The Journey of DiscoveryLorna Johnston
/Thursday, April 27, 2023
I don’t like to run. My experience of running is that I’m short of breath, sweaty & hot, and there’s a voice in my head telling me to STOP!!!!
Recently, while praying for Muslims in Canada during Ramadan, an image popped into my mind, (a not-infrequent experience when I’m praying).
The image was of a person running along a road that stretched into the distance. They were running in a long-distance race that was called ‘Journey of Discovery’. Actually, there were quite a few runners, but they each were running alone.
I noticed that at some points in the race there were people cheering the runners on, encouraging them and spurring them to keep going. At other points in the race there were refreshment stations where the runners could receive nourishment for the next leg of the race. Sometimes people would run alongside the racers, keeping pace with them, encouraging them to keep running.
Some runners kept running strong. Some runners who were faltering were encouraged by the cheering, and the nourishment, and the companionship they received. Some runners slowed to a walk. Some stopped altogether and left the race.
The Image Explained
It was clear to me that those cheering the runners on in the race were those who intercede in prayer for Muslims as they run their Journey of Discovery. Their cheers of prayer seemed so fleeting and insubstantial, but the positive effect on the runners was noticeable. I wondered what it would be like if every inch of the race was thronged with intercessors cheering the runners on their way?
It was clear to me that the refreshment stations were the places where input through teaching and nurture is given, to support the thinking and processing, deconstructing, and constructing, that a Muslim must do as they consider leaving Islam to start following Jesus. It’s a long journey to change worldviews, and nurturing that process is vital.
It was clear to me that the people who ran alongside were Christ-followers who were investing in the relationship with a Muslim friend on their Journey of Discovery. In order to companion well, they also had to choose to run.
As I’ve mulled over this image, I’ve realized how it aligns with some research of the factors identified by those who, after coming to North America, chose to leave Islam to follow Jesus.
- They had an experience with a Christian Church—imagine what it would be like to run in community, rather than alone!
- They had a Christian friend—a running companion who chooses to journey with them on their Journey.
- They had a Bible in their heart language—nourishment with food that can be absorbed and understood.
- They had time to consider the claims of Christ—its not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
- It involved multiple factors—prayer, nourishment, companionship, community, time…
- They were in a situation that allowed them to explore new ideas—the Journey can only be taken if the runner is free to run.
- They had a supra-rational experience: a dream, a vision, an answered prayer—often the finish line, sometimes the starting gate of the journey; these experiences are unique to each runner.
Don’t stop cheering the runners on! You may not know their name, or where they’re at in the race. That’s not your job—yours is to cheer through prayer until there’s no one left to run the race.
Stock your nutrition station. Do you have nourishment that can be absorbed? Scripture is available in most languages—go to www.scriptureearth.org to find the Bread of Life in the language of the runner. Check out courses and resources in the Loving Muslims Together member portal at www.lovingmuslimstogether.ca/members.
Put on your running shoes. Companioning your Muslim friends in their Journey of Discovery is a journey for both of you. Be ready to go the distance.
Lorna Johnston is the Diaspora Ministries Leader at Outreach Canada. She leads two national teams -- Simply Mobilizing Canada (SMC) and Loving Muslims Together (LMT). She works with teams of diverse and experienced leaders and ministries across Canada to alert and activate the church in Canada to the changing opportunities to engage God's mission right here in Canada.
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