Friday, April 10, 2015

Building Relational Bridges

Dr. John Johnson and Professor of Missions, spoke at a local church where someone asked him this question: “So when you go to other countries, how do you tell other people they are wrong and we are right?”

Johnson, a cross-cultural missionary in Muslim countries for twenty-three years at the time, explained, missions is not about prying people loose from their tightly held cultural and religious beliefs and replacing them with new ones.

“I don’t tell them they are wrong and we are right,” Johnson admitted, “I work to develop relationships with them … Then I try to love them in the name and style of Jesus.”

As professor of ministry and missions in a Christian College, Johnson believed missions begin when we come into relationship with the God through His missionary Son. A passion is birthed in us that the peoples of this world will come to know God and live in relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus.

Pastor, Steve Stone watched this relational bridge become a convenient conveyor of truth between his church in Tennessee and a small Islamic community nearby. As the pastor, Stone went on the initiative by reaching outside the recognized box in his community; he welcomed members of the small Islamic community center into his neighborhood.

CNN later aired the story of the church’s hospitality. Eventually, Pastor Stone received a call from a group of Muslims in Kashmir who’d seen the segment. The callers informed him that after watching the program, one of their community’s leaders said to those who were gathered: “God just spoke to us through this man.”

As a result, one of the men went straight to the local Christian church and proceeded to clean it, inside and out, because of his desire to also be a good neighbor. The Kashmir group informed Pastor Stone “We’re going to keep taking care of this little church for the rest of our lives.”

We draw strength in the confidence that we have found new life in Jesus. It is also true that we desperately want others to know Him as well. Nonetheless, telling others they are wrong and we are right does little to help us establish a constructive relationship. It may, in fact, disrupt any existing relationship and prevent further chance for friendship.

Jesus intentionally broke through barriers that prevented him from befriending, counseling, healing, and serving others. As we follow Him, our mission becomes that of structural engineers building bridges and establishing relationships that allow us to love people and share God’s good news with them.

These necessary relationships become the bridges by which non-believers are enabled to complete their journey to faith. From Warner's World, we are

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