Monday, September 3, 2018

Ready...Set...GO!

“Now go, and do as I have told you. I will help you speak well, and I will tell you what to say. But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send someone else.” Genesis 4: 12-13

I ran races as a child at school. The races would commence when the words “ready, set, go!” were heard. It meant move to the starting point, get set to move, and GO. No race is ever run without taking that first step.

Over the years I have conversed with numerous compassionate Christian women who want to reach out to Muslim women but find it difficult to take that first step. Their enthusiasm and vision reveal that they are ready and set but they wait for everything to fall in place which usually means an existing program to plug into, a Christian organization to become part of, a pastor or mentor to coach them, a co-worker, a husband, or for some Muslim woman to suddenly appear in their lives. Without those things in place they are immobilized to move forward – to go.  They hold back getting involved at all. Indecisiveness, lack of self-confidence, lack of familiar structure, and fears of the unknown, failure, or rejection hinder their progress. They wait. They procrastinate. They weigh things carefully. If you can relate to this then this post is for you. Our hearts can be ready but not always our feet.

Getting involved in Muslim ministry/friendship in western nations requires being a self-starter. If you join a mission organization or NGO in an Islamic country you would go as a professionally skilled person and most likely work within an existing program or have the backing of someone to start a program. But let’s say you are in Sydney, London or Chicago and you have a part time or full time job. Or you may be a stay at home mom or a university student. You believe that God wants you to reach out to Muslim women. If there is a structured program you can plug into go for it but if not, and you know you are called by God to reach out to Muslim women, then you can start by approaching a Muslim woman in a natural setting such as a store, neighborhood, school or park and say hello. Taking that first step of being a self-starter will often lead to the next step: developing a relationship – not a program or a project, but a relationship. We can not normally plan, strategize, organize, or structure evangelism. It will usually be spontaneous and natural(or rather supernatural), instigated by the Holy Spirit and bathed in prayer. We won’t have much control but the Spirit will be in full control. So, don’t be afraid to take that first step. God will be with you, my friend! You can do it. We can’t run the race if we don’t start.

Dear heavenly Father, help us to move forward in faith and courage in befriending Muslim women. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Boundaries

“Set boundary lines…” Exodus 19:12a

Are you the type of woman who sees a need a mile away and rushes to take care of it? You do not waste any time gathering together whatever is required to meet the need and may even enlist people from your church to join you. You are tender hearted, generous, and kind. Some women can not say “yes” to a plea. That is not your problem. You can not say “no”. But…it does not take long until you feel used, over extended or perhaps trapped. Then resentfulness creeps in. You have not set realistic boundaries around your kind heart. As a result your Muslim friend will come to expect you to meet her every need of child care, transportation, errand shopping, being a bank, learning how to drive, getting a relative sponsored, etc. If this sounds like you then this post is meant for you. Setting boundaries is essential in Muslim ministry. They are for our well-being and will keep us going long term.

Monica, a Christian lady, asked me if I would be willing to meet a Muslim lady who was in a desperate situation. When she inquired what she should do about so many people needing her help I began to see something was not right about Monica's plea for help and declined to get involved. Monica desired to help every needy person but was not able to say no. There was a high level of guilt, compulsiveness, and pressure in responding to their needs. If only Monica could understand what her part should be or if she was being called by God to meet any part. 

The vast majority of Muslims I know are not demanding about their needs but occasionally there are certain ones who have too high expectations of me and an endless list of requests.  Sometimes I reason within myself that if I do not help them I will forfeit an opportunity to share spiritually with them. Some have material needs, while others are emotionally needy and lonely. Fortunately some churches offer good quality gently used clothing or furniture, food banks, and computer or English classes. Frequently there are immigration programs which do a superb job offering a myriad of services to meet the needs of Muslims who are newcomers. Many times Muslims can get help from the mosque or their community. So, the first thing we need to understand is that we do not have to meet every need personally. We can direct our friend’s attention to the services which are available. There will be occasions when we can personally get involved but we do not need to shoulder the entire responsibility alone. I ask God what my part should be. When we do get involved we should proceed wisely and implement boundaries; preferably before very much involvement takes place. It is difficult to implement boundaries after all the requests come. Think carefully about the part God wants you to play. If you do not know ask the Spirit to show you.  Boundaries bring a sense of order and peace and will keep us going long term in ministry. One reason there is a high attrition rate in ministry is because of burn out due to not implementing boundaries.

Yes, God will show us clearly who to help - when to help - and how much to help. There will be an accompanying spirit of freedom and joy – not guilt or pressure.

Dear heavenly Father, please help a sister reading this who is trying so hard to help a Muslim friend, to be free of guilt or pressure. Help her to clearly understand what her part is. In Jesus’ name, Amen.