Can the holy books of many cultures reveal Christ and build understanding?
Many migrants are moving into New Zealand from all over the world. They are becoming our neighbours. What do we know about their cultures and beliefs? How will their presence and participation in our Society affect the future of our nation. Many new migrants are inquisitive about our Christian beliefs. How can we share our faith in a meaningful way with our new friends so they understand our faith context and we understand theirs?
Some migrants cultures, world-views and religious beliefs are are so different from ours that they need our hospitality, friendship, and time to adjust to their new life. New friends, education and an enquiring mind can open a closed person to a whole new world of possibilities. This provides Christians with unique opportunities to share Christ’s unconditional love with our new neighbours who are bewildered by the way we live.
The distance to the nations is now (very) short
John R Mott in his address in 1886 on ‘Seek you first the Kingdom of God’ spoke about the responsibility of young people for the evangelisation of the world and stated; ‘If I could take everyone of you on a long journey…that you might see what I have seen, that you might hear what I have heard, that you might feel what I have felt, the last iota of skepticism which may linger as the the need of the people of the world knowing Christ would vanish.’
From this speech the Student Volunteer Movement (SVM), the YMCA and YWCA and the World’s Student Christian Federation were commenced. We no longer need to go on a long journey to see the nations. They live next to us in our cities. But we do need the same passion for Christ and His ‘Great Commission and Commandment’ that those who responded to Mott’s message kindled in their hearts on that day in 1886.
A new movement in New Zealand
These cross cultural workshops seek to birth and mobilise a movement of people in our nation who will allow God by His Holy Spirit to overcome their fears, skepticism and spiritual impoverishment. Will we allow ourselves to become passionate for the cause of Christ in a culturally confused, cynical, hurting, bewildered and dying world?
The startling challenge of new Kiwi Muslims
The 1,500 New Maori Muslims, as reported by Ruth Keber of North South Magazine in March 2013, stated that they have rejected Christianity because it has failed. These Maori Muslims are prepared to give up their Maori history of prophets, their music, haka, poi and dance to become Muslims. They testify that their new faith has transformed their destructive lives and made Islam attractive to them.
Christian faith and practice in Aotearoa is challenged by these new Kiwi Muslims to change, transform faith and practice, and look deeper into what it means to be a follower of ‘Isa’ (Arabic for Jesus Christ the Messiah in Surah 3 ayah 45 – Koran). Can we become a transformational community with ‘collectivist’ and ‘collateral security’ values as evident in the Church in the Book of Acts.
Is this the message the Holy Spirit is speaking to us through our Maori Muslim friends?