Saturday, August 10, 2013

Helpful Ministry Tips - Part 2

“But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at bringing others to Christ. Complete the ministry God has given you.” II Timothy 4:5

 Timothy found a ministry mentor in Paul. Do you have a mentor or coach in Muslim ministry? Paul’s advice to Timothy has held me steady when I have been confused, distracted, or tempted to quit. In this post we will look at two more pieces of advice Paul gave Timothy.

Work at bringing others to Christ:

 Bringing Muslims to Christ is work. It’s not simply encouraging someone to raise a hand after hearing a sermon about salvation and bang, the transaction is done and our part is over. No, Muslim ministry usually involves long term connecting, loving, building bridges, bringing down strongholds or lies, explaining truth and much praying. It’s hard spiritual work of clearing stones, tilling the ground, planting the seed, watering it, and waiting…and waiting…to see it grow. We continue to nurture them after they come to Christ. Yes it is true that there are often miracles or dreams involved in the Muslim’s life to confirm the truth heard or to point to it but there's more work on our part to follow that up.  So many Christians get excited about making a Muslim friend. They yearn to share Christ and do so but after maybe one year of relating and not much visibly happening the Christian gives up and abandons further involvement.  Paul’s advice gets very specific -  bring them to Christ – not ourselves. A number of MBBs who claim they became followers of Christ but have fallen away were actually followers of their good Christian friends. Are  we bringing  Muslims to ourselves or to Christ? Do our friends talk about us a lot or about Jesus? Perhaps we Christians will disappoint the new follower, move away, get sick, or die. I appreciate ministry leaders and their evaluation reports which are meant to remind me of whether I'm doing what God called me to do. That's what Paul was coaching Timothy about.  It's very easy to get sidetracked from what God called me to do 35 years ago.

Complete the ministry God has given you:

It’s relatively easy to start ministering among Muslims. We are full of ambition and vigor to win Muslims to Christ. It’s another matter to complete the work God has called us to. Perseverance is needed. The Holy Spirit lets us know if we should embark upon this ministry and I believe He also lets us know when our part has been completed. And when it has been completed to move on in freedom and peace for whatever next He has prepared for us to be involved in. Perhaps you have been befriending a Muslim friend for five years and you sense you can go no further spiritually with her. It could be that God is saying you have completed His assignment and to move on and befriend another one. Or maybe He says to just hang in there because His plan has not been completed yet. You will sense the Spirit’s leading as you listen for His voice. When I was sick with hepatitis in 1980 in Pakistan I wanted to quit but deep down I knew my ministry had not been completed. Actually it had hardly even begun! Someone wisely advised me to not make such a major final decision when sick. Beginning and completing are both important.

  Dear heavenly Father, please help a sister needing to take that first step in getting started in befriending Muslims. Also help the sister who is unsure whether she has completed her part or not. Give her peace either way. In Jesus’ name, Amen.