendly way.”
For more ideas on connecting with Muslims in your community e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and order John’s booklet The Common Ground and the Great Invitation.