We often get asked the question: "Is it safe to tell large groups of Muslim people about Jesus out in the open?"
Too often I suspect this question comes from a position of fear. Folks who ask us this have usually only experienced Islam via the latest terrorist headline on the news - and subconsciously wonder if all Muslims aren't blood thirsty Jihadists. And while it is true that there are indeed some pretty unpleasant characters out there, the vast majority of Muslim folks you will meet in the world are more likely to invite you round for dinner than cut your head off with a carving knife. And yet, this fear instilled in most Christians by the violence of some Muslims has meant that Christians in our day (and also historically) largely avoid getting to know Muslims and sharing their faith with them. As an aside, telling a Muslim who you believe Jesus is is largely risk-free (although not disagreement free!). It's ridiculing and denigrating their religion that tends to result in violence.
But I haven't really answered the question: is it safe?
Well, maybe I should start by asking if the question itself is relevant. What does scripture say about this sort of thing?
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. 2 Timothy 2:3-6
Whatever Paul was up to can't have been very safe if it involved suffering, and yet he asks his readers to join him in it. What kind of a soldier joins the army - on the condition they won't be sent to a dangerous place. Or what kind of Olympic athlete complains about the years of training? Imagine a farmer who says they are happy to be a farmer - but don't make me get up at 4am to milk the cows. These folks aren't really soldiers, athletes, or farmers at all. What did Christ command his followers? If anyone would call themself my disciple, they should get a good job, pay their taxes and join the ranks of the middle class. Well, that is not in any translation I have read - but Western Christianity often looks a lot like that. It's not that joining the ranks of the middle class is a great sin, more that we can forget what Christ really called us to. And let's be under no illusions - truly following Christ is a risky business no matter where or how you do it. And so, "Is it safe?" is not really a question we should even be asking.
But even so, is it safe?
Perhaps we can turn the question around and ask "are the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world today safe?" Should I come to meet my maker sooner than I was expecting, then in the light of eternity, if the Gospel really is true, I am totally safe. The suicide bomber on the other hand is not.
But is it safe?
Perhaps we can ask the millions of Christians who live in countries where simply to be a Christian means to live every day as one of the persecuted minority. Is it safe for the Nigerian, Iraqi or Indonesian Christian who risks a bomb blast every Sunday they show up to church?
Enough politicising and avoiding the question. Even if the question is somewhat shallow, motivated by fear and irrelevant even, we can answer the question as it relates to ministry with Taco with one word:
Hundreds of events, hundreds of conversations and goodness knows how many thousands of kilometres later, we have experienced little in the way of violence from the Muslims we have sought to share with in all the different countries we work in.