Letters from a Missionary Wife, Part 1

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J and her husband (also J) have been in ministry to Muslims for 16 years. They have seen much fruit in follow-up ministry in North Africa, as well as in media ministry and training nationals to create radio broadcasts to reach their own people. Below are excerpts from J’s correspondence with their sending agency and its board members.

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I had written a letter to our home office asking for them to define contextualization for me.  I wanted to know what our Mission Agency’s  stance was.

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J,

I just came across the following – from a session on contextualization with our mission:

Guidelines for approaches to contextualization

– Theological affirmations

– There is no salvation outside of Jesus as Lord and Savior.

– The Bible in its original language is the Word of God.

– We as workers must follow the teaching of scripture as best we understand it, and teach new believers to do the same.

– Any person in Christ is a part of the universal body of Christ

– Grace orientation

– We affirm our ethos of grace orientation as it extends to flexibility and freedom in various approaches to ministry.

– Context

– The Muslim world is multi-coloured and we must allow freedom to understand what is an authentic expression of the gospel in each context.

– Cautions

– Anyone considering contextual approaches that are viewed as highly controversial should do so very carefully with serious counsel from others, prayer, the Spirit’s guidance, a clear conscience and input from an overseer.

I wasn’t in the session…

A penny for your thoughts?

– Anonymous

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Dear Leadership,

I leave today – was just checking the mail and saw this.  This guideline is simple – don’t disagree too much with anything.  But I imagine that the reason there is controversy is because folks are moving into the caution zone.  That the boundaries of this definition are being stretched.

If you are directing new believers back to the context of the mosque with the perception that it is an authentic expression of following Jesus – I don’t know what to do with that.  We have yet to meet any new believers that would do this “naturally” – so when workers call this idea a new model my spirit is sick.  I think it is more that they are not happy with their “results” so they turn to a model that is “easier” for the new believer in their eyes.  I highly doubt the long term success of this kind of model and in fact would go so far as to say that it would be destructive and only bring forth curses.  Doesn’t sound too grace oriented when I say this but to do otherwise in my heart would be out of some kind of political correctness.  In my spirit I feel words like “woe and beware” towards anyone who uses “models” that are controversial as I have stated before.

See you soon,

J

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Dear Leadership,

We have been in touch with A & A lately – we had to send follow up reports, etc and I shared with them my (our) feelings about the C5 thing.  I want to share with you as well what I wrote him.  I don’t know at all where you are at with it – to be honest – I am afraid to know – but I will not let fear be my guiding light as it can so often be in what we do.

Here it is – it is a response to something he wrote as they seem to be “working through” the issue etc. :

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Dear A,

I am on the computer this morning catching up so I can give a quick response – I don’t know if it will be interesting. Lol!

I have read quite a few presentations on contextualization approaches – after 15 years of service you do – always willing to read them – but I am tired of them to be honest.  Here is the bottom line – westerners by and large seem to be the ones that come up with these ideas.  My (our)” boring” approach is to share straight forward scripture – teach that God has made a way for our salvation from sin and our need to repent.  Jesus Christ is the mediator.  How that changes and is reflected in the culture will bear out over time – but – to start from a premise where we change the message in order to “prevent” (or whatever) we seem to think should not happen is not what we see in scripture.

I guess if you recognize an Islamic community based on the Koran and the teachings of Mohamed as something to build on then – you will have no difficulty using C5.  But here is the thing  – these discussions never end up being about the cross and its offense, the suffering of Jesus and our call to follow him, what Paul says about perverting the gospel etc……  they always end up being about things like you mentioned – “community types” – and that can become an endless thing even when looking at our multi multi culture of Canada.  All the essays become sociological discussions – reflections – all this so called “struggle” of how to do things – when I think the Bible shows us what to do – but we just don’t like it – we feel there must be more “effective” ways.   Muslim background believers will share that to continue to follow in Islamic practices (we are talking religious things) would have been death to their faith – because those practices are very spiritual.  But I guess westerners these days have no problem practicing most anything – we have evangelical churches encouraging mystic practices of old that come from the Catholic faith and the counter Reformation movement – so they have little trouble coming up with ideology that allows for them to present a very changed gospel.

We really feel that time is short and that our message must be clear to ANY unbeliever.  What is the point otherwise – we are all nice people and we can just be nice to the many nice people we meet.  But I am compelled by what I read in the Bible – not what I read in essays and the like – that we must teach Jesus crucified and resurrected.  We do believe that we are lost in sin without our Saviour Jesus and we need to teach this clearly.

In our limited N. African experience – we learned their language, we dressed like them, we followed their practices of hospitality and manners, our kids went to their schools, we respected their faith (not saying anything against the Koran or M), we cooked like them, we tried as best we could to “fit in” so to speak – we “recognized the community” – but the gospel we spoke of – was the Jesus of the Bible and our message was clear.  What happened after that was up to God and his work in the lives of those around us.  And – people heard God’s voice and followed Jesus like the scripture says.  People are responding to the radio and satellite programs being sent out – no westerners there to tell them anything – they just hear the gospel from fellow nationals and they believe.

When Paul says – I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God – I think westerners have failed to believe this.  In some ways I am truly grateful for this C5 movement for it has renewed my passion for the scriptures, my heart is on fire for those who have not heard the gospel – and I will stand firmly against this movement as a result.  I understand ever more clearly that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.

I will make every effort to read this essay – I read it because you have suggested it.  But as I said to a supporter lately – I am on a fast from reading “Christian” literature – and just spending my reading time on the Word only.  I feel much clearer in my thinking already to be honest – kind of like cleaning out dirty pipes. LoL!

We send you our love and blessings – thank you for your interest in what we do – I will have J read your email – he is presently in Egypt training some follow up people.

J

PART II: Letters from a Missionary Wife, Part 2

PART III: Letters from a Missionary Wife, Part 3

PART IV: Letters from a Missionary Wife, Part 4

 

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  1. Pingback: Letters from a Missionary Wife, Part 4 | Biblical Missiology

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