The Prayer Letter of a WRF member Who Attended the Islam Consultation

December 22, 2011
 
The following material was contained in a prayer letter sent by a WRF member in mid-December of 2011.
 
For security reasons, we have not posted this individual’s identity here on the WRF website. Anyone who wishes to communicate with the author of this material may send that communication to me and I will make sure the author receives it. But be assured that, even if you do not, the Lord knows this missionary’s identity and your prayers for him/her will surely be heard by our Father.


“It must be deeply hurtful to be rejected by your family like that!”

I was trying to be empathetic. He is a Muslim background pastor in the Middle East and had just finished talking about how his family had ostracized him and would not even invite him to family weddings anymore. His answer astonished me and I will never forget it. “Not really. Whenever I think about it I am reminded of what my true identity is.”

Wow! God in His mercy has allowed this dear brother to grasp way more deeply than I have what it means to be united to Christ and to His people.

There were many such highlights during the Global Consultation that we organized under the auspices of the WRF (
http://www.wrfnet.org) a couple of weeks back. Thank you so much for your prayers for this event.

The greatest success was relationships. It was such a privilege to be among godly men of Muslim background and to be embraced by them in fellowship and passion for God’s glory. That part of the experience is almost indescribable.

One of the greatest tragedies of modernity is the loss of personhood. This phenomenon has been described in many different ways by both sociologists and theologians and is deeply connected to the issue of identity. Sadly, as evangelical Christians we are infected with the same disease. As a mission worker I am particularly prone because every person can become either a vehicle or an obstacle to accomplishing an ‘objective’.

Loss of personhood is endemic in Islam. Coming out of Islam into Christianity involves transformation on the deepest level as the gospel defines the connected notions of personhood/identity/relationship.

If there was a theme to the Consultation that coalesced from me then this was it: the gospel defines personhood/identity/relationship. How was it addressed?

·         God’s covenantal nature and his covenantal relationship with His people is the foundation for ministry of any kind and transforms every aspect of ministry

·         Evangelism of Muslims (not marketing a product but rather the free proclamation of the gospel for all) as the natural and organic effect

·         The process of transformation (discipleship) of those from Muslim background is arduous and draining requiring a vast investment of time and energy

·         Suffering and rejection has been both the weapon of Satan and the tool of God to bring Muslim background Christians into a new understanding of true identity

·         Some mission ideologies emerging from the West are inadvertently stripping Muslim background Christians of their new identity and therefore must be challenged

·         The church today and throughout Redemptive history is the context in which it all happens

·         Personhood is most vividly acknowledged in care for the marginalized – not as ‘works-righteousness’ or any other ‘means to an end’

And I could go on . . . but the reality of this theme was most clearly evident in the way relationships were established and grown. It was actually demonstrated among us. This was not a ‘networking’ event or a contest of either theatrics or intellect. It was truly brother with brother sharing nourishment of mind, heart and even stomach. We were together a broken lot discovering hope in the gospel.

It was a mixed experience and I’m still trying to figure out to what extent we accomplished the objectives . . . but I was changed by it in ways difficult to express. Together we are becoming fearless; not because of a loss of identity (e.g. suicide bombers) but because our true identity is becoming reality and thus laying down our lives for one another becomes a given. Is there a more potent force in the world for change?

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“In the midst of a Muslim community stricken by all kinds of plagues due to man’s lostness and alienation from its creator God, only a ministry built upon the will to glorify God and to love one’s neighbor with a genuine or true love, seems to be acceptable.” – Consultation Participant and church statesman from W. Africa in his paper at the Consultation, “The Contribution of the Reformed Faith to Muslim Ministry”