As a tentmaker in the Middle East, I have grown in my experience with God’s grace and in how to think about my fellow people here and share with them.
Do I Have Christ’s Attitude?
In the first years I was here and tried witnessing, I started with the attitude that we Christians are correct and other people’s beliefs are wrong. But over the years of experiences in sharing, I have learned that Christ’s way is best. We are to show our concern for them, befriend them, share small things. Even food!
I think of a colleague of mine. She’s an Arab lady from Jordan who grew up here in the Gulf. I have been intentionally sharing with her for years. Sometimes my wife cooks something special and tells me to bring some to my colleague to taste. This is how we have befriended her and become part of a family.
Am I Willing to Be Patient?
Even though these are very small steps, this is the most effective way to reach them. Sharing small things gives a wonderful reason to get to know them. Over time I am able to discuss deeper things–sometimes work, sometimes personal life, sometimes things of their religion.
Am I Intentional for Their Salvation?
I have learned to be intentional. I have a sole purpose of moving forward to share with my friends things of the gospel. We should always look after them as friends. When we share our beliefs as well, they will get to know us. Then, when the time comes with the outpouring of the Spirit, all the sheep who are not in our Shepherd’s fold yet will hear His voice. Perhaps they will hear Him in visions or dreams. Perhaps another way. By being a witness to them now, they will know who to ask, who to go to when they want to know more.
Do I Speak So They Can Understand?
You can’t always use the religious words you know, or the explanations you grew up with. They might mean something different to them than to you. You must learn how to speak on the level they will understand. The more you learn about your friends, the easier it is to share with them.
Am I Prepared to Share God?
I want to treat the people around me as equals, a friend, a person Christ died for. God has placed eternity in their hearts. My thinking has opened as I’ve realized that in all ages, all generations, all time, the true believers of God have been seeking Him. They might be in different cultures, speak different languages. In my language, God’s name is “Dios.” Others call Him “Allah.” But I believe their motive is really to seek that Eternal Being who they depend on. By witnessing to these people, by showing them truth–not necessarily sharing the Bible, but Bible truths–I pray God will touch their hear
Am I Willing to Exchange Ideas?
You can share with them the truth too. That can begin by asking about their faith. You won’t believe what this exchange of ideas will lead to. You will learn their beliefs, their cultures, their differences. You will also come to know that even though they have beliefs and a culture that are different than yours, you can see that all of them are also seeking God. They want to be saved, they want to go to heaven, and they don’t want to do harm. Whether they are a colleague, my superior, even our tea boy, it is my privilege to exchange ideas with them.
Do I Represent Him?
The special part of living here in the Middle East is that many are devout, many believe in God. Of course they know God differently. But as a witness, living for God in this part of the world, I want to represent Him as Someone who is very caring, a person who will take care of them and look after their needs. If they see that in me, when the time is right, they will ask to know more. That means, love every person you come across. Christ died for them. He loves them.
For the younger workers coming in, I invite them to use this lens of looking at people. We need to see them with our hearts open to them. We need to use the right words, and speak in a way that doesn’t offend them. They don’t know Jesus Christ, but we can tell them we pray in Allah’s name, the Creator of heaven and earth.
When I remember that I myself have received abundant grace from our Heavenly Father that those around me need like I do, it reshapes my attitude to everyone around me. It gives me a longing that they can expeirence the same grace–and hope–I have been given. –RM