Pastor Youcef Released

Several media outlets, including the Huffington Post, are reporting that after 1,062 days of imprisonment for his faith, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released. Praise God!

Continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and his family against any potential backlash that they may encounter. Don’t forget to also pray for Asia Bibi, imprisoned in India and Pastor Alimjan Yimit, imprisoned in China.


Sixteen Seasons: Stories from a Missionary Family in Tajikisan

 

I first saw Sixteen Seasons advertised online a few months ago, and tucked it into my list of books to read someday. Mission Frontiers has published a short excerpt in their latest publication, so I thought that I’d share the link here in case anybody else is interested to read it.

 


R29 & 30 Cuma/Jom’e: Prepare Believers to Share Their Faith Stories & Eid al-Fitr

The picture appears to show wine. Please, don't serve your Muslim friend any alcoholic beverages, it is forbidden in Islam!

Thanks to everybody who has hung in there this month as the Ramadan posting has been sporadic at best. Today is Eid al-Fitr, the final day of Ramadan. Yesterday’s Cuma/Jom’e was “Preparing New Believers to Share their Faith Stories”. There is no one better equipped to share the Sewyewnchew of Isa with a Muslim than a Believer from their own culture. Of course, God can use anyone, but it is easier for a person who deeply understands the culture and they will be more sensitive to the recipient’s heart.

It is important to understand that for many Muslims, dedication to following Isa is seen (especially non-Believers) as a denial of not only their religion, but their culture, their community, their family, their very identity. Most Believers from Muslim backgrounds have given up much to follow the Messiah; their sacrifice is not something to be made light of. Your friend may very well face intense persecution for their allegiance to Christ. Be prepared to sincerely welcome your friend into the community of the local church. Sincerity is important here–be wary of the common western practice of making a vague invitation to do “something with you sometime in the future”–they will likely take you up on it–and sooner than you might have intended! Say what you mean and mean what you say.

Many Muslims (especially in Central Asia) have a more eastern philosophy of education than we have in the west. Discipleship will involve far more than the obligatory Bible study and book recommendations that we find in the west. It is important to truly model all aspects of the spiritual life and to be consistent in both your private and public life. Welcome your new brother or sister as part of your life and family.

You may also find that your friend has some theological misunderstandings of the Christian faith and doctrines, either from direct teaching or from pervasive Western media influence. Keep theological discussions grounded in Scripture and avoid bringing your own cultural preferences into play. In the west, we have recently been emphasizing the personal nature of a relationship with God. While there’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, don’t forget that God is someone to be revered as well–your friend may be negatively surprised by how casually some in the west relate to God.

There are currently two schools of thought when it comes to Believers of Muslim backgrounds. The first is that they should embrace western Christianity and leave behind all aspects of their Muslim life. The second is that they should maintain their culture except where it contradicts the Gospel. I am not wise enough, nor well-informed enough on this issue to make any recommendation other than to pray about it and seek God together with your friend on this issue.

I’ll say it again. Pray with your friend! Pray with them for their concerns, praise God together, worship Him together. Live life together and model the life of following Christ.


To celebrate all that God has been doing in the hearts of Muslims everywhere during Ramadan, we actually have two recipes for Eid this year. The first is a nice main dish and the second is a dessert that you can bring to share if your friend happens to invite you to their Eid celebration. If you will be sharing a meal with practicing Muslims, be sure that all of your ingredients are halal.

Khoresh Rivas (Persian Lamb & Rhubarb Stew)
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

8 stalks of rhubarb–washed, dried and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 pounds of meat (lamb or beef), washed and cubed
1 large onion– peeled, finely chopped
1 bunch of parsley– remove the thick stems, wash and chop (makes about 2 cups, packed)
1 bunch of mint, leaves only, wash and chop (makes about 1 cup, packed)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons sugar or to taste
Vegetable oil/olive oil
Water

Instructions

  1. In a pan, heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil and saute chopped onions until translucent. Add turmeric, stir, add the meat and brown on all sides. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour enough water to cover the meat. Cover and cook for an hour on medium to low heat.
  2.  In a medium-sized frying pan, saute the chopped parsley and mint together in 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat.Combine the parsley and mint mixture with the meat sauce half way through the cooking. Add water if necessary.
  3. Lightly saute sliced rhubarbs in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add the rhubarb to the pot, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  4. Taste and add 2-3 tablespoons of sugar or to taste, gently stir and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve warm with basmati rice.

Ranginak (Persian Date Cake)
Serves 4

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup corn oil
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
12 jumbo dates
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup ground pistachios
Fresh mint leaves (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 10 to 15 minutes or until the flour is golden brown.
  2. Slowly pour the corn oil into the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mix is the consistency of a smooth paste.
  3. Stir in the cardamom and cinnamon. Set the mixture aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, make a lengthwise slit on one side of the dates. Remove the pits. Add the walnuts to the dates and press them along the slit to seal them.
  5. On a cake plate, spread half the flour mixture. Place a layer of stuffed dates on top. Spread remaining flour mixture on the dates. Sprinkle with pistachios and garnish with mint leaves.

*The picture appears to show wine. Please, don’t serve your Muslim friend any alcoholic beverages, it is forbidden in Islam! There are some non-alcoholic wines out there, typically sold as “Halal wine,” if you really want to have a festive beverage.


R26 Laylat al-Qadr / Pakistan

Today is Laylat al-Qadr. 30Days is recognizing this auspicious day of Ramadan with a single prayer request:

  • Pray for supernatural revelation of Jesus in dreams and visions during this night. Think of Muslims in your city, your region or your country or elsewhere. Ask God to guide your prayers. At the same time pray that people who have revelations will soon meet believers who can help them become disciples (Acts 10:1-48).

Laylat al-Qadr happens to fall in our schedule on the day slated for prayer for Muslims in Pakistan. Pray also for them:

  • Pray that the growing undercurrents of dissatisfaction will not erupt into widespread violence but open their hearts to new options, especially the Gospel.
  • Pray for the Pakistani church, historically small, weak and divided, to be renewed and set on fire with a vision for ministry to their neighbours. Pray for literature and other resources to be produced in the heart languages of the people.
  • Pray that the power of folk-Islam, including the power of charms, curses and amulets, would be broken and that people would be free to respond to the Gospel.

R22-23 Cuma/Jom’e Share the Sewyewnchew in Meaningful Ways / Russian Zhartvystan

My apologies for the delay in this week’s Cuma/Jom’e. We’re continuing our series of how to share the Sewyewnchew with Muslims, and this week we come to “the big moment”.

We’ve stressed it all along, but it bears repeating that it is vital that we remember that it is God alone who saves through Christ Jesus; we are merely the bearers of the Sewyewnchew, the Good News. Muslims themselves give significant weight to the revelation of Allah (especially during Ramadan), do not be afraid of “messing up” or “getting in God’s way”. Nothing we can do can thwart the plans and will of the Most High.

As we considered during the first week, it is vital to begin with understanding. We have hope that God’s infinite sovereignty is behind our limited efforts to share the Sewyewnchew, but that should never keep us from being thoughtful and strategic in our attempts. Understand Islam– understand what it is that Muslims are seeking and longing for and what keeps them from attaining it. Talk with your friend in a way that they understand. If they speak another language, make attempts to learn that language–don’t be so arrogant to assume that English (or whatever language you speak) is the language of salvation. Most Muslims will best understand your message if you present it with stories, parables and passages from scripture (both theirs and ours; which re-affirms the need to understand the Qur’an and be in constant study of God’s Word.) In understanding the beliefs of Islam and speaking to your friend in a way that they can best understand, you can seek common ground from which to start your discussions.

Although you might use a passage here or there from the Qur’an, you are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. Focus your discussions on Jesus and ground them in the Bible. The Word of God is the very breath of God, living and active, and able to reach the hearts of mankind. Eloquent arguments and fine-sounding logic may have their place at times, but it is the Word which became flesh and in Him there is life.

Finally, once more, remember that it is God who draws man’s heart to Himself. Be sensitive to your friend and don’t attempt to force them to repentance–you cannot do it. Love them regardless of their response to the Sewyewnchew and be patient with them–our timing is not God’s.


Also today, we are praying for Russian Zhartvystan! Visit our friends at Muslims in Moscow to learn more about a small piece of Russian Zhartvystan. 30Days is praying for Muslims in Jakarta, India. Our prayer requests for Russian Zhartvystan haven’t changed from last year:

Praise God:

  • There are some Believers who gather in small congregations among traditionally Muslim people groups in Russia.
  • There are Russian Harvest Work organizations reaching out to Muslims in their own country and throughout Zhartvystan.

Pray:

  • For Muslims in Russia, especially those in rural areas, to have opportunities to hear the Sewyewnchew.
  • That Muslims in Russia will not view the Sewyewnchew as only “Russian religion” or “Western religion”, but as good news for all peoples, including their own.
  • That God will continue to soften the hearts of Muslims in Russia and reveal Himself to them.

Within the next few years, Russia will be host to some of the biggest sporting events on the planet. Kazan, a city in Tatarstan, will host the 2013 Universiade, Sochi will host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and Russia will host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Pray that as the world descends upon Russia for these games, that there will be many opportunities for the Sewyewnchew to spread.

On a personal note, please continue to pray for Chulpan*, Yulia* and Nika*, my friends in Russian Zhartvystan who have not yet repented and believed.


R20 Stavropol Krai

Today, our focus at Zhartvystan is the Muslims of Stavropol Krai. Stavropol Krai is actually primarily Orthodox Christian (in terms of demographics). However, they are strategically located in the Caucasus, near the more Muslim-dominated republics. 30Days is praying for Muslim Palestinians living in Bethlehem.

Here are today’s prayer starters for us:

  • Pray for ethnic peace and racial understanding between the people of the “more Russian” republics and those whose inhabitants feel like lesser citizens.
  • Pray for revival in the Orthodox church and a new vision to spread the Sewyewnchew to Muslims in the surrounding areas.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to Muslims living in the region.

R15 Cuma/Jom’e: Transform Walls Into Bridges

For this week’s Cuma/Jom’e, consider how you might transform some of the walls or barriers between you and your neighbor that you might have discovered last week into bridges to share the Sewyewnchew.

Muslims often expect to find that “Christian” means Western-style materialism and lack of integrity. Be sure to live your life with integrity and purity. Especially in the West, many Muslims are facing harassment and ridicule for their beliefs–or the beliefs others assume that they hold. Reach out to them with hospitality (valued in many cultures where Islam is prevalent) and true friendship.

Rather than focusing on the many differences between Islam and Christianity, discuss the similarities. Both religions are mono-theistic, both believe that their respective god is the creator of all things and most Muslims are likely to be familiar with the protagonists of the Old Testament (although their information may come from folk renditions rather than Scripture itself).

Perhaps you’ve visited the mosque with your friend. Invite them to attend church with you! Don’t force the issue–perhaps try a special event rather than regular worship for the first invitation. You might also present them with a gift. Many Muslims would be curious to read a copy of the Injeel (New Testament). If you can track down a copy in their first language, all the better. Ladies might consider inviting their women friends to a ladies-only event: tea, manicures, etc.

Don’t forget, our job is only to share the Sewyewnchew, or Good News, and to love our neighbor. God is more than able to and will handle the rest.


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