Churches receive believers of Muslim heritage

In turbulent times, God is working out his agenda to add to his church, people from every nation, tribe, ethnicity and language on earth (Rev.7:9). Iranians of a Muslim family background are finding their way to Christ in unprecedented numbers. What’s more, they are also attaching to local churches. It’s vital that existing congregations respond well – here’s why.

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Mission begins with “ask”

At a day event for the Interserve supporter-network, Paul Hardingham the minister at St. Peter’s church in Halliwell, Bolton, gave a terrific Bible focus from Matthew 9:35-38. Here’s a shortened rendering of that text:

35 Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, proclaiming the good news and healing. 36 …the crowds [provoked] compassion on him, because they were harassed and helpless. 37…he said “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9)

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A good investment in life?

It may seem obvious to say it – but – we only have one life to live and one chance to invest it.

I have been spectacularly bad at discerning how to do this wisely. For instance, as a son of an economic migrant, my first attempt was to invest myself in my identity as a member of an ethnic minority; my second attempt was into becoming a Counter-tenor in an Oxbridge college choir followed by a choral career; when that idea flopped my third attempt was into education and to become one of Britain’s earliest black head teachers; my fourth and final attempt was in the direction of Anglican ordination as one of the earlier non-Caucasian intake.

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Chaos, fear, pain, anger – then Jesus came!

Britain sustained three home-grown terrorist attacks in 3 months. While the nation reeled the inferno at Grenfell Tower happened; the majority of victims were Muslim. Yet the Bible insists that even in despair God gives ‘treasure in darkness’ as a sign of the Kingdom breaking in. The media marvelled but couldn’t quite explain the impromptu solidarity – here’s some evidence of it.

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Identity Politics

Heads are turned by Islamic violence while behind our backs the Judeo-Christian heritage is being subtly eroded – the latest casualty is the concept of “gender”. The Bible says: ‘In the beginning God created humankind male and female’ (Gen.1:27-28) that can ‘increase and multiply’ but the secularist ‘liberal-left’ now says gender has little to do with our birth anatomy. What’s going on?                                                                                                                                                       Read more

‘Integration’ or ‘Social Cohesion’ – which will it be?

Analysts have concluded that the notion of ‘multi-culturalism’ led to Britain looking more like a ‘community of communities’. Since then the government was still getting to grips with the routine levels of immigration when emergency migration to Europe began. It seemed to destroy any hope of healthy inclusion. Since then the debate is over what we should be aiming for – “integration” or “social cohesion”? What is the difference and is either actually achievable? Read more

‘Guidance’ – action or reaction?

‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (Hebs.11:8-9

Any missional activity brings us into a collision course with “guidance”. We read around the subject, theologise about it and discuss issues ad infinitum; but how can we get it and then act on it?Read more

Flex or break – you choose!

When my wife was a babe in arms, the family was involved in a head-on car crash, which propelled her through the windscreen and over the bonnet. The little bundle bounced down the road and into the bushes. She was eventually found but what saved her life was a thing called ‘torsion’.

When I flew into Heathrow from Islamabad in winter, the runway was frosted over, so the pilot used auto-pilot. The plane landed with a hard thump and the fuselage contorted; lockers flew open; bags fell out and people screamed! Apparently it’s ‘torsion’ that stops aircrafts breaking up.

The dictionary says: ‘Torsion is an engineering term for the action of twisting or being twisted’. So “pressure” bears down on us but ‘torsion’ twists us. Here are a few missional applications:Read more

Can a “nation” practice Christianity? (Part 2)

This is part of a 2-part series by Interserve’s Steve Bell. See Wednesday’s post for Part 1.

It’s hard to understand Europe without a grasp of Christianity’s role in shaping it. The old sacred/secular divide is disappearing as religion (not least Islamic) crashes into ‘public space’. But can Christians help a bewildered secular society to find its bearings?   

Last time I pointed out that it’s ‘individuals’ (rather than ‘nation-states’) who follow Christ. Nations are impacted as national leaders who are imbued with the values of Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage implement it in the public good. Examples of this include Margaret Thatcher, Teresa May and Angela Merkel – all raised as the daughters of pastors.

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Can a “nation” practise Christianity? (Part 1)

This week we have a fantastic 2-part series from Interserve’s Steve Bell. Come back for part 2 on Friday!

Hitler’s Germany almost destroyed Europe by “pathological nationalism”. It now threatens it by “pathological altruism” as Angela Merkel makes history by inviting the world into Germany – a move that may yet trigger the demise of the EU.

Has it ever occurred to you that the instinct to defend the defenceless (although not unique to Christian teaching) originates in Europe’s ‘Judeo-Christian heritage’ (i.e. the biblical worldview embedded in our society, which insists individuals have both rights and responsibilities – see Mat.22:34-40). But how can ‘the heritage’ impact a secular Europe today?Read more