ACROSS  ........................................................................................................................................................ 


"most Muslims need to hear the gospel many times
before they embrace the real Jesus"

After a couple months absence, Sanjar came back to our International Christian Fellowship in Almaty last Sunday. I had not seen him since November. In September we began a preaching series through Paul's letter to the Romans. Sanjar was there nearly every Sunday. A Korean medical doctor on our Leader Board, who was his neighbor, brought him for the first time. He is a 22 year-old Kazakh law student. I could see the interest on his face each week as I traced Paul's argument; from the dismal depths of human depravity to the pinnacle of God's grace in Christ - our Justification - Redemption - Propitiation - Vindication. Wow! It doesn't get any more wonderful.

Then we came to chapter 6 of Romans. Here the Apostle applies the benefits of Christ's death to us, saying we have "died with him." I quoted William Tyndale's commentary on Romans in 1526 "Now.reader.Remember that Christ made not this atonement, that thou shouldst anger God again; neither died he for thy sins, that thou shouldst live in them; neither cleansed he thee, that thou shouldst return as a swine unto thine old puddle again; but that thou shouldst be a new creature and live a new life after the will of God and not of the flesh." After that message in November, Sanjar came to me in the crowded foyer after worship. "I need to talk to you. I need to tell you something I am doing." He looked like a deer caught in the headlights of the Holy Spirit's search. We met the next afternoon.

He made no time for small talk. Sanjar's first words as we sat down that afternoon were, "I am having sex with my girlfriend." He went on to tell me of a 30 year-old woman, a divorced mother of a 6 year-old girl, whom he met in law school. He had shared his growing interest in Christianity with her, but it only angered her that Sanjar was betraying their Kazakh loyalty to Islam. Sanjar described his spiritual condition with a colorful phrase commonly used here, "I am hanging between earth and sky." As we talked I opened my Bible and we re-read Romans 6. "According to how I understand these words," I tried to say without accusation, "sex with your girlfriend does not seem appropriate Christian behavior." It was a profound grasp of the obvious. Sanjar went on to tell how much he loved this woman. We talked more and I finally said he had a choice to make, between earth and sky, for or against Jesus. He knew that. The last words I heard from him in 2002 were, "I have to think."

When Sanjar came back last week he found us in Romans 9. Here Paul declares that our Merciful God has a particular plan for His people. I was pleased to meet him in the foyer afterwards. Again he cut through the chit-chat and asked, "If God has already made a plan for us, why live?" My response was that this plan of God is my reason for living. I am thrilled to have a Heavenly Father who is a Sovereign God, one who works all things together for my good. My life is not guided by luck, chance, or karma. My life, and my eternity, is securely in the grasp of the hand that was pierced for my redemption. That is why I live. His eyes met mine as he said, "That is right."

Sanjar is thinking. Each Sunday at ICF there are growing number of seekers like him. What a joy and privilege to tell them about our Sovereign Savior. One missiologist has said that most Muslims need to hear the gospel many times before they embrace the real Jesus who is so different from the distorted "Isa" in their Koran. God only knows. As Paul says in Romans, "Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." (10.17) So we are grateful for your prayers for Sanjar, for our family, and for the advancement of God's Kingdom in Kazakhstan.

Gratefully in Him,
Mark, Dayna, Nathan, Josiah, and Aaron Blair

Our Ministries:
Pastoral - International Christian Fellowship

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