The mission of advancing the gospel is the great work of the church, and prayer is the engine that moves it. As God brings the nations to America, he continues to open the eyes of believers to see the unreached and least reached people across our state. Of the 200,000 plus foreign-born and their children living in Kentucky, over 160 unique people groups have been identified. We need more intentional prayer and intimacy with Christ, producing more heartfelt evangelism by believers among the lost. Here are three ways focused prayer can empower the church:
Prayer lifts our eyes to the Harvest field.
In Luke 10:2, Jesus said, “The Harvest is Plentiful, but the workers are few. Pray earnestly for the Lord to send out laborers into his Harvest.” As you discover and pray for various unreached people groups in Kentucky, our prayer is that your eyes will be open to the lostness that exists in your community, across Kentucky and beyond.
Prayer opens the doors for the gospel to advance.
Spiritual work requires spiritual power, and united biblical prayer opens doors to share Christ in our communities (Acts 4:23-33). As God’s people faithfully pray for the lost, unbelievers are convicted of their sin and become more receptive and open to the gospel.
As the pandemic began, our mission team was praying for opportunities to share gospel with our Muslim neighbors. That very night, my Muslim friend, Ibrahim, sent a message asking if I could share about Christ (Jesus) with his neighbor, Fatima, who had a dream about Jesus! I never thought that one of my Muslim friends would ask me to share Christ with another Muslim! After meeting with my wife and I, Fatima is now a follower of Christ! Prayer connects us with people who are open to the gospel, lead us to the right place at the right time, and empowers the church to fulfill the Great Commission.
Prayer provides a challenge toward engagement. When believers experience Christ in intimacy through prayer, our desires begin to align with God’s. Thus, developing a burden for the lost, but also a passion to share the good news of Jesus Christ.
When the church prays, God’s people move closer towards God’s heart for the nations. May God raise us up to advance his kingdom, as we fall on our knees in prayer.
We are here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. For further assistance, email, text or call John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or 502-654-3385.
Our God is a sending God. Nearly every time He speaks to someone in scripture, He is sending them on a mission. From Abraham to Moses to Paul, to us, God’s people are always being sent into the world on mission. He sent His best and only son into the world to save us. Jesus is referred to as “sent” forty seven times in the New Testament. Clearly, God is a sender by nature. Jesus sent the apostles, and He has sent us. After His resurrection, Jesus passed on this responsibility to His disciples: “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
In “Gaining by Losing”, J.D. Greear challenges us to recognize that in healthy growing churches, sending capacity is more important than seating capacity. Many churches think their primary problems are about declining baptism numbers and poor attendance. When often times, they are evidence that the church has drifted from it’s primary vision to SEND members out on mission.
A church that is sending equips members to demonstrate the gospel every day in their workplaces, neighborhoods, and schools and be prepared to give an answer to those in our community who ask them to “give the reason for the hope that they have” (1 Peter 3:15).
What is SENDING? The act of enlisting, equipping and mobilizing believers to engage the world with the gospel through:
local community ministry
short term missions
church planting efforts
disaster relief work
long-term missionary service
Below is a list of Kentucky’s top ten churches, in terms of missions participation. Each of the churches has earned recognition because they had a greater percentage of their worship attendance participating in missions this year than they did the previous.
Turner Ridge, Falmouth – pastor Dale Beighle
First, Inez – pastor Casey Carver
Finchville, Finchville – pastor David Ladner
Hartford, Hartford – pastor Jason Bratcher
Kelly, Hopkinsville – pastor Joshua Powell
Island Creek, Manchester – pastor George Grigsby
Oak Grove 2, Eubank – pastor David Gambrel
Deane, Millstone – pastor Chris Dool
Muldraugh Hill, Lebanon – pastor Billy Compton
Flat Rock, Orlando – pastor Gregory Burton
Let’s reach our communities, nation and world with the gospel by placing our focus on SENDING, rather than seating.
C. S. Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity, “Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours.”
Volunteers with Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief give themselves away for the good of others and the sake of Christ when disasters strike. They have discovered the joy that is found in giving all that we are and have for Christ.
Listen to these testimonies about how they are giving for the sake of Christ through disaster relief:
“We volunteer to help the victims clean up after the disaster in order to speak to their heart.” (Mike Bastin – Pleasant View Baptist Church)
“God uses us, DR volunteers, at a time when hope seems gone.” (Carolyn Gray – Zion’s Cause Baptist Church)
“Disaster Relief opens up doors to people for the Gospel.” (Tom Garrity – Jeffersontown Baptist Church)
“Disaster Relief gives our volunteers a way to show victims of a disaster that God loves them.” (David Bayes – Liberty Mills Baptist Church)
“God uses the love He placed in DR workers, to help people in their time of trouble. Making the DR workers a living Bible.” (Jerry and Andy Cable – Campton Baptist Church)
“Disaster Relief allows us to demonstrate the unconditional love of Christ to people that have found themselves overwhelmed by circumstances beyond their control. Sharing the Gospel is always much more effective after sharing God’s love.” (Roger Whitehead – Grayson First Baptist Church)
“Disaster relief is the mirror that reveals the love of God.” (Sammy Hammons – Kirksville Baptist Church)
“Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief allows us to work through the brokenness and point those we are able to serve back to a loving God through His Son, The Lord Jesus Christ.” (Bob Brame – Hickory Grove Baptist Church)
“In the midst of disasters, most people, even those previously resistant to the Gospel, realize they are not in control of their current or future circumstances. Disaster Relief volunteers come alongside them to help carry their burdens while sharing the Love and hope that is found in Jesus Christ.” (Keith Stinson – First Baptist Church of Richmond)
“The word Kentucky draws Attention (Famous Kentucky Fried Chicken). Kentucky Baptist DR gold shirts draws Curiosity. Curiosity draws conversations. Conversations open doors. BOOM! Opportunity to Share Jesus.” (Janice Gaines – Hamlet Baptist Church)
“In one week of DR I get to share the Gospel more than in a whole year at home with my regular routines.” (Gordon Hayworth – Fairdale First Baptist Church)
“Ian Sterling was saved at one of our Kentucky Baptist disaster responses to Bay Minette, Alabama. Ian was an American Red Cross volunteer and shared how he had observed our volunteers being the church and this drew him to Christ.” (Larry and Elaine Koch – Redemption Hill Baptist Church)
Is God calling you to give of yourself to bring help, healing, and hope when disasters strike?
Find out how you can give and get involved during times of disaster for the sake of the Gospel at www.kybaptist.org/dr .
When I think of Kentucky Baptist, one word that rises to the top is generosity. Kentucky Baptist are generous people, who have a vision to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people everywhere. I do not take for granted the compassionate prayers, the personal commitment, and the financial sacrifice that Kentucky Baptist make to support missions and ministry efforts in our state, nation, and world. As a former IMB missionary from Kentucky and member of the Missions Mobilization Team, I am thankful for the faithful generosity of Kentucky Baptist in their passionate support of missions through the Cooperative Program.
As stated on the SBC.net website, The Cooperative Program (CP) is the financial fuel for reaching every person for Jesus Christ in every town, every city, every state, and every nation. Since its inception in 1925, the CP has been the primary way Southern Baptists “do” the work of ministry together both locally and globally. Standing on the firm ground of the Great Commission, the CP is a powerful tool that has galvanized the missionary zeal of our denomination for the past 95 years.
The Cooperative Program is far more than money or a funding system for missions and ministry. It has been an effective means of bringing the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus. In a time when the many people are skeptical of institutional structures, the theological conviction and purpose driving the CP must be elevated above and beyond the tool itself. The tool is wonderful, but the vision of reaching Kentucky and the world for Christ is greater. Missiology is not methodology; it is applied theology.
Through Cooperative Program giving, the Lord allows us not only to partner in fulfilling the Great Commission, but also to fulfill a vision that is greater than ourselves. Each church plays a vital role in discovering the lost, making disciples, and strengthening and planting churches both locally and globally. Collectively, we can accelerate not only authentic gospel impact, but also sustainable gospel witness. Here is what the Lord has taught me, through the faithful CP giving of our Kentucky Baptist:
It is Beyond me: I obey God by giving my tithe to our local church. My tithe, combined with the tithes of fellow members, enables our church to reach our community and to live on mission.
It is Beyond us: Our church partners with thousands of others across Kentucky to support missions and ministry statewide through the Cooperative Program. Together, we equipped people to welcome and share Christ with refugee families from more than 10 countries, started a Bible institute to equip International pastors across KY, and partnered with International Churches to make discipleships among unreached people.
It is Beyond Kentucky: As KBC churches partner with 46,000+ Southern Baptist churches, our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries across North America to reach people for Christ and Plant urgently needed new churches. Together, we helped Send City missionaries in Chicago, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, and New York share Christ and plant churches
It is Beyond the USA: Our CP giving sends thousands of missionaries around the world to share Christ and plant churches among unreached and unengaged people groups. Last year, CP giving helped over 3600 workers plant 12,368 churches and see 89,325 new believers! South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia are only a few of the locations KBC churches are with IMB workers around the world!
The strength of the CP is that it allows all Southern Baptist’s churches to prioritize, elevate, and participate in the Great Commission, by partnering together to make Jesus known Here, There, and Everywhere. This is why I am thankful for Kentucky Baptist generosity, and I proud to serve KBC churches as they seek to reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. We are stronger together!
If I can help you develop, share, or equip your church on the impact of cooperative program, please contact me: John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, email: [email protected] or call: 502-654-3385
“Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.” – General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State
If I could break down all I have learned to share with a next generation of those called by God, I would offer these simplified lessons:
Maintain integrity. “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the perversity of the treacherous destroys them” (Proverbs 11:3).
Preach the Word. Handle the Living Word of God accurately and herald the unchanging truth of God with conviction. “Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Offer application not just information when you preach and teach, because God desires transformation. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24, “Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”
Be willing to engage in strategic innovation without compromising God’s unchanging message in an age where things are changing faster than anytime in human history. This is the heart of what the apostle Paul is sharing in 1 Corinthians 9: 22-23 when he proclaims, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.”
Help people to navigate truth in a time of instant information. Wisdom is more than an accumulation of information, and discernment is vital in this age of information overload. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 offers us incredible wisdom, “But test all things. Hold on to what is good.”
Love the flock. Being an effective leader means nothing if you do not genuinely care about those God has entrusted to you. “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God, and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness” 9! Peter 5:2).
Awaken a passion in followers of Christ to study the word. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).
Seek to inspire the church to be filled with a deep love for our Lord that is more than an intellectual knowledge. Jeremiah 29:13 reminds us of this truth, “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Maintain a balance in worship that keeps the Word of God elevated but does not devalue music, prayer, giving, the ordinances, and fellowship as essential elements of genuine worship. May we worship as taught in Colossians 3:16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Learn to work with people and to build unity in the family of faith. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling of which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, putting up with one another in love, making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
SUPPORTING GOSPEL WORK IN OPPRESSED PLACES AND DURING TURBULENT TIMES!
“14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. 15 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; 16 to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? 17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17)
The Apostle Paul not only understood that the Great Commission belongs to the local church, but also that “sending churches” must pray, encourage, and partner with their “sent ones.” As Kentucky Baptist Churches, we have the joy of supporting and partnering with IMB missionaries around the world, through our Cooperative Program Giving and Lottie Moon Christmas Offerings. However, the Great Commission is more than simply our giving, it includes our willingness to have gospel partnerships in hard places, among hard people, and during hard times. The spread of the gospel faces challenges because people are battling their own personal sin and pride in the face of the “offense” of the gospel. In addition to the challenge of human sinfulness and depravity, sometimes the gospel runs up against challenging settings. Christians in places of religious freedom still carry the biblical burden to take the gospel into higher security or closed settings. The Great Commission is not an option clause, but a command from our living Lord, Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal for these difficult settings is to see the Holy Spirit establish a long-term, doctrinally sound, multiplying church presence for the glory of God.
If we are to partner in a high security location, we must first build and maintain a relationship with a committed missionary who resides in the difficult place or among the difficult people. Workers in hostile areas live with spiritual oppression as a constant companion, much like a tumor that cannot be removed. A good partner carefully considers the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical challenges that exist in this particular setting.
God can use you and your church to not only preserve the wellbeing of your missionary partner, but also play a critical role in fulfilling the Great Commission by doing three critical things:
Pray We must pray for our missionaries, but beyond that, they need to know we are praying for them. Ask them for specific requests and then follow up to see how the Lord worked. Find out their specific cultural challenges and commit to pray for them. Paul asked his friends to pray for him, and he gave them specific prayer requests.
Encourage We must also encourage our missionaries. These are real people who have real interests, hobbies, preferences, etc. Do not forget that they have a favorite genre of music, a sports team they keep up with, jokes they enjoy, frustrations as a parent, concerns as a spouse, and a thousand other facets that make them human. Treat them the same way you treat other friends. Talk with them about their interests, fears, joys, and sorrows.
When neglected, the humanity of our missionaries is what often takes them off of the field. When cared for, the humanity of our missionaries is often what makes them the most effective. People who live in spiritual oppression are looking for someone who is living out hope. Ask your church members, how can we play a part in ongoing encouragement to our field personnel? Find ways, be practical and be consistent.
Go The Bible is overflowing with commands, reasons, and motivations to go, serve and spread the gospel with your physical presence. It is not only important for some of us to go to difficult places long-term, but also for others to go to these places short-term in order to help our missionaries by encouraging and supporting them. Due to the travel restrictions caused by the current pandemic, you might consider “going” on virtual mission trip, which is an excellent way to pray, encourage, and connect with workers in hard places! But as you go either physically or virtually, go for the benefit of your spiritual partners and the lost, not to fulfill your own dreams. There is a specific danger present in any type of mission trip that makes it about the individuals going instead of supporting strategy of the workers living on the field.
Also, be realistic about the results you will see during your time in a difficult area, or during your time of virtual trip. In many of these places, the work is long and often times they have yet to see the “harvest.” Radical Prayer, persistence, and patience in working the soil is required. The Lord is free to work in any way that He desires, but those who “go” must keep in mind that they might not see a massive turning to the Lord on their first trip.
As you partner with missionaries in difficult and possibly hostile locations, you are part of bringing unreached and unengaged people to the throne room of God. There are many places you could go or ways you can participate in fulfilling the Great Commission, but the greatest blessing is to go and serve where the Lord calls you. The work is large, the challenges are daunting, the need is overwhelming, but the eternal value of even one soul is worth every bit of effort we can summon. Remember the words of the Lord Himself in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.”
The Missions Mobilization Team is here to serve you and your church as you seek to fulfill the Great Commission. Even during the pandemic, we can help you Discover the Opportunities, Develop a Strategy, and Equip your Church to Pray, Encourage, Go! Whether you are just getting started or needing to start a new, our team can help you take the next step. Email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected] or call 502-654-3385.
Hurricane Laura slammed Louisiana last Thursday as a deadly Category 4 storm. In Lake Charles, roofs were peeled off, buildings ripped apart, and lampposts scattered like twigs. This storm reminded us again that disasters come and can catch us unprepared for the devastation left behind. Being prepared increases our ability to survive and to respond effectively to help those affected.
The wisdom writer in Ecclesiastes 10:10 declared, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength, however the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.” Preparing the edge by sharpening the blade will enable the tool to be more effective, just as training helps believers to serve more effectively in response to the survivors of disasters.
Top ten reasons to be trained in disaster relief:
Training prepares us in our understanding of disasters and the needs that arise in times of disaster.
Training enables us to respond in appropriate and effective ways in times of disaster.
Training prepares us to understand our role as part of a disaster team. Emergency Managers often list untrained volunteers as one of their greatest problems in times of disaster.
Training enables us to sharpen our abilities, in order to be an asset not a hindrance in the response. Spontaneous volunteers typically lack familiarity with situational assessments and incident management. Because of this, they usually end up being in the way, rather than providing meaningful help.
Training helps us to understand hazards and safety concerns in disaster areas. Untrained volunteers are much more likely to be injured in disaster response as they are unaware of risk factors.
Training prepares us to understand in a deeper way some of the trauma of disaster victims that we might be able to offer appropriate compassion.
Training prepares the hands to be ready to serve effectively. Becoming trained enables you to respond with appropriate skills and right resources.
Training prepares the head by giving us needed knowledge that prepares our readiness. Untrained volunteers are often unprepared to work long, stressful days in austere and rugged living conditions.
Training and relating to a known disaster response group enables better security in disaster areas. Untrained volunteers create atmospheres where scam artists, who seek to prey on hurting and vulnerable people, can get access into disaster settings under the guise of being a volunteer.
But the greatest reason to train is that God deserves our very best in all that we do and to achieve the best requires discipline, effort, and knowledge.
Disasters will come. Therefore, let me encourage you, be prepared to serve by being trained. Victims deserve that, and even more importantly, God deserves that.
Upcoming Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief trainings are scheduled for:
September 12, 2020 at Calvary Baptist Church in Glasgow
January 9, 2021 at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville
February 6, 2021 at Harlan Baptist Church
March 20, 2021 at First Baptist Church of Murray
April 10, 2021 at Red House Baptist Church in Richmond
You can learn how to become connected and register for training through Kentucky Baptist Disaster Relief at http://www.kybaptist.org/dr .
Disasters come whether one is prepared or not, and tragically most
churches fail to prepare for disaster events in their community.
As Stephen Cyros declared, “Remember, when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed.”
Be prepared as a church by:
Encouraging the need for preparation. Church leaders can lead in providing disaster preparation information that includes safety, first-aid, needed supplies, and evacuation or shelter instructions to those in our churches. People who are prepared have increased survivability in times of disaster.
Assessing the greatest and most likely disaster threats for your community.
Examining the church property to determine if there are ways to minimize loss and to improve the church’s ability to withstand a disaster event.
Ensuring that the membership understands evacuation or sheltering plans if a disaster occurs while the church is gathered.
Devising a plan to check on church members in the aftermath of disasters. Focus a priority on the most vulnerable in your family of faith such as the elderly, those with disabilities, single mothers, and those with health issues. This could be a great ministry for deacons or other church ministry groups.
Developing a ministry plan for the church in the aftermath of disasters. Often churches miss opportunities to meet real needs and to have life-changing impact with families in the aftermath of disasters because they have not planned for a disaster. Crisis events open doors for the Gospel as people are seeking help and answers. God has placed the church in communities to be His hands and voice, but we need to think about how we can best help survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.
Connecting with other churches in your community and other organizations to discuss how to prepare and respond to disasters. Most County Emergency Managers would welcome churches who genuinely want to help, and who have a plan to meet vital needs. We can always do more together than any of us can do alone.
Being prepared to pivot the focus of the church in the aftermath of a disaster. The day after a disaster strikes your community is probably not the time to begin a new ministry, but the church demonstrates a lack of compassion and awareness if it does not pivot from the routine and put priority focus on responding to the loss that disasters bring. In the aftermath of disasters, the church needs to show the Gospel in action.
The Scripture gives a great word for the church as we seek to prepare for times of disaster in Proverbs 27:12,
“The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.”
For most of us our world has changed in 2020. Our world has been drastically altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are washing our hands and using sanitizer more. We are social distancing and wearing face masks as we try to not get too close to one another. Many of us have stockpiled food, water, and even toilet paper. We are weary of the nightly reports of stay-at-home extensions, new cases, death counts, and growing unemployment. Most Americans believe that it will be a long time before things return to normal, and social media chirps constantly about the new norm. As we begin the re-opening process, it appears the response to this deadly disease has left us with more questions than answers.
The pandemic has ground our economy to a halt, but it has not slowed the famine in Sub-Saharan Africa that has left millions starving. It has not ended the Iranian – U.S. tensions that witnessed another close encounter in the Persian Gulf this week. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency it has not decelerated the number of displaced people across our globe. Nor has it curbed the active early tornado season that spawned over 100 twisters and left 73 people dead.
I do not claim to be an expert, but I think that I can accurately proclaim, life can be a dangerous venture. The journey of life often passes through dark valleys. Valleys that can leave us anxious, frightened, and insecure. And many ponder “What if it all gets worse?”
As I read the Bible, I am thankful that God is honest with us. Jesus shared with His disciples and reminds us that difficult days will come. He tells us in the Gospel of Matthew that there will be wars and rumors of wars, famines, pandemics, and natural disasters. He predicts His church will be persecuted, people will turn on each other and spew hatred against their neighbor, false prophets will appear, and wickedness will increase. Jesus shares that things are going to get worse before they get better.
Yet do not miss an important word that Jesus shares with His followers right in the middle of this calamity-filled proclamation. Jesus shares this key directive in Matthew 24:6 as he teaches about the coming tribulation, “See that you are not alarmed.” This word “alarm” in the ancient language means “to wail, to cry out in despair, to be hysterical.” Jesus counsels us when bad stuff comes, do not panic, or fall apart. And He tells us why with His next words in this passage of Scripture, “because these things must take place.”
Must is a vital word in this passage because it asserts that all events, everything that takes place in this world, from the mundane to the chaotic are part of God’s plan. God uses all things to accomplish His purposes and plans. When the world seems to be careening out of control, be reminded that God is still on His throne, and our Lord has promised that He will never leave nor forsake us. He declares to us that trials and tribulations will come in this world and they are very real, but do not let these present troubles blind you to the fact that a better world is coming. Jesus has formulated the predictive model for our world’s pandemic, and He has established a treatment plan that will cure all that is wrong in our present age.
If you have placed your faith in Christ, it will all work out in the end, and by His grace, He will get you through today and tomorrow. And by the way, if this world is a chaotic mess, be assured it is not yet the end.
For over two decades, the Lord has blessed me with opportunities to serve Him by sharing the gospel with Muslims around the world. As 1.8 Billion Muslims are fasting and praying during Ramadan in midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, now is the time for Christians to share Christ. Here are three keys:
1. Prayer and Fasting
Let us confess it before Christ. Christians usually fall short in this area. We profess to believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but all too easily we fall into the habit of relying on our own efforts. Among the conversions I observed, prayer and fasting were a common denominator, and God was moving. In order to reach peoples who are entrenched in other belief systems, we may very well need to engage in all-night prayer as our Lord practiced. It may mean fasting and pleading with God to break barriers and open hearts. Prayer and fasting are not man-centered ways to manipulate God or attempt to force his hand. Rather, they convey our utter helplessness to win souls. They express our total dependence upon the power of God, and the truth of the gospel (Matt 6:16-18)!
2. Real Relationships
There is no generic Muslim. There are diverse individuals who practice the same faith. When we think our calling is only to win people to Christ, it can turn the missionary task into something detached, impersonal, and faceless. Instead, we must realize and actively remind ourselves that it is our calling to win people to Jesus. We win individuals, and every person is not only an image-bearer whom God loves, but also every person needs Christ. Every Muslim I know said they knew of at least one Christian they could go to with their questions when God began to work in their lives. Maybe you can be that one. But you must be a true friend, even if they never convert.
3. Jesus Stories
Serving others is commendable, but it is not enough. The gospel is a message that must be verbally shared and carefully explained. A Muslim background believer I know once shared with me that Muslims view loving service from Christians as something that should be expected as if Christians owe them a debt. In other words, they think Christians should serve them because Muslims have the final revelation from God . . . or so they believe. It will never do to merely love and serve Muslims in the name of Christ. Humanitarian aid is wonderful, but it is not the ultimate need of Muslim people. The Word of God must be spoken to them. The gospel must be proclaimed. Muslims must be called into account before the true and living God. The Bible calls God’s Word “the sword of the Spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb 4:12). Acts of love and service are good, but they are not the heart of the missionary task.
It has become my practice to speak to my Muslim friends just like I would talk to a friend in church. I share what God taught me during my quiet time in his Word. I talk about stories from Scripture or Bible verses that apply to both of us. They may ask, “Are you trying to convert me?” I simply respond, “Only God can speak to our hearts and convince us of truth.” Until they walk away, I keep sharing the Word. As we pray and fast for Muslims during this Ramadan season, may we bring Jesus into every encounter with our Muslim friends, and trust him open hearts to gospel. Remember, it is never a matter of if, but it is only a matter of when the next person will believe. When the gospel is preached, the Lord changes heart for His glory.
If you or your church have any questions or want to learn more about reaching Muslims for Christ, please email John Barnett, KBC Missions Strategist, at [email protected]