When DACA recipient Raul Sanchez converted to Islam, his mother kicked him out of the house, telling him he was joining a cult and a terrorist organization.
Although they may not fit the image that first pops into your mind, Hispanics like Raul are the fastest growing ethnic group among Muslims. And many in this group have the same experience: rejection by their families. But Raul’s story doesn’t stop there, as he told it to VICE. Over time, as his mother saw him heal from depression and start helping the less fortunate, her view changed. Eventually, she accepted Islam for herself as well.
While this might seem like an anomaly, it’s part of a growing trend. Hispanics are simultaneously growing in their influence on US culture and economy, and turning in surprising numbers to Islam.
How does this compare to your ministry? Are you speaking to the hearts of Hispanics? What can Christian ministries learn from this movement? Let’s start by examining the qualities drawing so many Hispanics to Islam.
1) Access to God
Dalia Mogahed is director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, a Muslim research organization. “Islam emphasizes a personal and direct connection with God,” she told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “without the interference of an institution or clergy.” Faith is a deeply rooted part of many Hispanics’ culture, but in 2019, their relationship with the Church is a bit more complicated. For some, Islam represents fulfilling, uninterrupted access to God. What image is your ministry pursuing? To Hispanics, an institution may appear less attractive than an chance to develop their personal relationship with their Creator. Give Hispanics an opportunity to know God better through your ministry!
2) Shared trauma
Hispanics already have much in common with Muslims. Shared experience of discrimination and prejudice has become a powerful point of connection. Both groups face xenophobia, which makes relating to each other easier. For some Hispanics, this is a welcome contrast to the silence in their churches. Does your ministry steer clear of the adversities affecting Hispanics today? Unfortunately, you may find Hispanics steering clear of your cause. By first listening, and then joining Hispanics in speaking out on important issues, you can start to earn their trust.
3) Respect for Jesus
Hispanic Muslims aren’t jumping into a completely alien ideology; an important aspect of Islam is its respect for the person of Jesus. Although Muslims don’t believe that Jesus is God, they honor him as one of the most powerful and important prophets. This makes accepting Islam more palatable for some Hispanics. This could trigger some important conversations for Christian ministries. Do you introduce your cause in light of who Jesus is? This might seem risky when engaging agnostic or nonreligious white Americans, but it matters to Hispanics. Be clear on how your ministry fits into Jesus’ person and words.
4) Hispanics know Muslims
The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding recently released an in-depth report on Islamophobia, and it included key insights on Hispanics. Specifically, Hispanics are more likely than other groups to know and have favorable opinions of Muslims. It sure isn’t rocket science – you have to know someone in order to trust them. Do Hispanics know you? Are you making an effort to connect your ministry with their daily lives and passions?
Hispanics are on the move, and they have real spiritual hunger and needs. Many believe that Islam holds the answers. If your ministry ignores Hispanics, they will commit and invest elsewhere. Isa Parada, imam of a Houston mosque with Spanish sermons, told the Inquirer he was influenced in part toward Islam by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X, especially Malcolm’s visit to Mecca. There, Malcolm saw people of all races worshiping together.
Do Hispanics know the picture painted in Revelation 7? “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
God is bringing people from every country and ethnicity to himself, and he started a long time ago. You can be part of that! Let Hispanics know that you need their support. They want genuine opportunities to meet Jesus, to follow Him, and to feel as if they’re part of His larger family, rather than being treated as a distant relative. They are ready to get involved.
If you recognize that you need help crafting a message for Hispanics, the Kerux Group would love to help. Doing nothing comes at a cost, but so does a half-hearted or clumsy effort. Kerux is made up of nothing but professionals from every corner of the Hispanic market. Introduce us to your cause! We are excited to help you win the hearts of Hispanics.