Written by a PI Worker
“Why does it take so long for humans to grow up?” asked one of my kids after we had been observing squirrels in the trees near our apartment. The baby squirrels were running up and down the tree even just a few months after birth, leaping bravely from branch to branch. Being the youngest of four, my son cannot wait to beat his big brother in running, biking, or roller skating. I, on the other hand, cherish the little years. It is bittersweet to see my kids grow up. But I have heard from more mature parents that they enjoy the young adults they have. I have to admit that there is something nice about people who know how to make friends, resolve conflict, get and keep a job, and be able to take care of other people in their lives. You know, be adults.
If physical maturing is slow, spiritual maturing also takes time. The Bible calls it transformation. “And we all…are being transformed…” 2 Cor 3:18. The Greek word “metamorphoo” is inspiring, but it still misleads me. Yes, it takes 10-14 days for a caterpillar to become a butterfly, but it’s still a quick process compared to how long it takes for a new believer to mature. I would like it to be much, much quicker.
An immigrant from Central Asia found a nice phone on the street in Europe. Mahmood was a new believer, and he went to see his discipler, asking what he should do. What would you do in a situation like this? I would likely pull out my Bible and show him some verses about honesty, integrity, and being a good citizen. Thankfully his discipler was much wiser. He asked Mahmood what he thought he should do. This young man was troubled and took some days to think through the situation. He really liked that phone. He came to ask his discipler again for advice. Again this older man asked him to find out for himself what he should do, as a follower of Jesus. Eventually Mahmood came with the conclusion that he should return the phone. The phone’s owner was so impressed by Mahmood’s honesty that he hired him on the spot for his business. Mahmood still works for him.
Every new believer will go through moments that will define them and their walk with Jesus. Amazingly, in Central Asia these moments often happen when it’s time to get married. Will they choose a believing spouse? Will they be open about their faith among their relatives, and their spouse’s relatives?
Faiz had been fellowshipping in a small local home group. There seemed to be a lot of potential in him; a smart young man with a good job and great attitude. But he really wanted to marry a special Muslim girl. She knew about his faith and, knowing many believing expats, was positive about it. In the process of getting the families together and negotiating the wedding, Faiz’s faith came up. We thought he would bravely profess his faith, especially as his fiancee was supporting him. To our shock, he denounced his faith, got married, and cut off relationships with believers.
Were Mahmood’s and Faiz’s lives transformed initially? Yes. But Muslim background believers encounter tough choices each day that will challenge them to choose again and again. The process of growing up spiritually is very hard and it takes a long time. It is not done by human effort, it is a miracle, just like the metamorphosis of a butterfly. Therefore your prayers are invaluable.