Peace Through Proclamation: Arab Newcomers Discover Life in the Gospels
The answer to the turmoil that many are experiencing around us is our sharing of Christ with them. And newcomers from distinctly non-peace-filled areas of the Arab world are hearing about the Prince of Peace!
We regularly disciple the youth of the Arab newcomer community that we serve through our weekly soccer clinics. This is a community from another worldview, and in fact they have animosity to what we believe about Jesus being the Son of God, as well as in our concept of the Trinity. They have been told that association of others to God is blasphemy. In addition, many of these young people have experienced the trauma of war in their nations. However, every week after we play soccer, we sit down with the group of boys and I teach them about Jesus - directly from the gospels. I ask for a volunteer from the group who will read the New Testament passage to the others before I teach. Even though they have a fear and resistance ingrained into them regarding the Injeel (New Testament), as we teach about who Jesus is, the resistance dissipates, and they have a sense of the life, hope, and yes, PEACE, that there is in the person of Jesus. In fact, I am joyfully amazed on a regular basis as our Arab community experiences life and hope as they are exposed to the person of Jesus in Scripture.
The Greek word that is used here for “peace” means:
- national tranquillity from war
- relational harmony
- security, safety, and prosperity
For Jewish people, the word that is used for peace here is significant. It is the word šālôm (pronounced shalom), and it means:
- completeness, soundness
- safety, welfare
- health and prosperity
- quiet, tranquility, contentment
- relational health
- covenant relationship with God
- King Herod wanted all the baby boys in Bethlehem murdered
- Israel was still under Roman occupation
- Jesus was brutally executed, and His followers suffered persecution for centuries
The tomb dweller (Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39). This man who was possessed by demons was unable to live with others, and was subjected to live in tombs, where he would “cry out and cut himself with stones” (Mark 5:5). The very epitome of hopelessness and darkness, with one word of command from Jesus, he was completely free, and he experienced the shalom promised by Messiah’s coming.
The touchy lady of questionable reputation (John 4). Here was a lady who was guarded and feisty when she met Jesus at a well on a given day. She had searched for love in the wrong places, and all that she reaped was pain and brokenness. She knew that if this Rabbi only knew her secrets, that He, too, would throw the book (the Law) at her as others had done. Instead, even though He knew her moral failings, He loved her, and offered her water that would truly satisfy and heal. This lady, too, experienced the shalom that was promised at Messiah’s coming. There were many others as well.
It does not take an in-depth analysis to know that our world today desperately needs peace. The human heart needs peace internally and society as a whole is yearning for God’s shalom. I see this everyday with the Arabic newcomers whom I am privileged to serve, who fled from their devastated nations, as lives continue to be lost. Last week, one of the men told me that his brother’s wife and children were just killed through a bomb explosion in their country. Is the promised peace of Messiah’s coming available today, and if so, how so?
Peace through the Proclamation of the Gospel
Paul said, “I am debtor both to Greeks and non-Greeks … that is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you… (Romans 1:14-15). Paying a debt is not an option, and Paul felt that he was in debt to all people to proclaim (through words) the gospel to them. I, too, am in debt to proclaim this message to those in my sphere of influence.
As worthy as social causes may be, they do not replace the proclamation of the good news.
This Christmas season don’t be hesitant to proclaim the good news. For you, this might mean baking a tray of cookies, taking it to your neighbour and sitting down for friendship and some intentional dialogue. Let’s be agents of peace within our communities this advent season.
Shared from the heart of a Mission Canada worker who desires to bring peace to everyone they connect with.