Education, Discipleship, and Spiritual Formation

10 06 2010

This is my second essay on the subject of Discipleship.  I welcome comments!

A recent study of born-again adult believers shows that most acknowledge that spiritual formation or development is a primary responsibility of a follower of Christ and may be a helpful endeavor; however, they do not feel that it is a pressing need in their lives because they feel that they have mostly mastered the concepts of the Christian faith.[1] Making disciples is the ultimate goal of all believers.  It is what Jesus commanded His followers to do before He ascended to heaven.  He stated in Matthew 28:19a, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.”  When considering discipleship, one must ask the question, “How does this happen?”  Discipleship is not a one-time event.  Discipleship is a lifestyle of learning and growing in the things of God as Paul said in Philippians 3:12.  It is a constant process of being trained and mentored by an individual or a collective effort of a group of people.  For the church to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus and make disciples of all nations a thorough understanding of discipleship, education, and spiritual formation and how they interact with each other must be ascertained.

A true disciple can be defined as “becoming a complete and competent follower of Jesus Christ.”[2] It also refers to “someone who is a learner of follower who serves as an apprentice under the tutelage of a master.”[3] Based on this information concerning discipleship, it can easily be established that learning must take place.  The true disciple must have the capability to learn, the ability to learn.  Also, the desire to learn must exist.  It has been established that discipleship is a process.  It is a lifestyle of deliberate choices and decisions to follow Christ and to obey all that He has commanded in His Word.  The key word in the study of discipleship is “process.”  That word connotes a series of steps to attain a certain goal.

Education is a major step in the process of becoming a true disciple of Jesus.  Education has been defined as “the creative process of promoting and attaining growth and development, enabling the complete individual to contribute to his or her culture.”[4] By definition, education is a process in much the same way as discipleship.  In the process of education, there must be a relationship between the teacher and the student (1 Corinthians 11:1).  The student learns from the teacher that which has been designed for the student to teach.  Every student has a different capacity for learning; therefore the methods of teaching or training must be adjusted for every student in order for learning to be most effective.  In relation to discipleship, education is the process by which the disciple learns information from the master, whether that is through classic education styles, such as classroom training, or in more practical activities, such as outreaches.  Without education, disciple making would be impossible.  Education is the vehicle by which information is transferred to the disciple from the master.

The process of becoming a true disciple of Jesus includes another very important piece.  Spiritual formation or growth must take place in the life of the disciple.  George Barna stated, “Churches that are most effective in discipleship have a philosophy of ministry that places daily spiritual growth at the core of the ministry.”[5] Spiritual formation is also a process.  Paul stated in his letter to the Corinthians, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18).”  We move from glory to glory by spiritual transformation.  That process is very similar to another principle that Paul spoke of – sanctification. Sanctification is defined as “being set apart by God and for God.”[6] When Jesus called His disciples, He set them apart for Himself.  He required of them that they leave everything and follow Him.  They left their homes, careers, families, and personal ambitions.  Jesus told His disciples that they must turn from their selfish ways and take up their crosses and follow Him (Matt 16:24).  Sanctification is a process whereby disciples are spiritually set apart to follow Christ and reproduce themselves in the earth.

An understanding of discipleship, education, and spiritual formation are key in becoming true disciples of Jesus and fulfilling the Great Commission of making other disciples.  These three elements are not mutually exclusive.  One cannot have discipleship without education.  Education holds within its very nature an element of discipleship in the teacher-student relationship.  Being a true disciple of Jesus Christ requires that spiritual formation take place. Church ministries should have discipleship as their primary focus.  Spiritual formation would be a natural result of the discipleship program, and education would be the process by which the discipleship would take place.  Barna stated, “True discipleship creates Christians who aggressively pursue spiritual growth rather than passively experience spiritual evolution.”[7] The body of Christ must aggressively pursue creating disciples by fostering an environment, which enhances spiritual growth through the process of education by a quality teacher-student relationship.   

Bibliography

Barna, George.  Growing True Disciples.  Colorado Springs, CO:  WaterBrook Press, 2001.

Gangel, Kenneth O.  Holman New Testament Commentary: Acts, ed. Max Anders.  Nashville,            TN:  Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.

Mitchell, Dr. Michael R.  “On the Structure of the Discipline and the Essential Activities of            Education.”  Liberty University BlackBoard. http://bb7.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tabGroup=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FcontentWrapper.jsp%3Fcontent_id%3D_7962168_1%26displayName%3DLinked%2BFile%26course_id%3D_929907_1%26navItem%3Dcontent%26attachment%3Dtrue%26href%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fbb7.liberty.edu%252F%2540%2540%252FB366EB213446C70095182FB591F9C8B2%252Fcourses%252F1%252FDSMN500_B07_201030%252Fcontent%252F_7962168_1%252Fembedded%252F5_Qs_Summary_Pub_Ed.pdf.  Internet.  Accessed on May 23, 2010.


[1] George Barna, Growing True Disciples (Colorado Springs, CO:  WaterBrook Press, 2001), 34.

[2] Ibid., 17.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Dr. Michael R. Mitchell, “On the Structure of the Discipline and the Essential Activities of Education.”  Liberty University BlackBoard. http://bb7.liberty.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tabGroup=courses&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fcontent%2FcontentWrapper.jsp%3Fcontent_id%3D_7962168_1%26displayName%3DLinked%2BFile%26course_id%3D_929907_1%26navItem%3Dcontent%26attachment%3Dtrue%26href%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fbb7.liberty.edu%252F%2540%2540%252FB366EB213446C70095182FB591F9C8B2%252Fcourses%252F1%252FDSMN500_B07_201030%252Fcontent%252F_7962168_1%252Fembedded%252F5_Qs_Summary_Pub_Ed.pdf (accessed May 23, 2010).

[5] George Barna, Growing True Disciples, 31.

[6] Kenneth O. Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary: Acts, ed. Max Anders (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 348.

[7] George Barna, Growing True Disciples, 167.





Discipleship Essay #1 – “What Is Discipleship?”

7 06 2010

I will be posting my essays on Discipleship in the coming weeks.  I enjoy feedback from my readers, so let’s discuss discipleship!

“Discipleship” is one of the most misinterpreted and least understood words in the Christian vernacular.  Any Christian that has been a Christ-follower for any length of time should know about the Great Commission where Jesus tells His disciples in Matthew 28:19-20 to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”.  Basically, He was instructing those that followed Him during His ministry to reproduce themselves in the earth.  These disciples were eyewitness to the amazing miracles He performed.  They had first-hand knowledge of the incredible teachings of Jesus.  They knew what to do with that information.  They were to go to Jerusalem and start making disciples there.  Then, they were to go to Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth spreading the good news of Jesus and making disciples everywhere that they went.  These original disciples carried within them the DNA to reproduce themselves under the power of the Holy Spirit everywhere that they went; however, discipleship is about more than making relationships with people and sharing the gospel.  Discipleship carries with it costs, conditions, and an incredible responsibility to reproduce in the earth.

When Jesus called His disciples to follow Him, He did not immediately tell them the cost of the decision they were about to make.  The Gospel writers tell us that He simply said, “Follow Me.”  The costs were built into the call.  For those that decided to follow Jesus, they left behind careers, homes, family, and other things that they cherished or felt gave them worth.  Another call in Scripture to be a disciple or follower was the call of Elijah and Elisha in 1 Kings 19:19-21.  When Elijah called Elisha in the field by casting his mantle upon him, Elisha responded immediately and left his father and mother and destroyed his oxen thereby leaving his home and career to follow this man and the call of God.  Elisha remained with Elijah for the remainder of Elijah’s ministry and learned all that he could from this mighty man.  The results were much the same as the disciples of Jesus.  Elisha’s immediate willingness to count the cost and follow Elijah resulted in him receiving a double portion of his anointing.  Elisha consequently performed twice as many miracles as Elijah.  When Jesus was speaking in John 14:12, He told His disciples that they would do greater works than He would do.  When the costs of discipleship are counted and “paid” immediately by the disciple, God reciprocates by allowing the disciple to function at a greater capacity than the master.

To go along with the costs of discipleship, there are also conditions placed on the disciple.  Many times, Jesus told His followers that they must do something before they could be true disciples.  In Dr. Michael R. Mitchell’s article, “The Conditions of Discipleship,” he states some of the main categories of conditions that Jesus gave His disciples.  Self-denial is the first on this list.  Jesus warned His disciples that they must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Him in Mark 8:34 or they would not be considered His disciples.  Jesus also instructed His disciples that to be a true follower, they must leave everything including family, jobs, homes, etc.  Jesus went so far as to require that personal possessions be sold and the profits given to the poor (Matt. 19:21).  Dr. Mitchell ended his article with the categories of “Leaving all,” “Steadfastness,” “Fruitfulness,” and “Love.”  God required in the Ten Commandments to have no other gods before Him, and Jesus reiterated that fact in the conditions He placed on His disciples.  Becoming a follower of Jesus Christ was to become “an all-consuming obsession.”[1]

Reproduction is not just a good suggestion from Jesus, but it was His final commandment before His ascension to the Father.  He told His disciples to go and make disciples.  They were to reproduce themselves in the earth.  God also gave a similar commandment to Adam and Eve when He told them to be fruitful and multiply (Gen 1:28).  God never intended for His people to cease reproducing in the earth and not carry out His will and purpose.  A wise man once said, “Christianity is one generation away from extinction.”  If the body of Christ does not reproduce itself by making disciples, we will have ceased to fulfill the commandment of Jesus.  Barna stated in his book, Growing True Disciples, “An individual who does not reproduce himself in Christ is not truly a disciple since he does not exhibit the selfless love of the Master.”[2] Elijah reproduced himself in Elisha.  Moses reproduced himself in Joshua.  Jesus reproduced Himself in His disciples and the rest of the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Many Christians today have either not been taught or they do not fully understand the concept of discipleship.  The body of Christ as a whole has not grasped the gravity of the costs, the conditions, or the responsibility to reproduce itself in the earth.  True discipleship, as defined by Barna, is “becoming a complete and competent follower of Jesus Christ.”[3] The true disciple of Christ must be completely sold out to His cause and mission.  He or she must also be competent in knowing the Word of God and have the ability to teach and train others to do the same.  Barna also describes discipleship as “about being and reproducing spiritually mature zealots for Christ.”[4] Discipleship is about building relationships with people and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through those relationships to allow supernatural reproduction to take place.

Bibliography

Barna, George. Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine

Followers of Christ. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2001.


[1] George Barna, Growing True Disciples (Colorado Spring, CO:  WaterBrook Press, 2001), 19.

[2] Ibid., 23.

[3] Ibid., 17.

[4] Ibid., 18.





Unreached People Group Project – Crimean Tatars of Romania

14 05 2010

Here is the infamous project on the Crimean Tatars of Romania for my World Missions class at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary – ICST 500.  Honestly, I didn’t want to write this paper.  I felt like it was a waste of time; however, the more I researched, interviewed, scoured the web, etc., the more I fell in love with these people.  Lord, forgive my selfishness.  Send someone to these beautiful people.  If it’s me, I’ll go.  Enjoy!

Unreached People Group – Crimean Tatars of Romania

Introduction

The Crimean Tatar (or Tartar) people have been in existence for hundreds of years.  They originated in the southern portion of the Ukraine peninsula on the Black Sea.  The Tatar (pronounced ta-TAHR) people have a long and rich history in the region, but they have also experienced heartache and loss due to dispersion from an oppressive regime.  Although it has been many years since their expulsion from their homeland, the people continue to experience discrimination.  The tradition and heritage of the people hold them tightly together as they work to be respected and acknowledged as a formal people group.

The total population of Crimean Tatars is 556,000 people.  The largest contingency of Crimean Tatar people is in the Ukraine with over 255,000 in population. Romania is home to a very small contingency of the Crimean Tatars with only 22,000 living in the very Southeastern corner of the country in the region of Constanta on the coast of the Black Sea.[1]

The balance of this project will discuss the history and culture of the people, the survey of missions work to the Crimean Tatars, and a proposed strategy of how one might reach them effectively with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Background Information

History of the Crimean Tatars

The Crimean Tatar people are associated with a much larger Tatar population located primarily in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.  The Tatars came onto the world scene in the 1440s when they established their own Khanate.  They are a Turkic-Muslim people who are a remnant of the Crimean Khans.  These Khans ruled the northern coast of the Black Sea for more than 300 years.  Haci Giray Khan formed the Crimean Khanate in 1441 after the disintegration of the Golden Horde.   The Tsarist Russian annexation of the land of Crimea on April 8, 1783 ended the Giray dynasty that had ruled Crimea since the 1400s.[2]

Geographically, the Crimean peninsula in modern-day Ukraine is a prime piece of property as it sits on the northern coast of the Black Sea.  The Crimean Khanate was nestled snugly between the Ottoman Empire in the south and the land of Russia in the north.  Being a Muslim people, they had a tendency to side with the Ottomans, thus creating quite a nuisance for the Russians.  Since the beginning of the Khanate, Russia desired to annex the land and rid it of the Tatar people.  The Tatars wreaked havoc on the Russian people and government for the first 300 years of its existence.  One such example of insurrection was in 1571 when a Crimean Tatar army attacked Moscow.  They plundered the merchants in the suburbs and monasteries in the area.  Ultimately they burned the city.[3] The period from the creation of the Khanate to the annexation of Russia was a tumultuous time filled with wars, skirmishes, and attacks from both sides.

The events leading to the annexation of the Crimean peninsula were wrought with fights and military campaigns against the Ottoman Empire who had control of the area.  The turning point in the fight between the two empires came after a final raid by the Crimeans in 1769.  Russia subsequently attacked them and gained control of the area after 10 long years of military campaigns.  The annexation of Crimea marked the first time the Ottoman Empire lost “Muslim subjects to a Christian state.”[4] The retribution toward the Tatar people for their many attacks on Russia and Russian interests came swiftly and with major impact.  Catherine II forced the Crimean Tatars from their homeland in mass numbers scattering them throughout the Ottoman Empire.  This had a tremendous effect on their numbers.  The population was at 6,000,000 at the time of the Khanate’s peak of power.  The population dwindled to 300,000 to the point of the Bolshevik Revolution.[5]

Discrimination against the Tatar people was very prevalent in the time leading up to the Bolshevik Revolution.  Once the Revolution took place and the Communist regime took power, the Crimean Tatars experienced unbelievable hardships.  As part of the socialist revolution, “ethnic engineering” began to take place and whole people groups were ousted from their native homeland during and after the Second World War.[6] The Crimean Tatars were some of the very ones that were treated with the most hostility.  The deportation of the Tatar people occurred in one day – May 18, 1944.[7] They were loaded into “cattle trucks with primitive sanitation, little food and water, and no medical care, for a journey eastward which sometimes took up to a month.”  Typhus killed many of the deportees, and they had to be buried beside the train cars during brief stops in the remote land.[8] The Soviet Union’s plans of ridding the land of the annoying people that were in opposition ultimately backfired.  The deportations of the Crimean Tatars and other Muslims in the land caused a deep hatred of the Soviet Union and planted seeds of hostility towards the people.  These events eventually aided in the “fragmentation and ultimate collapse of the Soviet Union.”[9]

The Tatars were finally released from their “special settlements” in 1956, but they were not allowed to return to their homes that they had owned before the deportation.  The Tatars scattered across Central Asia, Eastern Europe in places such as Romania, and as far away as the United States.  They ultimately launched a massive human rights movement including appeals to the government to have the ruling overturned.  Ukraine is ultimately in control of the Crimean peninsula and stand at a pivotal point in history as the government has the power to return the Tatars to their homeland.  The entire Islamic world is watching and waiting to see if the government will put an end to the discrimination.[10] Might the Crimean peninsula become another “Palestine”?

Language

The native language of the Crimean Tatar people is Crimean Tatar; however, most cannot read or write the language.  Between 1928 and 1938, the alphabet was changed from Arabic to Latin to Cyrillic making it very difficult for the people to learn of their history, culture, or language.[11] The school system denies thousands of children the right to learn about their people including the language resulting in over 75% of the Tatar people unable to read or write in their native language.[12]

Culture and Family

The Crimean Tatar people of Romania are very close-knit in their relationships.  The older people who were involved in the deportation and were close to the political unrest that resulted have held very tightly to their heritage; however, the younger generation has not embraced the culture.   It is estimated that 91% of the Crimean Tatar people marry within their culture.  The people that live in the urban areas dress in a Western style, while many of the Tatars that live in the rural areas stick more closely to the traditional dress.  They have a deep love of music and songs, called “manes” and “chin”, and perform them at holidays and feast times.[13]

Economy

The Crimean Tatar people are very poor as a whole.  The discrimination that they experience from the societies in which they live has restricted them to very poor housing situations.  They are primarily an agricultural society; however, many do work in the petroleum industry.  They also make extra money selling homemade items such as leather goods and crafts.[14]

Religion

As previously discussed, the Crimean Tatar people hold to the Muslim religion as they have since the inception of the Crimean Khanate in the 1440s.  They are Sunni Muslims from the Hanafite branch.  Sunni Muslims are those who supported the caliphs, or leaders, of the Muslim faith.  They follow closely to the Sunnah, or custom, of Muhammad.  The largest sect of Muslims is the Sunni sect.  The Sunnis organized the Islamic life and created a structure of theocratic law.  The Sunnis look to the community for the final resource of law and ethics.  They are also very committed to the advancement of the Muslim faith around the world.[15]

Survey of Missions Work to the Crimean Tatars

The history of missions work to the Crimean Tatar people cannot be considered without first surveying the history of missions to the Muslim community.  The history of Christian-Muslim relations goes back many centuries to the very beginning of Islam.  Its prophet, Muhammad, started Islam as a formal religion in 570 AD.  From that point forward, Christians, Jews, and Muslims have been locked in a war for control of the city of Jerusalem and to establish which religion is the correct representative of God’s kingdom advancement in the earth.

Historically, the Muslim community has reacted and responded to Christian hostility.  They have also taken the offensive approach to attack Christians seemingly without provocation.  The conflict between the two religions reached an unbelievable climax with the Crusades in 1000-1100 AD.  The Christians were trying to rid the Holy Land of the Muslims causing a wedge in relations that lasts to this day.  The attack on American soil on September 11, 2001 brought relations between the radical Muslim community and the Christian West to another point of all out war.

With all of these events occurring throughout history, it has become increasingly difficult for Christians to spread the gospel message among the Muslim community.  Mission ventures collapse, and missionaries are attacked, arrested, and even killed.  In spite of these hardships, Christian missions have been successful, and many Muslims have named the name of Christ in many regions around the world; however, much work is to be done to see Muslims turn to Christ.

Status of the Church

The church among the Crimean Tatar people is basically non-existent.  The Joshuaproject.net reports only 200 Tatars in Romania are Christians out of 22,000 people.[16] The people as a whole still hold to the Muslim faith.  A report from a Romanian pastor, Pastor Samuel Caba, based out of Arad, Romania confirms this information.  He stated that of the 22,000,000 people presently in Romania, only 2,000,000 name the name of Christ.  Approximately ninety percent of the Romanian population is Russian Orthodox, but they are only nominal Christians.  They believe that they are saved because their ancestors became Christians long ago.  Less that 1,000,000 Romanians are Evangelical Christians.  Other people in Romania are of the Muslim faith or hold to witchcraft-type religious beliefs.  Twenty million people in Romania need Christ and that includes the Crimean Tatars![17]

Challenges to Missions

The challenges to mission work among the Crimean Tatar people are varied.  In some regions of the world where they are dispersed, they are a peaceful people who appear to be ready for harvest.  There has been a New Testament translated in their language, but successful mission work has not yet reached them; however, the Crimean Tatars of Romania appear to be a different story.  The reports coming from the Southeast region of Romania where they are located are that the Muslim religion has a tight stronghold. Bitterness toward the West due to the wars in the Gulf region has made reaching the Muslims in the area quite challenging.  Pastor Caba states that Christian pastors and evangelists are routinely attacked, beaten, tortured, poisoned, arrested, and even killed for preaching the gospel to the Muslims in the region.  He stated that leaders of the Muslim community have historically conspired with the local authorities to have these hostile attacks carried out.[18]

Another set of challenges with the Romanian government and region is with religious freedoms.  If a church or religious organization does not belong to a government-recognized cult or religion, it is not recognized by the government and not given the privileges to fully operate as the other organizations.  Pastor Samuel is actively involved in the fight for religious freedom in the Romanian government.[19]

Present Missions Strategies

To survey the present mission strategies, one must first examine the strategies of the past to the Muslim community and specifically the Crimean Tatars.  In the past, Christians have approached missions in varied ways.  The Crimean Tatar people are very wary of anyone from the outside of their community due to the extreme abuses that they have endured from the Russian government.  They are also incredibly discriminated against in Romania.  They are not even offered full citizenship in the country.  They were ousted from their homeland in the 1940s, and they are not accepted in the places where they were dispersed.

The Crimean Tatars of Romania are located in the Eastern European bloc of nations that have a very unique mindset.  Scot Sexton, a missionary to Western Russia/Eastern Europe in the late 1990s spoke of the views of the people of the area toward the Christian West.  He stated that they were viewed as “celebrities”.  People wanted to know everything about the West and longed for information.  The missions team worked with a local church in the area ministering and speaking in the more rural areas of Russia and Eastern Europe.  Through the course of the lengthy interview with Mr. Sexton, he commented that he often feels that the strategy that they used to reach people with the gospel was not very effective.  In retrospect, he saw many people respond to altar calls and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior, but he wonders if they were truly converted to Christianity. The most fruit that they saw were in relationships that were made with the young men in the area in which they ministered.  These young men would associate with them frequently, and there was active discipleship of these men.  They would in turn reach out to their respective families and win them to Christ.  During the four years of his service in missions to the Eastern European people, he only remembers one Muslim Tatar gentleman that came to Christ.  He stated that the Tatar people were wary of churches and religious organizations due to potential retaliation from their family members.[20]

Another missionary to the region of Western Russia and Eastern Europe was in the area during the period of the September 11, 2001 attacks and the period shortly thereafter.  He spoke of a sharp change in attitude towards people from the West due to the American invasion of Iraq and the war with Afghanistan.  The missionaries from America were no longer viewed as “celebrities”, but they were perceived as invaders and greedy capitalists that were only out for control of the world’s oil.  Evangelism in the area became increasingly difficult, and he returned to the United States but not without lasting fruit left behind.  Mr. Sims saw many people come to Christ, relationships formed with local citizens, and disciples made that have had a lasting impact on the region of his ministry efforts.[21]

Proposed Strategy for Reaching the Crimean Tatar People of Romania

The challenges of reaching the Crimean Tatars in Romania and elsewhere are extremely great.  The fear of entering a land and culture of Muslim people would be very difficult to overcome.  Several concerns should be discussed before a missionary or missionary team embarks on a season of labor among the people to reach them for Christ. What kind of pre-mission preparations should be done?  How readily will someone be accepted from the West with the gospel of Jesus Christ given the current political and economic unrest around the world? What would be the best method of evangelizing?  Should the missionaries be tent-makers?  What kind of language barriers would there be, if any?  What about money?  In what areas of service could the missionaries be involved to show the love of Christ to the people?  Should the length of time spent on the missionary journey be long-term or short-term?  Should the missionary be a part of an agency or go it alone with a church backing? All of these questions and many more, in no particular order, should be examined thoroughly before entering such an adverse region of the world.  They need Jesus Christ, and it is the body of Christ’s job to get it done.

Before leaving for mission work, the missionary has many aspects upon which to ruminate.  Ample preparations should be made before leaving to ensure that there is a good transition period so that the missionary can be most effective.  The issue of bonding comes into play at this point.  What is the best way for the missionary to bond with the host culture?  Although it might be very scary at first for the new missionary, the best way for fast bonding to happen would be for the missionary to find a host home and family to accept him or her.  Language is much easier to learn when immersed in relationships in a home setting.  More ways for the new missionary to bond with the culture quickly is to consider only using local modes of public transportation and limiting personal belongings only to the bare necessities.[22]

Prayer is absolutely essential to the preparation phase of the missionary’s journey as well as throughout the deployment.  Prayer is a two-way means of continual communication with God concerning every aspect of life.[23] The missionary should make sure that their prayer life is healthy, and that their communication with God is very frequent.  Paul, the ultimate missionary, encouraged the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It is an exceedingly difficult thing for a Muslim to do to walk away from their religion and all of the things he or she has been taught.  The power of the Holy Spirit must be at work. Sometimes, the only thing that you can do when ministering to Muslims is to pray for them.[24] The missionary should make sure that information about the area of mission work has been given to the local church or mission agency to ensure that they are praying over every aspect of the mission work to the people.  To go along with a healthy prayer life, spiritual warfare must take place.  Spiritual warfare is defined as “the struggle that Christians have to live faithful Christian lives in the face of onslaughts of spiritual powers of darkness.”  For the missionary travelling to an unreached people such as the Crimean Tatars, an understanding of the spiritual implications of Christians in Muslim territory and how to combat those spirits of darkness is absolutely essential.[25]

Also, before embarking on the new mission, a good understanding of the most effective methods of evangelism should be determined.  When Pastor Samuel Caba was asked his opinion on how to most effectively win Muslim Romanians to Christ, he responded with an emphatic, “Relationships.”[26] Also, when Mr. Sexton was asked the same question regarding the Western Russian/Eastern European people, he responded with the same thought – relationships.  Pastor Samuel even stated that he believes that the most effective approach to reach the Muslim people in Romania would be to go there with the intention of staying in the area and building relationships among the people before Christ is ministered to them.  Once that relationship has been established, then the work of sharing the gospel will naturally occur.  The community that has been formed is the base of a fellowship of believers that will spread the gospel through the same methods – relationships and discipleship.  Jesus taught us this same principle.  When He ministered to the woman at the well in Samaria, he built a relationship with her by showing love and acceptance.  The people invited Him into their community where He taught them for two days.  Again, Jesus taught His disciples how to go into the world looking for a “man of peace”.  They were to remain in that home teaching all that entered.  The gospel would spread from that home until the whole community was affected with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  People who are already committed to each other will come to faith together.[27]

The concept of first building relationships brings up the next concern about acceptance in the culture, especially one that is so wary of westerners.  The best way for this to happen effectively is to show the love of God to them and the power of His love that is shown through His community of believers.  The Muslim community is very close-knit, and it is an easier transition for the Muslim that is newly converted to Christianity to feel that he or she is not leaving something behind but is gaining a new community.[28] The missionary must also take a loving interest in the Muslim’s life and family.[29] The missionary must show that the love is genuine.

In his book, Muslims, Christians, and Jesus, Carl Medearis gives the reader five thoughts on how to reach someone in the Muslim faith for Christ.  First, the Christian should have fun.  Muslims love to party, and we should do so within their cultural frame of reference – no alcohol or pork as these would offend.  Next, Medearis encourages the Christian to have no agenda with basing the relationship solely on winning them to Christ.   Third, he says for the Christian to be “a-religious”, in other words, do not be religious by being defensive, argumentative, or be arrogant in knowledge of the truth.  Fourthly, adaptation to the religious forms of the new Muslim friends is a must.  Some pointers for this would be to pray by standing with eyes open and palms facing up.  Another important tip would be to not invite the Muslim to a “Bible study”.  Muslims do not understand that concept.  It would be more beneficial to invite them to a “discussion about the Bible.”  Ultimately, the missionary should just be normal.  People can tell when an act is being portrayed.  The true love of God is easily displayed if all barriers are down.[30] Of course the issue of syncretism comes up at this point.  The missionary should make sure that while they are contextualizing the gospel, syncretism should be avoided.  There are boundaries that must not be crossed.[31]

As stated previously, the Crimean Tatar people of Romania live in a very depressed economic situation that is in dire need of assistance.  Much of their adverse conditions could be rectified if they were granted full citizenship in Romania, but much can be done to help them by the missionary or missionary team being “tentmakers.”  Agriculture and construction are the primary needs of the people.  Job skills training and small-business startup assistance would be quite beneficial.  English language instruction would help them as well.[32]

The language barriers would be great.  As stated earlier, not very many of the Crimean Tatar people know the native language.  Most speak Turkish, while others speak a dialect of the Russian language.  The relationships that the missionary forms will assist in overcoming the language barrier, which will only take time.

No missionary venture could be pursued without money from some source.  The missionary could gain the necessary resources to survive by becoming a tentmaker and living off the income from those ventures.  Another source of income, of course, would come from the local church or mission agency that deployed the missionary.  One good piece of advice to the missionary is to enter at as low of a financial profile as possible.  First impressions are vital in the long-term success of the missionary.  It is easy to upgrade financially once the missionary is established.  It is not always easy to fix a bad first impression by entering the culture with more money than necessary to survive.[33]

The Message translation of Romans 15:1 states, “Strength is for service, not status.”  Many Christians have missed the whole point of serving others while being too wrapped up in their own ambitions or trying to protect reputations.  If the missionary enters the culture of the Crimean Tatars without looking for ways in which to serve, then he or she has missed a vital opportunity to reach the people with the gospel.  Being like Christ as servants first, the message will be much clearer and found to be genuine in the eyes of the people.  Mr. Sims stated that some of the basic needs in the area were in hospitals, orphanages, and schools.  Also, he stated that during his tenure in the area, the mission team had great success with opening a place for the people to come and get clothing items that had been donated by people in the United States.  The team was able to meet people and begin building relationships with them.[34]

There are two types of mission deployments, long-term and short-term.  The Crimean Tatar people do not have an established church in the region to speak of, so it might not be the most effective method to choose short-term missions first.  While aid and some service projects could be completed and some souls won for Christ, disciples could not be nurtured and cared for in an effective manner.  Long-term missions work would be the most effective to begin with so that the proper relationships could be formed and healthy churches planted in the region.

When considering whether the missionary should venture out on his or her own, join a mission agency, or go with a local church backing, there are many aspects to examine before making the decision.  If one were to venture out alone, there would be no one for support, either financially or relationally if problems should arise.  There are many different types of agencies in existence today.  The “service missions” serve other agencies in the field, for example, literature missions, recording experts, bible translators, etc.  “Standard missions” are concerned with the basic needs such as educational, medical, church planting, etc.  The benefit of affiliating with these agencies is that the missionary is less likely to feel abandoned.  Also, the goal of the mission organization is easily passed on to the following generations.[35] The local church is another effective organization for sending out missionaries into the field; however, there are downfalls.  A major benefit would be the unification of local churches across denominational lines when it comes to mission work.  Joint projects unite the body of Christ if denominal and doctrinal issues can be laid down.  Conversely, the church must be adequately educated and informed of the work being done in the mission field to keep the resources flowing.  Also, local churches often want to do new and fresh things on the field not knowing that their efforts could be greatly enhanced by joining forces with established agencies.[36]

Conclusion

The Crimean Tatar people have a long and sordid history of oppression, injustice, and hardship.[37] They are a people who are struggling to return to their homeland on the Crimean peninsula.  The Tatars long for acceptance from their host countries in which they are dispersed, and they desperately want the Ukrainian government to allow them full citizenship and right to own land in their home country.  The incredible level of discrimination and inhumane treatment over the years has left them in a position to not readily trust outsiders and those in authority.  The Crimean Tatars of Romania have very real needs that can only be met through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  The body of Christ must pray that long-term missionaries will accept the challenge to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Tatars and show His love in the land of Romania.  Let it be so, Lord Jesus!

Bibliography

Altan, Mubeyyin Batu. “A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement.” Crimean            Tatars.  Available from http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/ctnm.htm.  Internet; accessed 10            May 2010.

Bethany World Prayer Center.  “The Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles:  The Crimean Tatar of            Romania.”  Available from http://kcm.co.kr/bethany_eng/p_code/81.html.  Internet;            accessed 3 May 2010.

Bos, Steven J.  “Pentecostal Church Fears Renewed Persecution in Romania.”  Christian            Persecution Information.  Available from http://www.christianpersecution.info/

news/Pentecostal-church-fears-renewed-persecution-in-romania/. Internet; accessed 12 May 2010.

Caba, Samuel.  Interview by author, 8 May 2010.  Port Neches, TX.  Yahoo Messenger.

Caner, Ergun, and Emir Fethi Caner. Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and            Beliefs. Updated and Expanded ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2009.

Greear, J. D.  Breaking the Islam Code:  Understanding the Soul Questions of Every Muslim.

Eugene, OR:  Harvest House Publishers, 2010.

Hosking, Geoffrey. Russia and the Russians: A History. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of            Harvard University Press, 2003.

Joshua Project.  “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania.”  Available from            http://www.joshuaproject.net/peopctry.php?peo3=11434&rog3=RO.  Internet; accessed            28 April 2010.

Medearis, Carl.  Muslims, Christians, and Jesus:  Gaining Understanding and Building            Relationships. Minneapolis, MN:  Bethany House, 2008.

Moreau, A. Scott, Gary B. McGee, and Gary R. Corwin. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical,            Historical, and Practical Survey (Encountering Mission). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker            Academic, 2004.

Sexton, Scot A.  Interview by author, 8 May 2010.  Port Neches, TX.  Digital recording.

Sims, Aaron.  Interview by author, 10 May 2010.  Port Neches, TX.  Telephone.

Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds. Perspectives on the World Christian            Movement: A Reader. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library Publishers, 2009.


[1] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available            from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc;            Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

2 Mubeyyin Batu Altan, “A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement”; Crimean Tatars; available from http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/ctnm.htm; Internet; accessed 10 May 2010.

3 Geoffrey Hosking, Russia and the Russians:  A History (Cambridge, MA:  Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 121.

[4] Ibid., p. 231.

5 Mubeyyin Batu Altan, “A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement”; Crimean Tatars; available from http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/ctnm.htm; Internet; accessed 10 May 2010.

[6] Hosking, Russia and the Russians, 504.

7 Mubeyyin Batu Altan, “A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement”; Crimean Tatars; available from http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/ctnm.htm; Internet; accessed 10 May 2010.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hosking, Russia and the Russians, 506.

[10] Mubeyyin Batu Altan, “A Brief History of the Crimean Tatar National Movement”;            Crimean Tatars; available from http://www.euronet.nl/users/sota/ctnm.htm; Internet;            accessed 10 May 2010.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available            from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc;            Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

[13] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available            from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc;            Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

14 Bethany World Prayer Center.  “The Unreached Peoples Prayer Profiles:  The Crimean Tatar of Romania”; available from http://kcm.co.kr/bethany_eng/p_code/81.html; Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

15 Ergun Caner and Emir Fethi Caner, Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs, Updated and Expanded ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2009), 162-163.

[16] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc; Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

[17] Samuel Caba, interview by author, 8 May 2010, Port Neches, TX, Yahoo Messenger.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Steven J. Bos, “Pentecostal Church Fears Renewed Persecution in Romania”; Christian            Persecution Information; available from http://www.christianpersecution.info/

news/Pentecostal-church-fears-renewed-persecution-in-romania/; Internet; accessed 12 May 2010.

[20] Scot A. Sexton, interview by author, 8 May 2010, Port Neches, TX, digital recording.

[21] Aaron Sims, interview by author, 10 May 2010, Port Neches, TX, telephone.

[22] Ralph D. Winter and Steven C. Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives on the World Christian

Movement: A Reader (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library Publishers, 2009), 467-68.

[23] A. Scott Moreau, Gary B. McGee and Gary R. Corwin, Introducing World Missions:  A            Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey (Encountering Mission) (Grand Rapids, MI:            Baker Academic, 2004), 180.

[24] J.D. Greear, Breaking the Islam Code: Understanding the Soul Questions of Every

Muslim (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 34.

[25] Moreau, Corwin, and McGee, Introducing World Missions, 287-288.

[26] Samuel Caba, interview by author, 8 May 2010, Port Neches, TX, Yahoo Messenger.

[27] Winter and Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives, 692-693.

[28] Greear, Breaking the Islam Code, 35-36.

[29] Caner and Caner, Unveiling Islam, 241.

[30] Carl Medearis, Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building            Relationships (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2008), 152-67.

[31] Winter and Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives, 666-667.

[32] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available            from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc;

Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.

[33] Winter and Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives, 484-485.

[34] Aaron Sims, interview by author, 10 May 2010, Port Neches, TX, telephone.

[35] Winter and Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives, 732.

[36] Winter and Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives, 733.

[37] Joshua Project, “People-In-Country Profile:  Tatar, Crimean of Romania”; available            from http://www.joshuaproject.net/peoples.php?peo3=11434&sf=jpscale&so=asc;

Internet; accessed 3 May 2010.