Students trained in engaging Muslims with the gospel at Jenkins Center conference
Walking in grace and forgiveness in Christ is central to faithful evangelism, argued missionary Mike Shipman at a conference at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The conference, entitled “Impacting the World: Islam and Engaging Muslims,” took place February 27–29 in Heritage Hall. It was hosted by the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam. Speakers included Shipman, J. Keith McKinley (Associate Professor of Christian Missions at Southern Seminary), and Gail McKinley.
For twenty years, Shipman has served with the International Mission Board as a missionary in Southeast Asia, and he is the author of Plan A: Abide in Christ, Disciple the World! and Any-3: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, a guide to engaging Muslims with the gospel. Shipman focused on how Christian dependence on Christ fuels evangelism even when evangelism might be wearying.
“There are three keys to abiding in Christ: walking with him in prayer, listening to his words, while we do his works,” Shipman said. “The good news is: Jesus didn’t say ‘you have the authority to fulfill the Great Commission, you go do it.’ He said ‘remember this: I’ll be with you always, to the end of the world.”
Paul M. Akin, Dean of the Billy Graham School at Southern Seminary, said the conference highlighted the seminary’s commitment to international evangelism and evangelism amongst Muslims in particular.
“At the Billy Graham School we are passionate about the Great Commission,” Akin said. “We want to see our students and graduates take the gospel across the street and around the world. As they do, they will inevitably come into contact with Muslims. There are more than 1.6 billion Muslims around the world. These are people that are created in the image of God and who need to hear the gospel. The purpose of this conference and evangelism training is to better equip our students in sharing the gospel with Muslims both here and around the world.”
The conference consisted of four parts: training on evangelism, discussion and fellowship, witnessing opportunities, and a special training for women on sharing the gospel in a Muslim context, lead by Gail McKinley. During the witnessing opportunities, conference participants engaged in evangelism throughout Louisville.
Shipman reflected on the priority of sharing the gospel from the beginning of a relationship. Scripture has no category for delaying sharing the gospel with someone, Shipman said.
“We proclaim the gospel,” Shipman said, and “let the Holy Spirit do the work based on the power of the gospel. ...In the first conversation, you meet people, you share the gospel, you gauge for openness, then do follow up until they say they believe in something else.”
Ayman S. Ibrahim, Bill and Connie Jenkins Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Director of the Jenkins Center, noted how this conference helped to fulfill the mission and vision of the Jenkins Center. Ibrahim reinforced the urgency of training those in attendance to “present the good news to Muslims when you meet them, both locally and globally.”
“This is part of what we do at the Jenkins Center,” Ibrahim said. “We [at the Jenkins Center] are trying to train Christians to understand more about Islam as a religion and as an ideology, and also about Muslims in all their diversity.”
The Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam was founded in 2014 to equip students, pastors, and missionaries with the tools needed for sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world.
More information and resources for engaging Islam are available at the Jenkins Center website.