When I use the word presence, I am talking about physically being near the people you are trying to reach and being available to them…sharing your very lives with them.
A quick story
I know a family that is located in the heart of one of the Arab cities…masses of people swarming around.
Although it would have been easier to take their family (3 year old and baby) and live in the comfortable “new” part of the city, this young family decided to live where the people where…the heart of the city.
Their presence was clearly visible to those around and they made themselves available to their friends and neighbors.
They did not isolate themselves in a little foreign compound, but opened their lives up to those who they wanted to minister to.
Light of the World – City on a Hillside
Jesus taught that we were to be the “light of the world,” something that shines in the darkness. He compares us to a city on the hillside for all to see.
I believe that this is vital…people need to be able to see, observe, and interact with you on a daily basis. There is power in presence!
The very fact that you are living out your Christian life in that dark land is impacting the Spiritual battle – your prayers are being offered with intentionality for this dying land. I feel it is a huge shame when the decision of where to live is based more on convenience than on the where light is needed. Now don’t get me wrong, there are lost people in every part of the world, especially in closed countries.
Try to seek the Lord to where He would have you settle, not where it is comfortable.
Opening your Home
Another decision that you will have to make right from the beginning is: Is your home a place of refuge for your family OR is a place where all are welcome? I remember coming home after a full day at work, looking forward to a little quiet, when there would be a knock at the door.
A visitor …but it was 7:00 PM…yet my wife would graciously answer the door and welcome them in. It was tough! Our house was always full of people, but what an opportunity. My wife taught be so much about extending the love of Jesus to visitors…sharing her very life with them.
Remember the family in the story above? This was something that was very trying to them and their family. The house was always full of people and activity…when do you have family time or personal time?
There is no simple answer, but you might ask how would Jesus respond in this situation?
We decided to retreat out of the house once a week for some time of rest and refreshment…you’ll need to decide how to handle that one yourself.
Let them know you are Christians
I was talking to someone recently who was sharing with me that they had decided not to share with their neighbors that they were Christians.
They didn’t want to put up any stumbling blocks…I understand the discussion on what do you call yourself…and how do you communicate what you believe to your neighbors.
ONE THING I KNOW FOR SURE, you need to let them know right upfront that you are a person that loves Jesus and your whole life is led by Him.
When I first started my work in an Arab country, I was warned not to use the word “Jesus” but to stick to words that would not offend and would create a common ground. So I used words like “God” and “Lord”…the problem with this is that in Arabic, they use those same words 100 times per day.
I was not any different from them…they thought I was almost a good Muslim…very close. But when I finally got around to Jesus, it was very strange for them and was very difficult. Later in my time, I just started telling every new person I met that I was a Christian or Follower of Jesus…I made it clear.
I would offer to pray in Jesus name…we would share from His words…we wanted people to know that Jesus was the most important part of our lives. The result: it was seen as normal to them that we would constantly talk about Jesus and want to share Him with them.
Let people know that you love Jesus…if only for the fact that is they are seeking truth…they will know who to ask!
It is my prayer, that you will develop a strong presence in the community where you will minister.