Depending on a God-given mediator

Depending on a God-given mediator

It was an unusual place to be. There were about eighty of us, mainly men but some women too. I was the only non-Muslim present. We were in a hall down a dingy back street used for Asian weddings and other social events by those unable to afford the high-status venues in Manchester. The gathering was in honour of a sort of Sufi revivalist preacher.

I had spotted the event on Facebook. I had heard about this man and wanted to hear him for myself. Most of those who attended belonged to his group. They sang their way through their standard liturgy in Arabic printed out in a beautifully presented book which supplied the text in Arabic along with a full English translation. The liturgy tells the story of the birth of Muhammad, embellished with legends and celebrations of his greatness. This was supplemented with hymns pronouncing blessings on Muhammad, who they styled as the mediating prophet.

Then the visitor delivered a thirty-five minute sermon. He spoke on Muhammad’s uniqueness, his perfection, how he was purer than any man that ever lived and possessed a personal knowledge of God greater than anyone else ever, that he alone was the means by which the immense mercy of God was available to those who put their faith in him. Yes, he was taking the attributes of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, and assigning them to Muhammad. It was depressing to listen to.

The speaker instructed his listeners that pronouncing blessings of Muhammad was the key to being blessed by God. He further instructed them that imitating every detail of Muhammad’s practice in worship must be their top priority. No other worship would ever be accepted by God.

How, I found myself thinking, could we ever talk about common ground with these people? But it was there. Here was an assembly seeking connection with God, knowing that they needed more than formal religion could supply. Here was a group of people convinced that God’s plan and purpose was that rather than depend on their own abilities to please God, that they should depend on a God-given mediator who could give them assurance of acceptance. What they were seeking exists and it is found in a different person, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). May the glories of the true Christ be declared and revealed to them.

Responding to the New Zealand mosque attacks

Responding to New Zealand mosque attacks: Small gestures drown the voices of hate

Responding to the New Zealand mosque attacks in the city of Christchuch

Small gestures drown the voices of hate

The 150 Psalms of David have been called the ‘prayer book of the people of God’.

They help to give us language to talk to God and are full of praise and adoration, plus real questions and lamentation. They give voice to our concerns.

Psalm 10 has helped me express my own reaction to the Christchurch acts of terror at Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Mosque on 15 March.

(And I was able to share this at our local mosque in Woking – Shah Jehan the oldest purpose built mosque in the country - for their Prayer & Peace Vigil on 23 March.)

And it starts with the big question: WHY?

Why did this happen…

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Ps 10:1

It graphically describes a godless perpetrator of violence, who:

Sits in ambush in the village in hiding places, he murders the innocent; he lurks in ambush like a Lion in a thicket

And it uses equally graphic and realistic, very human language:

Arise O Lord… Break the arms of the wicked and evil doer, Call his wickedness to account till you find none

And the last two verses sum up our thoughts and prayers for those in New Zealand:

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted,
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed
So that the man who is of the earth may strike terror no more

We stand together as people of faith (and none) and echo:

The terrorist wanted to instil fear This is a time to demonstrate LOVE through action:

Ultimately, with God’s help, LIGHT will always prove stronger than darkness and LOVE will prevail, despite the cruelty and brutality present in the world.

Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family

Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family

Today in Britain growing numbers of Muslims are choosing to follow Jesus; joining his family. We need to understand their needs, care for them and help them grow in him. And we want to learn from them.

God is answering the prayers of many over years and now there are churches across the country grappling with the joy and the challenge of welcoming believers from a Muslim background.

This month we are highlighting Joining the Family (JtF) resources – here is a message from Roxy, JtF coordinator.


I love the word hospitality which for Muslims often starts in the heart attitude of honouring guests into their own homes.

The Greek word for hospitality, Xenia (guest friendship), is again a heart attitude offering friendship to someone who may be far from home.

The word Xenophobia is the fear or distrust of someone who seems strange or foreign.

May we ask God to change our hearts towards people from Muslim backgrounds and not be afraid but be open to those who are far from home when they enter our churches, places that may seem strange and a long way from their spiritual home if not their physical home.

Hospitality is something I appreciate about Eastern cultures. I have visited many countries of Asia and the Middle East, and in each place it’s the same. When I enter a home I will automatically be offered refreshments… It’s biblical too. Do you recall the account of Abraham rushing to kill the fattened calf for three random strangers who passed by his tent? That kind of elaborate hospitality seems extravagant to western readers but makes sense in an Eastern culture… But this full-blown treatment of guests can all get too much… That’s why I like the idea of ‘laid back’ hospitality. I want my friend of Muslim background to feel welcome and I will always offer drinks and nibbles if they drop by… Laid back hospitality lowers the barriers for me and, I believe, makes it easier for my friend to know they can come and I won’t have to make special arrangements.
— Joining the Family book. P. 74-75

I pray that as described by Tim Green (above) we would be people who offer guest friendship to people of Muslim backgrounds in laid back hospitality.

Joining the Family aims to enable churches to be places of welcome for believers of Muslim backgrounds through providing resources, training and support to church leaders and those who disciple believers of Muslim backgrounds in the UK. Our vision is threefold:

  1. Churches are more confident to receive believers of a Muslim background

  2. Theological trainees have an increased awareness and knowledge of the needs of believers from a Muslim background

  3. Believers of Muslim backgrounds receive better emotional and spiritual support

To find out more or to contact JtF head to:

It’s a crazy idea… When do we start?

Every Friday lunchtime, I go with hundreds of others. I go because this is the most blessed time to pray. I dress properly, wash properly, walk in the right way to the mosque and listen well when the Imam speaks. These things mean my sins are forgiven for the next week.

This is how my friend described Friday prayers – an important time in the week for him.

How we long for our Muslim friends to know that they don’t have to do all these things to be right with God. How we need to pray that God will open their eyes to see the forgiveness that Jesus freely offers.

As we see the crowds going to Jumaa prayer every Friday, what better time to be reminded of Jesus’ compassion for the crowds and to cry out to the Lord of the Harvest.

250 years ago, Jonathan Edwards wrote,

I have often said it would be a thing very desirable and very likely to be followed with a great blessing, if there could be some contrivance …..wherein we should all unite on the same day…Some perhaps may think its being all on the same day, is a circumstance of no great consequence; but I can’ t be of that mind…It seems to me, it would mightily encourage and animate God’s saints….. to think, that at the same time, such multitudes of God’s dear children, far and near, were sending up their cries to the same common Father, for the same motives.

Well, we now have such a ‘contrivance’, a means to unite in prayer on behalf of our Muslims neighbours.

At noon on Fridays a UK-focused topic for prayer, a single prayer point, will be provided for us to unite in crying to the Father. It might not be possible for us all to pray at that exact same time but our prayers to the same end will powerfully combine.

It’s a crazy idea, and it’ll never work… When do we start?
— Ocean’s Eleven

We start next week! Please join us from Friday 1st Feb, and encourage others to share, in this simple crazy act - standing together to see God establish his kingdom. Initially the prayer point will be posted at noon on the following social media channels:

Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests
— Eph 6:18

Note from the Network: January update

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Note from the Network

January update

We’re praying, believing and working for the gospel to spread through families and a whole community - for disciples to make disciples who make disciples. Why not here?

This is a big prayer of one Mahabba group going into 2019. Remarkable things are happening in the wider Muslim world - more Muslims have come to faith in Jesus in the past 25 years than in the previous 14 centuries combined! Why not here in the UK?

These monthly newsletters have been highlighting the four Es that describe the Mahabba network. Each local expression of Mahabba is Encouraging prayer and Enabling and Envisioning all Christians to Engage in love with Muslims.

We seek to envision the Christian community - all Christians, churches, church leaders - for God’s heart and purposes for the nations to be caught, for the church to see and seize the opportunities he has brought to our cities and towns.

Envisioning is happening in many ways - inspiring churches with stories of what God is doing, helping church leaders to strategise, to see their vision fulfilled for Muslims following Jesus, and to equip church members through courses and resources like Joining the Family:

Recognising that it’s important to find and serve alongside local church leaders who share the vision and are open to collaborate, I presented the vision of church based outreach to Muslims at the ‘Churches Together’ Leader’s Meeting in our borough. It was attended by more than 30 leaders of different churches who then launched a prayer initiative which meets weekly moving between various churches and has led to outreach to Muslims.
The Joining the Family course was superb – all the better for having equal numbers of Iranians and Brits! Some positive outcomes were – Brits seeing the importance of being family to BMBs, Iranians seeing church as theirs and beginning to take ownership of what happens, two of the Brits engaging with our Farsi-speaking fellowship and befriending newcomers. Others are asking when we are running the course again!
We are investing time in talking with church leaders and gaining local church ‘buy-in’. So far we have run training courses in three main churches.
I would recommend the Joining the Family course without hesitation as it helps us understand where those from Muslim background are coming from and this in turn helps us understand where and how we can help them grow in faith and integrate into the church.
In the coming year we want to pray for local churches to connect with our group and to see how we can serve and equip them in engaging with Muslims and making disciples.

Let’s keep sharing the stories. If you are not yet part of Discourse, Mahabba Network’s discussion forum, do sign up here. It’s the place to be for sharing and learning from one another.

This is an amazing time to be alive and partnering in prayer to see God’s purposes for Muslims fulfilled. Let’s pray this will be a fruitful year for us all, beyond all we ask or imagine.


This is part of a series of regular updates from all involved with the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available. Previous updates can be found here.


Your turn

  • Pass this update on to those you know and encourage them to

  • We value your prayers for this and welcome your feedback here.

  • Feel free to leave any comments below or send them via the Contact Us page

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

Holy Injil, Luke - A New Translation from the Original Greek with Commentary

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Holy Injil, Luke – A New Translation from the Original Greek with Commentary

This is a great Christmas gift for Muslim friends, as well as to any Muslim who is interested in learning more about Isa al Masih (Jesus Christ) throughout the year.

The new English translation of Luke was officially launched at a Christmas Mehfil, with guest, including the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society. 

 

This book includes:

  • An introduction, using the Qur’an, which encourages Muslims to read the Injil

  • A new translation of Luke from the original Greek into English that Muslims use, with religious terminology and names that they are familiar with

  • Commentary provides useful Old Testament or cultural background, attempts to deal with difficulties a Muslim reader may encounter as they read through Luke, explain biblical themes and cross-references the Qur’an where it is helpful to do so

  • More in-depth appendices on: The Revelation of the Injil, The title 'spiritual Son of Allah', The Kingdom of Allah, The title 'al-Masih', The title 'Son of Man', The suffering and martyrdom of ’Isa al-Masih, Why did ’Isa al-Masih suffer and die?, The 'Gospel of Barnabas'

  • It has been read and reviewed by translation consultants and by Muslims

See below to order copies.

 

Comments from Muslim readers

Thank you for the lovely injil - we shall all read it and pray to Allah (SWT) to give you strength and to bless you and your family for the great effort put into this chapter of Luke. Amazing!
I have given my brother this book (Holy Injil, Luke). He spent three hours reading it in my house. He said it was beautifully explained.
 

 

Recommendations for 'Holy Injil, Luke'

We recommend it as a translation to be used in discussion with Muslims to shed light on the beautiful and majestic life that is Jesus Christ without hampering them by using terminology not familiar to their ears. And we already know of Muslims who have read it with joy.
— Tom & Judi
Duncan Peter has prepared this version of Luke’s Gospel for a conservative Muslim audience. There are helpful appendices dealing with the most common Muslim questions, like the allegation that the text of the Bible has been changed, and the objection that God cannot have a son
— Julyan
The translation is brilliantly done and is enhanced by excellent notes and appendices which face the difficult critical questions Muslim readers may have with deep sensitivity and wisdom. From a Christian perspective, this unique volume will not only prove invaluable in developing conversations with Muslim neighbours and friends, but it points toward the future of mission in a pluralist world.
— David
 

How to order copies

Copies are available direct from the author.

Note from the Network: December update

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Note from the Network

December update

Christmas greetings to all across the Mahabba network! May we know, in a deeper way, Immanuel – the one who has ‘moved into the neighbourhood’ – for ourselves and our Muslim friends.

Friendships with Muslims have enriched my life beyond all I could ever have anticipated, and yet there was a time when I didn’t know how to start making connections. Mahabba creates a bridge across the chasm of the unknown, and can equip you to start friendships that will enrich your life and those of your new-found friends.
— Lynn Green, YWAM

At the heart of the Mahabba network vision is the enabling and equipping of all Christians. We certainly need experts and specialists - Mahabba draws on the understanding of those with deep cross cultural experience. But befriending Muslims can’t be the responsibility of just a few. We know it is through the everyday encounters of all Christians that Jesus will be made known to countless Muslim neighbours, colleagues and friends. Every local expression of Mahabba seeks to enable local Christians – help them to see the opportunities, grow in confidence, build bridges of friendship and share Jesus with Muslims. Here are a couple of quotes from the network:

At the beginning of this year we ran a Friendship First course in Watford with 10 people from one church who all had significant involvement with Muslims most weeks during the course, and many of those contacts are continuing. In January, we are going with a second course.
‘How to Share your Faith with your Muslim Neighbour’ is a booklet and half day training. The training, which we have run in London, includes testimony, teaching and insights on how to answer the common questions asked by Muslims. The goal is to initiate friendships in our workplace and neighbourhood and share our faith effectively.

These are just two of the courses and resources available. Find out more and think about planning a course or training with others near you in the new year.

https://www.mahabbanetwork.com/friendship-first

The booklet is downloadable free at https://www.mahabbanetwork.com/bookshelf/share-faith-muslim-neighbour

A means for learning from one another across the network is the on-line forum – Mahabba Discourse. This will be fully operational from 1st Jan and we invite you to sign-up now…

There are many ways equipping is happening and it would be great to hear what you have tried – what training has worked well and not so well. Please add a comment below.


This is part of a series of regular updates from all involved with the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available. Previous updates can be found here.


Your turn

  • Pass this update on to those you know and encourage them to

  • We value your prayers for this and welcome your feedback here.

  • Feel free to leave any comments below or send them via the Contact Us page

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

Winter is coming

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Winter is coming

It’s that time of year when clocks are changed and we recognise ‘winter is coming’.

The Celtic festival of Samhain, marks the end of harvest and the beginning of the darker half of the year, coinciding with Halloween or All Hallows Eve. Samhain was seen as a liminal time, when the boundary between this world and the Otherworld could more easily be crossed. That’s why people dressed in masks to fool the spirits.

And in this darkness, we celebrate with Light and fire. Bonfires and Fireworks. And burning a guy!

For Hindus Diwali, the Festival of light (Nov8th) symbolises the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.

In the words of the sufi mystic, Jelaluddin Rumi,

 There is hope after despair and many suns after darkness.

In the Qur’an, Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth - Al Nur (Surah 24:35) And Hasrat. Isa (Jesus) is also called Light of God Nurullah ((4:174).

And Jesus is known as the ‘Light of the World’…

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5) 

With so much ‘Light’ in common it is so important in these dark days to strive to maintain the bonds of peace. To spread the light and help create interfaith harmony and community cohesion. To overcome hatred with LOVE (mahabba). 

We want to be able to Coexist,  and live together without killing each other!  

The opposite of xenophobia, the hatred of the ‘other’ is Phileo-xenia, love for stranger, the biblical word for hospitality. Practice hospitality. And thus entertain angels unawares… This is the way of Love.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
— Martin Luther King Jr

Or in the words of J.K.Rowling’s Albus Dumbledore:

Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times…. If one only remembers to turn on the light.

You might also like…

Note from the Network: November update

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Note from the Network

November update

The ministry of Mahabba is preparing the ground, the hearts of dear friends from Muslim background - whether long term citizens or recent refugees. It’s happening through the cry of intercession breaking up hard ground and through friendships of trust being formed - building foundations on which the Lord can do a great work.

This recent reflection shared by a UK missions leader is encouraging. We don’t always see the results of our praying, our reaching out in love - but we can be sure God is at work and responding to the prayers of his people. He’s moving in Muslim communities, working in hearts and drawing people to himself. Be encouraged! Our sowing in prayer and in love will reap a harvest.

Last month’s update introduced the restated Mahabba vision:

Loving all Muslims - A relational network giving Muslims the opportunity to find and follow Jesus

  • Encouraging prayer

  • Enabling all Christians

  • Envisioning the Christian community

  • Engaging with Muslims

Mahabba, in the first place, is about encouraging prayer - helping to grow regular persistent prayer for Muslims. This happens primarily through:

  • Helping to start and support local prayer networks.  There are now 60, and growing, local networks of prayer and ministry

  • Sharing ‘fuel’ for prayer.  We can encourage, build faith and give thanks together through sharing across the network our testimonies and reports of God at work. We can stand together to pray for new initiatives, specific needs and current struggles. The new Discourse on-line forum will be a great place for this to happen from the new year. Also look out for the new Jumaa prayer updates coming in the new year

  • Ideas and models for prayer.  A challenge for us all is keeping prayer focused and alive, and we need different ways to do that. Here are a few experiences from one local network: 

We are finding our prayer times more God-centred through building in more worship, intentionally making time to listen for God’s priorities before praying those back to him, and praying scripture - applying God’s word to pray for different situations. We’ve established a pattern for town-wide prayer - fortnightly meetings with people from five or six churches . This we’ve extended to termly prayer gatherings hosted by each of those churches in turn, the most recent taking over a Sunday evening service with around 80 attending. Annually during Ramadan a prayer concert attracts a larger number still. These bigger events have served to draw more to the fortnightly prayer times.

Maybe something there could be helpful for your situation.  May all we do be grounded in fervent prayer.

These updates will reflect more on the 4Es (encourage, enable, envision, engage) in coming months. Do add your thoughts and comments below. It would be great to hear something about prayer for you locally - struggles as well as successes. We want to be real in relating!


This is part of a series of regular updates from all involved with the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available. Previous updates can be found here.


Your turn

  • Pass this update on to those you know and encourage them to

  • We value your prayers for this and welcome your feedback here.

  • Feel free to leave any comments below or send them via the Contact Us page

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

Note from the Network: October update

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Note from the Network

October update

The main take-aways for those attending the recent ‘Engage’ training day in Edinburgh were: to be more bold; more intentional; to just go for it; seize the moment; and be less afraid in stepping out and speaking up. This is so encouraging and so central to what Mahabba is about – ordinary Christians (not that such a person exists!), all Christians, taking every opportunity to ‘sow’ widely and befriend Muslims. 

A few weeks ago we mentioned the Mahabba vision review which has been on-going across the summer. Thank you to many - local coordinators, regional facilitators, trustees and others connected (and not connected) with Mahabba - for valuable input.

We were seeking greater clarity and focus in restating what the network is about. We felt God’s clear confirmation that Mahabba has a unique and strategic place in his purposes and of the distinctives and objectives we should hold and pursue. It’s more than six years since the network was formally launched and we’re grateful for all God is doing - yet sensed his push to go again with renewed expectation.

Loving all Muslims - this ‘strapline’ highlights an overriding value for all we do - in prayer, in reaching out, in discipling precious Muslims… There will be many and varied approaches across the network but it’s always in love and with respect that we engage Muslims and their communities.

A relational network giving Muslims the opportunity to find and follow Jesus - here is a restated vision-mission statement. Mahabba is not an organisation or agency, rather a network where there is sharing, mutual encouragement and support, relationship and resourcing. Our desire is that Muslims have the opportunity to discover Jesus for themselves and decide to follow him.

The vision is worked out through:

  • Encouraging prayer - helping to grow regular persistent prayer for Muslims  

  • Enabling all Christians - helping Christians to see the opportunities, grow in confidence, build friendships and share Jesus with Muslims 

  • Envisioning the Christian community - inspiring Christians with what God is doing and helping church leaders see their vision fulfilled for Muslims following Jesus

  • Engaging with Muslims - building bridges with local Muslim communities, reaching out in love, sharing Jesus and making disciples who reach their own community

We’ll expand on each of these four Es in the coming months with stories of how they are being worked out across the network, seeking to encourage greater sharing and learning from one another.    

Please feel free to add below more of your thoughts and reflections.

Look out for news of the new Mahabba online forum coming soon. Replacing The City, it will enable secure discussion, sharing of ideas and questions, news of resources, courses and events…


This is part of a series of regular updates from all involved with the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available. Previous updates can be found here.


Your turn

  • Pass this update on to those you know and encourage them to

  • We value your prayers for this and welcome your feedback here.

  • Feel free to leave any comments below or send them via the Contact Us page

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

Borrow a pastor

Borrow a pastor - a blog from Mahabba Network; helping Christians engage positively with Muslims

Borrow a pastor

This is a blog from a friend of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

 

Can we borrow another pastor?

“What will we do now that the pastor has moved on?”

…they asked.

This was not a worried congregation but rather some church members who had boarded the roller coaster of befriending Iranian asylum seekers.

The pastor had pitched in by leading a private Bible study for them, but he was moving away.

“Can we borrow another pastor?”

…was one question that was asked.

We found another solution.

With a little coaching, the ladies started using Come Follow Me.

The participants work through the lesson on their own in English, Farsi or Arabic and then once a week they all come together to discuss, share and pray for each other.

The material does not take them off into theological puzzles or doctrinal disputes but focusses on living as followers of Christ.

If we go back to the Great Commission we find that Jesus himself put the emphasis on teaching people to obey all that he had commanded – most of which was the stuff of living.

So they started.

A retired office worker and a lady who irons clothes for a living were engaged in cross cultural discipleship.

We are all familiar with the cry that the labourers are few (Matthew 9:36-38).

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
— Matthew 9:36-38 New International Version (NIV)

Oh, how we would love to see an army of multi-lingual, highly trained, specialist workers of proven experience turning up on our doorsteps asking what we have for them to do.

The people Jesus called that day to pray for labourers became the labourers.

The truth is that for the most part we do not need more bodies, but we need the bodies we already have to be equipped and to discover that they can do the work.

Come Follow Me is a wonderful piece of kit which enables non-experts to engage with confidence in helping new believers grow in Christ.

The next training day is in Wakefield, Yorkshire, 27 October. Maybe request one near you?

Upcoming events

Come Follow Me training day

Saturday 27 October
Wakefield
For full details, contact Flora

Regional gathering

Monday 1 December

For full details, contact Gillie

 
 

Joining the dots

Joining the dots - a blog from Mahabba Network

Joining the dots

This is a blog from a friend of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

 

Reflecting on the dots

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte

In the 1880s French artist Georges Seurat introduced an art form known as pointillism. As the name suggests, Seurat used small dots, or points, of colour to create an artistic image.

Up close, his work looks like groupings of individual dots. Yet as the observer steps back, the human eye blends the dots into brightly coloured portraits or landscapes.

We can think of September as a month when we start filling the picture of our year with dots. Each day fills with greys, reds, ambers and greens, that may fill us with trepidation or excitement, and leave us feeling anywhere between exhausted or invigorated at the end of the day.

It’s only when we step back and reflect that we start to see patterns and shapes.

The picture that emerges may square up to the one we had in mind at the start. But more often, it has unexpected shades of light and dark that present us with a different image to the one we planned.

In the same way, the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13) were reflecting on the ‘dots’ of events that had happened over the Passover weekend in Jerusalem.

They saw only dark and sombre tones of violence and death. The picture of Jesus, as they left Jerusalem, did not square up to the picture they had planned for Jesus, the prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and the people (v. 19).

Then Jesus joins up the dots for them, bringing the light and shade of Moses and the prophets, and all the things the scriptures had been saying about the Messiah (v. 27).

As Jesus breaks the bread at home in Emmaus, they are given a moment to stand back and see the full, beautiful picture.

In the same way, our ministries may push us right up against the canvas with busy schedules, scarce resources and a lack of workers for the harvest.

We might have only our own dot and a couple surrounding in sight (and their colours might even be on the opposite side of the colour spectrum to ours). But are we perhaps forming a beautiful image together?

On 13 October, Birmingham wants to have such a day of standing back and joining the dots of those working to engage with Muslims in our city.

 

Note from the Network: Lift up your eyes

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Note from the Network: 

This is part of a series of regular updates from the leadership team within the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available. Previous updates can be found here.

 

Lift up your eyes

A Mahabba update from the leadership team – August 2018

A Mahabba update for everyone involved with Mahabba. 

1. Introduction

‘Lift up your eyes’, was the title and theme of Mahabba regional gatherings this year – to be inspired by what we’re seeing God doing among Muslims and encouraged and equipped in hearing from Mahabba groups in the regions.

These were great events with very positive feedback from attendees and we would love to see more gatherings of this kind.

Total numbers were well up on attendance at the national gathering in 2017 and learning from one another in ways like this is so much part of why the network exists.

Here are some reports and quotes.


2. South and West event in Gloucester with Georgina and Phil S

Despite a few practical hitches the day worked well in drawing together new and existing friends and other networks.

There was a great buzz of conversation going on throughout.

A highlight and standout impression was of people getting to know about things happening closer to home and hearing from people who are not specialists or ‘professionals'.

This is what Mahabba is about.

Stories of what people are doing as part of their everyday lives are encouraging and need to be heard.

So often Christians have contact with Muslims but don’t do anything with them because they are lacking confidence or don’t know where to start.

Days like this can be so helpful to take inspiration from others in taking steps towards Muslims.

Some commented that they wish they'd invited others – there’s always next time!


3. London event with Chas

More than 60 attended, mostly from London but also from a bit further afield.

We heard encouraging stories from eight different London Mahabba prayer groups.

Some are still small and struggling with lack of interest from churches.

Yet they also told amazing stories of running successful 'Meetings for Understanding', of church leaders getting involved, evangelistic events being hosted and engagement with Muslims in their communities and local Mosques.

We shared on the different resources available to help the groups engage in reaching out, sharing good news and making disciples (such as Friendship First, Come Follow Me, Joining the Family, Al Massira, Discovery Bible Studies…).

A successful day.


4. North event in Oldham with Ted

About 60 people came from across the North, from Liverpool in the west and Hull in the East.

Steve, John, Deborah and Phil R were among the contributors and the event was greatly enhanced by the presence of the Resonance Band leading multilingual worship.

As always, for many participants it was hearing from other Mahabba groups that was the main encouragement.

So three quite different events but with the same outcomes – people inspired, encouraged and equipped for renewed commitment to prayer and reaching out locally.

We would love to hear from you how something from the event you attended spoke to your situation – please see below to submit feedback.

There are more gatherings to follow; first for Birmingham and the Midlands on 13th October - ‘Joining the Dots’, connecting and equipping the church to reach out to Muslims.

See below to find out more.


5. Vision Update

We are making really good progress with the Mahabba vision process.

We’ll come back with more next month and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts.


Thank you so much for your prayers and have a good summer.

Bryan Knell on behalf of Mahabba Board and Executive Team

 

Your turn

  • Pass this update on to those you know and encourage them to

  • We value your prayers for this and welcome your feedback here.

  • Feel free to leave any comments below or send them via the Contact Us page

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

Note from the Network: clarity and focus

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Note from the Network: clarity and focus

This is the first of a series of regular updates from the leadership team within the Mahabba Network. They will be published here on the blog, but the best way to stay up to date is to sign up for our newsletter; you will receive a prompt when the latest one is available.

 

Clarity and focus

A Mahabba update from the leadership team – July 2018

Welcome to the first of a new series of Mahabba Updates for everyone involved with Mahabba. 

1. Vision day

The trustees called a Vision Day with the aim of bringing clarity and focus to Mahabba’s vision, structure and operation. Understandably, this ‘day’ has developed into a process, which involved a very significant and well-led discussion on 12th June, but which is still ongoing.

All involved believe that the Mahabba initiative, emphasising a relational engagement with Muslims, is crucially important for our country at this time, for the UK church, for the long-standing Muslim community here and for Muslims arriving as refugees.   

We now have a better understanding of what we are about and over the summer we aim to identify the right words to express that clearly in both a comprehensive and memorable statements.  This is crucial to achieving clarity and focus and we ask for your prayers.


2. Leadership

Since Gordon Hickson focused on the growth of Mahabba International, Mahabba UK has sought to function with leadership teams, but there have been misunderstandings and different expectations. We have decided to strengthen leadership in these ways:

  1. The Board will start the process of exploring leadership options and looking for the personnel needed to give long-term leadership

  2. The Executive Team (made up of the Board chair and treasurer, two facilitators and the Hub Manager) will provide day to day decisions about the organisation and provide leadership for Mahabba UK. Bryan Knell will lead the Executive Team, as a way of providing leadership in the short-term. (The Board recognises that it is not good practice for the chair of the trustees to lead the Executive Team in the long-term.)

  3. The Network Team of facilitators will engage with Mahabba’s network of groups in the UK and continue to connect with local coordinators in cities. This team will be led by Phil G


3. Finance

Mahabba is rapidly running out of money. Despite numerous applications, we have not had any significant grant income for several months. The trustees decided that recent experience suggests we cannot rely on, assume or plan for any grant income but need to reduce our expenditure to match the £1,000 that comes in regularly from individual donors.

The trustees have decided that from the end of June:

  • Facilitators will function on a self-supporting basis, although expenses will be claimable

  • The Hub Manager, Simon, will be reduced to one day a week

  • We cannot at this stage afford to hire a fundraiser

These decisions are inevitable if the trustees are to act responsibly, but it will bring financial difficulty and uncertainty to several people and some may feel they have to look for paid employment elsewhere.


Thanks for your interest and support. God is doing amazing things and it is a great time to be alive.

Pass it on to those you know and encourage them to join the distribution list here.

We value your prayers for this and welcome your input to bryanjknell@gmail.com.

Bryan Knell on behalf of Mahabba Board and Executive Team

 

Your turn

  • Please do leave any comments below, or send them privately to Bryan via his address above

  • Subscribe to the maillist so that you get further news as soon as it is published

A place of peas

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A place of peas

This is a real-life story of recent events from friends of Mahabba Network. Names and details have been deliberately removed to protect the identity of those involved, but praise God - he is working in the lives of Muslims to reveal Jesus!

 

Vandalism to Vegetables

About 5 years ago one of our regulars got involved in a sort of city farm project.

It is in an area of stark terraces almost entirely occupied by Bangladeshis.

The project was secular but with several white Christians heavily involved.

When we met to pray, we heard tales of plastic tunnels being vandalised and project personnel being threatened.

All we could do was pray.

The other evening, I  went to the site for a prayer meeting.

The gate was open. There were no high fences, no barbed wire, no security measures of any kind.

Some Asian teenagers sitting on the benches greeted us politely.

The project is highly valued by the community. Members of many families use the project. They grow vegetables. Children come to learn about nature.

It is a place of peace and harmony. God has answered prayer.

 

Your turn

Have you been touched by this story? If so, you can play your part.

  • Share the amazing news of God moving among Muslim with your friends via e-mail or social media, using the links below

  • Support Mahabba in its work to equip everyday Christians to build relationships and share Jesus with Muslims

It's a wrap - Ramadan 2018!

We've just finished our fifth annual Lovefast campaign, which complements the 30 Days of Prayer booklet.

Lovefast is designed to help Christians not only pray but engage with Muslims practically during the month of Ramandan.

We've had some great feedback, which we wanted to share.

Here are some of the comments:

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From Louise on Day 29

I have really appreciated these daily additions to the 30 Days booklet. It has been great to have a UK twist and to have specific action steps to consider too.

 
Thank you so much for these days of Lovefast which have been so inspiring and refreshing daily. It has been a joy to pray along daily for our dear Muslim friends and we must continue to pray for and reach out to them in the days ahead. Thank you and God bless the ministry of Mahabba.
— Margaret on Day 29
 
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From Anne on Day 26

Shared iftar with a Syrian family yesterday. Said to them we have eaten together and played together but not prayed together. So we discussed that we could pray more than four times a day.

 
Thank you so much for the information and encouragements. I have been reaching out to refugees since 2015 in Germany. I have learned a lot and pray my new friends will get to know Jesus Christ as they would not have this chance in their home country. Now I will try to find out the name of our local mosque leader. Thank you and God bless you and protect you!
— Martina on Day 16
 

If you've been involved with Lovefast this year or been touched by what you have heard, please consider giving to the ministry of Mahahha. We need your help to continue and develop as we connect with and equip Christians to engage with Muslims.

Lovefast 30: Peace

Lovefast prayer and action campaign from the Mahabba Network

Day 30 of 30

By Phil S from Mahabba's Network Team

Inspired by today's entry in 30 Days of Prayer, but with a UK twist!


Feedback and suggestions on the content and layout of Lovefast - see our Trello board →


Daily verse

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
— Romans 12:18 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Thought for the day

Peace

We have been looking at symbols all through these 30 days of prayer during Ramadan.

When visiting the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem a saw a tile of a church, a synagogue and a mosque next to each other.

It became a symbol of hope for me.

I also came across the word ‘coexist’, replacing the C, X and T with a crescent, a star of David and a cross.

At the time I had a deep concern about how the Abrahamic faiths could stop attacking and killing each other.

So many wars seemed to have religious dimensions to them.  

One way to ‘coexist’ is to create mutual understanding by reading and reflecting on our sacred texts together.

This has taken many forms:

  • Scriptural reasoning

  • Meetings for better understanding

  • Prophet Stories

  • Holy book clubs

Various ways of reading our Scriptures together and building relationship through the stories of the Bible and Qur’an.


Prayer for the day

Prayer of St Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.

Daily action

Get hold of a copy of the new Grove booklet on storying Christian and Muslim faith together. Check out if there are any groups mentioned above near you.

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Your turn

Let us know how it went! Leave a comment below, or tag us on social media with the #lovefast hashtag on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter!


Partners of 30 Days of Prayer

Lovefast 29: Bread

Lovefast prayer and action campaign from the Mahabba Network

Day 29 of 30

By Ted from Mahabba's Network Team

Inspired by today's entry in 30 Days of Prayer, but with a UK twist!


Feedback and suggestions on the content and layout of Lovefast - see our Trello board →


Daily verse

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
— John 6:35 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Thought for the day

Bread

There is an Egyptian proverb that says, “He who has the bread has the whole of happiness.”

The story today in the prayer guide illustrates the importance of bread in Middle Eastern culture.

The Arabic for bread aish literally means life.

Of course the image of bread is also important to us as Jesus followers.

He told us to pray for our daily bread and spoke of himself as being the bread of life.

At the last supper he used bread as the ultimate symbol when he spoke of his body, broken and shared, given for the life of the world.

As Muslim friends and neighbours are going without food (bread) and spending more time in praying and reflecting on God, how might we offer spiritual bread?

What words of life could we share that will speak to those who are spiritually hungry?


Prayer for the day

Thank you Lord for your love, mercy and compassion; that your heart is to see many Muslims come into your kingdom. We pray that many will hunger for the one who gives life, and find you, the Bread of Life, who truly satisfies.


Daily action

Choose a story about Jesus meeting a need (from the Gospels or a personal testimony) and plan how you would tell it to a Muslim friend. Pray for the opportunity, and be ready, to tell it.  


Your turn

Let us know how it went! Leave a comment below, or tag us on social media with the #lovefast hashtag on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter!


Partners of 30 Days of Prayer

Lovefast 28: Curry

Lovefast prayer and action campaign from the Mahabba Network

Day 28 of 30

By Ted from Mahabba's Network Team

Inspired by today's entry in 30 Days of Prayer, but with a UK twist!

Click to open

Click to open


Feedback and suggestions on the content and layout of Lovefast - see our Trello board →


Daily verse

Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
— Colossians 4:5-6 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Thought for the day

Curry

I once came across a tract entitled “Religion is not enough”.

I discovered that it was written by a young British-born man of Bangladeshi heritage.

Today the 30Days booklet focuses on his people, the Sylhetis.

What the text does not say is that the vast majority of Bangladeshis living in the UK are Sylhetis.

They run many of our curry houses. You may have met some.

So far very few have come to Christ in the UK despite the efforts of some workers in a few locations.

The tract told how he came to Christ.

I later got to meet him and heard more about how he grew up in on a street where English was rarely heard.

He almost no contact with Christians, but someone had made the effort to connect with his community.

With greater use of English, the opportunities to share God’s love are increasing.


Prayer for the day

Lord, raise up witnesses from among the Sylheti in the UK.  Visit a curry house and befriend the waiters. And enjoy the food as well… 😛


Daily action

A Sylheti Scripture App is now available for free download on Google Play! Please promote and distribute among your Sylheti contacts as widely as possible.

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Your turn

Let us know how it went! Leave a comment below, or tag us on social media with the #lovefast hashtag on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter!


Partners of 30 Days of Prayer

Lovefast 27: Night

Lovefast prayer and action campaign from the Mahabba Network

Day 27 of 30

By Chas from Mahabba's Network Team

Inspired by today's entry in 30 Days of Prayer, but with a UK twist!

Click to open

Click to open


Feedback and suggestions on the content and layout of Lovefast - see our Trello board →


Daily verse

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
— Jeremiah 29:13 New International Version - UK (NIVUK)

Thought for the day

Night

I once visited a mosque towards the end of Ramadan.

Inside the mosque were individual sleeping compartments separated out by white cloths, like the inner lining of a tent.

Some Muslims would spend all ten nights here, without any contact with the outside world by mobile phone or any other way.

They come here simply to pray and read the Quran. Such devotion!

During one of the night’s of the last ten days of Ramadan Muslims believe that the blessings and mercy of God are abundant, sins are forgiven, visions and dreams are given and supplications are accepted.

This night is called ‘Laylat al-Qadr’ variously known in English as the Night of Power, Night of Decree, Night of Value, Night of Destiny, or Night of Measures.

While not all will be resident in the mosque at this time, many will attend extra prayers and Quranic readings and hope for blessing.


Prayer for the day

As Muslims seek blessing from God during the last ten nights of Ramadan, let’s pray they would have encounters with the true and living God.


Daily action

Why not take some of this evening to pray for Muslims to have encounters with the living God.  You might like to use this Night of Power prayer resource.


Your turn

Let us know how it went! Leave a comment below, or tag us on social media with the #lovefast hashtag on social media. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter!


Partners of 30 Days of Prayer