Hello friends of Team Cambridge!
As the time grows ever closer for the start of the mission trip, the team is continuing to make preparations logistically, financially and spiritually. Yet in a recent conversation with one of my teammates, we came to the realization that the team needs something else. We can plan, fund-raise and arm ourselves with scripture all we want and still fall short of something great. Why? Because we're shooting for a miracle.
Planning, fund-raising and scripture-reading are all things which we can (and should) do ourselves. But the key is that we can do these things by ourselves. If we only make plans and efforts which require human strength and support, we will only accomplish something that's humanly possible. We want to accomplish something supernatural. My teammate and I decided that we need God to break our hearts with compassion for the people of Cambridge. We also need Him to fill our lives every day with an overflowing passion for the message which can raise the dead to life, make the lost found, and cause the blind to see.
So...we have begun to pray for this for Team Cambridge, asking God to commit our hearts loyally to serving the people we will meet in Cambridge out of a deep love and compassion for them and a love and passion for our God. As soon as I started to pray this, I immediately began to notice a difference. I'd like to share a little bit about this experience of mine as much for your benefit as for my team members'.
I recently ran into someone at a conference who had spent a little bit of time in Cambridge. I mentioned that I was actually planning to go to Cambridge on an evangelistic mission trip this summer. He looked at me seriously and said, "prepare for a high population of Muslims."
Okay...high population of Muslims. That was certainly news to me.
Throughout the next several weeks, I truly believe God started intentionally opening the eyes of my heart to have more compassion on Muslim people. I encountered some Muslim people on the Capitol Mall over Easter weekend who I got to share the good news of the grace of God with.
I got to dialogue with one Muslim man in particular who shared his views on Jesus. He said that he, as a Muslim, believes that Jesus was just a prophet, he was not the Son of God, and yet that he is going to return one day. Several other Muslim individuals shared this viewpoint. I was intrigued, so I questioned him further. He explained that he was Muslim because his parents were Muslim, not because he had questioned it. Again, several of the Muslims I talked with shared this quality.
After we had talked for a while, he conveyed that he believed following the law of the Que'ran is the only way to get mercy from Allah. With a silent prayer, I decided to see if God would use me to help him understand that it is by God's forgiveness that one is saved...not through works.
I asked the gentleman if he was married.Getting an affirmative response, I posed the following scenario. "Let's say one day your wife did something terrible which really offended you. Something which made you very angry." I let him imagine what the crime would be. "What if you went to bed very angry at her and the next morning woke up to breakfast in bed and she was out washing the car? Then all through the day, she only spoke kindly and took good care of the kids and the housekeeping, even going out of her way to get you anything you needed. Is any of that any good without you offering her your forgiveness?"
He was silent so I continued, "Or on the other hand, what if the next morning she came up to you with tears in her eyes and told you how sorry she was and that she loved you and asked you for your forgiveness. You'd be more inclined to forgive her, right?" Then I explained how God gave us that same forgiveness out of the goodness of His heart when he sent Jesus to pay the death penalty we deserve. Our good deeds could not force His forgiveness, but He chose to give it. He offers us forgiveness, which is the only way to be in a right relationship with him.
The man looked very thoughtful at this point. I asked him, "What do you think of that?" He replied, "I don't know yet, but I am going to think about it." I asked him if he had any Christian friends who he could have further conversations with. He said that as a matter of fact he did, he talked with his Christian friend often and would talk with him about this.
I was so moved that God had given me the opportunity to see how He could take a simple message of forgiveness and make it mean so much to someone who hadn't really thought about God that way before. I think if I were a Muslim I would fear and doubt my own salvation because there is no assurance in life about what exactly you will get after death. You don't know for sure if Allah will choose to have mercy on you. I know, however, that both justice and mercy meet at the cross of my savior and I can be sure that I am forgiven and loved.
...What a magnificent chance we have, Team Cambridge! To witness to people such as my Muslim friend and be vessels for God to reveal His forgiveness and love! I believe in Cambridge we will find opportunities to clear up misconceptions about Christianity and surprise some people with the truth. I hope that in the name of Jesus Christ and for His glory that our conversations will fit into His plans to open people's (especially Muslims') eyes to Jesus' dramatic victory over sin and death.
On that note, I wish you all a Happy Easter. Not only is He God, not only did He die for us, HE IS RISEN and will return as a conquering King. May His Passion for us translate in our lives to a passion for His love and a compassion for the Muslims and other individuals we will encounter in Cambridge