Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Potential Obstacles

Pray first that the Lord’s message will spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes… 2 Thessalonians 23: 1b

The battery of my watch died the other day. It is amazing how often I look at my watch or clock to check the time. The clock is what helps me to be organized and get everything done in any given day. However evangelism, especially among Muslims, seldom goes by the clock. It can become an obstacle for me.

Sometimes I have regretted that I didn’t get a photo of some lady who is like a “rare bird” in this part of the world. Or I wasn’t able to photograph the party which I was privileged to be invited to.  At the same time I am aware that taking photos of Muslim ladies too freely, without their permission, can be an obstacle for deepening ministry. There are ladies who care deeply that a photo may go around showing them without their hijab.

Years ago a director of a mission agency came to visit us in Pakistan.  He described there were two things he did not like to use in evangelism among Muslims: a watch and a camera. As a novice in evangelism his words sounded exaggerated and eccentric. He spoke of them as being potential obstacles. Today he might add Facebook.  As I pondered over them I realized there is wisdom in what he said.  I don’t know how many times I have been with Muslims in their homes and am ready to leave but they think the evening has just begun and they urge, “please stay.”  Their hospitality does not usually come with a time frame. The longer you stay the more they feel honored it seems. When it comes to taking photos….hmm…this can certainly be an obstacle. Often the women are concerned where a photo will go, especially on Facebook, so I normally wait to take a photo until I hear them voice that they would like a photo.  That is my clue that they feel comfortable with a photo. There are many Muslim women I have cultivated friendships with and have no picture of them at all. I have to remember their faces in my head forever.  I do not want to take any chances of them being offended or afraid. We take photos so flippantly, especially nowadays. Checking our messages or texting in front of them can also make them nervous. They might wonder, who are they communicating with or what are they saying? They often check their phones on visits and maybe even text but if I would it could cause suspicion or perhaps even shut down the relationship. For a period of time I helped a certain group of Muslim women with conversational English unaware that people from that police state country can get suspicious very quickly.  Taking notes while helping them caused an irrational fear that I was “collecting information.”

A watch, camera, phone, or pen are usually sources of blessing, efficiency or enhancement but they may also become obstacles in moving ahead spiritually.  So, I choose to put them aside for an allotted time when or if I sense it would not be wise to use them because I do not want anything to jeopardize God’s work to advance rapidly.

Dear heavenly Father, please alert me to any potential obstacle that may slow down Your Kingdom work.   In Jesus’ name, Amen.