Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Thoughts for The Day

Our hearts are full today as we remember those who lost love ones in the terrorist attacks six years ago. What could lead our fellow men into such acts of hatred which wrought so much havoc into the lives of innocent people? How should Christians respond to such an outrage when we are called by our Lord to love our enemies and not to war against flesh and blood but against the very powers and centers of spiritual darkness? The following exerpt, taken from a February 2005 article in Christianity Today, records an interview with Brother Andrew about his book Light Force. Brother Andrew provides food for prayer and thought on these issues. He was very influential in bringing the gospel to the USSR during the days of the Cold War. He wrote of his experiences in the classic book, God's Smuggler - a meaningful read for many in our family. In recent years, Brother Andrew has lived in the Middle East and sought to witness the love of God to the Muslim people. These experiences set the stage for his writings as recorded in Light Force. - Sarah

Why did you write Light Force?

We, as Christians, are the only ones in the world that, on the basis of the Book, can offer everybody in the world a reason for living. If that reason for living is not there, do not blame [Muslims] to find a reason for dying, because that's the only alternative—living or dying. We want to dive right into the very center of the conflict. That's why we go to those groups.
The second step is to introduce the church there—a weak church, a diminishing church—to the subject. They can reach out to the Muslims, but they were never taught to do that. Now they're scared to do it. We want to help them overcome their fear and reach out to the Muslims. So our ministry is to the church so that through the church the Muslims will be reached....

What about your contacts with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah?

Hamas I contacted direct when they were deported to the mountains in Lebanon, December '92. And we made not only contact; we made friendships with them. And that continued by me visiting their families at their request. We gave them Scriptures and we prayed for them. We witnessed and made pictures. We went back to the mountains, gave the pictures to the sons, to the fathers, and then when it came to the close of their time, I invited them to have a meal with me. When they came back, it was still not in liberty. They were still under city arrest, and they were still unemployed. They couldn't go anywhere, but they came, and I invited them for a meal. That's why I got to know hundreds of them. And out of that contact came the invitation to lecture at a local university on the subject, "What is Real Christianity?"

So it goes on and on. It is a never-ending story. I call it friendship because it's a form of friendship evangelism. How can they ever love my Savior if they cannot first love me? I have to get close to them. And the easiest, quickest way to get close to anybody is [to help] a person in need. So, that's what I do.

And what do you think the results have been so far in building relationships and shedding some light in their lives?

I don't know. God keeps the book of the results. We do not talk about converts. The only question I can ask, which I also asked after Communism, is, "What would it be like if we had not done that?" I know that we in the West, Americans particularly, are always impressed by numbers and statistics. Once I visited the Christian Peacemaking Team in Hebron. This is a group that originates in America with the peace churches—great people, very, very great people. One time they said, "Andrew, how many Hamas have you led to Christ?" I said, "No one." They said, "Oh, hallelujah, because every letter we get from America asks, 'How many Muslims have you led to Christ?' And now we can say, 'Well, even Brother Andrew didn't do it.'" It was very comforting for them. We're not in the numbers game. We're in the influence game. And the strength of the church, anywhere, can never be measured in terms of numbers and statistics, but only in the influence it has in society.

On the other hand, people who naturally have a right to be suspicious of these groups, because of what they've done, might question whether they are just inviting you in for their own purposes.
They don't invite me. I go gatecrashing all the time. Evangelism, by nature, always has to be aggressive. We have deviated from that whole concept of Acts 1:8, and we've reversed the roles and say, "Well, they've got to invite us." No way. Jesus says blessed are the peacemakers.

Where do peacemakers go?

Where there's a war.

That's aggressiveness. That is taking risks. That's meeting the enemy, looking into his eyes.
The focus of my question was not whether they're inviting you but whether some people might think that some of these folks are using you for their own purposes.

Oh, absolutely. But there are also people who take this question one step farther. They say, "Andrew, you are wrong, because you make friends with Israel's enemies." To which I reply, "This is the greatest service I can do to Israel, to turn their enemies around." This is a definite attempt to turn them around. Because once they become brothers, they're not enemies anymore. And I have talked with so many of them. But I want to be neutral. I have not chosen for this or that side. I don't want to touch on the political because then you run into controversies where people say, "I have my right," or "No, I have my right." [I want to say,] "Jesus Christ has a right to both of you. Let's talk about Jesus." The Muslims want to talk about Jesus, definitely.
[One guy] came back with a stack of papers, a Trans World Radio correspondence course on the life of Jesus that he had done. At nighttime they listen and they write the lessons, then send them in. They're studying the life of Jesus because Islam does not and can never satisfy. It doesn't satisfy any Muslim. There's no forgiveness, no love, no eternal life. And they want to go to heaven. Everybody wants to go to heaven. But we live now in a time when Islam has been radicalized. And they now [think they] know the way to heaven—die in the jihad.

That's why I've been predicting that America will get another dose of terrorism, violence, because Muslims want to go to heaven. And we don't show them the way to heaven. Why don't we do that? That's the only way. They have no reason for living, for they found a reason for dying.

They want a messiah; they expect a messiah. But the Messiah has holes in his hands and he came riding on a donkey, not in a cockpit of an F-16. And they want to see that Messiah. So when we are vulnerable enough to go to them, and this being the only weapon, the Word of God, they accept us and see our message as the alternative, which, deep in their hearts, they fear. Don't you think that mother cries when the son blows himself up? Of course she does. They have the same feelings we have....

They see no way out. And we, with our Western attitude, force more and more into that extreme corner. We've got to get them out. Start a dialogue, visit them, exchange books. We need a new breed of missionaries to not only understand the issue but who are humble enough as followers of Christ to go without shoes, without a purse, go there, identify with them in their dire need, and say, "I am Jesus to you. I love you. I want to be your friend." Then you will find them hospitable and open.

So we need a new approach with the same message.
(The article can be read in full here.)