As a 22 year old Middle Eastern Christian woman from a traditional Muslim family, I believe one of the barriers to reaching Middle Eastern Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ is the horrendous misconception that Christianity is the “white man’s religion” i.e it is for Westerners and the West. There is a deeply ingrained subconscious idea that to embrace Christ is to reject your ethnicity and pretend you are what you are not. It is seen as an act of betrayal. This is a lie Satan, the father of lies (John 8:44) delights to see people give into. God is the God of both the East and the West. Christ gave himself up for people from every tongue, tribe and nation. Jesus died for Jews and Gentiles alike:
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” – Ephesians 2:14
My journey thus far has been by no means easy but I am immensely blessed in that I have tasted the East, lived in the West, grew up Muslim and after all that, was saved by the grace of God. I can relate to Muslims easier. I’ve been there. I believed what they believe. I grew up around them and have seen their humanity, not their stereotypes. But they do not know Christ. Don’t assume that they have heard the gospel message because they tell you they ‘know about Jesus’ or because they have lived their lives in a historically Christian country. Many of them, just like many in our society, tell you they ‘know about Jesus’ but dig a bit deeper, and they have misunderstood the glorious gospel. Sometimes we assume people have heard the gospel and then rejected it but I sometimes wonder how often they have not heard.
There can be another challenge, one I experienced. I ‘heard’ the gospel by reading the bible, God shown his light into my heart but a confusion as to my identity soon followed. Who will count me as one of their own, now? And where will I ‘fit’ in? The Middle East is predominately Muslim, they will reject me. The West is predominately secular, they will reject me. The loneliness can be overwhelming but what does God say about this? He says that we, as believers in Christ, are exiles (1 Peter 2:11) and that we will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12) but we have come to thousands of angels in joyful assembly (Hebrews 12:22) and though we don’t ‘fit’ in anywhere, His word has told us that:
“…here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come” – Hebrews 13:14
The beautiful truth is that there is no contradiction in being Christian and Middle Eastern, no matter what the world says and how harshly it chooses to treat us. The gospel is for the whole world. And any suffering, whether rejection by our friends, family or culture at large, for the sake of Christ is always worth it. We are called as Christians to rejoice in the midst of our suffering. And as John Piper once said:
“God is most glorified in you, when you are most satisfied in him, in the midst of loss, not prosperity.”
So here I am, a Middle Eastern Christian young woman. Many will reject me but in Christ Jesus, God has accepted me and no one can ever change that.