What will it mean for Christians in churches across the country to be family to those who are separated by land, sea, politics, conflict or religion from their own physical family?
In Mark 7:24-36, we see 2 different ways in which people seek access to Jesus here which may help us in our thinking around how we, as church family, welcome, receive, and encourage into a flourishing those new believers from Muslim background who are coming, now in increasing numbers, with a desire to follow Jesus.
Jesus’ words remind us that there are two types of family: the birth family and the chosen family. This is certainly the case for believers from a Muslim background.
As God blesses and brings people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds, can we in fact become again the dynamic, flexible, courageous, fluid, responsive church of that early period? Or are we simply stuck?
“Where is the Christian God?”, ask my friends in the midst of the deep sufferings and enormous disruption caused by this virus right across the world? How can this ‘God of love’ that you Christians claim, allow such fear and pain to afflict this world? There can be no easy, trite or simple answer so I’ll not try to give one.
As the western church welcomes increasing numbers of new believers from a Muslim background there is great joy and a rising hope that others will follow. But a wrestling with what it means to welcome, mentor into active discipleship and fully embrace the contribution Believers from a Muslim Background have to offer must be an inevitable part of the task of building this new community of belonging.
The power of stories for individuals and communities alike has long been recognised: to teach – folk tales/parables/proverbs; to inspire – biography; and to build community and values…
“Ammi, Abba, your undying love for me when I have sinned against you is only second to God’s care for his children.”
“Conversion is paradoxical. It is elusive. It is inclusive. It destroys and it saves. Conversion is sudden and it is gradual. It is created totally by the action of God, and it is created totally by the action of humans. Conversion is personal and communal, private and public. It is both passive and active. It is a retreat from the world. It is a resolution of conflict and an empowerment to go into the world and to confront, if not create, conflict. Conversion is an event and a process. It is an ending and a beginning. It is final and open-ended. Conversion leaves us devastated—and transformed.”