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
Hello, brother or sister MBB. Some advice and a few thoughts to encourage you to keep going:
When you want to know how much God loves you, look mainly to the Bible and ask God to reveal His loving nature to you. If you look only to people in the church, you run the risk of allowing their treatment of you negatively influence your view of God. God is completely good and is fully for you. In the church, you can have both good and bad experiences. While many will treat you well, please remember that those that don’t are, like you, still growing. Keep loving them and forgive them as you’ve been forgiven.
The main thing to focus on is loving God and following Him. While it may seem strange and unfamiliar, you are a member of His family. Your relationship with Him is deeply personal, and He calls you His friend. That is not a distant friend, but one in His innermost circle — all because of Jesus Christ.
About those things that you have suffered and lost, in a strange way those things are a gift. It is very difficult to know Him fully when holding on to our lives to protect them. Persecution and loss, as you well know, causes us to either let go and seek Him or cling even more tightly to our lives. The latter leads to falling away from God — a bad choice. It is much better to keep going, face the pain and seek Him even more. In my life, and in the lives of the many MBBs I have talked with, growth in Him accelerates in the tough times. Amazingly, we all noticed something else — a deep sense of God’s presence and His peace. Peace may not have been there every second, but the best way I can describe it is that we all had a prevailing peace. Keep going — it is so worth it to get to know Him better.
There’s something to be aware of and look for — joy. Joy isn’t ordinary happiness. It is way beyond that. God promises us joy when we are in His presence. Joy is the secure knowledge and contentment that comes from being loved unconditionally by God in Christ. That joy is there even in the midst of suffering, and remains in good times. Keep looking to God, expecting His help and His inexplicable joy.
Keep looking up to where your help comes from. He will help you. He will bring you through, and the enemy cannot defeat you. Even if the enemy kills you through people, you go to heaven. You will be there because you followed the only way to get there — Jesus Christ, our Lord.
It’s strange that the thought of dying can comfort, but it can if I, or you, view it as a good thing. We get to be with God. Death is seen by many to be awful, the worst that can happen. For Christians, even the worst is good (though we are not to seek our own deaths). Knowing that makes even the worst situations easier to deal with. It makes it easier to keep going.
Keywords: MBB, encouragement, persecution, joy, worth it, heaven
When persecution starts for MBBs, their lives are often severely disrupted by many things, including being rejected by family, friends, and community. They may also lose jobs, opportunities for education, and may even be under the threat of torture or threat of death.
The negative effects, including stress, from the above are made worse by MBBs not taking care of themselves. In my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, I recommend that MBBs take care of themselves by properly (if possible):
- employing wise routines and disciplines, including spiritual disciplines
- interacting with people
- reading the Bible (more than your routine amount)
- praying and fellowshipping with God (more than your routine amount)
- getting outside into beautiful spaces
- fulfilling your responsibilities
- making plans
These things are covered more fully in the book.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, persecution, taking care of yourself
Most Christians know the name of the apostles in the Bible. They are given high importance, and rightly so. One of the most important leaders — less well known — was Barnabas. Why was he so critical to the life of the church?
The early church was experiencing great persecution, part of which was spearheaded by Saul of Tarsus. Saul experienced a radical conversion when he encountered the risen Lord Jesus. He was renamed Paul. Paul was certainly not someone that the disciples and apostles wanted to be near, much less work with or listen to, even though God had appointed Him to be an apostle. Barnabas heard him speak, recognized the anointing on him, and risked his own reputation with his friends — and perhaps even all of their lives — by bringing Paul to them with a positive recommendation.
Please note that Barnabas did not wait for Paul to develop a long-term, successful reputation — he acted on with a heart of encouragement and discernment from the Spirit of God. Without Barnabas’ positive recommendation, it is very likely that the church would not have grown as fast nor as vibrantly as it did.
MBBs tend to be skeptical of outsiders, especially concerned that the incoming MBB might be a plant from the religious police (or the equivalent). There is a lack of trust based on skepticism. This skepticism grows from valid concerns, but often blocks fellowship and the growth of the church because of hypervigilance.
In order to grow properly, MBB leaders will need to pray for the ability to discern who is called to lead, then act bring those new leaders into fellowship with positive recommendations, often without waiting for years to ensure that the new person is as anointed as the leader had suspected. Yes, guidance by the Holy Spirit and courage will be needed, but MBB small groups and churches will not grow as God intends in Muslim contexts unless MBB leaders chose to lead with a heart of encouragement.
Keywords: Encouragement, Barnabas, persecution, discernment, choosing leaders, MBB