Has anyone tried to discourage you from going on outreach or mission work?
We have found it’s not uncommon for well-meaning people to try to stop us from what we think God is calling us to do. How do we approach this? Dr. Cynthia addresses the situation in this video.
Dr. C starts with the example of when a local missionary told her and another volunteer not to go to a mosque, because it was too radical and dangerous. The team was in a strange big city and already nervous. Getting this call shortly before they left was very unsettling. Since the missionary was experienced and knew the city well, naturally his word was to be respected. But the team was committed and had distribution material ready to go. What to do now?
Cynthia and Joanna prayed more. They reflected that they had:
* come to the city for outreach
* researched the opportunity and prepared materials
* prayed seriously about it for days
* and were doing this for God, not in any way for themselves
They decided that all this being the case, it would be best if they followed through with the outreach.
Praise God that they did! The Muslim worshippers were very open and accepted hundreds of Jesus videos. Some people went back and reported inside the mosque that Christians were distributing outside (this is usual), so an imam came out to confront them. But he was for the most part respectful. He stayed for over an hour and asked Dr. C many questions, which she answered. His questions also gave her more insight to the Muslim way of thinking.
A similar thing happened when an Arab missionary told Joanna and Cynthia not to do an outreach in a Muslim country. But the two were convinced that it was God’s will and went ahead, with success.
From these events and others like them, we have learned in our ministry that when we step out of the box, people – even good Christians – will try to stop us. This is usually because they are thinking first of our safety, or an inconvenience it may cause them.
Mark 8:33 is a perfect verse for these situations:
“You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Therefore, WE ADVISE:
* pray in advance about outreach and other ministry decisions
* sincerely seek God’s will, not your own
* research and adequately prepare
* listen carefully and respectfully to advice from others
* but realize that usually people trying to stop you are reacting without thought
DECIDE: If the person obstructing you has not given as much prayer and submission to the will of God as you have, continue in faith along the path that God is directing. If they have bathed their advice in dedicated prayer, weigh their advice more heavily.
Another “Oh No! Don’t Go!” response is one that every Christian can expect from their family and friends. Again, these people are speaking with good intentions; but they are usually not seeing the situation with a kingdom view.
Dr. C tells of a volunteer whose father-in-law had a heart attack the morning that she was leading an outreach team. Her husband was understandably upset. His father was an unbeliever who had rejected the gospel for decades. The husband told her, “If he dies it will be your fault that he goes to hell!”
Wow! How would you like to hear that?
With little time to decide, the volunteer prayed for guidance. God gave her a wise reply, “If you are getting the plane tickets right now, I will cancel the event. Otherwise, if you are waiting, I will finish this commitment first.” It was the right decision. The father lived; many Muslims got the gospel and new team members were trained.
We hope that our experiences will make it easier for you to accept when these kinds of obstacles come your way. We hope that you will be able to put in perspective the advice of those who would discourage you from doing God’s will, and give you tools for making the correct decision.
What is in a name?” In this video Dr. Cynthia encourages us to look for the meaning inside names and use it to share truth and teach. We can do this with our family and friends; but it is especially helpful for teaching our international friends and “pre-disciples” from Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu backgrounds.
PLACE NAMES: In the Western United States, many places have the names of saints. If living near one of these cities, it is easy to start conversations about what these people did, like St. James for San Diego, or St. Francis for San Francisco. When the time is right it can be an opening to explain to a “pre-disciple” differences in denominations – such as that Catholics pray to saints, but Protestants do not.
USE SACRAMENTO: Sacramento, the capital city of California, is not its most famous or largest, but it is a special favorite of Dr. C’s. Through this name, she explains that it refers to the sacrament of communion, and how Christians use it to remember the sacrifice of Jesus’ body and blood for us, and the gospel. After explaining it in English, she once called an Arab co-worker to repeat it in Arabic to a new student from Saudi Arabia. A few years later, that student became a Christian.
Even if you do not live in California, you can use place names to lead to Sacramento and the gospel. For example, Corpus Christi in Texas, means the body of Christ in Spanish. If you leave on the East Coast there may be fewer religious city names, but you can transition from explaining that English settlers usually named places in the New World after those in the Old World, like New York or Plymouth, whereas the Spanish used religious names. Then you can point to cities with saint names, ending with Sacramento.
PERSONAL NAMES: Muslim names, besides Mohammed, often are the Arabic version of Bible names, and these make a good bridge to the Bible and/or gospel. You can point them to passages in the Bible about them. So, if you want to talk to Muslims, it would be good to learn the Quran’s version of these names.
For example, men’s names:
- Abraham = Ibrahim
- Moses = Musa
- Joseph = Yusef
- Job = Ayub
- Soloman = Salman
- Jonah = Yunas
- Yahia – John the Baptist
- Essa or Isa = Jesus
Probably the most important names to respond to are YAHIA and ESSA. For Yahia, Dr. C shares how important John the Baptist was – that he was the prophet sent to prepare the way for Jesus, and to confirm that he was the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Yahia was one of the 3 top proofs that Jesus gave for his ministry in John 5 – a living prophet who testified for him. No other prophet has had this, especially not Mohammed (be careful how you say this to a new Muslim friend).
With Essa (or Isa), you can gently challenge and suggest “Wouldn’t you like to read the words of Jesus in the Injeel?” You are in America (or Europe) and can easily do that. I could get you an Injeel (New Testament) in your language!
Women’s names are perhaps less powerful but can still connect.
- Miriam or Mary = Maryam
- Sarah = Sara
- Hagar = Hajar
With Maryam you can connect to Mary in the Bible, and share the Christmas story, especially Luke 1:35 which explains what “Son of God” means.
Hannah is similar to the Muslim name Hanah, although the characters might not be the same, it can be used as a bridge to the story of the birth of Samuel.
SALT SHAKER Method: We like to teach internationals that we mentor, or have relationships with, through things in everyday life – like ordinary activities, and events. This is what Jesus did in his teaching: he drew the people’s attention to things that surrounded them, like flowers and sheep, or common occupations, like farming and fishing.
Likewise, this is what we do when pointing to the meaning behind places, and personal names. The Salt Shaker seasons as with salt, bringing a short but important message. We call that a Type 2 Bridge.
TYPE 1 & 2 BRIDGES: In closing, Dr. C explains that names can help us build bridges to connect with a Muslim (Type 1 Bridge) and connect that Muslim to the gospel (Type 2 Bridge). We talk more about these bridges in our BUILDING BRIDGES lesson.
How should we plan and look forward to retirement? Dr. Cynthia here shares ideas of how we could plan financially, and for lifestyle as well.
RETIRE: Retirement dreams often revolve around spending more time doing what we like – in hobbies or with family. We might even move to pursue these. Some people want to travel, travel, travel. Or maybe failing health has forced them to retire to continue treatment and rest. And frankly, some people are exhausted from overwork and just want to rest.
What will it be like after retirement? Not everyone can visualize this. Dr. C knows doctors who got bored in retirement and went back to work. Other people take up part time jobs to keep them active.
Wouldn’t we like our retirement years to be as full and golden as possible?
Dr. C suggests that Christians could plan their retirement with consideration of serving the Lord. Retiring early while we still have strength is one way. But the cost of living is high and going up, so this is usually not easy. But it might be good to look at one’s lifestyle and expenses to see if we could somehow work it out.
LEAVING A LEGACY: A legacy is what we leave behind. When organizations talk about this they usually mean leaving them money. But today we are talking about a spiritual legacy: about using the health and strength we have left, and a perhaps a little money, into our own service for Jesus’ kingdom.
The Bible tells us that much is expected of those who have been given much. We in the West are so blessed with daily food and clothing, shelter, Bibles and Christian training. We should be good stewards of these in both our free time and in retirement.
REBOOT: You could use skills that you already have, like accounting, but in a different way. Any medical related field can always be used. Perhaps going overseas short term you could help with projects which need your skills and can’t be met locally. Or you might find it refreshing to learn to do something different. You could learn about the culture of refugees or immigrants in your area and ways to reach them. Possibly even taking our free online training.
REPURPOSE: We call all retired Christians to reach outside of their envelope. Consider making yourself available for activities when you are free but others aren’t. For example, working people are usually tied up on weekdays. Retirees have more schedule flexibility. They could go to the mosque on Fridays, or meet students on campus Tuesdays, a common info table day, or lunch in an ethnic area.
BALANCE: We often talk about the worldview of Peace and Purpose: Peace with God, in ourselves, and with others; and the Purpose that God has for each of us. We need to keep these in balance. Do health and other obligations dominate your retirement? Does life just seem to happen? Some things we must do. Yet we could view retirement as part time ministry.
We encourage all retirees to look at their schedules. Include the things that you must do, like appointments and self-care; but also budget time for relaxation to Reboot – and find ways to Repurpose and serve the Lord.
The PROPHETS and BLOOD SACRIFICE:
The Quran tells us throughout that Allah is merciful and compassionate. The Bible agrees. However, Muslims believe that his mercy overcomes his wrath – that if Allah, considering our works and personality, is inclined to he can overlook our sins (hateya). The Bible disagrees.
The Bible emphasizes that God is just: there must be a penalty for our sins. God’s attributes are balanced. God’s JUSTICE EQUALS his MERCY in strength. He can’t just forgive and forget without consequence. And so, there is a very different picture between Islam and the religions of both the Jews and Christians as presented in the Bible.
In this video, Dr. Cynthia discusses this important difference with Huda, a new Christian from Muslim background. She refers to The PATH of the PROPHETS booklet, which explains how all the prophets before Jesus made blood sacrifice for sin, including: Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and others. The prophets told us that sin deserves death. It is blood on the altar of sacrifice that covers our sins, as the Bible says in the Law of Moses,
“I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.” Leviticus 17:1 NLT
The prophets also foretold that there would be a final sacrifice: that as a good parent, our Creator God would come to earth to pay the debt for us, his children. Like an innocent father pays for the window his child broke. (Isaiah 9:6 & 53)
God allowing us to choose, means we could choose to love and serve him – not be robots. But we could also choose evil and displease him. And sadly, we all do. God’s justice requires payment for the mess we have made of our lives and the earth. But in his mercy and love, he pays for us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Dr. C explains that the absence of blood sacrifice for sin in Islam is of huge importance. It is not a small ritual thing like which direction we pray in or how we wash or hold our hands. It touches the character of God. If Islam is related to Judaism and Christianity, as it claims to be, and has the same God, it must include blood sacrifice for sin.
Learn more about the videos we offer on YouTube @ChritianfromMuslim and our website www.ChristianfromMuslim.com in this 2-minute intro:
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Music by Joseph Nassrallah
Force 4 Digital video
Copyright Disclaimer under section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education and research. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.
SPIRITUAL WARFARE is what we call the battle in the unseen world, including for our own hearts and minds. Spiritual warfare is one of the most important skills a Christian can learn. The concept arises from Ephesians 6, which tells us that our real enemies are not those of flesh and blood, but the unseen powers of spiritual evil.
When we are afraid, face persecution, or are simply battered by the storms and waves of life, we have negative and discouraging thoughts. We get depressed. Sometimes we get angry or have doubts. The frustration can cycle round and round in our heads and nearly drive us crazy. In order to recover, we need to fight against these thoughts. We need to wash them out – or change the channel of our thinking like we would change a TV channel or YouTube video. It can literally feel like a battle in the mind and spirit pushing them aside. But defeating these negative and evil thoughts is what lifts our spirits.
This video opens with Mark, a Bible teacher, explaining to us the battle that we face in our minds. He finds James 4:7 helpful in this situation in several ways. It tells us to submit to God, to resist Satan and he will flee us. Mark finds it encouraging to picture Satan fleeing from him. He is also blessed by the end of this verse which tells us, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” What a comfort to have God near us! Mark especially needed to battle negative thoughts and rely on God’s presence, for during this filming this he was battling cancer. He remained faithful to God and serving him until his death months later.
Then, Dr. Cynthia shares with us how thankfulness can be used as a weapon (Philippians 4:6). When times are bad, we should be even more alert to our blessings. I Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks in everything. Once we get into the habit of this, it is not so difficult. Dr. C recommends:
“When the big things go wrong, give thanks for the small things.
When the small things go wrong, give thanks for the big things.”
Psalm 50:23 tells us that thanksgiving is a kind of sacrifice that pleases God. It makes a way for us to see the Lord’s deliverance.
Life is hard, unfair, and full of wrongdoing. When attacked, it is natural to lash back. But for the best outcome, we must resist the temptation to fight evil with evil. Dr. C strongly suggests that we recite this verse every day as an antidote: “Do not to be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
Narrator Magdy reads us from James 1:2,4,5 & 12. These verses tell us to expect trials, but that God will give us wisdom if we ask him, and if we persevere, we will receive a crown of life.
Magdy then reads the references of many other verses that equip and encourage us during our times of trial. We don’t take the time to read and discuss them here; but we strongly encourage you to make note of them and look them up when you have time.
- Psalm 27:14 & 35:1 & 68:19
- Proverbs 3:5,6
- Lamentations 3:21
- Romans 8:28 & 15:4
- Galatians 6:2
- Ephesians 5:19 & 6:10-18
- Philippians 4:6, 13
- I Thessalonians 5:17,18
- I Peter 5:7
Hebrews 12:2 concludes this series of verses, and Magdy reads for to us. It encourages us to keep our eyes on Jesus. This helps us through trials by not only seeing him as our example, but remembering that he has gone ahead to prepare a place for us with him. You can grow spiritually stronger by meditating on these verses in your personal devotions, praying them, and putting them into practice.
Other spiritual warfare weapons are available: Exercise, singing worship songs, serving others, working, and taking time think about or do something we like, can also help break depression and the destructive cycle of negative thoughts.
Traditional Muslims come from “shame and honor” cultures. The fear of losing their family, and shaming their community keep then within Islam.
Fear of becoming outcast is valid. Ayan Hirsi Ali describes why in her book “Infidel.” Once you are cast out of a traditional Muslim society, you lose the protection of your group. You then become legitimate prey for anyone to abuse, beat, rob, rape, and even kill. It is dangerous to leave the pack.
In this video, Louis discusses leaving Islam, with ideas for escaping and hiding from persecution. He gives us 4 steps for Leaving Islam:
- Be Bold but Careful – Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.
- Pray for Wisdom and Courage
- Find a Place where you could go if you are in Danger
- Take Refuge in Jesus
Louis points to the words of Jesus in Mark 10:29,30, to encourage us:
“No one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much…along with persecutions.”
and Paul’s words in Romans 8:31,
“If God is for us, who can be against us?”
With greater access to information on the internet, immigration, international students and travel, conversions are happening more than ever. Muslims finally have access to more than what they have been spoon-fed about their own and other religions.
Dr. Cynthia, of our series, has interviewed and listened to testimonies of many people who have converted – not only to Christianity, but also to Islam. Converts both to and from may Islam feel rejection. But there is one experience those who leave Islam face, that converts to Islam do not: the threat of death.
For Muslim apostates, the fear of being killed is real. Several our Muslim friends delayed converting to Christianity for months because of this.
Why should Muslims be afraid to leave Islam? Simple. The Quran in Surah 4:89 tells Muslims to,
“Take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.”
In the hadith, Prophet Mohammed also said to kill those who leave Islam (see Sahih Bukhari 52:260 & 84:57). New convert
Huda, who appears in many of our videos, called Dr. C afraid after she received a death threat. Others we know were locked up, interrogated, beaten and even had their bones broken after declaring their new faith. Some denied Christ under persecution. Sadly, it does happen. But some return to him.
When should a former Muslim and announce their conversion to other Muslims? The answer to this depends on the situation.
“Coming out” is a major decision that requires much prayer and wisdom. New believers often get excited and want to tell people about the Lord. We encourage Muslims in strict communities to get strong in the Lord before they come out, because new believers usually lack training and familiarity with the scriptures. They are not ready to face the questions they will get, let alone persecution.
Even spiritually mature former Muslims should take this step seriously, with much thought and prayer. They should be sure it is the Lord’s will.
At times, former Muslims don’t openly admit that they are Christians, but it comes out in other ways. For example, some we know from the Arab Gulf started posting Bible verses and Christian messages on Facebook. They didn’t openly say it, but they were soon discovered! So, if you are a former Muslim, or are discipling one, prayerfully consider this risk.
Wearing a cross definitely gives away conversion. For example, Huda went to a dinner party with powerful Muslims from her country. One of them noticed that she was wearing a cross. “Have you become a Christian?” he asked. All eyes turned to her. “Of course!” she replied reflexively, before realizing that she just risked her life! Fortunately, the event was in America: no one followed Mohammed’s command to kill that night.
Other converts we know have felt it wise to stay secret believers totally under cover. This can be difficult. Some do this not only for safety, but to sow light and truth into the lives of their Muslim contacts. So please, dear friends, pray for those leaving Islam. And if you are doing so yourself, pray and make a considered decision.
Over the past few decades many Western women have converted to Islam. It is easy to find videos of them sharing their conversion experiences. In contrast, this video tells us why, after more than 20 years studying Islam, Dr. Cynthia did not convert.
Cynthia wanted to learn about Islam. She didn’t want to believe just what the news said about Islam, or its critics or its promotors. So, she actively visited mosques, Islamic institutes, student organizations, Muslim countries, studied the Quran, some Arabic, gathered a bilingual Islamic library, conversed with Islamic scholars, religious and political leaders, Muslims of every social level and most sects, and non-Muslims from Muslim countries. Muslims asked her why she did not convert? One Imam even prophesied that she would. He was wrong.
In this video Dr. C shares with us her 3 primary reasons for not converting. She says there might be things that we like or dislike about a religion, for example, some convert to Islam after watching the unity of group prayer, or for marriage. But if we sincerely want the truth, we will decide based on objective facts. So, here are some of hers.
Dr. C’s 3 REASONS for not converting are: the relationship of the Bible and the Quran, the Character of Allah,/God, and the 3 Criteria of Jesus Christ for prophets.
- BIBLE and the QURAN: True, there is much similarity between the Bible and the Quran. Passages in the Quran praise Allah/God in a fashion that sounds like the psalms/zabur in the Bible. The books share many of the same important characters, and many of the same stories. However, often the Quran has an incomplete or slightly different versions of these stories.
- Differences between the Quran and the Old and New Testaments, the holy books of Judaism and Christianity respectively, however, are significant. These include: the relationship between God and people, the way people are saved, and the character of God/Allah.
- Also, the Bible contains the writings of over 40 authors, in different styles, or genres. This makes it rich and deep. It shows “progressive revelation” of God’s plan through the ages. Whereas the Quran contains only Prophet Mohammed’s message, and claims that every prophet brought the same message as his.
- The CHARACTER of God/Allah is similar in some ways – in he is the Creator who sends prophets to warn people that there will be a Day of Judgement. But the characteristics of JUSTICE and HONESTY of God are very different in the Bible and the Quran.
- In the Bible, JUSTICE means sin merits death. God can’t simply weigh our deeds and let us off if he is pleased. No. There must be a sacrifice. Besides Eid al AdHa, blood sacrifice is in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 7:11). Jesus was the final, prophesied sacrifice – God himself in human form – taking responsibility for the misdeeds of the children he created. (For more details on this, see our video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X5OFqkiVvo&t=3s .)
- That leads to the HONESTY of God/Allah. If you grew up Muslim, you can easily believe that Allah tricked the followers of Jesus into believing that he died on the cross, but he did not.
- However, if you grew up Christian, you learned that God is honest. The Bible says that he cannot lie. So, when you hear that Allah deceived Jesus’ disciples, whom the Quran calls Muslims, and that Jesus did not die as they thought, you have great difficulty believing it. To convert to Islam, you must accept that Allah’s true believers were deceived for 600 years until Mohammed came and said otherwise. The God of the Bible is honest. Judaism and Christianity agree on that. Islam does not.
- PROOF of PROPHETHOOD: The Prophet Mohammed claimed to bring a message from Allah/God and called people to follow him. His proof was his word and his message. Jesus Christ also came with a message. Both men were asked why we should follow them?
- In the New Testament, Injeel, John chapter 5, Jesus said a prophet’s claim is not enough. He then gave 3 reasons that we should follow him. They are still good today:
- A living prophet, John the Baptist – known as Yahia in Islam – testified that Jesus was the expected Messiah, “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
- The works Jesus did – miracles greater than anyone, as the Quran agrees.
- The prophecies about him. There are many prophecies in the Old Testament of the Jews about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Dr. C has examined the claims that Mohammed is prophesied in the Bible. These “prophecies” are few and easily disproven. They are nothing like the number and strength of those about the Messiah Jesus.
- In the New Testament, Injeel, John chapter 5, Jesus said a prophet’s claim is not enough. He then gave 3 reasons that we should follow him. They are still good today:
In summary, no prophet or religious leader who ever lived – not Mohammed, Buddha, the Hindu and Sikh Gurus, Sun Myung Moon, Joseph Smith, Ryuho Okawa, or anyone else, has the weight of proof that Jesus Christ has.
In MOTIVATION for OUTREACH Dr. C interviews three men actively reaching out in a summer street festival. When asked what inspires them and gives them courage to reach out, we get answers which inspire us as well.
Dan Boudin and Brenten Powers now routinely reach out in public with Open Air Campaigners. Dan shares with us that surprisingly, he used to be so shy he couldn’t even watch a show were someone was in an embarrassing situation. But God convicted him that he should share his faith, so he got training. He now shares in God’s power, not his own strength. He points to the dramatic change in his life and says, “If I can do it, anyone can!”
When asked the same question, Brenton points out how Jesus saw the crowds with compassion, because they were weary and scattered, without a shepherd. Right after that Jesus told his followers to pray for workers for the harvest. He prayed – and then became one of those workers! He was inspired by the example of other Christians who were sharing in public. Then he found that it is much easier than you would expect. He shares the truth in love, and people respond to that love positively most of the time.
Henry Herrera does outreach in both Spanish and English. He is inspired because, as it says in 2 Corinthians, “the love of Christ compels us.” If you love Christ his love will be in you, then you will want to share it with others. God is love. But many people now think that he is hateful. God loves everyone and has a special plan for each of us. Henry quotes Psalm 34, which says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” We want to help people learn this.
As Christians, we might not want to reach out of our comfort zone; but when we do, we will find that not only do we spread the kingdom of God, but our lives also become so much richer.
“Life as a Christian is not easy,” says former Muslim Antonio.
Soon after he decided to follow Jesus trials and adversity started. He suffered loneliness, hardships and trials. In his second year of Bible school, he woke up blind. “God, where are you?” he thought. His sight recovered, but he ended up weak, with Multiple Sclerosis, and had to walk with a cane. For him, an active person who loved to play basketball, this was a very difficult transition.
“We are guaranteed hardships, but they are not meant to break us,” he says. God will be there with us for help and comfort. He will not give us more than we can handle if we walk with him.
Antonio assures us that hardships are meant for our benefit and spiritual growth. They are what make us learn to rely on God is ways that we would otherwise never think of.
“In the hardships is a major spiritual blessing,” he concludes.
Follow-up: Antonio became crippled on earth, but in 2021 walked into heaven. His testimony is an encouragement to all, especially those who suffer chronic diseases.
How can we FACE FAMILY PERSECUTION? It is common for Muslims who leave Islam to face criticism and death threats from their family. Their spouses and children may be taken away. Some families beat and kill the converts or turn them over to authorities who do. So much for the “religion of peace.”
But Muslims are not the only ones to be persecuted by their families. The Bible tells us, “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)
In this short video, Ileana tells us how her family came to persecute her when she decided to follow Jesus at age 14. Eventually they cut her out of their will. Psalm 68:5 comforted Ileana during this rejection. It says, “God is a father to the fatherless.”
Perhaps you are afraid to follow Jesus because of what you will face from your family. We know from experience how hard this is. But when God is your Father, what better protector can you have?
DEATH, GRIEF, and HOPE In this third in our series on Suffering, Dr. Cynthia shares with us how experiences of grief differ based on the hope one has for heaven. In this year, both her mother and another close relative died. One was a believer in the gospel, the other was not. The grief surrounding their passings and funerals was such a contrast. It was an exact illustration of how the Bible describes grief and hope.
“… we want you to know what will happen to believers who died, so you will not grieve like people who have no hope.” I Thessalonians 4:13
The Christians at her mother’s funeral were sad, but they also laughed and had hope. They sang, “When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing it will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”
The hopeless sadness at the other relative’s funeral, which came just a few weeks later, was in stark contrast.
We pray that those watching will have true hope in life, and that their mourners will have hope for them at their deaths.
As the Bible says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance.” Ephesians 1:18
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Music by Joseph Nassrallah and Digital Juice, used with permission.
The Appeal of Foreign Faiths
There is always an appeal to something different. In medical school Dr. C learned that “the drive for variety” is one of the basic psychological principles of human beings. But Westerners are converting to Islam, atheism, and Eastern Religions without deeply understanding either these or Christianity.
In this video we present some points of these other faiths that Westerners either overlook or don’t understand. These faiths give you their little bit of GOOD NEWS up front, like a hook. But when you look deeply what you find is much BAD NEWS! For example:
ISLAM: Praying in unison, the feeling of community, and women not needing to work or diet attract people to Islam.
- But if you convert to Islam, you must be killed if you leave it. Even in the USA, Dr. C was told by a Muslim leader, “We always give people time to consider before they convert to Islam, because if they do become Muslims, they must be killed if they leave it.”
- The rules of Islam are so extensive that they even dictate which foot you must enter the bathroom with, and what you must say before having sex. If one hair protrudes from a woman’s hijab, according to an American school of Sunni Islam, she will need to spend 40,000 years in hell.
- If a woman’s husband falls out of love with her, he has rights to treat her terribly – beating her, trading he in and out of divorce with other women, taking the children, etc. (see our other videos).
- If your hands are held in an unacceptable position for prayer, “Allah will hold it against you at the day of judgement.”
- No one in Islam knows if they have enough points from obeying these rules to please God and enter paradise, even the Prophet Mohammed.
EASTERN RELIGIONS: The feeling of meditation is peaceful, and the idea that all living things are connected is attractive. They are the GOOD NEWS. But after that comes so much BAD NEWS:
- A deeply religious Buddhist friend of Dr. C became so frustrated with reincarnation, the samsara, and needing to push the rock of karma up the hill in life after life, that she told Dr. C she wished it wasn’t true.
- And a Bodhisattva, a very good Buddhist, chooses to stay out of nirvana/heaven, until the bad karma of every creature is paid for by their good deeds and rituals.
- The Japanese Tea Ceremony and floral arrangements are elegant and look so peaceful. However, the experts who do these have told Dr. C that these have complicated rules. If mistakes are made – perhaps an awkward movement or unesthetic arrangement, the Buddhist actually loses points for reincarnation!
- And the peaceful feeling, even if it lasts, does not actually create peace between you and God, because your sins are still there.
ATHEISM: can be appealing. Hypocrites and the squabbles between religions can make us feel like throwing up our hands and giving up on all religion. Plus, atheism allows freedom not only from ceremonies, but from moral behaviors many find too restrictive.
- But in truth, since in atheism nothing is wrong, rape, murder and sociopathic behaviors are acceptable.
- Western atheists like to deny this, but there is no basis on which to do so.
Dr. C reminds us that Christians have PEACE and PURPOSE. The peace we have is real, not just a feeling due to the release of neurotransmitters, which bring a feeling of peace in any belief system. We have peace with God, within ourselves, and with others. The PURPOSE is because God gives a purpose for every human life. You can use it to make a difference!
So, LOOK DEEPLY BEFORE YOU CONVERT! Help your family and friends do that as well.
In Christianity we give you the BAD NEWS up front: You are a sinner. That means you are not perfect. But really, do you think that you are? That would be unrealistic. Down deep we know that we are not perfect.
After Christianity’s bad news, it is GOOD NEWS! God made us and loves us and made a way for our errors/sins to be forgiven. After just one life we can join God and other believers in a truly wonderful heaven.
How can a mother reach out for Jesus?” Perhaps you ask yourself this, or perhaps you are wondering how to encourage outreach in your church family or homeschool groups?
In this video, Dr. Cynthia gives us advice. STEPS:
- Disciple them. If we don’t the world will train them its way. Raise your children as a good Christian mother would do. Teach them age-appropriate Bible stories, worship songs, and memory verses. Teach them to pray and take them to church.
- Create Awareness. It is a good idea to explain to children the Great Commission, and bring them into reaching out with you. As a result of being taken on special and outreach, and everyday outreaches, Dr. C’s young daughter became aware and sensitive to the needs of those around them and would automatically bring them to her mother’s attention for ministering. Now grown, her children still help out in outreach and ministry.
- Involve them. When you meet with internationals in the street, or go out with them, ask your children along. Let them feel part of it – not excluded. Grandmas, dads, and grandpas can do the same!
- Another option is to take your children on a short-term mission in the USA or overseas. But, if you are asking other Christians to support you in this, do check in advance that it is a true mission trip – not simply a vacation with a little “vision” added to it. As a former deacon of missions, Dr. C knows how limited mission funds are and how great is the church’s need to be accountable with them.
QUESTION: Can you ever leave your children to reach out yourself?
Dr. C relates a time that she examined her motives for reaching out. She asked herself, “Would you want your children to leave their children to do this?” Her answer was, “Yes!” She then realized that in living this way we are setting an example and pattern for our children to follow later in their lives. This is teaching by example, not just talking the Christian talk. We show them that life is not just about having fun and getting a good job.
(Note: this in no way means to neglect our families or put them at risk. It is simply giving you permission to make God the center of your life, not them.)
In closing, Dr. C reminds us that Jesus said if we “lose our life we will save it.” Although this is not the reason we reach out, we will find that obeying in this way will make life richer for ourselves and our families.
GOOD APOLOGIST FRIDAY Join the Movement!
Holidays are a great time for outreach. During this Holy Week, please pray about, and consider taking at least a few hours on Friday to share and defend the gospel.
Especially for those of us who have studied apologetics and polemics – what are we waiting for? Good Friday is the perfect day to share the evidence for Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. Even if you are not an apologist, any Christian can explain what Easter means.
“Is Easter about bunnies and chicks?” an American student asked Dr. C on a university campus. Seriously, some university students and internationals who have no idea what Easter is about. Western culture has been that successful at eliminating even basic knowledge of Christianity.
Christians must change that! Jesus told us to go and spread his gospel. He also told us that “obedience is better than sacrifice.” In view of these commands, which is the best way to commemorate Good Friday?
Let’s make this movement grow around the world as Christians independently dedicate Good Friday to share the truth of the gospel. Through this, we can change the world!
To help you understand how, we made this short video. Sharing it could spread the movement.
Also, you will also find Mike Licona‘s tract, A Historian looks at EASTER. You could print it out and distribute it, or use it for ideas and talking points.
This video is part of a devotional series on suffering by Dr. Cynthia.