BY Carolyn Curtis
As the twin towers of the World Trade Center tumbled to a smoldering heap on
September 11, 2001, dust and debris seeped into apartments ringing the site
that became known as Ground Zero. The whitish gray dust settled on every
surfacesometimes an inch thickleaving an industrial-strength mess that
professional cleaning companies charged enormous prices to fix.
photo by DOUG KEESEYCheryl Collins (left) vacuums the windowsill of an apartment in the
Gateway building. The owners of the apartment decided to move because of their
view of Ground Zero.
Into the fray came Southern Baptists volunteering to clean it up at no cost.
New Yorkers were wary at first. Wasnt there a catch, a hidden fee? Perhaps they
would be asked to donate money or, at minimum, endure some well meaning but
uninvited Bible thumping.
No, they learned, these volunteers were performing a ministry with no
strings attached. All they wanted was a chance to serve.
But the volunteers did receive something in returninsights into the city
that never sleeps and its sometimes-jaded apartment dwellers that were hurt in
a personal and profound way by the tragedy of 9/11. As they picked through
peoples cabinets and bookshelves and drawersand ultimately their heartsthey
learned about New Yorkers bravery but also their fears and needs. They prayed
with them. They listened. They even gave advice, when asked. And they went home
Three who serve at the North American Mission Board and participated in the
Dust Out spoke to On Mission about the experience: Susan McDaniel, manager,
Editorial and Design; Sam Price, intern, Adult Volunteer Mobilization; and
Melissa Moore, secretary, Adult Volunteer Mobilization.
Carolyn Curtis is editor of On Mission magazine.
On Mission: Tell us about the Dust Out and your
role as a volunteer.
Sam: We cleaned apartments in the Gateway building a block
from Ground Zero. They were in the dust cloud formed when the World Trade
Center towers collapsed. The dust was so fine that it found its way under
doors. When we entered the apartments, they were all gray from the dust. Just a
drab gray. Even the colored upholstery looked gray. It was in the kitchen
cabinets and all the drawers. Everything down to the smallest knick-knack had
to be wiped down.
Melissa: Every morning we stopped by the supply truck to
pick up our equipment, a specialized vacuum for each team and a 30-gallon
Rubbermaid container filled with dust wipes, Pledge, Mr. Clean, mops, brushes,
face masks for us.
Sam: The vacs reminded us of R2D2 and had air quality
filters able to remove a high percentage of micro-organismsdust particles.
Susan: When we arrived at each apartment, we would start at
the location farthest from the door and clean out toward the hallway. We
cleaned the window first, because it was usually coated with dust. We would
vacuum the wall, vacuum the ceiling, wash down the wall, vacuum the floor and
then start on everything in the room. Usually we would have to go back and wipe
things down again, because we had stirred up so much dust in the process.
On Mission: So what was it like being at Ground
Melissa: There are no words to describe the realization
that so many lives were lost. When we were cleaning the apartments, it was like
looking down into a graveyard.
Sam: I remember the smell. Its like sulfur. When we were
there, it was still smoldering. Water trucks were constantly dousing the
Melissa: The whole city smelled. Even from the Empire State
Building about 40 blocks away, you could smell it.
Sam: I think what struck me is the immensity. When I saw it
on TV before I went, the pictures didnt do justice in terms of showing how big
the area is.
Susan: Everything became quiet when they would find a body.
The cranes and trucks would stop, and all the people came out onto the street.
I remember one day when they found the body of a firefighter. They brought the
body out in a coffin, draped it with a flag and put it on the back of a fire
truck. And then they observed a moment of silence.
On Mission: What was the reception like from the
people whose apartments you cleaned and from New Yorkers in general?
Susan: By November Disaster Relief workers had been there
for two months, and people were accustomed to seeing the yellow hats and
jackets and the familiar logo. Everywhere we went people were constantly coming
up to thank us for being there.
Sam: They were very appreciative of the continued response
by Southern Baptists. When they realized we werent there to take advantage of
them, they were willing to let us help. Some cleaning companies charged
thousands of dollars. It made an impact that we were there to do the work for
free. They were impressed that volunteers from all over the country were taking
their vacation time to travel there and help.
Susan: It was special for NAMB staffers, because we have
both the privilege and the requirement to spend a week every year actively
being on mission. Its left up to the individual as to how to spend that week.
Volunteering to go to New York to clean apartments was a great opportunity to
share Christ with others.
On Mission: Where did you stay?
Susan: The Brooklyn Navy Shipyard in what used to be the
brig. We slept on one-inch thick mattresses.
Sam: Everything was pop-riveted to the floor. The facility
was locked and had a New York City police officer at the door, which was nice.
It was safe.
Melissa: The flights were donated by Delta. A Disaster
Relief feeding tent was set up at the brig for meals, so we ate for free.
Anything else we did, we paid for on our own.
On Mission: Tell us what you learned about
Sam: Just how important it is to listen.
Susan and Melissa: Yes!
Sam: Being there to help builds a bridge and gives you the
opportunity to share more if youre willing to listen and let people offer
details of what theyve been through. We laid a foundation by being there to
clean and listen. Now others can come in and do the evangelism.
Susan: A church-planting missionary recently rented an
apartment in the Gateway building. I feel certain that, after the work we and
hundreds of volunteers did there, doors will open, and hell be able to really
make a difference in their lives.
On Mission: Any advice for readers who might be
interested in doing something like this?
Sam: Just sign up. Every year Southern Baptists respond to
disasters like hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. The training takes only a day
and is offered by state Baptist conventions and local associations of Baptists
all year long.
Susan: There are many ways you can share a cup of cold
water in Christs name, but I dont think theres a better time than when someone
is in the midst of a personal tragedy. Thats when they need someone to come
alongside them and offer hope.
For information about Southern Baptists response to 9/11 and continuing
efforts visit www.namb.net/911. You can also order NAMBs E-ssentials for
the On Mission Church video, volume 2, number 5, by calling 800-634-2462.
For information about Disaster Relief call
BY LIEN NGUYEN
Terror gripped 13-year-old Khalil as he approached the
customs desk at Baghdad International Airport. Under orders of Saddam Hussein
anyone found carrying more than $500 would be hung in the public square, and
his family and neighbors shot. Khalil was $34,500 over his limit.
Drops of sweat beaded down his back as he waited in the strip-search line.
They checked his passport. It was one of the last to be stamped after the edict
went out forbidding any more clearances. The customs agent waived him on
without a search. His fathers bribe of $60,000 to a security official had
paid off. He looked back wondering if he would ever see his family again.
Finally, he boarded the plane. With his older brother already attending college
in New York, at least two of his fathers 10 child-ren would live to see
5 ways to reach out to your Muslim neighbor today
Although these topics for dialogue will assist in Muslim evangelism, nothing
replaces relationship building. It is only by our spending time with Muslims
one-on-one that they can experience the genuineness of our commitment to God,
and our love for them. Here are five ways to involve yourself in the lives of
those who need Christ, as desperately as you once did.
1. Invite them for holiday celebrations. Most Muslims enjoy
attending family gatherings even on holidays they themselves dont celebrate.
Ask them to join you for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Be sensitive to their
dietary concerns by asking them where you can shop for meat, or ask them to
bring their favorite dish.
2. Involve them in your home-schooling experience. Muslim parents
are often as concerned about public education as Christians are. Invite them to
join you for field trips or craft days.
3. Hold a seeker-friendly Bible study. Invite some of your Muslim
neighbors to attend a question and answer time for them to find out what
Christians believe. Allow them a time to share their beliefs as
4. Invite your Muslim friends to picnics, birthday parties or
outdoor BBQs. Again, remain sensitive to their dietary needs and dress
conservatively in walking shorts. Swimming activities can be offered for the
5. Offer to drive them on errands or help them with medical or
insurance forms. Many are new to the country and may have a difficult time
filling out paperwork. Look for ways to make them feel welcome.
But Khalil was refused passage to the United States because the two
countries held no formal diplomatic relations. Instead he arrived in London,
alone. Speaking only Arabic he contacted a friend of a friend, and after
obtaining a student visa, attended high school and then college in Birmingham,
England. It was there that Saddams men found him, and beat him. They threatened
not only his life, but also his friends lives. He was ordered to go back home
to Iraq. Again, Khalil applied for asylum in America; miraculously the embassy
said yes. Now in the U.S. he was back where he started alone. He cried out to
God the only way he knew how, the Muslim way. But Allah was silent.
Then a still small voice carried him back to fond memories with a certain
group of childhood friends who treated him and each other with kindness. They
were called Christians and followed a prophet born of the Virgin Mary. Perhaps
he should find out more about this man named Jesus.
It wasnt too long after attending Southwood Baptist Church in Tulsa,
Oklahoma, that Khalil found what his soul longed for. But like most Muslims
raised with false doctrine, he had several theological hurdles to jump.
This year, Khalil will graduate from Southwestern Baptist Theological
Seminary with a Masters Degree in Divinity with Biblical Languages. He also
served as assistant director for Good News for the Crescent World, www.gnfcw.org, a ministry that
educates missionaries and laypeople on how to help Muslims understand the
gospel. Khalil sat down with On Mission and shared a few of the most difficult
concepts Muslims struggle with, plus recommended responses from on mission
Christians to help bring their Muslim friends closer to the Good News.
Man has a sinful natureIn Islam I was taught that all
humans are born innocent, says Khalil. Sin is seen only as a deed. They deny
that it exists as mans basic nature. So when I went to a Christian church and
the pastor said I was a sinner and that all have sinned, I thought, how dare
Comparison of Beliefs
Allah is numerically and absolutely one. He is beyond the understanding of
man so that only his will may be revealed and known.
There is only one God. He revealed Himself in the flesh as Jesus Christ and
seeks a relationship with us.
The Quran affirms Jesus supernatural birth, life of miracles, His compassion
and ascension to heaven. Muslims believe that God took Jesus from the cross and
took Him to heaven where He is alive and from where one day He will return.
Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the world. He died on the cross for
our sins and was buried in a tomb. On the third day he was raised from the
dead. He later ascended to heaven.
The Quran is the sacred book of Islam and the perfect work of God for the
Muslim. It was dictated by the angel Gabriel to Muhammed.
Old and New Testaments are Gods Word. Nothing else has the same
Determined by compiling good deeds, primarily conformity to the five
pillars: confession, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage.
Salvation is a gift from God and comes only by grace through faith in Jesus
But according to the Quran there is only One who is sinless. The angel
appears to Mary and tells her, I am only a messenger of thy Lord that I may
bestow on thee a faultless son (Surah Maryam 19:19). The word faultless in
Arabic, zakkiyya, means that he is totally without sin. The Quran also states
that even Muhammad has sinned, But (ye Muhammad) seek the forgiveness of Allah;
for Allah is oft forgiving, most Merciful (Surah Nisa 4:106).
On mission message: Ask your Muslim friend, Where
then does sin come from? Honest Muslims will admit that evil and unprovoked
thoughts come into his or her mind. Where does that originate? If you look at
any culture in the world, sin exists. It has to come from somewhere.
Allah is not GodAfter becoming a Christian I realized
that Muslims and Christians do not worship the same God, says Khalil. The term
Abdullah in Arabic expresses that all humans are slaves of Allah.
Master-to-slave is the kind of relationship Allah has with his creation. This
differs from the paternal relationship expressed in the Bible that reads, As a
father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who
fear him (Psalm 103:13).
Also, Allah hates sinners. He only loves those who believe and worship him,
adds Khalil. This conflicts with the biblical version of a loving Creator. For
God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes
in Him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Lastly, Allah is not a triune God. Muslims reject the truth of the Trinity
and also the divinity of Christ.
On mission message: To the Muslim our claim that
Jesus is God implies to them that we believe in multiple gods. However, in the
Quran there is a Chapter of the Ants where Moses has an encounter with the
burning bush. This means that God, the creator of heaven and earth, came down
in the form of a flame to communicate with Moses. Ask your Muslim friend if it
is possible that God could come down in the form of flesh to do the same? Are
we, the creation, allowed to limit God-The-Creators methods?
Why do so many Muslims seem to hate us?
Perhaps a better question is, Why should they like us? Muslims live under
state-sanctioned religion, so they have no understanding of separation of
church and state. This means that whatever they see in U.S. culture they
consider as synonymous to Christian culture. Christianity to them is:
Hollywood, Baywatch, Madonna wearing a cross and Internet pornography.
Christianity appears to be a license to sin.
When Muslims compare themselves to other religions on a purely
legalistic scale, Christianity comes up short. Christians eat pork and disobey
dietary laws. Muslims only eat clean meat and refrain from pork products.
Christians pray with dirty hands, yet Muslims conduct ceremonial washings
(called ablution) five times a day in preparation for prayers. Christians are
seen as undisciplined and unfaithful to their church. Muslims are devout unto
death. Muslims live in a state of outward faith desperately attempting to
appease Allah with their good works. The truth is that they live under bondage.
We live in freedom both in our country and in our faith.
So now we need to ask a new question and its not How can we get them
to love us? but rather, How can we show Gods love to them?
Difficulty embracing the TrinityTo say to a Muslim
that God is one, but then talk about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit boggles
his mind, says Khalil. But because God spoke the world into existence His Word
is a creative word. Therefore God exists as Himself and His Word [Jesus], but
also as Spirit. Without a Spirit Hes a dead God. Without His Word Hes a God who
cannot speak. So we worship a God who exists as Himself, His Word and His
Spirityet one God.
On mission message: In Arabic when a poet composes
a poem they say this poem is from the daughters of a poet; that is, it is the
poets self-expression of all that he entertains in his heart and mind:
feelings, thoughts, dreams and visions. We can explain that as the Word, Jesus
emanated or was manifesting Gods thought and heart. Jesus emphasized this truth
in the Gospel of Matthew: No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one
knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him
(Matthew 11: 27).
There is no love and forgiveness for the
MuslimGrowing up in the Islam faith Khalil was never taught that
Allah is love. Muslims will brag that Allah has 99 names or attributes.
If you search those 99 names none of them is God the Father, nor God is
According to Islam, no Muslim can be sure of the forgiveness of his sins
until the Judgment Day. The Muslim thinks that the good deeds will drive away
the evil deeds (Hood 11:114; Angels 35:29-30).
Their law does not offer a substitute sacrifice, nor does it present free
salvation to them. Every Muslim will receive his exact wages on Judgment Day,
when all his iniquities and complete failure are then uncovered, says Khalil.
The Law shall finally condemn its followers. No Law can justify the sinner, nor
can it set the guilty free. The Law was given to judge the transgressor and
destroy him. Because of the Law, the destination of everyone is hell. The Law
is the just judge. No human is able to satisfy it.
Khalil finally learned the truth about God. We know that our God is love, he
says. But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still
sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). This love guarantees eternal
security: if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your
heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.
On mission message: Boy do we have good news for
them! God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might
become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). And our hope of escaping
judgment is secure for the believer, that God was reconciling the world to
Himself in Christ, not counting mens sins against them. And He has committed to
us the message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Pastor Khalil is available to raise awareness of Islam and equip churches
for Muslim outreach. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on
this subject contact NAMBs Interfaith Evangelism team at 770-410-6331 or order
the Cross or the Crescent Resource Kit or the Interfaith Evangelism Belief
Bulletin on Islam by calling 800-448-8032.
Lien Nguyen is a writer living in Modesto, California.
BY STEVE HAGERMAN
PHOTO BY JOHN SWAIN
Sharing the gospel with Muslims is no easy matter. Their
concept of God is a distortion of what is revealed in the Bible. Although the
followers of Muhammad accept Jesus as a virgin-born prophet, they reject His
crucifixion and resurrection. Therefore they reject Him as the Redeemer and Son
More than 30 years ago while stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Muslim
Turkey, I asked the Lord to give me an illustration that would help my Turkish
friends understand why the atonement of Christ is necessary for mans salvation.
What follows is what came to me as I was reading the Matthew 25 account of
Christ judging the nations.
Using this simple illustration, including wording and hand motions, Ive
had the joy of personally leading many Muslims to faith in Jesus. I hope it
will be useful to On Missions readers in sharing the gospel.
In the Bible, two sides of the Almightys character are shown to us. He is
perfect and unchanging in both. These are presented symbolically as the two
hands of God.
The left hand of the Most High is pictured as a fist. It represents His
justice and anger.
(While speaking of this, I hold up my left hand as a
Because God is perfect and holy, He must judge and punish evileven wrong
things done in ignorance.
The Holy Word tells us that Adam, the first man and the father of all
mankind, disobeyed God. In doing so, he brought the curse of death upon
himself, his descendants and all creation. By Gods decree, this curse has
passed from father to child ever since.
The scriptures say that, like our father Adam, all of us have done wrong and
fallen short of Gods glory. It is sad but true that none of our own deeds can
erase the evils we have done. God tells us our own efforts to earn His
forgiveness and acceptance are like filthy rags.
Death and separation from Gods mercy are the just penalty for our corrupt
ways according to the writings of the prophets. The fist is a picture of the
terror, shame and rejection belonging to all of us who have earned Gods
The right hand of God is very different.
(As I speak of this, I hold out my open right
It is open and inviting, the hand of His mercy and forgiveness. It
represents the Almightys love, acceptance and protection. This is the hand of
favor and eternal life.
God is perfect in mercy, just as He is in justice. He yearns to show us His
kindness. The New Testament tells us God is full of love for mankind.
This poses a dilemma. If all of us have done wrong and offended our Creator,
how can He shower us with mercy and still be perfect in justice?
His unchanging character requires that all our misdeeds be judged and
punished. And He has already revealed that the punishment is disgrace, torment
The wonderful thing is that Gods mercy made provision for another person to
take our punishment for us. But, to take our place this person must be one of
us. To bear our curse, he himself must be free from that curse. He must also be
pure and holy, totally sinless.
How can this be? To be one of us, our sin-bearer must be a descendant of
Adam. Because God commanded that the curse of death pass from father to child,
this seems impossible. How can any person fulfill these requirements?
There is only one way. In the Book of Genesis, God reveals the coming of a
man called the seed of woman (Genesis 3:15).
(With Muslims I avoid speaking of Jesus as the Son of God until
His role as Savior is understood).
In the writings of the prophets, we learn that this unique person must be
born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14). Since the curse of death passes from father to
child, only a virgin-born man can be a descendant of Adam without Adams curse.
Only such a person can bear the judgment of God for us.
Is there such a man? And, if so, is He sinless? Is it possible He would be
willing to die for us?
The amazing answer to all of these questions is yes.
Consider Jesus Christ. Unlike other prophets, He alone was born of a virgin.
The New Testament records His sinless life and calls Him the Lamb of God. God
sent Him into the world to be a holy sacrifice in place of all who put their
trust in Him. He has already taken the fist of Gods judgment for us.
(I emphasize this with a brief hammering motion of the clenched
Two thousand years ago, He suffered disgrace, torment and death at the hands
of evildoers. King David foretold this 10 centuries before.
Satan and corrupt religious and political leaders thought the death of Jesus
was entirely their doing. But, it was the Almighty Who allowed it. He chose the
time and place of Jesus death. The New Testament tells us Jesus gave His life
willingly, knowing He could have called thousands of angels to intervene.
The Word of God says that three days following His great sacrifice for us
God raised Jesus from the dead. His early followers met with Him and witnessed
this fact. He was then received into Heaven, where He lives today. This sets
Him apart from all other prophets.
Although He is a prophet, He is much more. At Gods appointed time, He will
return to judge and rule the world.
Jesus has become the Bridge between the two hands of God.
(As I say this, I draw a bridge from the clenched fist with a
motion of my right hand, which I then turn upward as an open
No one else has the right to say,I am the Way. Because of His death in our
place, Gods justice has been fulfilled. The shame of our wrong doings can be
removed, and the gift of forgiveness and eternal life can be ours.
Such mercy can never be purchased through our own efforts. To think our own
deeds can make us worthy is an insult to God and His Holy Sacrifice.
How, then, do we receive this wonderful gift from God?
The Bridge from death to life is of no benefit to us unless we choose to
pass from one side to the other. For this living Savior to be our own, we must
place our trust in Him and what He has done for us. We are then to confess our
faith in Jesus and ask God to forgive our sins because of Jesus death in our
When we do this with our whole heart, God begins to change us from within.
We are then able to accept His help in turning from any immorality or
wrongdoing in our lives. After we come to God in this way, Jesus tells us to
complete our commitment by being baptized.
(At this point I ask questions that help me see if the listener
understands, and if he or she wants to be led into a personal relationship with
Steve Hagerman, founder and U.S. director of Turkish
World Outreach, lives in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC