by Daniel Edwards
What does a BMB need?
This is the question that we should ask ourselves before starting to put together any materials or courses. Sadly, many of the currently available discipleship materials were founded and built on the bases of our own assumption of the national’s answer of this question rather than listening to our BMB brethren directly.
I had the privilege of investing thousands of hours during the last 8 years listening to the voices of many of my fellow brethren from a Muslim background regarding their needs in discipleship. I was really shocked to discover and see the huge gap between what they, as BMBs, believe is important to them and what we as western missionaries think is important for them as new disciples. Their answers were absolutely astonishing and very different from what I have heard from my fellow western missionaries who are serving in the area of discipling BMBs. Here are just a few outlines of what I have collected from my conversations with BMBs from North Africa, the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.
a. A BMB needs to know the Bible from Genesis to Revelation
Mohamed is a BMB believer from Sudan who once said: “For five years we have been discipled through a little booklet that is full of short and colorful Biblical stories. This makes us feel just like we are little kids in a kindergarten class. Our group had decreased from 13 members to only 3 because most of us have lost our interest in continuing taking these lessons. My hope and prayer is that my class leader, who is a western missionary, will one day understand that we are hungry and thirsty to know our bible from Genesis to Revelation”.
Unfortunately, as disciple makers, we have intentionally choose the focus what we want to feed our BMB brethren according to our assumption of their needs and not according to their actual needs. Colorful stories might work for some but not for all, therefore, we need to be very sensitive to the actual needs of our disciples. Friends, in order for a BMB to know his/her Bible from Genesis to Revelation, we, as disciple makers must have the courage and ability to introduce our disciples to much deeper materials and tools such as Bible study methods, principles of Bible study and Christian foundations.
b. A BMB needs to know how to interpret his/her Bible correctly
Reading the Bible and relying on the Holy Spirit to interpret its content for us is indeed one of the greatest things we should all do day and night. Yet, since we are human being, we can easily misinterpret what we have read and create a huge mess. For this very reason, we all need to grow in our understanding and knowledge of scripture through the wisdom of some godly and trusted Bible teachers. Having that being said, a Muslim background believer, just like all others, must be introduced to some courses covering this area such as: Biblical hermeneutics and Biblical interpretation. Let us remember that those brethren are facing great challenges, mainly when it comes to defining one’s faith and proofing the authenticity of the Bible.
c. A BMB needs a godly mentor
One of the greatest challenges for a new believer from a Muslim background is how to find a godly mentor who is willing and available to invest his/her time in showing the new convert how to apply the Biblical truth in each and every aspect of their life. Modeling and mentoring are indeed the heart and center of any true discipleship. Through this rich relationship of mentoring, new converts will be able to learn from their mentors in a very practical way, find answers to some of the very difficult question that they might face and get Biblical counseling and encouragement when needed. Throughout the scripture we see wonderful examples of mentoring relationships of godly leaders such as Moses/Joshua (Exodus 24:13; 33:11), Eli/Samuel (1 Samuel 1-4), Barnabas/Paul (Acts 9-15) and finally Paul/Timothy (2Timothy 2:2).
d. A BMB needs to be recognized as a true member of the united body of Christ rather than as an outsider
My friend Mahmoud from Egypt once said to me “it is funny that after 15 years of walking with the Lord I am still counted as a new believer in the eyes of both the local national church and the western missionaries alike. This hurts me a lot, and I am always asking myself when will I be viewed as a mature Christian person rather than an outsider”.
I strongly believe that one of the major roles of a true discipleship maker is to integrate new converts into the local church, when possible. I completely understand that this might be very difficult and almost impossible in some countries, but in all cases we have to find a way to help new believers to grow as part of a united body.
e. A BMB needs to participate in the Great Commission
The last point I would like to highlight here is the importance of the disciple maker’s role and the responsibility to introduce new believers from a Muslim background (BMBs) to mission. As mentioned above, discipleship is not just the beginning of a new life in intimate fellowship with a living Master and Savior, but it also involves a commitment to call others to such a relationship with Jesus Christ. This involvement and commitment to call others can be done by equipping new believers through various courses such as introduction to mission, multiplication and church planting.
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