The Gospel as Incarnation: Sufi Muslims in South East Asia
Leaving their home, S. and A. entered into the Muslim culture of South East Asia. They did certain things that others did – wore local clothes, ate local food, learnt to fluently speak the local language – both languages, that is. But for them, it didn’t end there.
When I think of a life of incarnation, I think of S. and A. They have been concerned for Muslims for a long time. So, years ago, they left their home culture and entered into the Muslim culture of South East Asia. They did certain things that others did – wore local clothes, ate local food, learnt to fluently speak the local language – both languages, that is. But for them, it didn’t end there. They literally moved into the local neighbourhood.
Okay, no big deal. Everyone does that, right? Well…
This particular culture is extremely communal in nature, and the majority of the people S. and A. were seeking to share Jesus with were on the lower socio-economic scale. Housing was open, communal, shared. Emerging from a stairwell, someone would walk into an open inner balcony-type area, with an ‘atrium’ in the centre, from where you could see the floor below and above. Rooms bordered the edges. A floor per family, that’s not bad, you may be thinking. No, a room per family. Six or eight rooms to a floor. Doors are often kept open, with neighbours visiting, wandering in and out throughout the day. And, in this context, if a man visited A., S. would have to find refuge in a corner or hidden alcove.
What are these foreigners doing?, some of their local friends thought. Foreigners are rich! They can afford to live elsewhere. And so they shared about Jesus who came to live among them, sharing living quarters, food, dress so that He could tell the greatest message ever.
Abby is S. and A.’s eldest daughter. She is a vibrant sparkle of a child and drew people to the family. With children being central to the culture, Abby opened the door to many conversations. She helped the relationships deepen over time, as people came to visit her, and her parents, sit and have tea, visit, be, live, talk. And the talk led to Jesus. But S. and A. wouldn’t have had the time to simply ‘be’, to talk over chai and shared cooking, over communal parenting, living and doing life together, they wouldn’t have had the chance to learn well, to live and speak Jesus well if they were not present. But they were present, they were incarnated.
Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, came to dwell with us.
S. and A. dwelt with and in this neighbourhood, this community of people, for the sake of Jesus’ name and fame.
I think of A., listening to the beauty of Sufi poetry, soaking in the melodic tones of Sufi music, putting off his own Western culture and putting on the culture of this artistic group for Jesus, so that He and His salvation can come to the Sufi Muslims of South East Asia.
What’s God asking you to give up, put off for His sake? What’s He asking you to put on?
Incarnation - giving up and taking on, for the sake of Jesus, His name and fame.
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17/06/2013 9:00:00 AM | 0 comments