Confessions of a struggling evangelist

“I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” — Acts 26:17b-18, NIV.

Yesterday, on the 11th August 2019, the Muslims of Southeast Asia gathered to celebrate Hari Raya Haji. In many other Islamic cultures, this festival was called the “Eid al-Adha” or the “Feast of the Sacrifice”. It is a day when Muslims gather to remember Abraham’s faith in God and his willingness to sacrifice his son [1].

As I ponder upon this, I dug up my Quran and dived into what it said about Abraham. What I’ve learned shattered my heart. Hari Raya Haji, the Islamic holiday that I’ve taken for granted all my life, actually commemorates Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Allah’s subsequent blessings for them [2].

This made me think about Islam and the other religions.

I think we, as Christians, have a problem.
A pretty big one.

And the problem is this.
We don’t understand others.
We don’t understand God.

Look, the God of all the Universe, the God who made us all,
Breathed His life in all of us.
Sure, some of us have the privilege of knowing Him in knowledge,
Others don’t.

But that isn’t the point.

The point is, deep down in the depth of our consciousness, we all knew Him.
Some form or another.

Look, my concern isn’t about the method we use to tell them Jesus loves them.
They know it just as we do.
In fact, they believed it much more than us.
Except, their understanding of it might not be expressed in a way we are familiar with.

Rather, my concern is about understanding and the lack thereof.
Of the universe, time, and existence.

I think it is important to understand,
That the differences in language and culture meant that knowledge is expressed differently.

What we call scientific findings, they call the work of a deity.
What we call cosmic occurrence, they call the manifestations of God.

And I think, if not for cultural misunderstandings, they wouldn’t mistake the Made with the Maker.

This is why we need to understand their cultural history and taste their heritage.
This is why we need to walk the roads they took and decipher their beliefs.
The Maker might have made themselves known to them in a way we never knew He could.
The Maker might have made Himself known to them in a way that would best suit their historical and cultural context.

I write, not because I don’t value their culture.
I learn, not because I want to overturn diversity.
Heck, I’d prefer the Truth manifested in their culture and the arts.

I do not want to devalue humanity nor their respective methods of expression.
Rather, I want to look into the yearning of their hearts.

When you flip open their holy books,
And peer into their scriptures,
All you find isn’t enlightenment but struggles.

Struggles to understand;
The Truth behind it all.
Our call is not to convert.
Our call is not to institutionalize.

Our call is to open the eyes of their heart
To tear down the hypocrisies or spiritual leaders
And to point them to the Truth
Hidden in their respective holy scriptures.

The Truth that was manifested to their forefathers;
The Truth that their ancestors knew —
The Rock of Ages,
The God of life.


[1] –

[2] – And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.” And when they had both submitted and he put him down upon his forehead, We called to him, “O Abraham, You have fulfilled the vision.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, this was the clear trial. And We ransomed him with a great sacrifice, And We left for him [favorable mention] among later generations: “Peace upon Abraham.” Indeed, We thus reward the doers of good. Indeed, he was of Our believing servants. And We gave him good tidings of Isaac, a prophet from among the righteous. And We blessed him and Isaac. But among their descendants is the doer of good and the clearly unjust to himself. (Quran, As-Saffat, 37:102-113)

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