If we are never offending people, then it is highly unlikely that we are preaching the gospel, argues Tim Dieppe


Source: Guy Corbishley / Alamy Stock Photo

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the brutal murder of Fusileer Lee Rigby on the streets on Woolwich in broad daylight by Muslim converts who quoted from the Qur’an to justify their actions. It is also the 6th anniversary of the Manchester Bombing which killed 22 people with 64 injured.

The Home Secretary stated in February that 80 per cent of counter-terrorism police network’s live investigations involve Islamist terrorism. MI5 is clear that Islamist terrorism is our greatest threat, making up around three quarters of its caseload. The current national threat level from terrorism is ‘substantial’ – meaning that an attack is ‘likely’. The last time the MI5 Director General gave his annual update, in November 2022, he said that another eight potentially-deadly late-stage attack plots had been disrupted in the last year.

We now know that one of these attack plots was an attempt on the life of Christian evangelist Hatun Tash.

Muslim convert Edward Little was arrested on 23 September last year with £5,000 cash, a passport and two mobile phones in his rucksack. Last week in court he admitted to planning to buy a gun in order to kill Hatun Tash. He will be sentenced in July.

Hatun has seen over 1,000 Muslims convert to Christianity

This is not the first threat to Hatun’s life. In July 2021 Hatun was brutally stabbed in broad daylight at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park by a man wearing a black Islamic robe. The intention was clearly to kill her, and it is a miracle that she survived. She collapsed with blood running down her face and arm. When she recovered from her collapse, and with blood still streaming over her body, she continued to preach saying: “Dear Muslim people. Lord Jesus doesn’t need me. Allah is in need of you…Muslim people, you know how much it hurts when you run away from Lord Jesus Christ? It’s not about the blood on my hand…It is unacceptable you are running away from Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nor was that the first time that Hatun has been assaulted. She has been hit, dragged to the floor, had her glasses broken, and had books stolen from her. She has also been wrongfully arrested by the police several times. With the help of the Christian Legal Centre, Hatun was last year able to obtain an apology and £10,000 in compensation and costs for two wrongful arrests.

Hatun is the most effective evangelist I know. She has seen over 1,000 Muslims convert to Christianity, including several Imams. She says she tried telling Muslims “God loves you!” but found that she saw no fruit from that approach. So, instead she more often leads with ”Muhammad is a false prophet!” By being more direct she provokes debate and discussion and is able to show Muslims the many problems with their faith. She is very knowledgeable about Islamic teaching and is able to cite the Qur’an and Hadith to show what a bad moral example Muhammad was, and how apalling his teaching is, pointing all the while to Jesus as the perfect example with life-giving teaching.

It is surely because she is so effective that Hatun is threatened, attacked and targeted by Muslims. And surely, she is so effective because she is so provocative. Christian evangelists are not usually attacked or assaulted in this country, though it is becoming more and more common for them to be wrongfully arrested by the police on accusations of homophobia, transphobia or Islamophobia – as if stating a biblical position on any of these issues constitutes a crime.

Hatun has not only been arrested, but there have now been at least two serious attempts on her life. While this may be unusual in the UK, it is not unusual in many other parts of the world, where Christians are frequently attacked.

It is also true, that in many Islamic countries, you would not survive very long if you went around saying “Muhammad is a false prophet!”. Christians are arrested and sometimes sentenced to death for blasphemy on the slenderest evidence, or even just by mere accusation.

Hatun knows this very well, and she is keen to maximise the freedom she has in this country to preach the gospel as boldly and fearlessly as she can. She will not be intimidated or cowed by threats or actual violence. She loves Muslims too much. She feels the burden of reaching them for Christ.

In her actions, Hatun follows the biblical example of Paul who was flogged and beaten by Jews for his provocative preaching (1 Corinthians 11:23-24), and later imprisoned. Couldn’t he have been a bit more loving? Or, indeed, the example of Jesus himself who pulled no punches in his condemnation of the Pharisees (Matthew 23) and paid the ultimate price as a result. Perhaps he should have been a bit more polite?

But perhaps most UK Christians are too polite? Have we adopted the all too prevalent cultural fear of offending? Does this mean that we are guilty of hiding the “offense of the cross” (Galatians 5:11)?

If we are never offending people, then it is highly unlikely that we are preaching the gospel. And if we are not seeing conversions then we really ought to question our methods. Fear of man is a snare (Proverbs 29:25), says the proverb. By contrast, Paul “powerfuly refuted” (Acts 9:22), “spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading”, and sought to “destroy arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:5). He paid a price for such boldness, but he saw remarkable fruit.

I hope that Hatun’s example inspires others to be bold and courageous in our proclamation of the gospel. People will not be reached if we are too afraid to confront them with the truth.