Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ministering in Sensitive Situations

Messengers said to Jairus:  “Your daughter is dead.  There’s no use troubling the Teacher now.” But Jesus ignored their comments and said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid.  Just trust me.”  Mark 5: 35b-36

When I arrived at Ayesha’s home on my first visit another Muslim lady was already there. She did not give me a warm welcome and I wondered why. It seemed strange to be interrogated while Ayesha kept busy in the kitchen. After a most uncomfortable time of being examined the lady gave her approval of me visiting Ayesha. “She’s not like them,” she stated, meaning the two Christian women who visited her dying mother in the hospital and felt compelled to prepare the woman for her imminent death and the next life.  Their pressure and tactics had been extremely offensive to the daughter who felt protective of her dying mother. Now she felt it was her duty to protect her Muslim friend from any Christian who would push her beliefs on people, especially when they are dying and are of a different faith.

Sometimes I encounter sensitive situations where I wonder if I should share the Good News of eternal life to critically ill people. There are situations obviously moving towards death….and eternity. We might experience pressure and guilt from other well meaning Christians or it might just come from within us and we feel a great weight of responsibility to tell that critically sick or dying Muslim the Truth and Hope found in Jesus.  Some of these situations might involve a Muslim friend soon to be wheeled into major surgery, in palliative care, undergoing chemotherapy, or when relatives or some community members are gathered at the bedside of a patient waiting for the last breath to take place, or at a funeral.

It is hard to know what to do. For me personally I usually sense that proclamation time has passed, or is on hold, but if the Spirit nudges I should speak I would but that is not normally the case. There is a time for everything and some of those sensitive times just might not be the appropriate time. There are times when we just need to place people in God’s hands and let Him engage in a heart to heart internal conversation. I would not want to interrupt that divine engagement….a vision or visitation might be happening unknown to me! Normally there will be other Muslim family around when we enter these sensitive times and they are protective of their loved one’s condition and suffering. Comforting may be the only thing I can really do at this point:  a touch, embrace, or a tear communicates a measure. If they beg, “Please pray,” then I will pray for the suffering to be relieved and for the family to be comforted.  I have found it best to concentrate on following the family up with phone calls or visits to see how they are doing and if they are open to being visited. From there I can carry on friendship and pray that opportunities to share Christ as Savior will emerge with those that remain.
Dear heavenly Father, it is a relief that You are completely able to speak or appear to the critically ill person. Help me to trust You to do this. In Jesus’ name, Amen.