ABWE has encouraged all of their missionaries to pray for the Muslim world during Ramadan of this year (July 9th through August 8th). We’ve started early, so that if we miss a few days we’ll still finish the prayer guide they gave us. In thinking about Muslim evangelism, I picked up my copy of Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader (Perspectives) and read a chapter called “On Turning Muslim Stumbling Blocks into Stepping Stones” (pp. 650-654 in my 3d ed.). I wanted to share a couple of challenging thoughts from this chapter. Even though the author speaks of Muslim evangelism, the ideas apply perfectly to other contexts.
Here are a few of the thoughts that impacted me.
“In order that we might share the suffering of Christ, God has engineered the fruit-making process so that it always involves sacrifice. But people invariably seek ways to turn the altar into a stage for seeking applause” (p. 650).
“Are we going into the Lord’s service in order to compete for success, to show what we can do, to prove ourselves?” (p. 651).
He then continues by calling out a damaging attitude towards missions which he calls a “bottom-line mentality.” This mentality judges that the only worthwhile indicator of success is growth in numbers. In a Muslim context, someone with this mentality will probably not last long because the results are not often very evident. I heard a conversation two weeks ago with a Turkish pastor who said that a church of 5-10 people in Turkey is a “mega-church.”
“The best answer to a false bottom-line mentality is to realize that any line man draws is not the bottom line. The real bottom line is the Day of Judgment when we stand before Christ and give account” (p. 651).
He says that the key to overcoming this mentality is to have a “harvest mentality.” This mentality understands that Jesus has said that the fields are “white already to harvest” (Jn 4:35). This mentality also exercises faith in the gospel. “If we are going to call people to faith, we ourselves must exert our faith in God to be faithful to His promise to win to Himself at least a representative segment from every tribe and tongue on earth (Rev 5:9,10)” (p. 651).
This article challenged me to think about our ministry. I must admit that I easily get discouraged with the lack of results in people with whom I invest time. Sometimes it seems that the people with whom we work more in evangelism give fewer results. May God help us all to work faithfully, believing in the power of his Holy Spirit to use the gospel to save people.