This week I along with 6 other Highview members are on a short term mission trip in Central Asia. This is a part of the world dominated by Muslim influence. The country we are serving in has about 98% of its population that professes the Islam faith. One night we had dinner with a local, Khurshed, who is a follower of Jesus Christ. He passionately shared with us his experience as a disciple who makes disciples in a context where the cost of discipleship is extremely high. This man became a believer after hearing the gospel in his youth through a jiu jitsu ministry. When he told his mother that he and his brother wanted to become Christians, she rebuked them for the thought of turning their back on their family and nation. She actually told him that when his father got home he was going to kill them. Physical beating and ostracism by one's family is common in this part of the world for converts to Christ. He mustered the courage to come to the dinner table, fully expecting his father to react in rage. But to his surprise, God had already saved his father a few years before, and he had never told his family. His father not only received the news well, but encouraged them in their faith and set a safe environment for them to learn and know Christ. This began a walk with the Lord that saw the conversion of not only his mother but his entire family over a period of time.
He shared out of a deep well of knowledge. As I listened to him talk, I could feel that a fire for knowing and following Jesus was consuming his soul. I was inspired and wanted to share some nuggets that will be useful for disciple making.
-The biggest hurdle for people in this nation to share their faith is fear and shame. It's a ceiling that keeps them from really obeying Jesus. At some point only the Holy Spirit can give someone the ability to overcome these hurdles and be faithful in Evangelism.
-In a context where the government, community, and family units are against you living for Christ, you have to have the mindset of being "proud of Jesus." If you are not proud of him, you will deny him in front of people. To which Jesus says he will deny you in front of his Father. You must be so moved by all Jesus has done for you that you are proud to speak of him even when it makes you an alien among others.
-For a person in this nation to convert from Muslim to Christian, it takes drinking at least 300L of green tea with them. Having many conversations about the gospel over a period of time, connecting the Old Testament stories to Jesus. (This speaks to the necessity of life on life relationship, and patience in disciple making.)
-(When asked about his prayer life) There was a bit of confusion as to why I would speak of a life of praying that was separate from his everyday life and being. There is no distinction between prayer and my daily walk with Jesus.
-One of my biggest concerns in discipleship is that people from this nation who become Christians would not lose their culture. I love this nation and this people. It's a beautiful culture that God has made. If people loose their culture, they are not able to reach other people from this nation for Jesus. We must teach people that's it perfectly fine to remain culturally themselves, surrendered fully to Jesus as a new creation.
-He said a friend of his wanted to reach as many people as possible for Christ, so he had a plan to build church buildings all over the nation. With a huge belly laugh, he said buildings are not the church, but where people are gathered to follow Jesus is the church. In an impoverished nation he said, instead of building churches, we should build businesses where Christians can work and build the church by reaching other people through their jobs.