At last night's student night and Bunch combined prayer evening it was a privilege to hear from Jack (an overseas worker, sent and supported by OCC) about his team's work in Central Africa, with the Muslim refugee tribe they are seeking to connect with and serve. Alongside schooling and home-schooling their 4 children, Jack and Claire lead a team of 10 committed to learning the local tribal language, developing a dictionary, developing media in the local language, Bible translation, and drilling water wells.
We looked at what it means to pray for the nations, and to catch hold of God's heart. We learned about the 10-40 window, where 5.2 billion people live, of which 3.2 billion have no meaningful access to the good news about Jesus.
In supporting Jack and Claire's team, OCC partners with Frontiers, an international missions agency with 30 years of expertise and prayer for Muslim people groups. We love Frontiers' strapline: "With love and respect, inviting all Muslim peoples to follow Jesus."
Jesus loves and respects all people, whether Muslim, Christian or anything else. One of the most well-known verses in the Bible tells us that "God so loved people in the world that he sent his Son … not to condemn the world, but to save the world" (John 3:16-17, abbreviated).
Frontiers comment: "The majority of the world's 1.7 billion Muslims have never met a follower of Christ, and there are still hundreds of Muslim people groups with little or no access to the gospel. However, God is doing extraordinary things in the Muslim world in our day. In the last two decades, far more Muslims have come to faith in Jesus than in the previous 14 centuries since Islam began. This is an amazing season of opportunity."
As we met last night Jack talked about starting to pray for God's heart, as father and creator, and for all the people in his world. Learning to listen to God as we pray, and then pray as God would have us pray. He talked about being rooted in the church: not acting individualistically, but rather going as community. Demonstrating by our unity the reconciling transformative impact of the gospel, which brings us together as Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, black and white! He talked about seeing that most things worth doing take a long time, undertaking a counter-cultural (for millennials and Gen Z) 'slow obedience in the same direction'.
How did you respond?
Maybe you have questions for Jack? He and Claire are in the UK for the rest of this Uni term/semester, so reach out to the student team if you want us to connect you.
Maybe God started to stir something in your heart? Two prophetic words were brought: one about an ember springing into flame and another about a seed producing fruit. Both of these speak of a something bigger and more significant springing up from a small start. If you're feeling challenged about pursuing a seed or an ember God has put in your heart, then talk to one of us: your personal pastor, one of the student team, or ask us to connect you with one of the team from Frontiers, or our OCC missions lead, Dan Kirk.
Maybe you're asking questions about how we, as Christians, should relate to people of other faiths? In other words, what is Jesus' heart for people of other faiths? If that's you, check out this talk from Senior Pastor Steve Jones addressing exactly that question, earlier in 2021. Steve and other OCC members have connected well in dialogue with the Muslim community in Oxford, including Meetings for Better Understanding, the Oxford Council of Faiths, and local community connections around Tyndale Community School. With love and respect, inviting all Muslim peoples to follow Jesus!