Thursday, May 15, 2014

Honeymoon is Over

Emmaus Road conversation:  Luke 24: 13-34

The first time I spoke with Mohammed he was in high spirits about how wonderful Canada is. “The government is like an angel!” he exclaimed. You would have thought he had arrived in paradise. Some time later when I met him he was  disillusioned and upset about homosexuality being allowed. Now the government did not seem so angelic anymore. In fact he was wishing he was back in his country which would punish homosexuals. The issue of same sex marriages is almost too much for some Muslim newcomers to adjust to. He experienced anger and depression. I have discovered that the majority of Muslims who come to the West eventually encounter a painful season of disillusionment. The “honeymoon” ends.

Encountering disillusionment is a painful experience. We start out with fresh vigor and high idealism only to have it come crashing down on us making us bitter and disappointed. I encountered disillusionment after the honeymoon season in ministry ended. There have been misgivings and unanswered questions the past 35 years. Usually my expectations have been too high. It has not always been easy to see things realistically or to make adjustments.

Some of the disillusionment I have experienced in different situations have helped me to understand the disillusionment some of my Muslim friends walk through in coming to Canada. They usually do not receive sufficient orientation of what life will be like before they arrive here. No doubt a lot of what they were told wasn’t processed sufficiently. When they arrive they may be overwhelmed and dazed and view much through the prism of idealism. But it doesn’t take long until their expectations are shaken. Some can adjust, but not everyone.

What does this have to do with sharing the Gospel with them?  A lot. It is helpful to understand their journey and that it usually affects their ability to absorb or respond to new spiritual information. It is not easy to hear clearly in a state of disillusionment. Often we immediately start sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with them while they are just trying hard to get their bearings. We like to zoom in on that which is uppermost in importance spiritually. But it is wise to go slow. A veteran missionary couple shared some wise advice when we arrived in Pakistan. “Go slow,” they exhorted. It may ultimately be wise to be slow in giving a Jesus dvd or a Bible or inviting them to church. The ripe time will come. Everything in our western culture screams “go fast”. We don’t like to wait at all. We might completely dismiss or minimize the disillusioned stage they are walking through. Just like their journey moves slowly from stage to stage so our journey of sharing the love and truth of Jesus will need to move from stage to stage which most likely will need to be at a slow pace. I think long term investment.

Go slow was some of the best advice I ever received. We can learn from the Emmaus Road conversation how Jesus dealt with disillusioned people. When the time was ripe Jesus zeroed in on the Truth.

Dear heavenly Father, help me to patiently walk with my Muslim friend when the honeymoon stage is over.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.