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Counselling approaches

J.O. Terry wrote a set of stories based on issues of interest and concern to a primarily Bengali Muslim target group of Bangladesh. The Bengali people have suffered from war, weather, political instability and economic necessity. They respond to suffering because they, too, have suffered and continue to do so.

Our sphere of love and activity among Muslims is primarily with those who came to France from Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya. As people of poverty and suffering, the 9 million Magrebins or North Africans in France, also know grief and despair. (The Maghreb is the area of western North Africa where the sun sets.) Make no mistake, however, because the wealthy Muslims of the Middle East also know grief in terms of abusive lives where there is often no one to defend or to advocate for Muslim women in particular.

What's the big thing about grief?

Glad you asked! Grief tilts an Easterner's life out of kilter to the point of crazed despair because of the concept of "fitrah." Fitrah points to an obsessive fear of a world out of balance and open to chaos, demonic attack and the psychological stress of not knowing what is good, what is evil and thus being in moral freefall. Grief incites fitrah-obsessed fear for one reason. Fitrah is the perfect balance of life that is otherwise ravaged by grief, resulting in a splintered spiritual, moral, physical and cultural meltdown. The heart of Islam is fitrah. Grief is the crux of our discussion, care and help toward Muslims.

God is suggested to never, clearly never, to deal or interact with a human being, because of a term in Arabic called "shirk." Shirk is the unforgivable sin of thinking or saying that God can interact with human beings - because human relationships with God would bring God down to a non-godlike level and is thus blasphemous. That is why grief is so disastrous, because there is no help from God if He cannot interact with grieving humans and save us from sorrow and despair. The alarm of grief cannot be overstated. But there is an answer.

The answer is to tell stories to Muslims of how Bible characters experienced grief and deliverance from our God. There is no better way to bring the lovingkindness or "hessed" of God into play. This evangelistic counseling is so misunderstood that one church thought I was doing counseling and not telling Muslims to follow Jesus as Lord! Just the opposite is true. This is the key to hearts and to grieving souls.

Example Lesson from J.O. Terry: Jesus Ends A Widow's Sorrow And Two Sisters' Grief

Scriptures to Study: Luk 7:11-17; 10:38-42; Jhn 11:1-44

Talk About These Things With Your Muslim Friend:
  1. What is our greatest sorrow? Is it when someone we love very much dies? Perhaps an only son? Or a beloved brother? Or a mother or father?

  2. What has been your greatest sorrow? Talk about the suffering that comes when we are sorrowful and grieving for a dying or deceased loved one.

  3. Wouldn't it be wonderful is there were someone who held the power over death, so that he could restore the dead to life again?

  4. What if a greater concern is life beyond this life? And what if there were two deaths? First the death of this body will be due to disease, accident, murder, or old age. And then the death of our very soul? Actually, the soul does not die like our body dies, but it can die in another way. In our second story Jesus talks about life beyond this life.

Read From Bible: John 11:1-4, 40-44

Tell the Story:

Jesus Ends A Widow's Sorrow And Two Sisters' Grief

Jesus was traveling with his disciples and a large crowd who followed him. When they came to a town called Nain, as he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out. He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When Jesus saw the woman, he had compassion on her, and said, "Don't cry." Then he went near and touched the coffin, and those who carried it stood still. Jesus said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" the dead man sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus gave him back to his mother. The people gathered around were filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said, "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout the surrounding country.

There were two sisters named Mary and Martha who had a brother named Lazarus. Their village of Bethany was near Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples had stopped there before to eat and take rest. So Jesus and that family were dear friends. A time came when Lazarus fell very sick. So Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus saying, "Lord, Lazarus, the one you love is sick." When Jesus heard this he said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." Even though Jesus loved the family very much he remained in that place two more days. Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go to see Lazarus." The disciples reminded Jesus that some of the religious leaders were trying to stone Jesus because he made himself equal with God.

Jesus had said to the disciples, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will soon get well." Jesus had been speaking of death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead."

Let's Talk Some More:
  1. When Jesus saw the dead man being carried out to the burial place and his weeping mother following, what did Jesus say to the mother? (Don't cry.) What does this tell us about Jesus? (He felt compassion for her and he knew something good was about to happen.)

  2. What did Jesus do to bring the dead man back to life? (He spoke to him and said, "Get up.")

  3. What did the people say when they saw what happened? (A great prophet has appeared among us. God has come to help his people.)

  4. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, what did he do? (He remained in there two more days.)

A Verse to Remember: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die..." John 11:25

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2020 Praxis Advocates
2020 Praxis Advocates