It had all started as a normal day during City Project. We had arrived in New York City the Saturday before to stay in a shelter, share the gospel with unbelievers, and be trained by strategic missionaries. Most of the training and planning was useless at this point…
A friend and I were assigned a specific Muslim group in Queens. Conversations had to be started, but we had to be authentic. Both of us agreed to go to one of the mosques for the evening salat (prayer) in order to start conversations. We entered the dark building confused and unsure of what would take place.
“Why are you here?” one of the men asked. “We are curious about other religions and want to learn more about Islam,” we responded with deep sincerity. We proceeded through wudu (washings) in order to enter the ceremony. Face, ears, arms, hands, feet, then hands again. With bare feet proceeding to the prayer hall, I prayed with a heavy heart to the only God who has ears to hear our cries. My friend and I sat in the corner to observe (not partake) in the ceremony. With every tick of the clock, my heart grew heavier; my heart literally felt like it was going to burst. Tears began to roll down my face only for me to wipe them away in light of my surroundings. I felt the need to share just a few of my thoughts and burdens.
- How many Christians see these men, young and old, and never share of the redemptive work they have experienced?
- How many Believers, like myself, are more concerned with politics, Soteriology, or personal agenda than the eternity of God’s beloved?
- Do professing Christians truly “[look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross”? If so, why do they walk away and not long to endure the same struggle for unsaved?
Paul said “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers.” Do we bear the same burden as this sinner saved by grace?
A recognizable pattern in my life and through Scripture is looking to God and leaving with a new sense of purpose. Take Saul who transformed into Paul; Moses and the burning bush; Israel looking to the bronze serpent; or Jacob (Israel) wrestling with God. All of these accounts point to series of darkness/trouble, encountering God, and leaving remarkably changed. I share about this dark experience because in these moments, I was tested to love my neighbor, put their needs before my own, and allow God to bring about salvation. It may not be easy, but it certainly is worth it. James also shows us why we endure trials.
“Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
Not everyone is called to live as a vocational missionary to the Unreached People Groups of the world. Some are, but not everyone. Instead, we are called to make disciples of all [tribes, tongues, and] nations. If we don’t go, how will they hear? More importantly, if we do not petition on their behalf nor expect God to move, how can we ever expect God to work through us? Challenge: be willing to experience trials and darkness for someone else’s soul. This example is found in Jesus; is it found in you?