Monday, November 9, 2015

Secret Identity

“This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.” Romans 1:1

Afsana was ringing up my groceries in the check out line. I inquired which country she came from and she replied, “Afghanistan”. That prompted me to tell her I had lived in Pakistan. She inquired what I did there. Without hesitation I told her I taught the Bible. She replied, “That’s nice.” As I filled my cart to go, she whispered, “You’re an angel.” That was a surprise; especially since I had disclosed my identity and work.

It seems that we Christians who are set apart for ministering to Muslims sometimes have a hard time disclosing who we are and what we do. Whether it is ministering overseas or even in our free western nations we are reticent to state our real mission to any Muslim who might inquire. Why is this? We often cloak our answers with stating a secondary purpose. What are we afraid of? What do we think will happen if we state things clearly?

I was once there, too. I presumed doors would close among the Muslim friends I had made. And if doors would close then what would I do? The assumption was ministry would be over. I was careful nothing would get in print or on the internet. Certain trigger words were stated differently in emails. Fourteen years went on like this. I had a secret identity. Then, by God’s design we moved to another city and I decided to stop disguising my true identity: that I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I am with the church, and I teach the Bible to anyone interested. An amazing thing happened! Instead of Muslims running away I found that they showed respect. Little by little I got bolder in stating my identity. Certainly not all of them have wanted to continue contact. However that is not usually because they are very religious but rather they are secular Muslims, not interested in religion of any kind. Probably nothing has advanced fruitfulness more than putting my secret identity aside and being forthright. The bolder and more transparent we are among Muslims the more we will be granted thrilling opportunities to share the full and true story of Jesus Christ. The more we hide our purposes and identity the less fruitfulness and opportunities we’ll experience.

My Muslim acquaintances know whom to call when they want prayer or have a spiritual question. Transparency has not come overnight for me. Slowly, exercising ever increasing faith and trust, it has developed. I have had to rise above the painful fear of rejection in some cases.

Dear heavenly Father, we struggle between making You and Your purposes known or disguising that with our Muslim friends. Baptize us with the fire of Your Holy Spirit who will give us more power and courage. In Jesus’ name. Amen