Heather Bellamy spoke with Gordon Hickson of Mahabba Network.

Gordon Hickson
Gordon Hickson

Gordon Hickson is founder and National Coordinator of Mahabba Network, motivating and mobilising ordinary Christians to unveil Jesus to Muslims. His life-long love for Muslims has previously been expressed in various roles, including Campaign Director for Reinhard Bonnke in Africa and Asia and AOG (UK) Missions Director for the Muslim World. Mahabba helps Christians engage positively with Muslims by facilitating opportunities to pray, increasing understanding of Muslims and Islam and equipping believers to share Jesus with Muslims locally. Heather Bellamy spent time with him hearing about their work.

Heather: What does Mahabba mean?

Gordon: Mahabba means love. It's just a simple word of love in Arabic and Urdu.

Heather: Why did you choose that name for the network?

Gordon: Simply because the biggest challenge we're facing in this whole arena, is the fear that we see between Christians and Muslims. My Bible says that love is the only antidote to fear, and so, we just felt that it can encapsulate everything.

Heather: What does the work of Mahabba look like? What sort of things are you doing as a network?

Gordon: Mahabba mobilises ordinary Christians across the country. For generations it's been a domain of specialists who understand Islam and have probably worked abroad, but we felt that the problem is the ordinary Christians. So Mahabba mobilises thousands of ordinary believers from ordinary churches to get out of their trenches of fear and begin to learn how to relate to Muslims in the community.

We are first of all a prayer movement and so we gather people together in prayer, mainly on a weekly basis across the churches. We find that unity with prayer is very important, because it's so important for Christians to know that they are one, but also for Muslims to know that we're one family and that when they approach us, they're not approaching a divided group of people. So we gather in unity on a weekly basis.

Those people that come, we then take them through our first course, which is called 'Friendship First'. It speaks for itself. It's trying to show people how to connect to Muslims in their community. It's about understanding the culture and simple care and friendship, to be able to reach out and connect to local Muslim people.

We have other courses as well, but that's the basic thing, that we're mobilising Christians across the country to connect to Muslims in their community.

It really helps with community cohesion and it breaks up the awful divide between the communities. It helps a journey of understanding on both sides.

Heather: Could you give me some stories of what it looks like when Christians have gone out and started to engage with Muslims?

Building Relationships With Muslims

Gordon: Yes. There are now 45 cities that have a Mahabba Network. They all have the same basic DNA and the same core-values, but they will look different, because the Islamic communities in every city are different. Here in Oxford, where I am, we've got a settled Pakistani community, a lot of them are Mirpuri. We connect with them and often do what we call 'Meetings for Better Understanding'.

We have a meeting where we choose subjects like 'Who is Jesus?' or 'How does God forgive sin?' There's a speaker for 20 minutes from the Christian church who talks to the crowd, which is half Muslims, half Christians and then you have a Muslim speaker. After that you always have about 30 minutes for questions on either side. It's not a debate, they're just there to say, "What do you mean by that?" "Explain that." "We want to understand what you really believe." So it really does open up better understanding on both sides. Then we have a fantastic curry at the end of it.