Responding To Terrorism
On Saturday I got to hear Dr. Craig A. Dunning. This was the title of his paper, “Muslims Converting To Christ: Effective Evangelistic Methods On The West Bank.” For his dissertation Craig went to the West Bank controlled since 1994 by the Palestinian Authority and personally interviewed twenty-four Palestinians who had been Moslems and now call themselves Masihi (the normal Arabic word for Christian) or Aaber, a term that pictures crossing over. What did he discover?
Craig stressed that the Palestinian Christians who successfully reached their friends with the Gospel displayed patience, flexibility, courage, and spiritual maturity. Appointments were abruptly cancelled. Anger often erupted in the personal interactions about Jesus. Only patience and long suffering kept the interactions going. There were not instant conversions. The decision to follow Jesus took months and sometimes years. It took patience not to give up.
Some of his interviewees read the New Testament five or six times and the Old Testament three or four times as they were seeking to discover Jesus. One of the respondents read the Gospel of Matthew all 28 chapters, every day for six months before coming to faith. All took the decision to follow Jesus seriously. They often mentioned that they knew it could mean rejection by their family and in some cases the threat of death. When these now Palestinian believers read what Jesus told us about picking up our cross in Luke 9, they know what He means.
“And He said, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’
Then He said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.’” - Luke 9:22-26
Our Palestinian brothers and sisters understand these absolute claims Jesus makes on our lives. Their example of courage and boldness teaches us a lot. What they said about the need for personal contact with individual Christians and with groups of Christians in order to bring Moslems to faith in Jesus concerns me. As they contemplated rejection by their blood family, they needed to determine whether or not they would find a new family in the community of Christians. Would church actually be “The Family of God?” Those who Craig interviewed did find family love among the believers true in the tough environment of The West Bank. Would these Moslems in the freedom of America find this same love in our churches?
Satan wants to use terror to scare us away from connecting personally with Moslems. He wants to make sure that our gatherings are not welcoming and loving—a place for them to experience Jesus’ family. Join me in praying this week that this devilish attack will not be successful, and take initiative this week in opening up a relationship with a Moslem.
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