All Christians are growing as disciples, including MBBs. They often face significant societal pressure to follow people and please them. The pressure may be overt – do as I say – or as simple as expecting us to conform to their actions or react as they wish.
A biblical example:
16“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces, who call to their companions 17and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you didn’t dance. We mourned for you, and you didn’t lament.’Matthew 11:16-17 WEB
The Bible indicates that there are people whose goal is to have control over us, often with no concern for the outcome except that controlling us makes them feel better.
There is good news: we can chose whom to follow.
Jesus Christ cares about our future, and is good. Christians, when faced with the siren song of following people are best served by following Christ instead of people. His ways and words lead to good results and the best fellowship.
Keywords: Christian, discipleship, MBB, Christ before people
People often wonder if they are equipped to minister to someone going through the loss and grief that persecuted MBBs experience. The answer is: yes!
You do not have to have gone through the same thing as another in order to effectively minister to them. Sometimes simply being with someone is enough to help them through an awful time. The people that most effectively ministered to me in college knew little to nothing of my culture or my pain. They were friendly, and we enjoyed each other’s company — it was more than enough.
If you can walk with an MBB through the pain, please do so. You don’t usually need to discuss pain unless they do. Your presence alone will be like a salve for them, especially if you help them enjoy the normalcy of life and perhaps even make them smile a time or two. The ministry of being there is underrated these days. It is extremely powerful for ministry to the persecuted.
Keywords: Being there, MBB, persecution
When you encounter a new MBB, her or his world is not just falling apart. The MBB often feels that they’ve actually lost their entire world because essentially everything they’ve built their lives on is gone and is not coming back.
Many people feel unqualified to speak to the hurt and the circumstances that new MBBs are in. You don’t have to – speak to the person. Tell truths that you, a Christian, know well. Please let the MBB know:
- God loves you and will not give up on you.
- God will be with you through the pain.
- God can heal the pain, which sometimes takes time. It may not happen instantly, but it will happen and things will eventually feel better.
- Even if they don’t, following God is worth it.
- Keep going. Don’t give up.
Yes, teach MBBs about the Bible, about God’s goodness, intimacy with God, prayer, spiritual warfare, and the doctrine of persecution, but also keep in mind that the immediate need may be that the MBB simply needs to keep going.
One of the effects of persecution is to make people stop doing what they are doing — often through depression or fear. The ability to keep going can not only help them survive, but even thrive in the midst of extremely terrible circumstances.
I know that all five of the above are true. They are based on scripture, but I also know that they’re true because they have been true in my life and in the lives of many MBBS. Those MBBs said that they needed to know and be reminded of the five things above.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, persecution, comfort
MBBs often wonder about how to have a productive and real devotional life – a time to seek God in His word and through prayer and learning from Him. Some people examine their schedule, set aside an amount of time, then read passages that they pick and pray from their prayer list.
Most of those people are making the major decisions regarding how they approach God unless they do the following – ask Him what to read about, people to pray for and in what order. It’s also useful to leave time for God to bring scripture to mind and people to pray for, perhaps about things they may not have asked for. He may bring things to mind even after your scheduled time. Ask the Lord to make you increasingly sensitive to His promptings.
Christians have an intimate relationship with God, and can make choices about how that relationship progresses, but those choices are best made when directed by the one who knows what we need. Our lives are best lived when submitted to God in Christ, and so are our devotional lives.
Keywords: MBB, devotional life, God-led
Discipleship often leads to more people coming into the kingdom of Christ. This increase requires selecting leaders. People commonly select leaders using filters such as prior relevant experience, number of followers, and education. Though these filters have value, using them alone can lead to missing some very good people.
The common filters mentioned above would have, at the beginning of their dealings with God in the Bible, ruled out as leaders: Abraham; Moses; Joseph; David; the eleven good disciples; Paul; and Jesus. Without them as leaders we have no father of faith, no Israel, no Law, no reason to write the New Testament, no salvation, and no way to recognize God. Though extreme examples, choosing God’s way matters.
There have to be better filters than the common ones, or at least other ones that will not exclude God’s chosen ones. This is especially true in contexts where there are few Christians – contexts in which there is little to no opportunity to gain experience, followers or education.
A way to select leaders in a Muslim context is to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit. I discuss this further in Discipling Muslim Background Believers. Following the Holy Spirit is not always easy, and you may make mistakes. However, you will not miss those He selects to the extent that you follow Him.
Will we choose those He selects or take the safe, common path of backing only those who already seem successful? If we choose the latter, are we willing to miss the leaders that God selects and the blessing that comes with them?
Keywords: Muslim background believer, discipleship, leadership, selection, Holy Spirit