My friend “M’ is from all over the Middle East. He doesn’t fit most stereotypes. He is a Muslim, but he hates Islam. He goes to a Christian church but doesn’t want to be identified as a Christian. He is outgoing and speaks to several different missionaries. He is unlike anyone I have ever met. What “method” should I use to get him to accept the truth?
Hint: It’s a trick question. Methods don’t open a lost man’s eyes. Only God can do that.
In Luke chapter 10, Jesus sends His disciples out “ahead of Him”, giving them some very specific instructions about how to prepare the way for Him. Some have argued that this passage reveals THE way to share the gospel, that it is prescriptive rather than simply descriptive. Later in Luke 22, just as He is about to be betrayed, He specifically reverses much of this very method (most of the folks who teach this method leave this fact out). Does this mean that there was a new method we are to follow? Was He describing a new way?
Next week Angie and I will take some training in disciple-making here in Berlin. The headline speaker is Steve Addison, a popular author on the subject. It’s a one-week course that just so happens to coincide with a week off from our German class!
We will be taking the class with missionaries and lay people from several different denominations, several different expressions of the faith we all hold dear. Isn’t it beautiful? The body of Christ is so diverse. And while we are all gathered to glean what we can from Steve about a particular “system” for building the church, together we will also be bringing with us a vast tapestry of varying experience.
Since coming to Berlin, God has focused our efforts on the Muslim population of Berlin, specifically those who live in refugee camps, like “M”. The teams we lead have stirred up the people of the camps. They have gone ahead of us. The love that they have shown has inspired many, and many are either coming to Christ as new believers or taking the faith that they were hiding and bringing it into the light, into full bloom.
The teams have come from all over the world, bringing the DNA of their particular training bases, and of their countries of origin. Because we share a common Savior, and some common foundational principles, we have been able to give the teams freedom and room to share the gospel and the love of Christ as the Holy Spirit leads.
This is one of the things we love about YWAM. YWAM isn’t non-denominational, rather, it is interdenominational. We can work with Catholics, Lutherans, Baptists, and Pentecostals. We can employ different methods and coordinate with other ministries. We have freedom! With bases in more than 120 different countries, we also enjoy a rich diversity of cultural backgrounds. YWAM is not so much a Tribe, as it is a scarlet thread of lit-up Jesus followers from every Tribe!
Next week we learn a particular method. How much, or how often we employ this particular technique really depends on the leading of the Holy Spirit, not only in how He leads us, but also how He leads our teams.
In the book of ACTS, we see all kinds of ways that people come to Jesus, all kinds of ways that the gospel is shared. People were struck blind, given visions, and sent particular missionaries from far place. Some were baptized immediately, others after a time. Some were led by the Apostles, others by their followers. The fact is, there is no formula. We must hear God’s voice in every situation!
How good it is to worship a personal God, not a belief system. How good it is to have a relationship, rather than a religion. How good it is that God is not a respecter of persons, that He loves with abandon people from all walks of life, all cultures and creeds, and that He goes before us, preparing a way for us. How good it is that God loves “M” even while he doesn’t fully grasp who He is, that God loves even us, as we struggle to follow his leading in a foreign land! He is the God of many Tribes and many methods.