Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do I Need to Develop a Relationship?

Although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, …..John 11:5a.   She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched the fringe of his robe.  Mark 5:27

Christian women wonder if they need to develop a relationship with a Muslim woman to effectively witness to her. One teacher will give the following advice: Don’t get entangled relating a long time. If you develop a friendship you could get afraid of sharing the Gospel because you have waited so long to do so and it will prove awkward.  Just tell them the Good News information, give them a Jesus dvd, a website, or a New Testament and move on to the next person.  Pray that the woman will have a dream about Jesus. This advice sits well with you because you don’t have the time, energy, or desire to invest in a long term relationship.  Another teacher encourages developing relationships and to think long term which will obviously require commitment, perseverance, and focus. You have heard that it usually takes a long time for a Muslim woman to read the Christ follower and understand the truth about the Good News. That would demand evaluating your priorities. You are confused. What is best? What should you do?
Actually both ways are used by the Holy Spirit if carried out in genuine love. Numerous one time witnessing encounters with Muslim women have sprung up for me at a park, in a mall, restaurant,  airport, party, at a mosque event, or in a clinic or office waiting room.  Most likely I will not meet that person again so the Holy Spirit often nudges me to engage in conversation with her.  Occasionally  I don’t share anything spiritual in nature because I have not sensed the green light from the Spirit.  There is peace about that.  No guilt or pressure.  Such times we are nudged just to have a caring listening ear.  That is the only part God wants us to fulfill. But frequently the green light is flashing nudging me forward so I dive in not knowing where the conversation will lead.  Often it is astounding what transpires and that brings a surge of joy! Nearly all the evangelism I was involved in at our mission hospital in Pakistan happened that way.  Patients and their relatives came and went. It was a transient environment.  But in my homeland it has been mostly in the context of long term relationships, even though there are still many times when I share in one time encounters. If a Christian woman invests in a long term relationship with a Muslim woman both will come to understand each other better which leads to clearer communication of the Gospel message. There is so much for both of us to process.  Learning, observing, loving, and becoming an effective communicator of the Good News in the context of a cross-cultural relationship takes time.  Besides it feels more holistic and fun.  Long term investment is immensely satisfying.
Jesus frequently had amazing one time encounters while at other times He invested in treasured long term relationships.  Both were fruitful for Jesus and can be for us, too.

Dear heavenly Father, please bring peace to someone wrestling with this issue.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.