For the month of August we are taking a break from our usual schedule. Instead we invite you to be part of a challenge we hope will make an impact in your life and along the Silk Road.
The more I pray for Muslims, the more God fills my heart with a love for them. I often turn my globe to the eastern hemisphere, tracing my finger across the countries as I pray and sing songs over them.
I get excited when I’m in a store and I see a group of women wearing headscarves, and I make an extra effort to smile at them as they pass by.
I pour over testimonies of Muslims encountering Jesus, and I cry and say, “God I want to be a part of that so badly!”
But something that has stuck with me and really challenged my heart is the level of genuine friendship with Muslims that Stan and others I’ve read about have demonstrated. I am willing to pray for them, to talk to them, to go to their country and live among them, but how willing am I to let them really get to know me?
How willing am I to really build a friendship with them, to really care about the things they care about, to go beyond a point of just being comfortable enough to share the Gospel with them?
To allow the fruit of that Gospel to be exposed in my life as I love them with perseverance, whether they are ready to accept Jesus or not? Oh, how I long to have a love so raw, so genuine, so determined, the way that Christ has loved each one of us. I want to see the lost as more than potential tally marks for souls saved, but as human beings just like me, in need of someone to take their hand and really love them and see them the way that God does: as people worth the cost of His Son’s life. They are also worth the cost of me dying to myself.
Loving Like Jesus
I believe God has prepared me for this very thing through my recent job. I’ve worked in a school the past two years, and I have had to pray many times that God would help me to see the kids the way that He sees them. He was faithful to do so, and constantly reminded me how precious they were in His sight, from the little kids who were always in trouble to the most stubborn and arrogant preteens. He showed me that they were each a work in progress, that none were too far gone to be transformed into the men and women that God dreams for them to be. I’ll be honest, it was far from easy to choose to see them that way. This past year I was chapel director, and every Wednesday I would lead worship with the kids and often give a message. So many times I thought, I would like this a lot more if this were the extent of my job. If I could preach to them and send them on their way, it would be so much easier.
But that was not the case. After I dismissed them from chapel, broke down the set up and turned off the sound system, I would switch hats and become middle school lunch and recess supervisor. Those same kids that I just stood in front of and shared God’s word with suddenly tempted me to lose all my patience as they screamed at each other, threw clementines across the room, and completely ignored me trying to get their attention. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to walk out and go cry somewhere, to scream at them, to slap some of them in the face. Somewhere in me I would hope that a message I gave might magically change their behavior, but the truth is that in those times I was only willing to love them in my own power. The truth is that once I walked out of those chapel doors, I ended and the real ministry began.
To sing to them and preach to them, and even to pray for them, it only took a love that I could muster in my own power.
But to love them beyond that point took the power of the Holy Spirit.
Back In January, when God was really starting to stir this call to missions in my heart, He said something to me at a church service that I scribbled down in the middle of my Bible somewhere:
He wants you to do up close combat. Love them up close and meet them where they’re at.
For the longest time I interpreted that as simply going to the mission field, but I can still go to their very doorstep and only love them from afar. Jesus calls us to a deeper love. He calls us to love in a way that is only possible through His power. Its a love that is persevering, relentless, and selfless. Thank God, Jesus doesn’t knock once at the door of our heart and walk away. He hasn’t given up on me, and I don’t believe He’ll ever ask me to give up on someone else.