Location: Pioneers Conference Center, 10123 William Carey Dr., Florida 32832
By Roy Oksnevad
We use the word “consultation” instead of “conference” for a reason. A conference is where information is exchanged. A consultation is more interactive. The plenary sessions at the consultation are more like a conference, with heavy content from experts. But we have built into the schedule time to interact with the topics presented. The workshops are practical with the intent for interaction and discussion to share knowledge. COMMA is built as a network, and we provide a platform for people to exchange ideas and grow together.
Theme: Face 2 Face with Muslims but an Eternity Apart
The number of Muslims in North America is growing. It is for this reason that we chose this theme, reflecting the fact that more Americans are coming face-to-face with Muslims. Muslims are using interfaith dialogue as a way to introduce themselves to the American audience and hosting open mosque days. Though Americans are coming face-to-face with Muslims, they are an eternity apart. Dialogues and attending mosque events may be important, but we still stand an eternity apart. This is the backdrop of the theme for this year’s consultation.
Concert of Prayer: The consultation begins on Monday evening with a concert of prayer. The leadership team of COMMA believes that it is important to hear from God and prepare our hearts before hearing from humans. The concert of prayer is interspersed with videos from Prayercast, along with corporate prayer, large group prayer, and small group prayer. A lot of ministry takes place in these times of prayer.
Bible Hour: Every morning we begin with a focus on restoring our souls with a seasoned missionary who can speak God’s Word to those of us doing ministry. This year we have asked Dr. Nabeel Jabbour, a Lebanese missionary who ministers with the Navigators. He is an author, teacher, and speaker. He brings with him years of ministry experience and a deep heart for God. You will be blessed with his teaching through the Word.
There are several things that go into choosing plenary speakers and topics. First, we seek to introduce COMMA members to speakers and topics that they may not have the time or connections to pursue on their own. The COMMA board laid out the issues they felt were important and timely. Then we sought speakers whom we felt could address the topic.
- Why Reach Muslims in America – Sam George. Mission agencies and churches view missions as an overseas endeavor. We felt that there needed to be a clear apologetic laid out as to why we should reach Muslims in America. It is our desire that this topic will help give you good reasons to explain to your supporters why your ministry is important.
- History of Women in Muslim Ministry – Miriam Adeney. Women have played a major role in ministry among Muslims. They have been courageous, innovative, and strategic. We felt that it would be inspirational and instructive to hear the role women have had and continue to have in ministry to Muslims.
- Panel Discussion – Roy Oksnevad. There is a spectrum of approaches in Muslim ministry. We thought it would be great to bring together five people who represent different approaches to Muslims and hear from them what role their approach has in Muslim ministry.
- Becoming Part of the US Mosaic or Sinister Agenda? – David Abraham. There is a big debate about the presence of Muslims in North America. One side says they are here for the American dream like other immigrants, while others fear Muslims have alternative motives to take over America. We wanted to address these polar opposite opinions head-on. We trust this topic will be enlightening and help you to answer the fears people share.
- Viewing Islam through Muslim Eyes – Nabeel Jabbour. It is normal that people view others through the lens of their own experience. This perspective needs to expand. The board felt that it was important to address Islam through Muslim eyes to help us in relating and sharing the gospel with our Muslim friends.
- The Importance of Engaging Islamic Theology – Paul Martindale. Ministries to Muslims often fall along the line of polemic, evangelistic, apologetic, refugee resettlement, ESL, and peace-making, to name a few. We felt that a dimension of meeting Islam theologically is an important and often neglected one. In the past, Samuel Schlorff of the former Arab World Ministries did this. The board would like to challenge you to consider adding this dimension to your ministry toolbox.
- Muslim Ministry in the Latino Community – David Monduy. Hispanics make up 18.1% of the US population—or 58.9 million people. Many Hispanics are coming into contact with Muslims. Hispanics are reaching out to Muslims, but in addition Muslims are going after the Hispanic community for converts. The board felt that the Hispanic dimension needs to be brought before the COMMA members.
- Face 2 Face: Where We Go From Here – Mike Urton. It is important to wrap up what has been covered in the consultation in a cohesive presentation. The board also wants to leave you with a challenge of what to do with the information presented at this consultation.
The workshops are more practical to help you retool in your ministry.
- Paradigms in Evangelism – Nabeel Jabbour. There isn’t just one method for reaching Muslims, but understanding their worldview will give you clues of how to approach them. This workshop will expand your understanding.
- Transformation in Kampala – David Shenk. David has built his ministry around genuine dialogue with Muslims. Years later what was done continues on. He will share his insights and lessons learned along the way.
- Trophy Syndrome – Samer Abraham. Often, Muslims are asked to share their testimony soon after conversion. How quickly should we push these new Christians in front of a church to share their testimonies? As a former Muslim, Samer knows well the pitfalls of pushing a new convert into the spotlight before they have time to mature. This is a very important ministry workshop on how to protect the new Christian from the demanding public.
- Contextualized Parenting – Janelle Metzger and Feruza Krason. Discipling women in faith requires more wisdom than merely teaching the Bible. Feruza is a former Muslim. Janelle leads a refugee resettlement agency. From years of personal experience, these two ladies share insights on guiding immigrants on issues of family structure and parenting in the West when separated from their normal social structures.
- Understanding the Process of Conversion – Paul Martindale. When is a person a new creature in Christ? Is it when they ask Jesus into their heart or is the process more complicated than that? Paul shares insights from his years of missionary experience unpacking the complex nature of conversion.
- Bible Study in a Mosque – Mitch Machir. Mitch has conducted a Bible study in a local mosque over the past year. He will share the insights on using this model for outreach.
- Cultural Integration – Feruza Krason and Janelle Metzger. Foreigners face a mountain of cultural hurdles when entering into a new culture. This workshop helps us understand the common hurdles and how to navigate the new culture and faith.
- To Be Announced – Miriam Adeney.
- Who are the Muslims in North America and where are they located? – Leader and description to be announced.
- How are local churches reaching Muslims? – Mike Urton. Churches are seeking to become good neighbors to their new Muslim neighbors. This workshop will give examples of what is being done by churches to reach out to Muslims and mosques and the results of these efforts.
The leadership team of COMMA is very excited about the plenary and workshop sessions. We believe that you will find this 3 ½ day consultation a treasure trove of wisdom, experience, and insights in Muslim ministry. You will also be able to connect with people from various agencies and missions all seeking to reach Muslims. One person said, “COMMA is my tribe, where I don’t have to explain what I do. People just get it.” We know this will be your experience. We hope to see you in Orlando this September.