<a href="https://biblicalmissiology.org/author/ghoussney/" target="_self">Georges Houssney</a>

Georges Houssney

Georges Houssney was raised in the predominantly Muslim city of Tripoli, Lebanon. He came to faith in Jesus Christ as a teenager. Soon God grew a deep love for Muslims in his heart, and he began to sense God's call for full-time service among them. Well-known for his work supervising the translation and publication of the Bible into clear modern Arabic, Georges and his family moved from the Middle East to the United States in 1982 to minister to international students. Georges is passionate about reaching internationals here and abroad with the great news of salvation. He writes and lectures internationally about ministry to Muslims, and he strives to awaken a new generation who will proclaim the gospel boldly. Georges is founder and director of Horizons International and does Muslim evangelism training through his training Engaging Islam.

10 Comments

  1. Foibled

    Great article. I have spent more than three decades in a major Christian organization that deals directly with many cultures. Our fascination with “Primitive” cultures has lead to a problem you did not mention – because we devalue the emerging urban and national cultures where we work, we have a great deal of difficulty working in partnership with churches which operate in that context. In fact, I have heard colleagues say that urban, educated Christians are not really African, or Cameroonian, or Senegalese, etc. Because we devalue those emerging national cultures, we do not take time to understand them – after all, only the primitive cultures are worthy of study and respect! So our efforts are partnership fail, or are fraught with problems. ALL cultures are worthy of respect, study and empathy, even when they are not exotic, or old. After all, exotic is only in our heads.

  2. Patrick

    Excellent article. Excellent subject. This really is a problem among missionaries and even more of a problem among secular people here in the US. I am always shocked at people who hate “fundamentalist” christians, but yet will defend Islam. To say they are ignorant of the issues is a gross understatement. MI think that much of the post-modern theories going on in the West will end up bearing some very bad and dangerous fruit. Two of the modern gurus Nietzsche and Foucault, both had problems with Mental illness and died with STDs. Why we as a nation want to push their ideas I don’t know.

    As far as missionaries are concerned it is even more dangerous. I know of several families which have disintegrated because of this. While we should be aware of the opposite extreme of hating the culture and withdrawing ourselves, we need to be on guard about being intrigued by islam. Enjoy Arab culture! I do miss sitting in a garden until 2 am just talking and having fun. Like George the weddings and also the markets beat anything here in sunny South Florida. However, don’t be blind to the problems in society. In America we won’t to be transparent and show our problems. In Islam that is definitely not the case. Until you get to know the language and the people very well you won’t see what is really going on.

  3. Georges Houssney

    Abdul Assad,
    Wow!! Thanks for this confirmation. My big surprise is those who think Islamic culture is neutral or good, do not really know it. Living in an Arab capital for 10 years or 20 or more does not mean you understand it. Main problem is many see other culture with a preconceived lens. As soon as they remove that thick lens of preconceived ideas and strategies, they will be able to see things as they are. You strike me as one who has opened your eyes to what is actually going on in the culture. Sadly many westerners are stuck on their knowledge for decades.

    Having said that my purpose is not to show the evil in a culture. There are good things in any culture as you have agreed. My purpose is to help the missionary movement see things through the eyes of Jesus who knows the heart and he died to transform it. Many do not realize that it cost Jesus his life to save us from the inside out, not only as individuals but as groups as well. Thank you again. Keep reading and responding.

  4. Abdul Asad

    Thanks for the article Georges. Your daughter’s observation about the internal dysfunction of Muslim marriages and families is also very evident where I live in the Arabian Peninsula. I couldn’t agree more – we don’t need to pretend that Arab Muslim families are some kind of role model, the fact is, they aren’t. Just yesterday I had a conversation with a Muslim friend who was telling me a younger woman was coming on to him and his wife was scared, because it would be his right to marry her under Islam. I appealed to Creation and reminded him that God made Adam and Eve in the beginning, and therefore polygamy was a distortion of God’s norm. He just sighed and agreed with me as he considered the pain it would cause his children if he takes this young girl on. He then said, “Our families are the most messed up families you will ever see, the relationships between men and women and parents and children are always terrible.” And I said, “Why do you think that is? Could it be because the system you live by is broken?” Again he sighed and agreed.

    As you said, all cultures have good and bad in them, things that honor God and things that dishonor him. No culture is intrinsically better than another. But let’s stop pretending that Islamic culture is some kind of moral model society for the rest of the world when in fact it is anything but.

    I would hope that those who favor a more contextualized approach to ministry would be actively working towards helping their disciples throw off the things from their Islamic culture that hinder the race they are now running with Jesus, even if it’s painful and causes rejection.

  5. Douglas Pirkey

    …”If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mark 8.34).

  6. Douglas Pirkey

    “Finally, the whole way of Jesus was to leave heaven, take on a human form and and become fully 100% part of a Jewish culture. God is not Jewish. Jesus didn’t need to become a Jew – but he did, in every way. Can’t think of a better example of someone loving a culture than Jesus” (Carl Medearis).

    It is a myopic focus on culture that drastically narrows the scope of the incarnation and what really is achieved by the hypo-static union. Whether one is convinced of the doctrine of a limited or an unlimited atonement, that Christ is fully both High Priest and the Lamb without blemish makes his mission to that of HUMANITY irrespective of culture:

    “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle ( I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” (1 Timothy 2.3-7).

    Paul is writing to Timothy in Ephesus, probably a very different place than that of Israel 30 years before. Yet Paul writes, “…between God and mankind…”, and, “…a ransom for all people….” Carl’s point of view serves an unbiblical bias that prioritizes culture over Christ. For proof of this all anyone needs to do is read over his interview on this website and it will become obvious to the reader that his approach to missions so strongly favors a people that he has allowed the religion of that people (Islam) to assimilate biblical faith.

    “Jesus didn’t need to become a Jew – but he did, in every way (Carl). ” This is like saying ‘God doesn’t need to fulfill his word – but he did, in every way.’ Carl’s is a proposition that is oblivious to the prophetic nature of God’s word and it is dismissive of God’s moral nature, that he is faithful:

    “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10.23).

    I thank God that by becoming human he did not forsake himself, his holiness. He curbed nothing. The truth about humanity was not assimilated by his union with humanity. On the contrary, it is instructive to read just how emphatic Jesus was about us becoming like him:

  7. Carl Medearis

    This is well-written. I, too, have seen many missionaries (and many local American Christians) who fantasize about the Muslim world – particularly the Nobel Nomads – the Bedouin. I probably had that image as a teenager when I first felt God’s call to the Arab world.

    But that’s probably simply an overstatement to prove a point. I’m not sure that I can think of any missionaries who are so “fascinated” by Muslim or Arab culture that they’d want their son or daughter to become Muslim or marry a Muslim (certainly not the Medearis family).

    Similar to Georges’ story, our 18 year old daughter commented last year when she heard the call to prayer and some video that she “missed that sound.” But she didn’t miss it because it was a mosque (and we for sure don’t want one next door to us here), but she missed it because it reminded her of home.

    I would say that my experience with many other missionaries (that I’ve known since I’ve been in the Arab world from 1983 till now), has been the opposite. They don’t love anything about Arab or Muslim culture. They are good at “doing ministry” from the outside in – I call it “hit and run evangelism” but they are not connected to the culture at all.

    When I train new people going out to the field, one of the things I’ll say is that they will know when they’ve gone deep enough into the mindset of the culture and a love for their new people, when it’s Friday night after a long week of work/ministry and they WANT to call a local friend to hang out with to relax (rather than another foreigner).

    I think a basic flaw in some of the writing on this site is the following: Many of the verses you use to “prove” whatever point you’re trying to make are about Jesus and how he was hard on people – not all soft and easy like those Insider guys – are actually what he said to his OWN people. He was the hardest on HIS religious leaders. The Jewish elite. He was next hardest on his 12 disciples. Next hardest on the next ring of followers. And so on… He was NOT hard on the religious leaders of the Samaritans. Or the other pagan tribes. He did NOT call the Roman and Greeks god out and challenge them – or their followers.

    Jesus seemed surprisingly – dare I say – tolerant, of the “outsiders” and of their beliefs and gods. I often hear people use Jesus’ railings on his own people as a proof that we should be more straight up with Muslims and confront them with the hard parts of the gospel. While there is certainly a time for that, it’s not what we see Jesus modeling.

    Finally, the whole way of Jesus was to leave heaven, take on a human form and and become fully 100% part of a Jewish culture. God is not Jewish. Jesus didn’t need to become a Jew – but he did, in every way. Can’t think of a better example of someone loving a culture than Jesus.

  8. John Span

    Very rich article, Georges.
    Thought about the text of Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed…but be transformed…” Isn’t it something that this comes after Paul’s statement in v. 1 “Present your bodies as living …” Choose 1 of the following:
    a. seekers after personal peace and affluence—the American way
    b.. seekers for respect at any cost—the honor culture way
    c. sacrifices…..those things that have the smell of death to the world but a fragrant aroma to Christ

    It is totally logical then that Paul says in the verse that you cited, that we should not be conformed= pressed into the mold or literally shaped according to the schematic diagram of the world, but to be transformed=the thing a butterfly does when it comes out of the cocoon, literally it is metamorphosed.

    Your article hits the nail on the head, and asks indirectly, “Have you seen any butterflies flying around with their cocoons hanging on their wings.” As the French say, “c’est pas logique”—it’s not logical.

    Keep on keeping on.

  9. Andy V

    Isn’t it interesting (sad, really) that it is so easy/common to assume that having friendship with the world and thus enmity with God only applies to our own culture?

  10. Douglas Pirkey

    I needed the encouragement and conviction of your post. Thanks Georges.

    Kigali, Rwanda

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