Saturday, August 1, 2015

Witness or Investigator?

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I Corinthians 2:2

For months my husband urged me to visit a lady whom I will call Nuri.  He met her at one of the places he volunteers at. He asked Nuri if I could come and visit her. Then she gave Ed her phone number so I could arrange a visit. He did not know for certain which country she came from, her religion or who her husband was.  After a few months I called Nuri and set up a time for our visit.  Taking a homemade cake I drove off to her place not knowing what kind of person I was supposed to be meeting. 

When I walked into her place it was full of kids, husband, and other visitors. I wondered who was who and tried to piece everything together.  I tried to figure out which country Nuri was from and got a few answers. When I asked her which language she spoke she referred to a few languages. Until now I had not met a person from that part of the world and had never heard any of those languages spoken which she mentioned.  I could not figure out why those visitors were present since they were not of Nuri’s nationality. They were relating more on professional terms than friendly. Eventually it became clearer there were “problems” in the home.  An understanding of what is lawfully right or wrong was missing.  The “problems” did not entirely make sense either. The visitors left and finally Nuri and I could have a better conversation. I showed her our family picture which then she showed to her husband. He blurted out, “Your husband is my friend!”  What? Ed certainly did not know which home I was in or he would have been shocked. He was a hunk of a guy and an apprehensiveness arose in me.   
That night I had a dream of seeing big scary spiders on the wall.  But an amazing thing happened. Every time I went close to them they shrivelled up and dropped to the floor. They looked so scary but in reality there was nothing to be afraid of. When I awoke I realized the dream was reflecting my fears and reservations. I sensed the Lord telling me, Joy, you don’t need to be afraid of Nuri and her family either. They need the love of Jesus. You also do not need to know everything about them. You do not have to understand their language, their culture, or even their wrong doing. I have not called you to be my investigator but my witness. Just love them.

Sometimes I feel I need to get a grasp on everything. It makes me feel more in control. It is important for me to have knowledge about a person’s country, language, culture, particular religious beliefs or practices but especially about their behavior. Are they trustworthy? Am I hearing the truth? Is something shady going on? What is going on? Once again God reminded me He has sent me to be a witness of the Good News of Jesus Christ, not an investigator.

Dear heavenly Father, please free me from the compulsion to be an investigator. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nothing is a Coincidence

That day the Spirit led him(Simeon) to the Temple. Luke 2:27  She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph….Luke 2:38a

Do you believe that God actually times our steps, phone calls, or words? I stepped out of a store and unexpectedly bumped into Zahra who was wrestling with emotional pain.  Just when I phoned Safia she had been thinking of me because she found my photo in a drawer. An abusive husband got arrested by police right in front of us on our very first visit in their home.  Walking past a Muslim couple in a park Layla, the wife, asked me if she could go to church with me!  Ayesha had a dream about heaven which she shared with me. Believe it or not, my eyes, not by coincidence, fell on a card which partly depicted her dream so I bought it for her.  Some people might refer to such encounters as coincidences but in reality they have been planned by a sovereign God for a specific reason. He truly can sovereignly time and guide our steps, words, and actions.  Over time I have grown sensitive in identifying His voice, learned to listen carefully, and tried to follow through with what He says to me. Go there. Look over there. Stop.  Linger for a minute. Phone so and so. Share that story, thought, song, or verse. Today it would be better to wear that outfit. Be sure to take your Bible with you today. Tuck a Jesus dvd in your purse today.  I do not know why these things are whispered to me but I act on His instructions.  I pray, Lord, please guide my steps or my phone calls today, and He does. It remains a mystery to me!
Nowadays I have been reading the book of Esther. God is not specifically mentioned but He was constantly at work in a very exciting narrative: a certain young woman was humanly picked to be Queen but appointed by God, she was from a specific Jewish family, a king had a troubling dream which was most likely planned by God on that very night, Haman proposed an idea for honoring someone(Mordecai) which had to have been designed by God Himself, Mordecai and Esther were given favor, etc. Nothing happened by coincidence.

Occasionally I receive letters from Christian women wanting to know where and when to meet Muslim women. However, there are no humanly devised guaranteed strategies because God has His own unique ways and timing of how/where/when we will be sent to Muslim women. I have learned the importance of hearing the voice of the Spirit.  His guiding voice is more valuable than all the resources for Muslim ministry available nowadays, even if they are excellent in content. They are just tools like my book and blog are.  First we need to grow in following the voice of the Spirit.  We declare we believe in the doctrine about the Holy Spirit but may not hear His voice.  This matter is one of the most necessary areas of mastering in engaging with Muslims. Once understood and mastered new opportunities in ministry will open up.

Dear heavenly Father, please grow me in this necessary and sensitive dimension of ministry among Muslims.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.