The Missionary’s Power
Missionary to America Cynthia (We cannot show Cynthia’s face, or reveal her full name, for fear that she, or her family in Pakistan would be harmed.)
I asked Cynthia, one of the new missionaries to America, “After twenty three years of serving as a missionary to America, what advice do you have for someone who wants to share God’s love with Muslims? Cynthia’s answer was quick, and to the point. Her answer came out of a narrative of danger for Christians in the Middle East, specifically, the danger her and her husband’s families lived with every day during the time the two of them spent in Saudi Arabia. But the story begins in Pakistan.
Her husband’s grandfather, a respected land owner and doctor, was walking to his office one morning when, passing by a Christian chapel, he heard from inside the voice of a missionary from America; he stopped for a moment to listen and heard these words: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Fahter but through me.” Curious, he stepped inside, and the Word he heard had the power to change his life.
In those days Christians and Muslims did not fight each other. There was respect for the other’s faith. That changed while Cynthia was growing up. During her parents’ era Pakistan and India had divided in a bloody separation. When Cynthia was a child a repressive government came to power in Pakistan, one that won converts by stirring up fear of the “other,” in particular, fear of Hindus, and Christians. Attacks on Christian houses of worship became more common, along with the beating and murder of Christian leaders.
Cynthia married a Christian professional, an engineer. Both decided they had more of a future working for an Arab American Oil firm in Saudi Arabia than staying in Pakistan. Not that Saudi Arabia was more accepting of Christians. Two of Islam’s three most holy sites are in Saudi Arabia, Mecca and Medina (the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the place from which the Prophet Muhammad is said by Muslims to have ascended to heaven, completes the trio). When husband and wife went to Saudi Arabia it was against the law to bring a Bible into the country. Bible Study in a group was also outlawed. There was not just fear of Christians, but fear of the power of that Word that came with them. Cynthia’s answer to my question about her advice for someone who wants to share God’s love with Muslims was, “The Word of God has great power.” She had a personal experience to back that up.
In Pakistan Cynthia and the Christian she married had grown up in a Christian church, but had not spent a lot of time studying God’s Word. Of all places, it was in Saudi Arabia, in a clandestine Bible Study, that they had that opportunity. An engineer from America taught a group in the home of one of the Pakistani Christians. The American was explaining grace, the kind of grace St. Paul talks about in Romans 3:21, “And now a righteousness apart from the law has been made known. The law and the prophets give witness to it, but God puts people right, through their faith in Jesus Christ.” Her husband remembers what happened next in this way: It was “Like scales falling from my eyes.” ( see Acts 9:18). God’s way of putting people right with Himself was not through anything they had done or could or would do – God has put people right, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, for all who believe and are baptized. THAT is a powerful Word. It is the power missionaries take with them.
Maybe it was because they were getting into the Bible as adults, or maybe because they had to disobey the Saudi laws to study the Word in a secret group, whatever it was, their lives were turned around. It was in Saudi Arabia, after hearing that Word, that they decided they had to become missionaries to Muslims.
The Word is the Missionary’s power – it has the power to kill, and to make alive. It was powerful enough to bring a physician, passing by a chapel in Pakistan, to faith in Jesus. It had the power to reach into the hearts of Pakistanis working in Saudi Arabia and bring them to the United States to be missionaries to Muslims.
Cynthia and her family have begun more than twenty missions to Muslims in America. Even so, she knows that more Muslims will be brought to know Jesus if all Christians would see it as a privilege to bring the powerful Word to people who have not heard ““I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Fahter but through me.”
Near the end of our interview, Cynthia ex[amded on the advice she had for someone who wanted to share God’s love with Muslims: “Tell them, please, take the initiative and make a first contact! Extend a hand to anyone and talk to them. Ask them friendly questions, like, Where are you from? What do you need? What questions do you have? And, have you heard about the Savior, Jesus?” Then, let the power in the Word do its work.