A temptation for the heart of the persecuted
The persecuted and MBBs often face rejection. The resulting pain presents a difficult temptation – closing their hearts. They may feel that closing their hearts will lessen the pain, but it actually causes an inability to feel.
When they cannot feel, joys disappear, while wounding continues. In most cases, that wounding creates deep hurts that negatively affect behavior. That bad behavior seems to be random because the person’s closed heart cannot feel the pain nor discern its cause. Monitoring capacity is lost unless the persecuted re-open their hearts.
How can an MBBs keep an open heart? It’s through trusting God and receiving His inimitable love in Christ. A part of that is being part of the local church, or even starting small groups and churches. God often uses others to bring healing, and then love can be felt again.
Explanation of how to receive God’s love, healing, and how to evangelize, disciple and start small groups and churches can be found in my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, for sale on this site and also on Amazon.
Keywords: Persecuted, MBB, keeping heart open
MBB identity is not based on performance
MBBs need to know that the extent of their obedience and performance, even good works from a pure heart, are not their identity in Christ.
Christians are children of God, and their identity is a gift – given at salvation. What they do is different than who they are. God loves them because they are His. He does invite them to work with Him, but that is not why He loves them.
MBBs, as well as all Christians, should ensure that they are doing the right things for the right reasons. To do so requires hearing the Holy Spirit, knowing God’s character and the new covenant. Learning how to do these three things, as well as many others, is covered in my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, identity, performance
Treating serious pain like a squeaky wheel
All Christians experience pain suffered at the hands of others, especially persecuted believers. MBBs tend to experience very high levels of emotional and even physical pain. How can serious pain be best dealt with?
Some would say to ignore the pain and soldier on. The problem with that is the cause of the pain may be preventing a person from living the way that he or she is called to live. It’s better to treat pain like a squeaky wheel – understand the symptom and treating the cause while soldiering on. It’s better to not ignore the pain. Much like putting oil between two metal surfaces rubbing against each other, find healthy ways to treat the pain so the MBB can function properly.
The greater the pain, the likelihood is the the wound, physical or emotional, is more serious. Sometimes serious pain requires professional help and even a support group. In every case, ask God to heal the MBB both physically and emotionally. The emotional healing will usually take time, sometimes many years, but He does heal.
I’ve talked to many MBBs that were disowned and disinherited. Some were even tortured. Surprisingly, the ones tortured said the deepest pain came from family rejection. Emotional pain can be debilitating to a person’s soul, psyche and personal interactions. However, the MBBs that asked God for emotional healing and were willing to get help, even from professionals, fared much better than those that did not.
It is also useful for the MBB to be in fellowship with other Christians that will love and minister to the MBB. Being part of a local small group or church can be a big part of God’s plan to heal a wounded MBB.
Often, when I hurt the most, rather than allow me to devolve into a cycle of endless self-analysis and self-pity, God would provide opportunities for me to serve other people, regardless of whether they were Christian or not. Afterwards, I was often pleasantly surprised to find that though I had been in my darkest hours, reaching out to help other people had very positive benefits for me. The pain usually abated, and sometimes did not come back with the same intensity. I am not talking about giving love to others in order to get help from God – that’s not real love, which seeks to benefit others for their good. I am talking about serving others with no expectation of return. It worked well for me and may be useful to keep in mind.
After dealing with the pain while soldiering on, have the MBB refocus and continue to live out God’s will for his or her life with greater energy and passion.
Keywords: Christian, discipleship, MBB, dealing with pain
MBBs often struggle with the pessimism discount
MBBs face an inordinate amount of disappointment, not the least of which comes from rejection from family, friends and community. The pessimism discount involves discounting what people say, hopes, expectations and faith because of past experience – and not limited to people and things that have let them down.
The result is a sense of constant disappointment because they are believing that bad will happen, and are essentially experiencing the feelings of bad circumstances even if the bad does not happen. This expectation can corrupt relationships, especially with God.
To help MBBs avoid this negative stance, please show them in the Bible who they are in Christ, how much God loves them, and that He has good plans for them. It is likely that they will need reminders over time as they learn how to transform their thinking guided by your teaching and led by the Holy Spirit.
Please note I’m not talking about a lack of wisdom. Some situations and people need to be avoided.
Keywords: Discipeship, MBB, pessimism discount
A way to understand MBBs: combine two analogies
Christians ministering to MBBs often ask me how MBBs feel when they become Christians. I think one way is to consider and combine two analogies.
The first analogy is someone who suffered a devastating back injury, had surgery yesterday, and must now relearn how to do almost everything. Please think through the pain, much of which cannot be understood by casual observation because the debilitating wounds are mainly internal and the scars are hidden. The injuries force the injured to have to focus intensely on relearning even the simplest tasks, all while dealing with constant, terrible pain.
The second analogy is a person who has moved to a new continent with little or no preparation, doesn’t speak the language and has few or no friends nearby to offer advice or help.
An MBB has to relearn much of what they know about life because they have entered a new kingdom. They must do so while experiencing the terrible pain of rejection and loss, and perhaps even abuse and torture. The people around them may not know how to help, and the MBB may be isolated by their community. The MBB does not know the culture of the new kingdom, and will make many mistakes – often painful ones. MBBs will have umpteen questions, many of which won’t get answered, leaving them frustrated. They might even feel hopeless, thinking that things will always be this way, leading them to leave Christianity.
The above offers a small taste of the life of an MBB.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, two analogies