Where are we GO-ing in 2021 after waiting through 2020?
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
It was Ramadan and a long-time member of Climbing For Christ was sharing about the challenges of being a believer in a closed Muslim country.
“The main question is not who are they, but who are we?” he mused. He was explaining how “the absolute majority of local Muslims cannot be called believers, but rather followers of folk Islamic religion” despite living in a country that claims to be Sunni majority. This is often the case where we are working across the 10/40 window.
“If we are also only followers of the Christian religion then there is only one thing possible between us, and that is a state of war. Religions have already proved more than once that they are irreconcilable.”
But if our faith defines us, if we exhibit the love of Jesus Christ in all that we do, our sword becomes a ploughshare.
“Now about the path we have chosen,” the C4C member said. “This is the way of service.
“Recently, we have been focusing more and more on serving kids with disabilities and children with intellectual problems. We do adaptive sports with them – rock climbing and skiing.
“This allows us to establish strong friendships with these people that serve as the basis for any conversations, including the most complex matters of faith.”
This is the path that Climbing For Christ travels: establishing relationships and returning time and time again to remote places, where others cannot or will not go, to nurture those friendships.
All “paths for real relations must be grounded in prayer,” David W. Shenk wrote in his book Christian. Muslim. Friend. Twelve Paths to Real Relationship.
Our prayer is that friendships will grow into sibling relations. That friends will become our brothers and sisters in Christ. And we have been blessed to experience this.
Never mind if the country is a place where “the involvement of children in a religious organization is considered a criminal offense” and “missionary activity is strictly prohibited.”
“We share the Gospel with children only after we have established close friendships with them,” our member said. But he added “we never hide our Christian faith from the children we work with and their parents.” They pray together and ask the children to pray in the tradition that they have been taught.
This is part of Shenk’s “12 paths,” which include:
- Living with integrity.
- Keeping your identity clear.
- Cultivating respect. “We listened because you love and respect us,” Shenk wrote in his book – something we have experienced in many places.
- Developing trust, which includes “a spirit of hearing.” Listen before speaking.
- Practicing hospitality. “How did you become a Christian?” “I am a Christian because a Christian became my best friend.” That is the story of this writer, and the story of many others.
- Commend Christ. In other words, point people to Jesus. The great missionary Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3 that those who never read the Bible will read about Jesus through the lives of believers.
“So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” – 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NLT)
In his book, Shenk hits it on the head when he writes: “Our calling as emissaries of the Messiah is to find doors through the walls. Often Jesus and ministries of the church have already opened the door, but we think it is closed. We need to listen! We need to knock. We need to discern. It is Jesus who goes before us, unlocking the doors. As we flow in prayer, the Holy Spirit goes before us showing the way, revealing the doors Jesus has opened. The calling of ambassadors of Christ is just this: to prayerfully discern where the doors are opening and to enter those doors as Christ’s emissaries.”
This was my prayer focus as we prepared for Mission: 2021. The coronavirus pandemic postponed trips to at least five countries in 2020, and we wondered where 2021 would take us. Here is the short list, God willing:
- Central Asia
- Other possibilities include Tibet, Pakistan, and Malawi
Details surrounding these trips are a work in progress. Flexibility (based on Proverbs 16:9) continues to be the key. Climbing For Christ members are invited to prayerfully consider where the Lord of the harvest might want them to GO and then contact me directly for a mission application and more information on a trip as it becomes available.
You can join us in prayer for these trips and give financially to support to work God has planned for us to walk in. That walk is the way service; to serve spiritual and physical needs of friends and family.