The Latest Mission Frontiers Magazine

So over the 10 hours of traveling from Ohio back to California I was able to read the recent Mission Frontiers issue with the title “Iranian Revolution.” How encouraging it was to read of the rapid growth the indigenous church is experiencing in the midst of extreme persecution and trials. It was especially heart-warming to read that this growth had started decades ago and is continuing on despite major set backs (namely the assignation of major church leaders by the Iranian government). Broadcasts featuring Jesus are being watched by Persians through satellite. In a survey, 70% of Iranian families said they watched Christian satellite programs. The house church movement is spreading incredibly rapidly. “Within two years, a new believer is expected to become a leader of a new house fellowship and a discipler of new leaders.” Praise be to God for expanding His kingdom without the influence of outside help.

What an interesting perspective gleaned from reading the article titled “Mustafa”. First I thought of the Lion King and couldn’t help saying “Mustafa” over and over again in my best hyena voice. In all seriousness, I thought it was a well-done interpretation of experiences with Muslim Background Believers (MBBs) and how difficult it is for “Christians” to accept followers of Christ who still carry their Muslim culture and heritage. I think this carries into the extreme importance of the C4 – C5 debate. How do you as a missionary separate culture and religion? These issues are huge for mission agencies and what they support. Its going on now that American mission agencies are stifling the growth of MBB churches because they don’t see them as fully following Christ.

Continuing this theme of religion and culture, there is a good article on using the name “Allah” contextually for Muslims the same as we use God. Is it syncretism for Allah and God to be one of the same? Are we creating an unnecessary barrier to the gospel by introducing a foreign substituted word to mean God? The article does a great job of examining the word itself as well as looking at some of our own “Christian” words under the same scrutiny. Examples of our words that may not come from the best grounds are the days of the week. Most of the days of the week are named after different Anglo-Saxon gods. Monday was named after Muna, the moon god and Wednesday was named after the god Woden. Some denominations wouldn’t even refer to these days of the week; instead they used first day, second day … All this to say, contextualization is key to unleashing the Bible’s power. The article qutoes Lamin Sanneh, a Yale scholar saying, “in the relevant cases Christian expansion and revival were limited to those societies that preserved the indigineous name for God.” The power of the gospel is found in the ability to communicate its message to people in thier heart language, in a way that is culutrally relevant to them. After they have heard & understood, then can the wrong attributes and shallow view of God can be corrected.

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