It is amazing what God is doing in these times. How he is moving Muslims from closed nations, into our western situations, and then starting to do miraculous things among them. I think of a church in my city who have baptised hundreds of Muslims through their ministry to newly arrived refugees, and of a church in another city with more than 100 MBBs from Iran and neighbouring countries. The challenge for us however is this:
Recognising that we want people to go from being ‘converts’ to ‘disciples’, and go beyond these ‘first fruits’ to reach the communities and countries that they represent. How can we join in with what God is doing in a way that leads to deep, long term growth of disciples?
We know that discipleship is important, and that it is a long, sometimes slow journey, and that time and relationship is more important as any course or program we might use. But how can the ‘ordinary’ church and the average Christian in the west be equipped to do this much needed task; Discipling new MBBs, becoming family for them, and either welcoming them into their church fellowship, or supporting them as they share with their families and friends, with the aim to start Jesus-following-fellowships among their own people.
The challenges are manifold. Many refugees don’t initially speak English well enough to understand a ‘normal’ discipleship course or fellowship group, or if they do, it is hard for us to recognise and adjust our ‘Christian Jargin’ to make it understandable for someone from a Muslim background. How can we disciple them well, even through a language barrier?
Also, as Western Christians, we understand the basics of discipleship for our western context, often confined to an introductory knowledge-based bible course, with an expectation that Sunday sermons, and a midweek group is enough to feed growth. For MBBs, the issues and barriers to discipleship are far more complex than needing a ‘head knowledge’ of basic doctrine. Often as they come to faith, they face many issues that we don’t even know how to begin to address. How can we disciple and speak into the lives of those who have grown up in a culture dependent on fate and magic, or those for whom revenge is the norm, and forgiveness not an option?
As mentioned in the previous Webzine (Discipleship vol 1:No. 1), there is help for these situations, and two courses have recently been published to help Western Christians and churches in welcoming and discipling new believers:
Firstly, Joining the Family (Interserve 2016), by Dr Tim Green is a video discussion course and book on how to be family for Christ’s followers of Muslim background. This is a great introduction for members of your church, and contains many personal testimonies from MBBs about how churches supported them, and the help they needed as they came to faith.
Secondly, Come Follow Me (Tim Green 2017), is a discipleship course written specifically for new believers of Muslim background. It is relevant to the issues they face, is rooted in inductive Bible study, and for use in a regular, relational way (1:1 or in a group). It is also reproducible, so that those who complete the course can use it with others in turn.
This course is now available in multiple languages, which have the same content and chapters, enabling them to be used in mixed language groups, or one-to-one in a discipleship relationship. Languages currently available: English, German, Farsi, Dari, Arabic, Bengali, & Central Asian Russian. Most of these languages are available to order worldwide. See come-follow-me.org for more details.
Advisors’ Guides are available to download free in English, German, Farsi, Arabic and Russian, and also available as a book.
Jenni has been reaching out to Muslim friends for 10 years, 4 of which were overseas. She currently lives in the UK with her Husband and 3 children in a densly populated Muslim area, reaching out, praying and catalysing others to get involved in outreach.