Muslim in America: Bob Roberts, Jr.’s surprising insights

Bob Roberts, Jr. may come closest to the apostle Paul’s missionary zeal as anyone is likely to see in our country today. Dissection of his DNA would likely reveal he is descended from both David Brainerd and Adoniram Judson. There is no doubt Bob Roberts is a direct spiritual descendant of both.

The man exemplifies the zeal of God for those outside of Christ, unwilling to allow any cultural, religious, political or geographic boundary to remain between his telling of the gospel and those who need to hear it.

Roberts calls Hanoi his second home, and the Vietnamese people “the most noble of all.”

He is especially a friend to Muslims. If you follow Roberts’ Twitter feed you will often find him retweeting an imam he knows or an Islamic student.

american muslim woman

An American Muslim woman

Bob Roberts’ engagement strategies for peoples in other countries will one day be the stuff of missiological legend. His books force readers to reconsider the patterns of thought he or she has ever held regarding the missionary enterprise, how to do discipleship and the kingdom of God. The fervor with which he loves Muslims in America (and all over the world) can be discomforting at time. It is, however, the discomfort of conviction.

On August 21 I noticed a series of tweets like the one below from Bob Roberts regarding what it means to be a good Muslim.

The were from this post on his blog, “5 Things Evangelicals Need to Know About American Muslims.” I found it fascinating, informative and challenging. In other words, I found it vintage Bob Roberts, Jr.

#1 You can’t be a good Muslim without believing in Jesus. They believe in his virgin birth – but not from the Father of God. They believe in his miracles. They believe in his perfection. They believe in his unique place. They do not believe as I do that he was God in flesh or the Trinity. The Muslims I know, love to talk about Jesus if you open up the conversation.

#2 Most Muslims in the US are here because they want the freedoms we have. If they wanted Islamic law and culture – they would be in Islamic nations globally. If you asked them, they’d tell you that. Like Christians who came here wanting freedom of religion and separation of church and state – those concepts are deeply on the mind of Muslims globally and many want their children raised in a place where it’s practiced. Most in the US see the value in that and most that I know, would fear the US becoming an Islamic nation. Money was not the only reason and/or primary reason many came.

#3 Most Muslims are afraid of Islamic terrorists as much as Anglo Christians are – that’s why some are here. The majority of violence perpetrated in the name of God in the world is Muslim on Muslim. Yes, some Muslims commit terrorist acts against non-Muslims – but they by far kill their own people more than others. The is one reason the majority of Muslims came here. THEY WANT PEACE.

#4 Most Muslims want a relationship with Christians and others – but they are afraid to reach out. They are the minority. It’s up to the majority to reach out and build relationships. A couple of weeks ago, there were 14 acts of violence against Muslims and mosques in the US. Our church has many ways of reaching out to others across lines of different faiths. Some of the kindest and closest friends we have are people of other faiths. Many who come to America value relationship and friendship far more than Americans do. Those friendships have the potential of going very, very deeply for those who are not afraid.

#5 God has a special plan for Muslims. How can I say that? There are 1.3 or 1.5 billion of them in the world. He loves them. They matter to God. God always moves in the masses. You cannot ignore that many people. God created all people. He has a plan for them just as he has for other nations and peoples. In the Old Testament, there were times that God moved among the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Syrians, the Egyptians, and, yes, the Jews. I pray daily that God be glorified and Jesus exalted among all peoples and nations – Muslims included.

What do you think? Is Roberts naive? Have too many Americans bought into the “American Jihadist” narrative of an Islamic takeover? Do American Christians love American Muslims more than fearing them? Are American Christians, on the whole, more concerned with the possible imposition of Sharia law than the eternal souls of American Muslims?

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • Bob has helped me understand my own context, as for the past year God has opened the door for me, through my role in our Association, to engage the Turkish Muslim community of the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area. I find his observations accurate, and very helpful.

    My conversation with my Muslim friends opened up through one of our state legislators, who called me to get advice when one of the Turkish leaders claimed he could not work with her because she was an evangelical, and “they hate Muslims.” Unfortunately, he is on target regarding a few, very vocal evangelicals.

    Largely through following Bob’s guidance, I’ve encouraged our churches to begin engaging in this way. I’ve had a few instances where someone very honestly told me “I just don’t like those people!” I usually respond with “well, that sort of puts you in a very difficult predicament, seeing as how Jesus loves them.” Our people’s eyes are beginning to open, and we are seeing relationships (something the Turkish people value highly) begin to forge…and where what we believe is concerned, we haven’t moved an inch!

    I think if most evangelicals would fast from FOX News for a week, we would get a lot further in our attempts to obey Jesus’ commands where our Muslim friends are concerned.

  • Marty Duren

    Thx, Joel. I was hoping you would be able to write a few words from your experience.

  • Patrick

    Marty,

    I have always loved your blog, but thank you for this post!

    You scared me a little the other day with your Tweet about Egypt:) because I think the issue of militant Islam needs to be carefully set in context, particularly for an American audience.

    I think Bob Roberts is spot on and as good as it gets concerning the questions you raise. Thank you for highlighting his ministry. His voice and experience on this issue need to reach every corner of the American evangelical world.

    Why do we need Bob Roberts?
    I work at a Christian institution. This morning I was approached by a co-worker who had just introduced himself to my very dear friend, a church planter among our community’s growing Arab population. An outside vendor overheard my friend’s broken English and said, “Mohammad! The guy’s name is Mohammad! They’re all the same.” My friend graciously responded, “Excuse me, sir. My name is ____. And I am a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Why do we need Bob Roberts?
    Last week I was approached by another co-worker about the same Arab friend. This co-worker had given my friend a part-time job and was disturbed by something that had just happened. One of his subordinates had approached him in his office and expressed deep concerns about his choice to hire my Arab friend. The person warned him to be very cautious in his dealings with my Arab friend because “you never know” with an Arab.

    The sad thing is that my Arab friend has only been employed at my place of work for two weeks – Thank God for Bob Roberts. And thank you for highlighting his ministry.

    Blessings my friend.

    Patrick

  • Marty Duren

    Thx, Patrick, for sharing.