In Matthew 16:4 Jesus told the religious leaders who demanded a miracle from him that “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign.” When does this passage come into play, and is it wrong to ask for a miracle? Bob Siegel tells us it has a lot to do with the attitude of those asking for the miracle.
Dr. Cynthia explains that growth takes time. As with a child, it takes time for a new believer to become strong: knowing the Word of God, being able to withstand temptation, and reflecting Christ in their every day life. So, the episodes of the TV series these videos are based on were filmed over years of the life of new believer Huda.
Huda explains to us in this clip her reasons for joining this project.
Huda had only been a believer for six weeks when we began filming this show, and she agreed to put the reality of her life on camera. It is amazing that a former Muslim would make himself or herself available to face the world openly with their new identity, let alone appear humbly as a learner of the new ways of following Jesus.
Huda says that she looks forward to learning things about Jesus and the Bible that were kept from her during her youth and early adulthood in the Middle East. She is also happy to share them with Muslims who might be going through the same process she did of questioning Islam and coming into the light of Christ.
Professor Scot formerly taught mathematics at a university in Pakistan, before he was chased out by radical Islamic elements who were openly trying to kill him.
Daniel Scot has been active in discipling new believers from Muslim and Christian backgrounds. In this clip he shares with us an acronym about growing as a Christian, based on Ephesians 4:11-13 and John 14:16, as follows:
G – Grace
R – Read
O – Obey
T – Teachable spirit
H – Holy Spirit
From her side, Dr. Cynthia shares with us the goals she has for Huda as her disciple – and for any disciple from a Muslim background. Although they are mostly the same as for any believer, since former Muslims are often put on the spot early on to defend their faith, the process and goals are thus a little different.
Dr. Cynthia’s goals for discipling a former Muslim are:
- to have a Solid Understanding and basis in her faith
- to develop a strong Personal Walk with God
- to be able to Share and Defend her faith
- to Withstand Trials – persecution, hardship, and ridicule
In contrast to the impact the Qur’an has had on Huda and others, Dr. Cynthia gives us encouragement to read the Bible. Its words comfort us. It is a light to our path. As we allow its words to abide in us we bring forth spiritual fruit.
In this video clip, Dr. Cynthia shares her frustration with what three separate Muslim friends are telling her at the same time, all basically with the same story. They say they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and he saved us by dying on the cross for our sins, that the Bible is the Word of God, and they understand the Trinity. Conversely, they no longer believe Mohammed is a true prophet, do not accept the Qur’an is from God, and no longer believe or follow Islam.
Dr. C does not believe in pushing people to become Christians; however, having heard these statements of faith, she asked these three if that meant they were ready to become Christians. All three told her independently, “I have been hearing and watching on-line the testimonies of Muslims that become Christians, and they all seem to have a dream or a miracle. So, I will wait for a dream or a miracle.”
Dr. C wonders if we have “created a monster” by publicizing the frequency of supernatural dreams and miracles with Muslims who come to Christ. Perhaps we have increased their expectations?
Nabeel Qureshi answers “no,” that God knows what each person needs to come to faith, and that that is what he will give them. Nabeel did receive three miraculous dreams. He believes that his decision was so wrenching that he needed this affirmation to convert. However, he says it is not the same for everyone, and that God will tailor the experiences for each individual.
As a follow-up note, in the years since this clip was originally filmed, two of these three Muslims did become Christians. The third received both a dream and a miracle in answer to specific, detailed prayer requests, but has not become a Christian. (See also the video clip with Georges Houssney called, “The Place of Miracles.”)
Jesus’ most famous sermon is called, The Sermon on the Mount. In this sermon (Matthew 5-7), he uses several teaching techniques to illustrate how to live for God’s kingdom. Rather than focusing on rules and condemnation, the way the religious leaders of his time, as well as the teachings of Islam do, this sermon presents love and challenges inner change.
The Sermon on the Mount itself is a powerful evangelistic tool for Islam. Distributing it, or encouraging Muslims to read it in the Bible, or even quoting a small part of it in the right setting, often opens their eyes to the dramatic difference between Jesus’ teachings and that of Islam, and gives them hunger to know more.
“The Beatitudes,” somewhat poetically phrased blessings, kick off The Sermon on the Mount. One beatitude is “Blessed are the peacemakers.” As an illustration of this, Kevin, a mature Christian, is caught in a reality scene being a peacemaker between arguing neighbors.
Elsewhere in The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used nature, objects, stories, and exaggeration to get people’s attention and help them remember that the Kingdom of God is more important than the physical world.
Huda reminds us that while she was growing up in the Middle East there was much information she was not allowed access to, especially regarding the truth of God. She hopes that all those who have a chance will learn the wonderful things we are discussing in this video project.
Imitating the way Jesus would use the surrounding environment and activities to teach important lessons, Dr. C here gives us lessons from surfing. We get to follow her and Huda in reality to a famous surfing spot in California to watch surfers catch waves, and sometimes loose them.
Notice how first Dr. C talks about how good it feels when we catch a wave in life – either literally or figuratively. We feel like we are sitting on top of the world! But as we watch surfers either loose the wave, or even crash, we are reminded that life is a ride of ups and downs. God is our foundation whether we are doing well, feeling left out as life passes us by, or when the waters sweep over us.
Our attention is also drawn to the tremendous physical effort it takes not only to catch and surf the waves, but also to simply carry a surfboard up and down the rocky cliffs to reach the surfing ground. This reminds Dr. C of I Timothy 4:8. In this verse Paul tells Timothy that although physical exercise is of value, it is of much greater value to put effort into praying, reading the Bible, serving others, and be close to God.
The setting of this clip is a lovely gazebo surrounded by a lake in an urban area. Dr. C and Huda draw analogies from the natural and urban world around them there, in a manner similar to what Jesus did in his teaching style.
It is important to understand the style of teaching Jesus used in order to:
- Fully absorb the point he was making
- Keep from being confused or finding it a stumbling block
- Explain to others who find it confusing or a stumbling block
- Not misinterpret or misapply what he says
- Be able to use similar techniques when we share God’s word with others
To do this his style used various techniques, including to drive home the points he wanted to make:
- Drawing illustrations from the environment surrounding him
- Using common everyday objects and activities
- Telling stories (parables, which we study in detail in the episode, “Jesus’ Parables”
- Using similes and metaphors
- Speaking plainly
- Occasionally speaking poetically (beatitudes)
- Exaggerating (hyperbole)
- Setting an example with his life
We see Jesus speaking plainly about things prayer, money, and forgiveness (Matthew 6:5,6,19,20 & 18:21,22). He also clearly prophesied his own death (Matthew 16:21), the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, and the end times (Matthew 24). Jesus’ life is perhaps his teaching example (John 13:12, Mark 10:43-45.
We open this clip with Huda catching Dr. Cynthia’s attention by the pool where she is distracted typing. In our electronic age, flashy things grab our attention; but such things did not exist in Jesus’ day. He had to get attention by other means. One was miracles. Another was through his special teaching style.
The purposes of Jesus teaching were to: draw a crowd, keep attention, challenge people’s thinking, touch hearts, teach about God’s kingdom, and prophecy. His teachings about the kingdom explained what it would be like in a society where God’s ways were followed. He prophesied his own death and resurrection. Although his disciples did not fully understand before he was resurrected, he wanted them to know that he was not taken by surprise, and that he was in control.
We are told in Matthew 7:28,29 that Jesus’ teaching amazed the people, because he taught with authority, but from a different perspective than the religious leaders of the day. Jesus used common illustrations from everyday life, and things in the surrounding environment. He spoke to encourage people in their needs, yet challenge them to go further with God.
Dr. C explains to Huda that a common way Jesus taught was with metaphors. He said we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), and that he is the light of the world (John 8:12). To demonstrate the importance of light as a guide, Dr. C visits a lighthouse.
Providing the setting for this episode’s nature reality segments are scenes from a coastal retreat Huda and Dr. Cynthia took together in Northern California. Here they find a beach with an abalone diver. And it turns out that their guest rooms provide a contemporary setting for Jesus’ parable of the house built on the rock (Luke 6:47-49).
There was such a howling noise the first night that Dr. C had difficulty sleeping. Looking across from the next bluff we see that the sea is whirling into a cave beneath their cabin. This reminds us that just as the rock protects the cabin from the sea beneath it, building our life on Jesus and his teaching protects us.
This real life update on Huda’s discipleship progress was filmed six months after she became a believer. Dr. Cynthia is glad to report that, counter to many Muslims who revert to Islam, Huda has shown no tendency to return. Huda wants to learn more and more, and Dr. C finds this exciting. Besides daily discipleship contact with Dr. C, she is reading and watching much on the internet, and Christian videos, like the Bible on film. Huda exposes the falsehood of Islam, and shares the truth of the gospel with other Middle Easterners.
For goals for Huda going forward from this point, Dr. C would like to see her become more familiar with the Bible itself, and find a church body that she is comfortable in and regularly attends. Due to language and cultural differences, it has not been easy for Huda to find a church. (There is no Arabic-speaking church near where she lives, and it is also not convenient for her to travel to Dr. C’s church every week.)
Fouad Masri, the director of Crescent Project, speaks to us in this episode about being friends with God. We learn from him that in contrast to other religions, which teach that we are slaves of God, the Bible tells us that we can be his friends! (John 15:15) Religions all over the world talk about God, but only Christianity has Jesus as the Savior. His blood can cleanse you from your sins. Today, why not take advantage of this great offer of forgiveness and become God’s friend indeed?
In this clip we get a behind the scenes view of a gathering of our ministry supporters. Huda is cooking at her home for them, and will shortly arrive with delicious Middle Eastern food.
Today Dr. Cynthia is discussing the Great Commission. That is what the command Jesus gave to his followers in Matthew 28:18-20 is called. She reminds the Christians gathered there, that although Huda had heard something of Jesus, and believed that the West was better than the Middle East somehow because of him, it was not until Huda came to America that she heard the gospel for the first time. Huda has since implored Christians in America to share the gospel with those who come here, so that they can believe as she did.
Dr. C then asks the group to share about some time they have shared the gospel with immigrants to America. Robin shares how she was in a relationship with some young Pakistani Muslim women and, although she does not know what will yet come of it, she has shared the gospel with them and hopes it will bear fruit in their lives. Just before the group leaves to eat, Dr. C tells them that Balbir and Katrina Subkaram will be sharing about their work bringing the gospel to Indian immigrants in America, especially Sikhs.
In this segment we observe the actual training that Huda had before her water baptism. There are several important points for anyone to understand before undergoing water baptism. The voice of Egyptian teacher Dr. Girgis explains gives a brief answer to the question Why are Christians Baptized? He explains that water baptism is a way in which believers are symbolically united with Jesus Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection.
Huda learns that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus, it was revealed to him that Jesus was the one who would take away the sins of the world. Dr. Cynthia explains to her that by being baptized, we: follow Christ’s example, obey his teaching, signify our unity with him in death, show our birth into new life, and finally, let the world know that we follow him! Huda shares with us that she has learned these things.
Former Muslim Huda’s baptism is a reality segment of a rarely filmed event in the life of a former Muslim. Special concerns exist regarding baptism of Muslims. For Christian background believers, baptism is strongly encouraged, but it does not have the black and white connotation that it does for someone from a Muslim background. A Muslim family would not like a member to show interest in Christianity or the Bible. However, since Islamic looks on the external, it is the former Muslim’s baptism which proclaims what they consider is treason to Allah, Mohammed, and the House of Islam.
Huda’s actual baptism is performed by Dr. James Anderson, a pastor. The tradition of baptism at his church includes playing part of the believer’s favorite worship song (Huda’s is in Arabic – you might recognize it from its English version) and reading of their testimony.
In her written testimony, Huda shares a condensed version of her journey to faith in Christ – how she received a Bible as a child, but was not allowed to read it, how after years of travel as an adult she discovered the difference Jesus made in societies, and how she finally heard the gospel in America. She concludes with a plea: since it was in America that she finally heard the gospel, she encourages American Christians to share the gospel with foreigners who come to America. (Subtitles are provided to assist you with understanding what happens in this important reality segment.)