WEEK THREE: COMMUNITY
‘Tis the season to be neighbourly
I was driving home on a chilly November afternoon after a Youth For Christ meeting in Manchester. My mind was buzzing. I had just heard amazing testimonies of bold, courageous youth workers who had given up their luxurious detached houses in the suburbs to live in Warrington’s most deprived estates. They were serious about following Jesus. They were serious about incarnationally living alongside the lost and broken and being Jesus to them. The whole journey home I was having an out loud conversation with God, ‘I’ll go anywhere, God. Make me as bold as these people, Lord. Take me to the slums of India or the estates of London, take me somewhere I can live like you lived and bring light to the darkest areas. I love you Lord and I want to do your will, so tell me where to go.’ After fervently praying for 40 minutes and not giving God a chance to speak, he eventually got a word in the conversation when I drove into my cul-de-sac. He said: ‘Becky, do you not think I have you where I need you. Yes, there is a need in all those places but there is need on your street. And I have placed you in prime position to shine my light in this street. You are where I need you.’ After my initial disappointment that I didn’t need to pack my bags and leave on an adventure, I realised I was already on an adventure. I had already befriended many of my neighbours and invited them round for tea. I had given one of my neighbour’s teenage girl’s Bobby Houston’s book and she was devouring it. I had told the Muslim family across the road about Jesus. I actually lived in a very diverse, friendly city centre community with Indians, Pakistanis’ and Chinese. God had me where he needed me.
I had not been on the street very long when I began to reach out to Muslims. At the same time our church was beginning to make the move from our middle-class village beginnings into one of the most deprived areas of the city, neighbouring at least three mosques. Now I don’t claim to be an expert at all concerning reaching this group, but I have become more aware of the need for us to embrace Muslims with the love of Jesus! So here are a few basics to grasp onto:
Be friends with your Muslim neighbours. Yes, that’s as simple as it has to be. You may have limited knowledge of Islam or the Quran, but that doesn’t stop you from forming a friendship and getting to know your neighbours. Not because they are your project, but because you want to!
Seek what God is doing already. When evangelising we are quick to assume a ‘saviour’ mentality and fulfil the role of super hero. Don’t you think God has gone before you? Don’t you think he wants to reveal himself to this individual or family? Ask the Holy Spirit what he is already doing and take His lead.
Don’t put them in a box. As with Christianity, there are many branches of Islam. Don’t assume that they all worship at the same mosque and adhere to the same rules. Ask them what they believe. Make connections between their faith and your own. Conversation can flow easier if you first find common ground, for instance ask them how they celebrate Eid and tell them how you celebrate Christmas and why.
Pray for them. Muslims value prayer, yet God’s love is a rare concept in Islam. Tell them you are praying for them and you know God loves them and wants to bless them. Ask them what they want prayer for.
Finally, don’t expect miracles overnight, as with any relationship it requires investment. For them to accept Jesus as their saviour is a huge leap; not just from their own beliefs, but from their family, community, and heritage. But we believe in a mighty God so take the steps and see what He does!
So this Christmas, be bold and courageous and step into your own adventure on your own street, whatever that may look like!
Becky is fun-loving, energetic and forward thinking in her approach to sharing the love of God. Becky has a huge heart to see young girls walking in freedom and using their influence to impact others for Jesus. She is a youth worker in Preston and helps run our Miss Activate community of 14-18-year-olds.