Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Pastoral Evangelists to Muslim Women

“He is the one who gave these gifts to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11

A Saudi doctor went to the university and requested someone to help his wife learn English. I was contacted and went to their apartment. There was a beautiful arboretum of tropical plants near the lobby where tenants socialized.  I asked the doctor if his wife enjoyed it. “No,” he replied. “She has never seen it. She goes on the elevator and down to the underground parkade with me when we go outside.” I was shocked at her restrictions. There were many wonderful spiritual opportunities to share in their home. One day I asked if my husband could come with me and visit them but the doctor said no. What a privilege to be a woman and gain access into their home. However it's  not always easy for a Christian husband to gain the same access as his wife because of cultural taboos.

The Church desperately needs to raise up women who will be validated, equipped, sent out, prayed for and supported to be pastoral evangelists to Muslim women. Muslim women comprise the largest unreached people group. One out of five females(babies, girls, women) in our world is a Muslim. Christian men are largely restricted from sharing Christ with Muslim women. Culturally most Muslim women can not have access to men unless they are  related to them. Millions of Muslim females are restricted from moving around freely in the outside world. Their lives are lived mostly within their four walls where men can not go. Even if the women are somewhat liberated and hold jobs they still prefer to socialize among women. This is a generalization as there are cultures where the mixing of the genders is acceptable. How will Muslim females – girls and women – hear the Good News in a culturally acceptable way? I believe we Christian women need to awaken to the fact that God has chosen to use us.

Nowadays many Muslim women can hear of or read the gospel on the internet or television but they need to encounter an incarnate witness to give it a human touch.  That kind of evangelism  will  best take place inside either your home or the Muslim woman's home, in privacy,  on a one-on-one basis and within the context of a growing trusted relationship. It is a hidden and slow ministry. It is both pastoral and evangelistic. Hidden away in our churches is a growing number of Christian women becoming aware of the need of reaching Muslim women and feeling compassion towards them. They really desire to meet them and share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them. They don’t know how or where to begin. They need to be released to be God’s pastoral evangelists. They need to be affirmed, validated and sent out. They need to be equipped by other experienced Christian women.

My sister in Christ, if you sense God has gifted you to be a pastoral evangelist to Muslim women, don't shrink back.  Your church leadership, friends or family may not understand or grasp this calling yet but just go to Muslim women and share the love of Jesus with them.  He will strengthen and use you. I can testify that this high calling brings abundant joy and blessing and eternal fruit. There are many open doors.

Dear heavenly Father, please raise up more women pastoral evangelists in our churches. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Telling the Christmas Story

“…And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?....” part of Romans 10:14

Shaheen remarked, “Joy, Christmas has started.  It lasts so long! I’m jealous.  Our Eid is just a few days but Christmas is for so long.  Why can’t we have Eid like Christmas?”  Her jealousy caught me by surprise.  We know that it lasts a long time because it mostly has to do with commercialization, but I thought, hmm….I guess it’s not so bad it lasts a long time if it makes someone jealous.  More time means more opportunities to tell the story.

 Muslims in the West are surrounded by the secular commercialization of Christmas. They are attracted to beautifully decorated Christmas trees and homes, hear the festive carols being sung in malls and perhaps take their children to a Santa parade. There are Christmas or Holiday parties going on everywhere, including ESL schools and in public schools. Many take their children to visit Santa in the mall and have a photo taken. 

When I visit my friends during December I usually ask them, “You have heard the story of Santa but have you ever heard the real story about Christmas?” Often I get the reply they don’t know any other story. “Really? You’ve never heard the real story of Christmas?” I exclaim. I try to build up a desire to want to hear it. “How long have you lived here? Has no one ever told you the real story?” By this time they are curious to know what the real story is all about. “Would you like to hear it?” I ask them. When they say yes I tell them the story. It is as simple as that. They are aware of Mary and baby Jesus(Isa) but not much more than that. Ask them what else they know about the story. There were precise prophecies, angelic visits and dreams, a one-of-a-kind conception, a shocked fiancé, an unusual star, astrologers, a wicked and jealous king who went on a terrorist rampage, shepherds, extravagant gifts appropriate for a king, a significant name given to the baby, Yousef and Maryam and Isa became refugees on the run, etc. It’s a dramatic and exciting story. God has a good plan for the world. I like to capitalize on the meaning of the name of Jesus – as much as they can handle in one sitting. Explaining theology is necessary but they also need to hear the story. Unfortunately sometimes we jump right into theology and doctrinal facts but alas, leave out the story. 

Afterwards I ask them if they understood the story and if so, could they please tell the story back to me because I want to see if they really understood it. I help them if they have difficulty. “And what happened after that?....What does that mean?”....”Who had a jealous eye?” "What does the name Jesus mean?"…and so forth.

They can’t believe in Jesus as Savior if they have never heard the story of Him. Why not try to tell the story to one Muslim friend this Christmas?

Dear heavenly Father, please help me not to be afraid or shy to tell the Christmas story. In Jesus’ name, Amen.