Monday, April 24, 2017

Bringing Light into the Darkness

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden."
~ Matthew 5:14 ~

If we are the "light of the world", then we must be committed to going to the dark places. We bring the gospel to men and women in the LGBT community that feel alone, discarded, and rejected. We go to the women in the massage parlors and strip clubs who feel ashamed of what they do. We go to the homeless who are often passed by and forgotten by society. And for the ones from other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism, we break down their walls of defense through friendly interaction. It can be challenging to enter into somebody else’s world, but we must seize every opportunity that comes our way if we are to love people the way Jesus did.

One such opportunity came recently when I noticed a man standing at a distance, curiously looking at our prayer station. I approached the man and asked if he needed prayer. He said, “I am a Muslim. What’s a prayer station? What are you guys doing out here?” After explaining our ministry to him, I said, “To be honest, I don’t really know too much about Islam. Would you be willing to tell me more about what you believe?” It turned out that he had actually studied Islamic theology in Turkey for two years after graduating high school. Naturally, my question triggered an enthusiastic response from him, and we ended up talking for over an hour about our beliefs. It was an enjoyable discussion and, after becoming friends on Facebook, I asked him to send me videos about Islam from some of his favorite Islamic scholars so I could continue to learn more. And that’s exactly what he did!

After watching the videos he sent me, I asked if we could meet up again, not just to discuss theology, but also to hang out and get to know each other. Since our first interaction at the prayer station, I’ve gotten to meet him and some of his other Muslim friends. We’ve enjoyed each other’s company and discussed many matters of religion. I was most moved when he told me how much he appreciated all my intrigue and authenticity. He said most of his interaction with Christians had been disappointing because they had no interest in understanding Islam. He told me, “The fact that you actually wanted to know what I believe meant so much to me.”

I have learned that the best way to enter into someone else’s worldview is to actually get to know the people who adhere to that worldview. As we come to understand what other people believe, we will demonstrate compassion and care, and we will also understand how to share the gospel with relevancy. 

"Every Day of Our Lives can be an Outreach"

It's not uncommon for God to change people's perspectives during their time at Street LIFE Ministries. On our most recent team, a girl named Amanda had one such experience. She met a man named Isaac at the Prayer Station who she described as "overflowing with the love of God". He came up to them, blessed them, and started sharing the gospel with people who were standing by the table. He wanted everybody to hear about Jesus, and he was so excited to see young people out on the streets sharing the gospel. 

Amanda's team from Ohio
Amanda reported, "Even though he desperately wanted us to pray for him and I was the one on the missions trip, I think that Isaac had a way bigger, life-changing impact on me than I did on him. That was huge to me." Due to this experience she testified, "One important thing that God showed me on this trip is that everyday of our lives can be an outreach. We don't have to go on some trip because we never know how we are affecting people around us with the small things we do."