As part of the 10/10 Prayer Initiative, 180 agencies have come together to ask God to draw to himself 10 percent of the world’s Muslims in the next 10 years. 10/10. Easy to remember, yet such an amazingly big task that only God can do it. Will you join us?
By a former missionary in the Middle East — When I was a child, it was drilled into my head that I should always ask myself: “What is the right thing to do?”
My parents and teachers told me that as long as I asked that question and then followed through properly, I would stay out of trouble. They said this because, in our society, you were either guilty or innocent.
In other parts of the world, namely the Middle East and Asia, where the majority of Muslims live, almost every culture is built on honor and shame. People in such places ask themselves if their actions would bring shame or disrespect to their family or clan. They don’t ask “What is the right thing to do?” They ask, “What is the honorable thing to do?”
Working with worldview in mind
People carry their worldviews with them wherever they go. Those who serve in other countries need to adjust how we share the gospel so that it speaks to the people in that area. We don’t change the gospel, we change how we present it. In a guilt/innocence culture, we explain that Jesus is strong enough to take away our guilt and make us innocent before God. In a shame/honor culture we emphasize that Jesus is strong enough to take away our shame and restore our honor.
But this is easier said than lived! The following story from our work in a medical ministry illustrates how easy it is to get tripped up by different worldviews:
The administrator whom I had hired was working out well. He had performed remarkably in handling some difficult personnel issues and he quickly learned the computer program we used for managing the inventory of hospital supplies. Since he could be trusted in smaller things, I was ready to teach him to handle our finances. We went over the big picture as well as the smaller details like balancing the cash drawer. We worked together until I was convinced that he had the hang of it, and then I said, “Okay, this will be your responsibility, and I will just check on you every now and then.”
At the end of his first month of handling the finances, I said I was going to do an audit, just like we had talked about earlier, when I’d handed over the responsibility.
He suddenly stiffened and a cloud came over his face. “You want to do what?”
“I want to count out the cash drawer and the money in the safe and make sure it matches our books,” I said.
“No, please don’t do that,” he replied.
Immediately my stomach began to sink and I became suspicious. In my experience, for someone to protest the audit, he must be guilty. He must have stolen some money, I thought, and he doesn’t want me to count it and find him out.
“No, we are going to count it out and make sure it will balance,” I said — knowing in my heart that it was not going to balance and that I was going to have to fire him for stealing.
He again asked me not to count it, which only furthered my resolve to definitely count it, and to count it right then. I opened the safe and the cash drawer and counted out the cash. I checked the cash against the numbers in the book and looked at him.
He had the saddest look on his face.
I was confused. No money was missing, and yet he looked like he had lost his best friend.
“I would never shame my family by stealing from you or the hospital,” he said. “Why didn’t you trust me?” He walked out the door and left the hospital.
Repairing the relationship
It was my turn to have the sad look. I was trying to build a relationship with this man and had shared the gospel with him numerous times, yet this one simple thing had strained our relationship to the breaking point. In fact, I wasn’t sure whether he would come back.
I put the money away and went to seek the advice of our local senior doctor, a wise man and someone who had been around Westerners for almost 10 years. He offered to be the intermediary for me. He went to the administrator and explained that I was not seeking to shame him or his family name, but that I was following Western rules of accounting for the sake of our donors.
For the next six years, I only did audits when I was alone and knew I would not be interrupted. Our financial books were never off for that whole time!
May the Lord give us wisdom in sorting out how to live and share his truth in our multicultural world!
10/10 Prayer Initiative requests
- As this story illustrates, competing worldviews can make sharing the gospel tricky. Please pray for wisdom as missionaries sort out how to present the gospel in a relevant way in the culture in which they serve.
- The 10/10 Prayer Initiative has finished its first year! Now the urgency is raised another notch as we only have nine years in this campaign to ask God to bring 10 percent of the Muslim world to Christ.
- Pray for the existing church to receive these new believers warmly and graciously.
- Challenges are facing workers and believers in a large country in Asia. Pray for visas to be granted and for our people not to be viewed as a threat in any way.
- In that same country, Muslim minority groups are facing significant persecution. Pray for the government to have and show wisdom in their interactions with all peoples.
- Lastly, pray that national believers will have courage to reach out to other people groups.
Banner photo by pina messina