BEYOND RELIGION WALLS
Sometimes, the issue of engaging people from other religions terrifies Christians. We picture scenarios of scorn, ridicule, contempt, and plain indifference when we think of dialoguing with others about Jesus. Worse, because of all the news going around about Islamic radicalism and terrorism and communist attacks, we tell ourselves that it’s best to leave the arena of sharing our faith to pastors or to those in church leadership.
However, even if it is possible that persecution can come because of sharing our faith, we must not be quiet about Christ’s love or fearful about people’s reactions when we tell them about Jesus. God is “not wanting anyone to perish, but [for] everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). There is a longing in His heart for people to know Him.
One incident in my life taught me much about how it feels to speak about Jesus to people from different religions. One afternoon, I joined a group for some street evangelism to a Muslim community in a foreign country. We learned three simple words: Isa, Bandu, and Korban. “Isa” meant Jesus, “Bandu” meant friend, and “Korban” meant sacrifice. We were going to share a very simple message to the community: Isa loves you. He died to become a Korban for your sins. He wants to be your bandu. Would you want to invite Him into your heart?”
The nine of us stood on the pavement of the busiest street in the district where men (mostly construction workers) walked to and fro to get to work. A number of them came from the Indian and Bangladeshi population. We called out, “Who of you need healing? Who of you have injuries? We can pray for you!”
We weren’t pastors. None of us even remotely looked like a pastor or a priest or an imam. In fact, we were just young people in our twenties (except for one mother) dressed in casual shirts, jeans, and rubber shoes. “We are ‘Isa-hin,’” we said to these men. “Isa-hin” meant “Followers of Isa.”
I remember the first man who came near to me. I said to him, “Hi! Id’ like to pray for you. Do you believe in Isa?”
“No,” he said.
“How about Allah?” I asked, trying to find a point of connection.
“No,” I am not Muslim. I am Hindu,” he answered.
I said a quick, desperate prayer to God: “Help!” Whatever “formula” I had counted on to share Jesus quickly disappeared. I had my mind set on sharing with Muslims that I hadn’t counted on engaging or speaking to a Hindu man! And yet, while standing on the pavement, God was giving me wisdom.
“Among your many gods,” I mused out loud,
“Did you ever consider that there may be a God who loves you very much? Someone who cares about you? Someone who hears you?”
“Is there a god like that?” he asked.
“Yes,” I answered. “And he’s the One who made the Universe!”
From there, I told the man about the God I knew–the God who loved me and who loved him. I told him about Jesus who died on the cross and asked him if he wanted to know Him more. I led him in prayer, a very simple one: “God, the One who created the universe, can I get to know you more?”
It was a start.
More men arrived. At first, it seemed as if nothing much was going on—just simple prayers uttered as we invited the men to ask Isa into their hearts.
Then, almost quite suddenly, the atmosphere was charged with the miraculous power of Heaven. Isa, who was neither deaf nor blind to what was going on in the street, wanted to show the reality of His love and presence to these men. Physical healings started to occur. Aches and injuries left the arms, shoulders, and legs of these men. More people started to crowd us as they watched in amazement. One of my fellow Kingdom warriors standing beside me, who was a medical practitioner, could only verify: “These are miracles happening!”
I remember keenly two young men who came to me. One pointed to his shoulders. “Okay,” I said. “Let us ask Isa to heal you. Isa, can you heal this man?” I prayed to Jesus for healing. I prayed for His name to be glorified and praised.
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a group of men watching. For some reason, I understood their dialogue, which was in their native tongue.
“Let’s leave!” said one of the men.
“No,” said another, who was obviously the leader of the group. “Let us see what will happen.”
I focused back on the two men in front of me. As we commanded pain to leave and muscles to heal, a miracle was taking place. The man with the injury started to rotate his arms and exclaimed, “I’m healed! I’m healed! Praise Isa!”
The men watching us rejoiced and started to queue for their turn of prayer.
“Would you want to invite Isa into your heart right now?” I asked. “He loves you so much. He healed you from your shoulder injury, but He wants to heal you from your sin, too. He can forgive you. He wants to be your bandu.”
“Yes, I want to invite him into my heart,” the man with the injury said. The other men listened. Again, the prayer was simple: “Isa, come into my heart. Forgive me of my sins. Thank you that you became a Korban for me. Please teach me more about you and how to obey you. Be my bandu so I can know your heart. In Isa’s name, Amen.”
That afternoon, more than sixty men invited Isa into their hearts and had a glimpse of His love for them.
As Christians, the salvation that we have received from Christ and the knowledge of God’s love in our lives is a message so important for us to share. We live in a world that needs to know Christ; a world that He loves very much. He gave His life for them. Can we go beyond our fears of sharing Jesus’ love to others? Can we be bold? Can we allow the knowledge of Him to spill bright beyond ourselves? God can teach us what to say. If we are followers of Jesus, then we must be willing to open our mouths and share Him to people.
Writer’s Bio: Janina Rivera is someone who can switch from pretty dresses to rugged sneakers and jeans for the sake of the Kingdom of God. She has spent time at the front lines of Kingdom expansion, as well as in the boiler room—the place of stillness and prayer.