I was in our gym this morning and saw a lady that lives in our complex. She and I make small talk every time we see each other. I asked her, “So, are you ready for Christmas?” She groaned a little and I laughed. I said something about my stack of unsent Christmas cards and I asked her if they have a Christmas party at her work. And because she asked about what my daughter wanted for Christmas, I asked what her daughter wanted. That’s when she told me that she was a Muslim. I was slightly taken aback, you see, if you haven’t already picked up on it, living anywhere in the south, there’s this church culture, almost everyone you meet either attends church at least once a year, knows who Max Lucado is or at least has a Santa in their front yard in December (I know Santa has little to do with church, but somehow signifies a belief in Christmas).
“How long have you been a Muslim?” I asked.
“18 years,” she answered and went on to explain that she converted when she married a Muslim man. I honestly didn’t know what else to say, so I didn’t say anything, but she explained a little bit more that her family was very accepting of her beliefs (as she came from a Christian home) and that they still celebrated Christmas when she was with them. I clammed up, you see I’ve never been to seminary and frankly, whenever I hear the word “evangelism” I get shivers down my spine and I run the other way.
It’s so in-your-face, right?
Judging from the New Testament, I think I’m not the only one who got cold feet about the “E” word, Simon Peter got more than a little nervous when people started asking him about his associations with a radical guy named Jesus. When I had some more time to think about it, I realized that Jesus wasn’t a Bible scroll thumper either. Over and over, we read about the Jesus healing the sick, casting out demons, making the lame walk, raising people from the dead. Yes, he was unequivocal about what the Father was telling him and it oftentimes did rub people the wrong way, but he also made his whole life about being available to other people.
Let me ask you something: If you have a toothache, what’s the only thing you can think about? Getting help with the pain, right? If your loved one is gravely sick or possibly dying what else can you think about? Getting treatment for that person. Yes, God can see the ugliness of our hearts and how sinful and selfish we are, but he has to start somewhere, he has to get our minds of this crippling physical condition so he can address our spiritual one.
I’ve had the opportunity this last year to visit and talk with these really incredible people and places that are helping individuals all over Atlanta:
Yes, each one of these is faith-based, but I have to say their philosophies work. They are helping women in recovery, helping moms in recovery, providing mentorship and playing sports with kids, and a box of food for families who have fallen on really hard times. They are meeting that need for comfort, guidance–for physical support and then they tell these men, women and children why they are able to do it. It’s a really beautiful thing.
Where can you start?
Please feel free to share any other link in the comments sections that may be helpful to someone.