Are the Qur’an and Scripture ‘Near-Perfect Matches’?

In his response to the “Voices of Faith” question, “What’s the best religious book you’ve read other than your faiths”, found in the Saturday, July 23, 2011, edition of the Kansas City Star, Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., stated that while comparing the accounts of Joseph (son of Jacob) and the Virgin Mary, “I was struck with the near-perfect match between the stories.” Further he stated that, “Overall, I found that both books carry the same messages of compassion, peace and justice toward humanity, along with beliefs in accountability, Day of Judgment and life in the hereafter.” With this explanation it would seem that the two books are almost identical thus bringing to question why the Christians and Muslims have a dispute after all. But are the Qur’an and the Bible really ‘near-perfect matches’?

At the beginning of his answer, Hasan states that “I have studied the Bible” in order to establish credibility with his intended audience but as I studied the accounts he referenced in his article in both the Qur’an and the Bible, I really began to question the legitimacy of his claim to have studied Scripture. A simple reading of the accounts in both books quickly shows that neither account is anywhere near a ‘near-perfect match’. Indeed the accounts differ quite dramatically.

In the following response to his answer, I will only analyze the account of the Virgin Mary in the interest of the length of this post. If I were to respond to both here and now, this article would be longer than is proper for a blog post. In coming days I will post a response to the Joseph account.

The Account of the Virgin Mary

The account of the Virgin Mary can be found in Luke 1 in the Bible and in chapter 19 and 3.33-51 in the Qur’an. For his demonstration of the similarity between the Qur’an and the Bible, Syed Hasan relies on the general knowledge of his audience of the Biblical Account of the Virgin Mary (that she was a virgin) and quotes Mary from the Qur’an saying: “Mary asked: How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste? The angel replied: So it will be. Thy Lord says this is easy for Me. So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.” Undoubtedly the general knowledge of the Biblical account in the minds of the reader will be evoked by this quotation and the readings will seem to be similar. Hence the reader will walk away from Syed Hasan’s answer and conclude that the accounts really are similar.

However, Syed Hasan has not been honest with his audience and has failed to show just how strikingly different the two accounts are. It is beneficial for a quotation of the two accounts be produced here in order that you may be able to discern their differences at face value, followed by an explanation of the more intricate details.

The Qur’an, Chapter 19.16-35:

Mention in the Scripture the story of Mary. She withdrew from her family to a place east and secluded herself away; We sent Out Spirit to appear before her in the form of a normal human. She said, ‘I seek the Lord of Mercy’s protection against you: if you have any fear of Him [do not approach]!’ but he said, ‘I am but a Messenger from your Lord, [come] to announce to you the gift of a pure son.’ She said, ‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me? I have not been unchaste,’ and he said, ‘This is what your Lord said: “It is easy for Me – We shall make him a sign to all people, a blessing from Us.”‘ And so it was ordained: she conceived him. She withdrew to a distant place and, when the pains of childbirth drover her to [cling to] the trunk of a palm tree, she exclaimed, ‘I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this!’ but a voice cried to her from below, ‘Do not worry: your Lord has provided a stream at your feet and, if you shake the trunk of the pal tree towards you, it will deliver fresh ripe dates for you, so eat, drink, be glad, and say to anyone you may see: “I have vowed to the Lord of Mercy to abstain from conversation, and I will not talk to anyone today.”‘ She went back to her people carrying the child, and they said, ‘Mary! You have done something terrible! Sister of Aaron! Your father was not a bad man; your mother was not unchaste!’ She pointed at him. They said, ‘How can we converse with an infant?’ [But] he said: ‘I am a servant of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet; made me blessed wherever I may be. He commanded me to pray, to give alms as long as I live, to cherish my mother. He did not make me domineering or graceless. Peace was on me the day I was born, and will be on me the day I die and the day I am raised to life again.’ Such was Jesus, son of Mary. [This is] a statement of Truth about which they are in doubt: it would not befit God to have a child. He is far about that: when He decrees something, He says only, ‘Be,’ and it is.

The Bible, Luke 1:26-38: (For the birth account of Christ and Circumcision/Presentation, read Luke 2)

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and giver birth to a son, and you will call His name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His Father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?” The angel replied to her: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth – even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” The the angel left her.

Do those accounts seem ‘near-perfect’? In fact, they differ quite a bit.

Particular Differences

At this point I wish to highlight three significant differences in the two narratives. Once this has been accomplished I will evaluate the Christological impact of the differences.

  • Absence of Joseph in the Qur’an account
You may notice that there is no mention of Joseph in the account of the Qur’an. This difference may seem rather minor but it is through the lineage of Joseph that Christ has his right to rule on the throne of David (Matthew 1:1-17).  Without the line of Joseph, Christ is disconnected from the Davidic line and right to the throne, thus for the Muslim the account of the Qur’an aids in portraying Christ as nothing more than a prophet appointed by Allah.

This is a significant difference because in the account of Luke 1, one of the expressed purposes of Christ’s incarnation is that “the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David,” and that “His kingdom will have no end.” By leaving this out of the Qur’an, the Mohammedan has seemingly contradicted the very predictions of a future Messiah found in the Torah, which they claim to hold to.

  • Portrayal of Mary

Further, you may notice a significant difference between the portrayals of Mary. First, in the Qur’an Mary is chosen by Allah and made pure, whereas in the Bible Mary is chosen by God because she has found favor with the Lord (granted, not out of her human righteousness) and is called as such. Second, Mary’s reaction to the news of being chosen is drastically different in the two accounts. In the Bible, Mary breaks out into a hymn of praise (Luke 1:46-55) saying, “because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy.” However, in the account of the Qur’an, Mary clings to a tree ‘when the pains of childbirth drove her’ and says, “I wish I had been dead and forgotten long before all this.”

Finally, the largest difference in the two accounts is the beginning of Christ’s existence. In the Bible, Mary is told that, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) However, in the Qur’an, Mary is told, “It is easy for me – We shall make him a sign to all people, a blessing from us,” (Qur’an 19.21) and “This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says, ‘Be,’ and it is. He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel.” (Qur’an 3.47-48)

The words of Allah in 3.47-48 heavily imply that Christ would be ‘created’ not necessarily born of the virgin. Further, it is highlighted that it was by no means a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit within Mary infusing her womb with the Incarnate Christ. There is not only the messenger’s words to Mary but later in the Qur’an, 3.59 to be specific, this is what is said: “In God’s eyes Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was.” With this view of Christ, Ergun Mehmet Caner states this, “Since the work of the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary is rejected, the virgin conception of this dust-made child was by divine spoken fiat.”

  • Narrative Focus

The final particular difference I wish to highlight at this time concerns the Narrative focus of each account. Obviously, the highlight of the Biblical account is that of the Incarnation of Christ for the deliverance of His people and His rule on the throne of David. However, the main focus of the Qur’an account is that of Allah’s decrees and the beginning of Christ for the purpose of being a messenger (prophet) to Allah’s people. Accordingly, Jesus is merely a human prophet and not the Son of God to the Muslim. This comparison ultimately boils down to the Deity of Jesus Christ.

Christological Impact

Perhaps the most interesting aspect to the Qur’an account of Christ is found in 19.30-33 where Christ speaks to a group of people as an infant. In the account, Christ as an infant, denies his Deity and states that he is merely a prophet. How interesting that the first words out of Christ’s mouth are a direct repudiation of the Christian doctrine of His deity. I sense an underlying motive in this account. Further, as it has been stated earlier in this article, Christ is attested to being like Adam in that he was created from dust in the Qur’an.

This is by far the most critical area of difference to understand between the Mohammedan and the Christian. When they are conversing, it is vital to know the difference in their view of Christ because when they use the term Christ, they are speaking of a different idea entirely. To the Mohammedan, the term Christ is not really a stumbling block as one might suspect because in their defining of the term, ‘Christ’ is taken as ‘Anointed One’ rather than a specific title for Jesus. With this in mind, it is not surprising that the Mohammedan might agree to calling Jesus ‘Christ’. It is the definition of the term that makes the world of difference.

With the Mohammedan view then, Jesus Christ is not the Savior and if he is not the Savior, then the Law has not been fulfilled and if the Law has not been fulfilled, God still expects an appeasement of His wrath incurred by sin. To the Mohammedan, their expectancy of the afterlife is based upon their living up to God’s expected standard and hoping that your good works outweigh your evil deeds when judgment comes. Therefore, when you enter into eternity, your good works must in someway appease God’s wrath for sin.

“For no flesh will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from the Law, God’s righteousness has been revealed – attested by the Law and the Prophets – that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe, since there is no distinction. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. He presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus. Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith. For we conclude that a man is justified apart from works of law.” (Romans 3:21-28)

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Qur’an and the Bible really are not as similar as Syed Hasan would have you believe. It is only when the definitions are changed and the major differences ignored that one can say that they are similar. This also comes into play when you evaluate Syed Hasan’s comment that “both books carry the same messages”. However, the fact that they use the same words does not mean that they are teaching the same thing.  Our beliefs about Christ being the major example.

The unfortunate fact about Syed Hasan’s answer is that most of his audience will take him at face value and do little to no homework on their own, thus buying into the egregious belief that the Qur’an and the Bible really aren’t that different while failing to see the Grace of God in Jesus Christ for the redemption of sin revealed in Scripture and the damnation of man secured by Satan in the Qur’an.

Summer Reading

Every summer I try to read a couple of books that are not directly related to school. However, since I am not a college graduate, I am not necessarily tied to that guideline; at least before I start seminary. Last summer I started reading Eric Metaxas biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and only in the past few weeks did I finish it. (500 pages in conjunction with school reading tends to slow you down) Further, a group of us read portions of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion and would meet occasionally to discuss it. Unfortunately the group did not decide what to read this summer, so I am on my own.

The categories I usually try to read from are Biography, Classic, History, and Theology. Perhaps the list below will spur you on to some summer reading as well. Happy Reading! Here are this summers selections:

1) Dual Citizens: Worship and Life between the Already and Not Yet by Jason Stellman (Theology)

Synopsis: “Stellman wrestles with the implications of the Christian’s dual citizenship in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man, showing that the great challenge for believers today is maintaining their distinctiveness as redeemed people. Believers are free to participate in culture (though the Bible guides the way they participate), but they must not so immerse themselves in it that they obscure their true identities.”

2) The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation by Michael Reeves (History)

Synopsis: “The Unquenchable Flame, a remarkably accessible introduction to the historic era, brings to life the movement’s most colorful characters – Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, the Puritans – and examines their ideas, showing the profound and personal relevance of Reformation thinking for Christians today.”

3) The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Classic Literature)

Synopsis: “The still, radiant center of an ambitious and remarkable novel, Prince Myshkin – the idiot – stands above and apart from characters who vividly and violently embody the passions and conflicts of nineteenth-century Russia. An almost comically innocent Christ figure, Myshkin is a ‘wholly beautiful man’ in a land of sinners, a man whose faith in the power of beauty contrasts sharply with the materialistic mores of his society.”

4) Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand (Biography)

Synopsis: “Months of solitary confinement, years of periodic physical torture, constant suffering from hunger and cold, the anguish of brain-washing and mental cruelty – these are the experiences of a Romanian pastor during his fourteen years in Communist prisons. His crime, like that of thousands of others, was his fervent belief in Jesus Christ and his public witness concerning that faith. Meeting in Homes, in basements, and in woods – sometimes daring to preach in public on street corners – these faithful souls persisted in their Christian witness knowing full well the ultimate cost of their actions. This is their story – a classic account of courage, tenacious faith and unbelievable endurance. This history of the Underground Church reflects the continuing struggle in many parts of the world today.”

Thy Resurrection My Peace

O GOD OF MY EXODUS,
Great was the joy of Israel’s sons
when Egypt died upon the shore,
Far greater the joy
when the Redeemer’s foe lay crushed in the dust.
Jesus strides forth as the victor,
conqueror of death, hell, and all opposing might;
He bursts the bands of death,
tramples the powers of darkness down,
and lives for ever.
He, my gracious surety,
apprehended for payment of my debt,
comes forth from the prison-house of the grave
free, and triumphant over sin, Satan, and death.
Show me herein the proof that his vicarious offering is accepted,
that the claims of justice are satisfied,
that the devil’s sceptre is shivered,
that his wrongful throne is levelled.
Give me the assurance that in Christ I died, in Him I rose,
in His life I live, in His victory I triumph,
in His ascension I shall be glorified.
Adorable Redeemer,
Thou who wast lifted up upon a cross
art ascended to highest heaven.
Thou, who as man of sorrows wast crowned with thorns,
art now as Lord of life wreathed with glory.
Once, no shame more deep than Thine,
no agony more bitter, no death more cruel.
Now, no exaltation more high,
no life more glorious, no advocate more effective.
Thou art in the triumph car leading captive Thine enemies behind Thee.
What more could be done than Thou hast done!
Thy death is my life, Thy resurrection my peace,
Thy ascension my hope, Thy prayers my comfort.

Aid Turned Hindrance?

Faith in some experience devoid of theological or biblical content–no matter how powerful–is not New Testament Christianity.  Those called to Christianity in general may believe nothing in particular. But faith resides in particulars. Some churches seem to think that doctrine is a concern for those of a certain intellectual bent, but unnecessary for most Christians.  Interest in doctrine amounts to something like an intellectual hobby.  Others steer clear of doctrine for fear of argument or division in the church.  Both factors indicate a lack of respect for the Christian believer and an abdication of the teaching function of the church.

– Albert Mohler –

I was recently sitting in a coffee shop when I picked up on a conversation between two women, presumably Christian due to the nature of their conversation. As the conversation progressed the topic moved towards Christian movies and how certain movies influenced them individually. I was astounded as they stated how certain concepts from the movies had shaped some of the ways they understood Scripture and how the movies had impacted their beliefs. What?

To be sure, media has enhanced ministry in the last twenty years. Never before has the church had the ability to spread the Gospel in such a rapid and effective manner as it enjoys today. Media has become an indispensable aid to the church; even to the point that mission agencies have sought ways in which to provide the same media material to missionaries and churches around the world. (i.e. Jesus: He Lived Among Us and The JESUS Film Project) What great tools have been afforded the church in our day!

However, have these aids become hindrances?

I have noticed a disturbing tendency in the church of America as of late in which Christians rely on slogans picked up from books and videos to form their theology rather than dedicating themselves to the earnest study of Scripture. As stated above by Albert Mohler, President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, many churches believe that the work of developing and studying theology is for certain intellectuals, such as the professor and pastor, but certainly not for the average Christian. This view of theology is detrimental because it falsely asserts that theology is a secondary aspect to the Christians walk and thereby believes that theology is not necessary for the ‘normal Christian walk’. What is missed in this assumption is that the Christian life cannot be lived without some form of theology driving it. Therefore when the theology behind their walk is not based on Scripture, other things will take its place. This proves detrimental because what comprises their theology is a melting pot of random existential experiences and insight from a myriad of authors who may or may not agree with one another.

This is where media comes into the argument. Media has vastly changed how Americans process information. Due to the sheer volume of media that people are exposed to in a given day, much of their thought processes are formed by tidbits of information rather than a complete, well thought-out argument. Anymore, communication is merely about what is said, rather than what is said and how it is said. As a result, we substitute how something is said with how it is interpreted by the hearer which leads to a plethora of various understandings. Finally, this reliance on tidbits of information in order to form our thoughts has resulted in lazy research. Many people no longer study for themselves. They leave the task of understanding and articulating complete arguments to the academic.

In the church, the problem is the same. The average Christian has no interest in theology or deep study of Scripture. Many arrive to church merely wanting the ‘take-away’ value and want little to do with the details of Scripture. As a result, churches use media as succinct ways to give the congregation brief theological insights and to spur deeper individual study. While this seemed like a good tactic since those in the congregation were accustomed to media, is appears that it has created a further problem. Many Christians rely on the short media presentations to form their theological beliefs.

Unfortunately, many within the industry that create these resources are not orthodox believers. Take for example The Passion of the Christ, which was a blockbuster for Christians and has been treasured by Christians around the world. What is totally overlooked by Christians is the fact that the film is infused with Roman Catholic Tradition, and many Christians now believe that some of the aspects of the film (i.e. Satan bearing a child, God shedding a tear, Judas being harassed by Demons, and Claudia providing linens to Mary the mother of Jesus to clean the blood from the scourging) are found in Scripture.

Christians have become incredibly lazy in their understanding of Scripture. We have settled for the path of least resistance and accepted all too easily what we find in ‘Christian’ Media. Many Christians have settled for the little pieces of information they receive, labeled biblical despite how unbiblical it may very well be, not realizing how detrimental and contradictory their ‘theological’ system has become. For this adoption, they pay a dear price in not understanding the Gospel they claim to believe as well as not being able to articulate that Gospel to those who ask. What tragedy has gripped the church and robbed it of precious understanding of its God and Gospel.

I pray that Christians will realize how they have crippled themselves and will seek to intimately know and understand God. Second, I pray that churches will begin to teach their congregations theology, not from a video or curriculum, but from Scripture alone. Third, I pray that Christians will learn the Gospel in order that they can provide an answer for the hope that lies within them. Finally, I pray that Christians will begin to carry out discernment when deciding what media to absorb because the mere title ‘Christian’ defines so little anymore.

So what about you? Do you turn to Scripture when trying to understand theology, or have you relied upon what Hollywood and publishing houses have produced? Can you articulate the Gospel you claim to cling to? Has your Christian walk become a melting pot of conflicting ideas and opinions not derived from Scripture?

What will you do to change?

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of God’s revelation. You need milk, not solid food. Now everyone who lives on milk is inexperienced with the message about righteousness, because he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature – for those whose sense have been trained to distinguish between good and evil. Therefore, leaving the elementary message about the Messiah, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

– Hebrews 5:12-6:2 –

Central Asia Missions Update

Not too long ago I posted about my calling to Central Asian missions. Since then I have been in talks with several missions agencies to see which way the Lord directs. With this has also come much research about a particular nation I am looking at. Due to the nature of the political and religious climate in Central Asia, prudence dictates that I remain silent as to the specific nation I am looking at.

All five countries that comprise Central Asia are ‘closed’. This means that in order to enter the country, you cannot come as a ‘missionary’, rather you must come through some other means. For most this means entering as a business man or women, or as a teacher such as TESOL.  As I was doing my research I discovered that there is a great need for teachers, not only of English, but also basic academics. This is rather exciting news, but it would require a bit more work in graduate school to accomplish qualifying for that form of entry.

Things to Pray for:

  • Continuing discussions with Mission Agencies
    • There is an agency that would like to see me at their April meeting. I would love to go, but I do not know if funds will allow such a trip.
  • Continued guidance in preparation for the field via graduate school at Southern Baptist Theological
  • The ability to remain debt free in graduate school in order that I can go straight to the field and not be hindered by debt
  • Confirmation that the way I found to gain access to the country is indeed the will of the Lord
  • Determining if I should train in TESOL or pursue a different Academic field to teach

Announcement: Upcoming Series

“It seems that there are few other pursuits that require such a little working knowledge than that of Christianity.”

~ Paul Watson ~

I was recently commissioned to develop a 4 week ‘basic theology’ course for a local church to teach this spring. This was a prospect I was greatly looking forward to and dove right into developing the course. As I submitted my first draft of the first lesson, there developed an interesting predicament. My supervisor brought to my attention that he thought there were too many theological terms and that the course was more appropriate for a college setting. He suggested that I remove the terms and put it in ‘simpler’ ways. I did not agree with the suggestion and made the case that in any other field, whether it be a hobby, trade, or career, one must know the language of that particular interest, therefore, why is Christianity regarded differently? Due to my unwillingness to remove the terms, but instead teach them the terms, the project was removed from my responsibilities and handed to someone else.

The problem that is brought to light by this is 21st century American church and its utter lack of theological knowledge and foundation compounded by an equal lack of willingness to learn. As a result, the moorings of faith are not centered on biblical truth, but on personal fancies and experiences. It is therefore no wonder that Christianity finds itself full of such slipshod believers who know little to nothing of the faith they claim, who cannot defend doctrine, much less articulate doctrine and have fallen victim to the post-modern understanding of the age in that there are many ‘truths’ and whatever one believes is good for them, but not necessarily for others. The careless and uneducated plight of the church has opened the door for false teachers, heretics, and showmen instead of true men of God, grounded in the word and moved by the Holy Spirit.

I am a firm supporter of what is called Catechism. I know that this word immediately brings the Roman Catholic Church to mind, but Catechism is simply an instruction of the faith, based on a Question and Answer format. Most importantly it is a formal instruction of Scripture and the development of doctrine thereof. I am afraid that the church, having stepped away from a formal instruction in faith, has subjected generations of believers to a view of God and Scripture that is man centered and self-promoting because after all, it is all about ‘what Scripture says to you’.

It is my hope to outline the current situation, why instruction in the faith is vital to true Christian growth, particularly why I prefer Catechism to the ‘Sunday School’ method and provide some examples of Catechisms through a 4 part series entitled “The Importance of Catechism”.

Ministry Update

Since its inception, the ministry of Solid Anchor has been to ‘Evangelize the World and Reclaim the Church’. Work on the latter half of the goal is ever-growing and continuing as I preach wherever the Lord gives opportunity. This aspect of ministry is vital due to the large-scale issue in the church of a lack of dedicated, serious believers. Too many in the evangelical church either know little or nothing of their faith, live world consumed lives, or they have become overwhelmingly passionate and zealous without a basis of true Biblical Theology. The work of ‘Reclaiming the Church’, which is stated in such a way to highlight the work of exposing and correcting false teaching, will continue as long as the Lord leads.

As for the former aspect of the ministry, there really has not been a time where doors opened for the evangelization of the world for me. For much of my walk with the Lord unfortunately, the extent of ‘evangelizing the world’ existed solely in the realm of ministry and missionary support. However, the realization of the goal to evangelize the world is coming to fruition in recent days.

For the longest time I knew specifically that I was to plant churches, but whether that was to be here in the states or overseas, I never really knew. Within the past couple weeks, through the preparation of a sermon, I was deeply convicted through Scripture and prayer that I have a duty as a follower of Christ to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth, meaning wherever He deems appropriate to send me, no matter where it may lead. Whenever I thought of missions and the possibility that I may someday take part in it, I always thought it would be nice to be in Europe. Indeed a society that was predominantly post-Christian would have proven challenging, but being in Europe would have had many pleasant benefits (not that those benefits are wrong). This changed though as I was preparing a message on Suffering for Christ based out of Philippians 1:29. The conclusion of the message was the suffering in the believer’s life was a gift from God that is to be accepted with the same joy with which we accept our Salvation. The burden throughout the message was that there is an estimated 6,000 unreached people groups and roughly 1,ooo,ooo,ooo people who have NO opportunity to hear the Gospel. This means that there is no church, no missionaries, scarce Christians, etc. The church has talked about these figures for years, yet scarcely anyone is going to these fields. Where are the men and women of God who will rise up and count their lives cheap for the Gospel of Christ?

It is imperative to me that I never preach a message to a people without being willing myself to follow through on the application of God’s Word. This is where the challenge for me came. I researched people groups, where they were located, the progress of reaching them, and sought to challenge the people to whom I was preaching to action. This is where I faced myself; rather, God showed me what I was to do and asked if I would practice what I preach. I would not say that I was given the ‘Macedonian Call’ but I was convicted and convinced by Scripture and God’s work in me through prayer that I am to plant churches overseas.

With most the unreached people groups living in the Asian part of the world, I began to look there and it was little time till I was moved towards Central Asia. Central Asia is composed of five dominantly Islamic countries that used to be part of Communist Russia; Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. Kazakhstan has some amazing things happening as God works through Missionaries there, and believers are being added to the church each day. As for the other four countries, Christianity is among less than 2% of the population; for 3 out of those 4 it is less than 1%. This part of the world seems to be ‘forgotten’ as there is little mission work among them (confirmed through several conversations with missions agencies). The unique situation for each of these 4 countries lies in the fact that they are Post-Communist, Islamic dominated and Restricted Access (meaning that you cannot enter the country under the title ‘Christian Missionary’ but must enter through some other means such as TESOL and once you are in, your Christian work must be carried in a careful fashion). It is to this part of the world I have been burdened with.

I know not the specifics of what the Lord will do there. I know that in seeking to minister and bring the Gospel of Christ to a people who so desperately need to hear that I will most likely face severe opposition. I know without a doubt though, that the Lord will be with me. There are indeed many unanswered questions, but as I move forward peace is coming. Undoubtedly there is much to be done here in the church in America and I will continue to encourage, exhort, rebuke, correct, preach and minister in the church in America as long as the Lord allows, but I dare not stay here in the states permanently as people in Central Asia die in Islam without the knowledge of Christ.

Therefore, pray for me as I seek a Missionary Agency, continue to develop in this calling (specifically which country), seek out seminary training and wisdom as to how to enter the country He calls me to. There is much to look forward to and many new things to learn from the Lord. I am excited and at the same time humbled by this calling.

For the Souls of Men and the Glory of God

Soli Deo Gloria