Agonizing Over a Decision
I am agonizing over a decision. It is hard for me to say NO to an amazing opportunity and privilege in 2019, and it is very hard for me to say YES.
The photo with this blog indicates a choice between a right decision vs. a wrong decision. My agony is because I need to choose between two right decisions. If the choice was between a right and a wrong decision, it would have been very easy to decide.
Here is the background to a decision that I need to make. This decision has roots in history that date back to a day in Mary 2011 when in one day, several emails went back and forth between me and a man from a distant country whom I will call Peter. All these emails went back and forth in one day.
One morning I received an email from “Peter,” who was the director of a Bible school in a certain Muslim country, telling me that he has just finished reading my book The Crescent Through The Eyes of the Cross, and he requested the Addendum (nine additional chapters to the book that I send as an email attachment to those who have finished reading the book and want to learn more). So, I sent him the Addendum.
An hour later, after looking at my website, he sent me an email asking me to travel to his country and to teach an intensive course at his Bible School in one week. So, I wrote to him that I will not take a trip unless I have an opportunity to teach a minimum of 30 hours. He wrote back right away assuring me of the 30 hours. Then I thought, will the 30 hours include translation, or will I be teaching in English. So, he wrote back and told me that there will be translation and therefore they will give me 45 hours of teaching time to make up for the time that goes for the translation.
An hour later I remembered that my book, The Crescent Through the Eyes of The Cross, has been translated into their language but I did not have a clue about the title of the book in that language and how to get it.
I thought, what would be better for those students to listen to a foreigner teaching in English, a language that they do not know, with translation for 45 hours, or for them to study my book in their own language in small groups. Furthermore, it would be much cheaper for me to purchase for them as many copies of my book, than purchasing a ticket to that distant country. So, I told “Peter” about the translation of my book into their language and I offered to pay.
A couple of hours later he wrote and told me that he found the book, ordered one hundred copies and told me the that they have the funds to cover the cost.
Wow, what an amazing experience in one day!
As we fast forward to the present, I got an email recently from “Peter” and found out that his responsibilities have transitioned from students to leaders as he now oversees many pastors and leaders in one of the regions in his country. “Peter” asked me to visit them for a different purpose than his original invitation a few years ago. Regarding this new invitation, he wrote: “The purpose of your visit would be conducting a seminar for local workers. We would gather about 30 people from all over the region. These are the workers who are doing evangelism and church planting in the area. You could share from your experiences of missions and lead us to think about various approaches to Muslim outreach, including the controversy around the Insider Movement.”
I have always believed that the national is far more effective in connecting with the people than a foreigner, but my friend would not take a NO from me. So, I thought of an American friend who is far more acquainted with that region of the world than I am, and I suggested that he will do a better job than I. Again, “Peter” would not take a NO for an answer and he stated his reasoning by saying:
“We would not consider it a value to have a foreigner (westerner) come and teach. But yours is a different situation as you are an Arab, a worker among Muslims and know the situation from the inside. Plus, your book is known here and has been controversial in this country, so having the author come and share his perspective is of a great value.”
I am close to 77 years old and my wife and I are like two very short candles. Our lives are like vapor that appears for a few seconds and vanishes quickly. So, we want every activity that we get involved in to count for eternity. My calling to the rest of my life is to contribute “to equipping the saints for the work of the ministry” through teaching my course on “Islam and the geopolitics of the Middle East” in 40 to 44 hours. My wife’s calling is prayer.
In light of my calling which has to do with contributing to “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry,” here are my concerns about this trip to that distant country.
Peter is very fluent in the English language, but I am concerned about my interactions with the 30 leaders. In a short intensive trip when my conversations are all through interpreters, can I go deep enough and minister to people in real depth? Is language a factor that could decrease the depth of the interactions and the value of the trip?
My bigger concern is my right elbow. I have a 25 years chronic condition in my right elbow that did not respond to any medical treatments and I have had many over the years. Dealing with luggage over a long trip will cause the condition of my elbow to get worse. I have pleaded to God for healing but God chose to have me live with this thorn in the flesh. A special friend of ours suggested that I take someone with me who will be willing to travel with me, help me protect my elbow and pay for his ticket. That would take nothing less than a miracle.
I am sharing with you this experience because I want to illustrate that not all choices in life are between a wrong and a right decision but many times it is between two right decisions. This is where I am right now. It is hard for me to say YES and deep in my heart I believe that “Peter” is far more equipped and qualified for the task than I am. At the same time, it is hard for me to say NO because I might miss out on what God wants me to experience as I step out by faith.
We value your prayer not only for this decision but also for our walk with God day in and day out as we try to follow Jesus.
*Peter gave me the permission to post this blog.