Saturday, August 27, 2016

Opportunists

“Then he said, “I am the God of your ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…” Genesis 3:6a

Sageeda was excited about meeting me in the store. She invited me for a meal at her home. I didn’t think that was unusual having just met because Muslims are some of the most hospitable people on this planet. A wonderful meal was served. Then Sageeda revealed her real purpose of inviting me. Would I help sponsor her relatives to Canada?

Iman seemed unusually friendly and sent a big dish of some of my favorite ethnic food home with me. Then the request came. Would I please tell her the names of certain influential people I know whom she could use on her resume so that she could get a certain job?

A Muslim doctor appeared interested in studying the Bible with us. He said he wanted to become a Christian. We noticed, however, that when my husband and I and the doctor would get together he often had a hard time finding his Bible. Obviously he was not reading it regularly. Then he asked if he could get baptized. We took him to the pastor who listened to his testimony but something seemed hollow and empty.  The real purpose became exposed. We discovered he desperately desired to stay in our country and wanted us to lie to immigration about his situation.  When we told him we refused to lie he vanished. 

Discovering we have been used for ulterior motives is painful. The first time this happens to us we feel hurt and betrayed but we continue on. However, when it happens numerous times the temptation is to draw back from Muslims or quit relating altogether. We can develop a cynicism and distrust of all Muslims. If I would be truly honest, I could think of some situations where I have used somebody and been an opportunist.  It is not uncommon for missionaries occasionally to construct newsletters or speak in churches and share sensational stories in such a way to manipulate getting financial support. We can also throw around influential names to gather validation. There have been times when believers from Muslim background have been used by churches to tell their stories to attract people to meetings. We are not exempt from using people. Behind the opportunist’s attempts at getting something desirable is the belief that God is not able to help us and that He doesn’t truly love us and work on our behalf. We must take care of the situation ourselves.

A Bible story that continues to intrigue me is of Jacob who used key people to obtain something he wanted badly. Consequently he got himself into some complicated messes. But God met him in the process of using people,  wrestled with him, and ultimately changed him. Today we declare that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Amazing! Perhaps there is a little bit of Jacob in all of us. God is fully able to get through to opportunists who use us.

Dear heavenly Father, please help me not to give up in ministry when I am being used. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Help - I Need Wisdom!

“For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6

I was studying the Bible bi-weekly with a secular Muslim woman for eight months at her request. However, it appeared she was primarily interested in comparing religions, not thirsting for God. I agonized what I should do. Should I continue or stop? How do I go about it?

Aliya had IVF done. Later she called me what she should do with the frozen eggs. How should I respond?

We invited a family over for supper. My mp3 player went missing. I had noticed the teenager playing with it. Should I talk to him about it or not?

Hawa disclosed her sexual abuse perpetrated by a family member. I knew both of them. What should I do?

Farahea was determined to leave her country and her family secretively without their knowing. What words of wisdom could I give her?

Farzana has a severe case of hoarding and received an eviction notice from management. If I sorted through her belongings would it really help her? How does one deal with a hoarder being evicted?

Hussein ran out of money and needed a place to stay. Should we open our home to him?

Mohammed seems too inquisitive about which other Muslims I know. How do I respond to his questions which make me feel like he might be a spy for the mosque?

Would it be appropriate to take a photo of Amal? Would her husband be upset? What do I do with the secret she told me?

Nobody should embark in Muslim ministry without a thirst for wisdom, understanding and insight. It’s so easy to make mistakes, have regrets, cause damage or hurt people. Wisdom is needed for: implementing boundaries in relationships, gift giving, loaning money, what to cook for Muslim guests, wear, say, or do at cultural events, how to counsel Muslims with problems, what to do when lied to, whether to let a Muslim guest say their prayers in our home, for living in dangerous environments, evacuation possibilities, for verbal and written sensitive communication when security is an issue, how to stay ministry focused, what to do with prophetic words received, and how to best answer their theological questions and objections. The list could go on and on. Everyone needs wisdom but the person involved with Muslims or believers especially needs an abundance of it because we are faced with new cultural dynamics or spiritually desperate situations. Sometimes there is no one around to consult. There is no manual to check out.

Proverbs 2:1-7 instructs me with phrases like: tune your ears to wisdom – concentrate on understanding – cry out for insight – search for them. God has not disappointed me. Needing wisdom is at the top of my prayer list.

Dear heavenly Father, I’d be completely lost without your promise of receiving wisdom. What a gift you give me. Thanks!