Posts by: Staff Writer

Risk: Hockey and Outreach

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Hockey is an exciting sport! In fact, the games are known for engendering disputes and violence – both on the ice and among spectators.

Most hockey violence is unavoidable: players hurl across the ice at top speeds resulting in high-impact collisions. Pucks are propelled to tremendous speeds by sticks which could serve as weapons in peasant uprisings. Woe unto those who get into the path of either!

Dr. Cynthia’s mother was Canadian with a typical fondness for hockey. Understandably, several members of the family play hockey. As a result, not only have they dedicated much of their free time to games and practices – after school and summer camps – but their bodies bear the scars.

 Broken bones and teeth, a ripped ear, and concussions with overnight hospital stays were taken as part and parcel of playing – even for teens. After decades of playing, a brother needed hip replacements because they were worn out from forceful skating.

Being a mother, aunt, and medical doctor, Dr. C recoils at such injuries for a mere game. Her dismay is in stark contrast to what one nephew told her a few days before he left town to join a minor league hockey team,

“I expect to get broken bones and teeth, and head and flesh injuries. But then, I play hockey.”

His casual acceptance of bodily injury shocked Dr. C. She couldn’t help thinking then, and still now, that Christians are such wimps in comparison to hockey players!

How many of us say, “Yes, I expect broken bones and injuries, but then, I’m a Christian?” or “I am an extreme sport Christian and do outreach, so I know I’ll get hurt.”

No! In America we never expect such kickback from practicing or sharing our faith. Even Dr. C admits she has had very little physical persecution.

As we reflect on the dedication of hockey players and the risks that they take for sport, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we willing to take risks for our Savior?”

Upfront Right Off

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When do you come out and tell people you are a Christian?

Dr. Cynthia tells us that on outreach in America, she lets them know as soon as they meet. She is “upfront right off.”

Much of the time people learn she is Christian because of the gospel material she gives distributes (more on this in other videos.) If it is a holiday outreach or back to campus outreach people will receive a gift card along with a tract fit to the occasion. The situation is similar with the everyday tract she takes with her everywhere to give with a coffee card to whoever connects with her.

If someone receives a packet, they will soon find out that Dr. C is a Christian. So, her first goal is to make a good connection so that they accept the packet, and so that they think well of Christians once they have read the tract.

If you are in a church or working in a Christian booth when you meet people, they will automatically associate you with Jesus, so you don’t need to announce it.

What if you are in a place where you can’t easily give out tracts or talk about Jesus, like in a Muslim or other restricted nation? One thing you can do is wear a cross. Simply your smile and love from the Holy Spirit will shine Jesus through the cross. In fact, sometimes in a medina Dr. C will touch her cross and move her hand toward the people there with a smile, as if she is saying without words that Jesus loves them.

Dr. Cynthia gives us two important reasons that we let people know we are Christian when we meet them, or at least early on in a relationship. We talk about “The Esther Bridge” in our training. That is when you invite someone for coffee or other setting in which you can build a relationship. That is how Queen Esther approached presenting an important topic to the king. If someone already knows that you are a Christian when you invite them to meet with you:

  • they can’t say that you tricked them
  • if they are not interested in connecting with a Christian they won’t meet with you. That means you are freed to meet with someone else who is truly interested – or do anything else on your list.

WARNING: Dr. C is talking about meeting people in America or Europe, or in a restricted nation if you are clearly American. In the Middle East or restricted nation, one must great caution before being a vocal Christian – especially if you are a former Muslim. When to come out as a Christian in these situations is a topic addressed elsewhere.

Make Their Day

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Let them Taste and MAKE THEIR DAY!

As a Christian, when you meet someone, you can “Make their Day!”

We hear “you made my day!” over and over – almost every time we bless someone with a kindness packet. Sometimes it brings tears to their eyes.

Psychology says that before you can trust someone you must know that they are good. That is probably a reason why the most common verse in the Bible affirms that GOD is GOOD (ex: Psalm 118:1).

Psalm 34:8 tells us to, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Dr. Cynthia tells us that it is especially important now to let people taste and see that God is good, because there are surrounded by sources telling them that God is NOT good. And there is little Bible literacy in society to counter that by explaining how God IS Good.

And so, daily, wherever we go we pass out a brief tract explaining how God is good. To some degree it is damage control against the lies people hear daily and readily believe. When we pray the Lord’s prayer we say, “Hallowed be your name.” This means that we should want God to be known in the right way – that he is holy and worthy. And so, when we show people that God is good, we fulfill this scriptural prayer.

Remember how Jesus drew a crowd? He provided something for their bodies so that he had the chance to touch their souls. For example, he healed or fed them. It was a way that he had them taste God’s goodness. We can do that too, if in a very small way.

Perhaps you are shy of sharing with strangers. But often you will find that they speak to you or do some kind service. Then you would naturally want to thank them. By having a small snack bag with this little leaflet and a coffee card with you, you can easily bless them. Sometimes it is even a great way to bring the gospel to someone you already know but have had trouble sharing with. A small packet can brighten their way during a difficult period.

By giving this brief message of love and salvation along with a direct gaze, smile, chocolate, a coffee card or gift card, you affirm to someone that God is good, and that someone cares about them. You really do “Make Their Day!”

On our Resources page you can find links to this bilingual tract in: English, Spanish, French, Punjabi, Hindi, and German, with more coming, Lord willing!

Learning to Balance Small Talk and Big Talk

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What are “small talk and big talk?” These words define almost anything that you say during the course of a day. For example, talking about the little details of life is considered small talk: the weather, what you ate, and what you might do for the weekend.

On the other hand, “big talk” is talking about things that really matter in the long run – either on earth or after we die: science, politics, religion, and big dreams.

Dr. Cynthia talks about her work in the medical field as an example of big talk. It could be discussing a patient’s condition with another doctor, ordering more tests to clarify the diagnosis, or talking about medical and scientific discoveries in the doctor’s dining room.

For much of Dr. C’s life, big talk was easier for her than small talk. Airing everyday little concerns seemed like a waste of time. That was a weakness.

But when Dr. C started focusing more on relationships, especially with internationals, she learned that in order to share the most important big things, she needed to improve on talking about small things.

Think about your own life: how do your conversations fall into small talk and big talk. Which do you need to improve on more in order to be a better communicator?

Apologetics: Handling Negative Responses

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Apologetics: Handling Negative Responses

Apologetics: Handling Negative Responses

Handling Negative Responses well is something that every practicing Christian needs to learn.

While sharing and defending the gospel and challenging other faiths we get negative responses every day. But in today’s world, just being known as a Christian brings criticism your way. As with so many things in life, expecting something and knowing how to respond makes a big difference in how you act, and the stress that you feel doing it.

Here Luke and Dr. Cynthia discuss how they handle negative responses. Luke reminds us that it is natural to a get negative response on any topic, not just religious. Here are some types of negative responses:

  • Respectful disagreement: although they disagree with a point, they agree with a lot of what is said, and the idea of talking about it.
  • Moderate disagreement: “You’re wrong” and here’s why…
  • Hateful or “toxic” disagreement: includes insults, and often anger.

QUESTIONS about RESPONSES:

  1. LOGIC: Dr. C asks Luke, “What if you are being logical, but are accused of being illogical?”

Luke responds that they might disagree on the facts and genuinely think that we are illogical. So, don’t get angry. Especially in person, ask them why they think this way so you can understand and respond.

In general, Luke says, we want to maintain a calm demeanor, more so that theirs. Try not to escalate the tensions, which can be tricky. Luke finds that in person, people are more inclined to be respectful than online, which lacks personal connection.

“As ambassadors of Christ, sometimes we need to take a beating,” says Luke. When we are out sharing, we need to expect resistance, even insults, “Just don’t make the bad things they say about you true!” he cautions.

  1. PERSONAL ATTACKS: What if they attack you personally? Shrug off insults. Jesus said they would hate us because they hated him first (John 15:18). The goal is to bring attention to the issue without escalating the confrontation.

But if it is really bad or distracting, consider finding a reasonable way to highlight how they are treating you. For example, saying, “I’m glad to talk to you but I’m not going to talk to you if you do this.”

You always have the option to stop talking and walk away. It is better than having a blow-up. In public, hopefully those watching will see that it was a reasonable option.

  1. REPEATING QUESTIONS and ANSWERS: What if they keep asking the same question over and over, rejecting your answer? You may sense that they are insincere and perhaps should discontinue the discussion. Online you might not want to keep repeating, “I already answered that” over and over. It makes a boring post. It is OK to have a focus in the post or conversation and divert attention back to it because you have “bigger fish to fry.”
  2. GOAL: There is so much to say on this complex topic, because of the large variety of responses that you may get. So, keep your goal in mind.

Are you trying to win the argument? In a public setting this could be the goal. Do we want to make a specific point or share the gospel? Then keep on track with “the main thing the main thing.” But we need to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and consider the needs of the person arguing as well.

Can Muslims Question Islam?

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“Doubt is a sin. Allah will not be pleased with you. You just need to believe!” an Imam told a troubled Muslim who came to him, “Just take the Quran at face value.”

Georges Houssney opens the video with the story of this Moroccan young man. On his extensive travels throughout the Muslim world George has met hundred – even thousands – of Muslims who have been told the same thing: to be a good Muslim you must not question Islam.

Dr. Cynthia, another frequent presenter on this channel, has met the same response. For example, when a Fulbright Scholar, now internationally famous Ph.D. “Madam X”, stayed with her for a week. Besides exploring the region and discussing plans for the future, Dr. C asked her some challenging questions about Islam, for example on women’s rights. The response was, “In Islam, we are told not to question our religion.”

Somehow, despite training in the USA with its system of open inquiry and critical thinking about everything, Madam X’s brain was so programmed by Islam that she became unable objectively inspect it. As a result, Madam X has been teaching Islam, culture, and Arabic all over the Western and Arab Worlds, presenting at high level international conferences and commenting television without having taken time to seriously evaluate the religion that she is promoting.

Sometimes, however, this approach backfires, as it did with a Sudanese student. He wondered why he must pray in Arabic. He spoke several languages; surely a true God could as well. His Imam forbade his questions on this and other topics. Yet he and his friends talked about them. One friend wrote a poem questioning Islam, and as a result was killed. “If Islam were true, it would not need to protect itself like this,” thought the student. He kept on questioning and eventually found the truth in Christ.

What then is the reason for walling off questions? The Quran has various passages that discourage inquiry, such as 5:101, which says not to ask if it would cause you to doubt. Western Muslim apologists try to deny that is what the passage means, yet that is how it is practiced throughout the Muslim world.

In contrast, the Bible applauds inquiry. In the New Testament, or Injeel, in Acts 17:11 we learn of a group of people in Berea, Greece, who were skeptical of the gospel when it was first preached to them. So, they searched the prior scriptures every day to confirm if the gospel message were true or not. Because of this they were called more noble than other groups that did not research.

And friends, the fact that the Bereans searched the scriptures points out that:

  • Questioning the truth of what we are told is important.
  • The prior writings of scripture were available.
  • They confirmed the gospel message, since the Bereans believed after examining them.
  • They were not considered corrupt, as Islam claims in order to support its different message.
  • God purposely kept them free of significant changes so that they could be one of the 3 major proofs of who he was that Jesus gave in John chapter 5, of the Injeel.

Why If They Stayed With Muslims?

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Did you know that several times in history Christians came close to Muslim leaders and were invited to stay and teach their people, but left? If they had stayed with Muslims, how might the world be a different place now?

Let’s look at three examples:

SAINT FRANCIS: is famous for his gentleness and love of animals. In 1219 A.D. Francis crossed battle lines to take the gospel to Muslims. He was captured, insulted, beaten, and nearly killed. But he reached his goal: the Sultan of Egypt, Palestine, and Syria – al Malik al Kamil.

Francis showed love for the Sultan. But he was also bold. He preached the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because Francis had suffered to deliver this message, the sultan defied his imams and refused to behead him.

Francis stayed there a few days. The sultan implored him to stay longer. But Francis left to write up the rules for the Franciscan order – and he also wrote a manifesto for evangelizing Muslims. The church accepted his rules, but it smothered his manifesto. Muslim evangelism was shelved for centuries.

MARCO POLO: The second example occurred a few years later on the other side of the globe where Marco Polo, his father and uncle spent years in the court of the Mongol Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan.

The Great Khan had an enormous realm which included peoples of many races and religions. Despite his violent past, the khan was always looking for ways to better his kingdom. Himself an idolator, Kublai Khan nevertheless was interested in all the religions in his ream. Islam, he felt, provided a legal basis for the practice of vices that he did not want in his empire. He decided that Christianity was the best of all for the fairness of its teachings and the lives of its people.

And so, he requested that the Polo family return to Italy and have the pope send to him 100 missionaries to teach him and his people, answer their questions, and lead mass conversions into the faith.

Sadly, the Catholic Church lost this opportunity. The request came during a change of popes. When they finally sent missionaries, only two went. Guess what? They turned back fearing war – far from China. In this backwards situation, the Polos, who were only merchants, had more courage than the missionaries. Despite the risks, they went back to China.

Kublai Khan said if they had sent the missionaries, he would bring more Christians into the fold than those already in it around the world!

MARY FISHER: She never attained the fame of St. Francis or Marco Polo, but then she wasn’t trying to. Like St. Francis, Mary also sensed God calling her to share the gospel with the sultan of her day. Already persecuted in England and America, she was prepared for difficulties. After many adventures, in 1658, Mary arrived on foot in Turkey where the sultan was stationed with 20,000 men.

Boldly, Mary claimed to be an emissary from the Most High God. She claimed and persisted and claimed and persisted until finally, the Grand Vizier allowed her to meet Sultan Mahomet IV.

Mary shared salvation through Jesus. Impressed, the sultan invited her to stay; with his people and teach them more. But as with St. Francis, she also departed. The regional English authority then forbid further Muslim evangelism in the region.

Did these brief encounters bring any benefit? After all, the leaders and their people did not clearly convert.

Actually yes! Even these brief encounters made a difference. Sultan al Kamil and Mahomet IV treated Christians better after his meeting with St. Francis. One report even claims that al Kamil made a deathbed conversion.

What if St. Francis had stayed with the Sultan? What if 100 missionaries had gone to Kublai Khan? What if the church had been more interested in Muslim evangelism than monasticism? What if Mary Fisher had stayed? What if others had followed in their steps? Isn’t it possible that the world would be different now if they had?

Muslims are willing to lose their lives to promote Islam. What risks are we willing to take to share the gospel? We are assured of heaven. Can we be faithful where others have failed?

“In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths… Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations…Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Proverbs 3:6, Matthew 28:19, Joshua 1:9

Why I Rejected Islam

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Raised in a Muslim country with Muslim friends and culture, Georges had many opportunities to convert to Islam. His family was Christian in name only, so his thinking was influenced by the Muslim culture. He had Muslim views and didn’t know the difference between it and Christianity.

Out of this confusion, he began wondering what religions taught, and if any religion were actually true. This started him on a quest. He studied and compared Islam and Christianity with Buddhism and Hinduism. And he took courses in comparative religions.

Georges recommends that everyone do this: don’t simply accept what you grew up with – take an honest look at the teachings and proofs for whatever you believe is true. He points out the verse in the Quran, 2:170 which he reads for us in English and Arabic. It tells people not to keep a faith just because their forefathers did.

After study, Georges became convinced that the Bible is the Word of God. Because it:

  • is historic in its scope. It has over 40 human authors with a consistent message. This is in contrast to the Quran which has only one.
  • has over 1,000 prophecies, most of which have been fulfilled, and some of which are still future.
  • has a spiritual aspect. Its message drew him to it:
    • God made people in his image and loves them.
    • explained why Georges was attracted to do many bad things.
    • God did not leave us in evil. Even in the beginning he promised Adam and Eve that a savior would come.
    • shows that God accepts a substitute sacrifice as he did with Abraham and Isaac. (Georges says most people don’t understand the prophetic meaning of this, the holiest of Muslim holy days.)
    • tells us that as prophesied, God came once to earth in human form to take our punishment, as Jesus did on the cross. If we believe in him, we can have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

This message of “the gospel” attracted Georges more than any aspect of any other religion. He accepted it and began following Jesus over 60 years ago. He has never regretted it.

You might find this lesson helpful, or other videos on our YouTube channel.

Does Arabic Prove the Quran?

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Islam claims that the Quran is both in perfect Arabic and inimitable. In fact, these are given as major criteria that the Quran gives for its authenticity.

The other proof is its claim that Christians and Jews should be referred to for its authentication. This, of course, as we have seen in other videos, they do not do.

So, we have in this video an Arabic expert reviewing the topic for us. Georges Houssney not only grew up speaking Arabic but is one of the main translators of the Bible into Arabic. Houssney reminds us that the Arabic of the Quran was that of the 7th century Qureshi clan in Saudi Arabia.

Surah 2:23 challenges anyone to make a surah equal to those of the Quran. This is a problem, because evaluating the beauty and power of writing is what we call “subjective,” meaning that it is not absolute, like the number 5 is. No, different people will see it differently. For example, one person may like a song that another person thinks is ugly.

Houssney tells us of a hadith about a man who thought someone was quoting the Quran, when he was just speaking in the style of it. Ancient Arabic poetry is as powerful and beautiful as the Quran. Other people have indeed written chapters and books very like the Quran. So this challenge has actually been met many times.

But there is a more important issue here. The New Testament, or Injeel, of the Bible is written in the everyday Greek of the time – not fancy academic Greek. That is because God wants his Word to be in language that people understand.

This is an important difference between Islam and Christianity. Christians do not need to read, memorize, and quote the exact words of the original languages of the Bible. This is because it’s not the actual words that have the power, as the words of the Quran are believed to have. What is important about the Bible is its message, and that is the same in any language.

Women Prophets Challenge The Quran

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There is a little-known, but important disagreement between the Quran and the Bible on whether or not women prophets exist. It may seem like a small thing, but actually the reliability of the Quran partly stands upon this issue. This is especially so because the same Quranic verse which says prophets are only men, says to ask those who had Scripture before – the Jews and Christians (Quran, al Nahl 16:43)

The opening segment features Arab Christian Georges Houssney reading the Quranic verse in Arabic and English. He then reads a passage from the Bible about a famous woman prophet, Deborah. Deborah was a judge, a leader, and a poet. Georges points to this as evidence of the esteem women have in the Bible.

Dr. Cynthia then recounts her experience with Quran 16:43. One day she was reading the Quran alone when she came across this verse. She compared the Arabic and English in her bilingual Quran. Dr. C’s Arabic is very basic; but it did seem to say that indeed all prophets were men! Then she called her tutor to ask if that was really what the verse said. The tutor confirmed it. Dr. C was very surprised and explained the Bible’s view to her tutor. (This tutor later became a Christian.)

At that time in her studies of Islam, Dr. C knew that Islam claimed to accept the prophets of the previous monotheistic religions. So, she believed that they also would accept the women prophets. Instead, the passage seems to be totally ignorant that Jews and Christians had women prophets, because the second part of the verse actually refers the reader to them for confirmation!

Jews and Christians know very well that there ARE women prophets. Many are mentioned in multiple books in both the Old Testament of the Jews and the New Testament of the Christians. In fact, a popular name for women of both Christian and Jewish women is “Deborah.” Between 1950-1970 Deborah was one of the top 20 names given to baby girls in America!

Dr. C says this creates a significant problem that must be addressed by Islam. It can’t be overlooked or ignored, for it is not a small or insignificant detail. In the video she puts forth these 4 challenges:

  1. Does the Quranic verse in al Nahl, 16:43 really mean that there are no women prophets?
  2. If Islam is related to the prior monotheistic religions, why does it not have women prophets?
  3. When were the scriptures of the Christians and Jews changed to add women prophets?
  4. If Allah knew what was in the prior scriptures, why does the Quran say to ask Christians and Jews about women prophets?
  5. Why do Christians accept the women prophets of the Jews, but the Quran and Islam do not?

Dr. C discusses these 5 challenges. The Quran does not condemn the Bible. On the contrary, it points to it as guidance and light. The Codex Sinaiticus is a nearly complete Bible from hundreds of years before Mohammed. Dr. C checked, and it includes the verses about women prophets.

Dr. C says that the existence of these women prophets challenge Islam. Islam is telling them that they do not exist, and that Christians and Jews can confirm this. Dear friends, check the evidence for yourself. With this huge mistake, can you reasonably believe that the Quran is totally reliable?

REFERENCES cited: BIBLE:

https://CodexSinaiticus.org

Genesis 1:27; Judges 4:4,5 & chapters 4-6; Exodus 15:20-22; 2 Kings 22:14; Joel 2:28; Luke 2:36; Acts 2:17 & 21:9; I Corinthians 11:5

QURAN: Surahs 16:43; Surah 5:43; Surah 10:94; Surah 2:170

Apologetics – Repetition Tolerance

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Apologist Luke shares with us in this video that we need to have patience when it comes to defending and sharing the gospel. If we are true to our calling, we will be doing these over and over.

There are two types of repetition tolerance that we need:

  1. In making a presentation.

If we are blessed enough to have someone listen to us share the gospel or a defense or logical argument, we should remember that although we may have shared it many times before, it could be the first time that person has heard it. They deserve to hear our presentation in a way that shows how important the message is – not in a sloppy or bored way. We want to inspire them!

  1. In getting questioned.

If we are active in sharing with Muslims, skeptics, atheists and others, we will find ourselves getting the same questions over and over. We must not get frustrated with this. Remember, it may be a fresh question in their mind. They deserve a considered, patient answer.

One thing that can make responding to questions online easier is to save the answer that you usually give. You can paste it as an answer to the next person who asks the question. That way you can be sure that you are giving the best response.

Remember to pray about your apologetics, and speak through the power of the Holy Spirit.

May God bless and guide you!

Oh No! Don’t Go!

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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.

Teaching Through Names

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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.

For example:

  • 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.

Retire, Reboot, Repurpose

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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.