7th May 2019

Wouldn't it make sense to stop sending westerners and instead send our money and prayers to Christians living near unreached Muslim peoples? After all, native Christians are a lot cheaper to support and already have the language, customs and culture. We could also spare expat families the unnecessary discomfort of adapting to the tough living conditions in some of these places. One of our workers said he used to wake up in the smog of India every day to the sound of birds coughing! Why put our people through that when the local Christians are used to living in those kinds of conditions?  Can’t the indigenous church ‘make disciples of all nations’ better and quicker than us westerners?

This idea may sound logical but here are some reasons why it’s not that simple:

1. Jesus’ command to ‘go’ is for all time for all his people

When Jesus commanded his disciples to ‘Go and make disciples of all nations,’ he promised to be with them ‘until the end of the age.’ The idea of God’s children travelling all over the world to make disciples doesn’t end until he comes. Sending from every ‘reached people’ to every ‘not reached people’ is ongoing. In God’s grand plan he’s always called some to stay near their places of birth and others to minister in far off places. The Great Commission begins with obedience, not strategy. The purpose of strategy is to improve our effectiveness as we all obey.

2. Sharing the blessing and the cost

When God called Abram in Genesis 12 his plan was to bless his people and for them to become channels of blessing to ‘all the families of the earth’. Being directly involved in the Great Commission brings huge blessing to those who go as well as their supporters and sending churches.

But pioneering also costs lives. The history of the church is littered with stories of those who have laid down their lives for sharing the good news of Jesus. In saying we should only support nearby churches to reach the tough places it’s as if we’re saying, “Let them take the risk; let them lay down their lives! We’ll just keep sending the money.” Surely we’re called to lay down our lives alongside them.

3. Nearby Christians aren’t always doing it

In many places where unreached Muslim peoples and the church co-exist – places like Egypt, India, Nigeria and Indonesia – the nearby Christians have hardly started to reach out; often for understandable reasons:

Prejudice & fear

One of our long-term workers in East Africa observes that local Christians fear Muslims for spiritual and physical reasons: “Most would quietly but firmly say, 'In the name of Jesus' when they walk past a Muslim because they fear their spirits. They often fail to see them as needy humans but as dangerous enemies cooperating with the devil himself. Further, Muslims and Christians never eat meat together because each believes that the other has sacrificed it to an idol.”

Another said that among the thousands of indigenous Christian evangelists in his country, “I cannot find 50 who would turn their hearts to the work of reaching the 180 million Muslims in their country.”

So near and yet so far

We can’t assume that different people living in the same passport country are automatically ‘close’ to each other. In Chad, for example, it would take a great deal for local Christians to witness to their unreached Muslim neighbours. It would mean moving to a different part of the country, learning a new language and culture and overcoming deep seated prejudice.

The good news is that due to foreign workers coming in, the indigenous church is waking up to the urgency of the task and begun sending its people. This has been happening in India too where  encouragingly almost all Frontiers teams now have locals who have joined them to reach out to ‘unengaged’ Muslim peoples.

4. God is honoured and we are blessed when we work together

One of the most unique and beautiful things about the church is that it brings together people from all walks of life and all nationalities into one body. Through the diversity of  the church coming together God’s manifold wisdom is displayed in the heavenly realms (Eph 3:10). Surely one of the greatest ways God is glorified is when his diverse family comes together to serve him and make his marvellous deeds known among the nations.

So let’s pray for the Lord to raise up many more Brits and Brazilians, Iraqis and Indians, Koreans and Kenyans to come together to serve him in reaching the nations. Obedience requires us all to be involved and we are all to obey God’s call to reach the lost, no matter how inconvenient or hard.

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1 day ago

Day 20 Saturday 25th May

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Day 19 Friday 24th May

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Day 17 Wednesday 22nd May

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Day 16 Tuesday 21st May

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“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

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Day 15 Monday 20th May

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1 day ago

Day 20 Saturday 25th May

Expectant Mums

“But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” Titus 3:4-6

Aisha looks pale and weak. “Fasting is so hard right now,” she confesses to her neighbour, Maimouna.

“You’re too ill to fast today,” Maimouna scolds her. “I’m making you something to eat.”

Aisha knows she doesn’t have to fast this Ramadan. Islam exempts pregnant women like her from fasting. But if she doesn’t fast now, she’ll have to make up all the days she misses before the next Ramadan.

Women of childbearing age often miss several days—or even the entire month of fasting each year, due to pregnancy, nursing, or menstruation. But Aisha knows it will be difficult to make up days after her baby arrives. So she has chosen to participate in the Ramadan fast anyway—in spite of the health risks.

Aisha’s frightened by how weak she feels while fasting, but what concerns her more is the thought of not doing everything required of her to reach heaven. How can I please God if I can’t even fast and pray properly? she wonders.

• Pray that Muslim women who feel trapped under the weight of religious duty will discover salvation through the mercy of Jesus Christ.

• Ask God to show Muslim women the futility of their own works in the light of His goodness and loving kindness.

• Pray they will know the promise of true rest in Jesus (Matthew 11:28).

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2 days ago

Day 19 Friday 24th May

Children

“People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:15-16

Four-year-old Hamza tells his mother he wants to fast. He’s heard other local boys bragging about fasting and Hamza doesn’t want to be left out of the experience.

“Fasting is difficult,” his mother replies. “And you aren’t yet required to fast.” She suggests he practise by not eating for two hours before sunset. Hamza accepts the challenge. Around 5:00 pm on the first day of Ramadan, he begins his fasting.

An hour later, Hamza’s mother finds the boy sitting on the floor of the larder, munching on toasted pumpkin seeds. “I’m still fasting,” he declares, looking up at her with big brown eyes.

Hamza’s mother smiles and suggests he collect money for the poor and memorise a couple of verses from the Quran. She tells him that if he does enough good deeds and avoids bad ones, he might be able to get to heaven when he dies. But no one is telling Hamza how much Jesus loves him.

• Ask God to reveal Himself to Muslim children, touching their tender hearts with the assurance of His abiding love.

• Pray for Muslim children to meet Christians who will tell them about the Saviour.

• Pray that children will know the truth that they cannot earn God’s righteousness, but that it comes as a free gift from Jesus Christ.

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3 days ago

Day 18 Thursday 23rd May

Men

“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalm 112:1-2

Jamshed pushes his cart to the market, squinting in the bright light of afternoon. Usually he starts work before dawn. But during Ramadan, no one goes out shopping that early.

Jamshed raises chickens and supports his family by selling eggs in the market. His wife helps him run their little farm and he’s grateful for it.

He hears how some husbands in the community resent the ways their wives and children depend on them. But Jamshed prides himself in caring for his family. Living in their conservative Muslim society, Jamshed acts as the public face for the family. He manages their public affairs, such as going to the market and visiting government offices.

It’s not always easy and Jamshed feels the weight of these responsibilities. To make matters worse, the price of eggs has plummeted since his country loosened trade regulations with neighbouring countries. Foreign imports have inundated the market and Jamshed has had to lower his prices. He feels powerless to care for his family now.

• Ask God to capture the hearts of Muslim men. Pray they learn to walk in His ways and lead their families in love and righteousness,

• Pray that those who carry heavy burdens of responsibility like Jamshed, will discover that Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).

• Pray for Muslim men to embrace the truth of the gospel and welcome the peace of Christ to dwell in their families, marriages and homes.

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4 days ago

Day 17 Wednesday 22nd May

Women

“They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the Lord—
the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.” Jeremiah 31:12-13

Nazneen knows how to make herself invisible. She cloaks herself in a large semicircle of fabric, which she wraps around her head and upper body. Silent, unremarkable and unnoticed, she goes out into the public—the domain of men.

Inside the home—the domain of women—Nazneen is anything but unremarkable. She sheds her veil and radiates life. She’s loud and gregarious. Her two children, 8-year-old Tarek and 5-year-old Adeleh, are mesmerised by her. She teaches them verses from classical poems, sings village folk songs with them and spoils them with plump seeds she plucks from the pith of fresh pomegranates.

Throughout the neighbourhood, Nazneen is known for starting impromptu dance parties. Every afternoon, women visit each other for tea and conversation. But Nazneen quickly tires of the gossip. She inevitably breaks into song, clapping for other women to join her, pulling at their veils until they comply. She doesn’t rest until each woman removes her headscarf and joins in the party. This is when she feels alive.

• Pray for Muslim women to be drawn to Jesus Christ, turning their singing and dancing into praise and worship.

• Ask the Lord to reveal Himself to Muslim women, showing them that He is the God who always sees them and cares for them (Genesis 16:13).
• Pray that Muslim women will discover the joy of salvation and embrace the goodness of the Lord in all their joys and sorrows.

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5 days ago

Day 16 Tuesday 21st May

The Urban Poor

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” (Isaiah 55:1)

Alian’s cash is running out.

Just before the start of Ramadan, he borrowed money to buy oil, onions, rice, milk powder, sugar and tea—enough to last his family through the month of Ramadan. Alian felt proud of his resourcefulness in planning ahead and buying items in bulk. Most of the year, his wife buys only enough for the day’s needs, just as everyone in their poor community does. Few can afford to purchase more than that.

The first of week of fasting, Alian bought dates, meat and pastries for his family’s iftar meals. But as happens each Ramadan, the shops have inflated the prices of food items.


Now the electricity bill is due. If he pays it, he’ll be left with just enough money for a few more days of meat. But Ramadan lasts for two more weeks and his loan is due to be paid soon.

Like hundreds of millions of Muslims living in urban poverty, Alian dreams of the day when his family no longer worries about their next meal.

• Ask the Lord to act on behalf of vulnerable men, women and children. Pray for people living in poverty to be set free from unjust systems and cycles of debt.

• Pray for Muslim families to discover their true treasure is in Christ, who gives freely and generously.

• Pray for more workers who will reach the hundreds of millions of Muslims living in urban poverty, and pray they develop endurance and grace to persevere in bringing the gospel to the poor.

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6 days ago

Day 15 Monday 20th May

Refugees and Internally-Displaced Persons

“The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.” (Psalm 146: 8–9)

Little Zaynab doesn’t remember life before the war in Iraq. She was a year old when her father bundled her up and fled with her and the rest of their family just as ISIS descended upon their town. They travelled 50 miles on foot to a camp for displaced families in Northern Iraq.

Unlike the tens of thousands of Syrian families who crossed the international border into Iraq, Zaynab and her family are not officially considered refugees. They are among the three million internally-displaced persons who’ve fled their homes and stayed within their country. Many displaced families who have tried to return home have found their houses and towns destroyed.

Zaynab knows she isn’t alone in the camp, but she often she feels lonely and unseen.

• Ask God to lift up those who’ve been forced to flee their homes. Pray they turn to the Lord as their stronghold and provider.

• Praise God for the hundreds of Bible study groups that have started in camps throughout the Middle East. Pray that fellowships of new believers will multiply across the region.

• Pray that more labourers will go and serve refugees and displaced families and bring them the eternal hope of Christ, who sees their struggle.

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The Narrow Escape 14th May 2019

In the heightened spirituality of Ramadan, Joel found it easy to share Jesus with Muslims.

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Day 20 Saturday 25th May

Expectant Mums

“But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his m...

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