What is “Success”?

Enjoy this story from one of our EQUIP participants.

“Hi [insert female Arabic name here]! Do you have plans for Thanksgiving Day? We are
making an all-halal dinner, and I would love for you and your family to come! Are you

My sweet Arab friends continue to astound me with how many ways they can politely skirt
around questions and invites without ever actually saying “no.” I read over their messages a
few times before seeing that all six people that I’d invited to dinner declined.

I closed my messages, feeling frustrated and defeated. What am I doing here? Will I ever be
able to access this group and have space to sow gospel seed?

Despite learning a wide variety of ministry tools and praying inordinate amounts, the chasm
between me and Arabs didn’t seem to be narrowing. Many of my new friends don’t have
regular social interaction with much of anyone outside their family circles. If they do, it’s
typically regulated by their husbands. The spiritual conversations I am able to have often fall
on spiritually deaf ears, or ears that simply don’t comprehend English. I often stumble over
my words as I share stories with Muslim friends, and am often left without any words at all as
they express sheer contentment with their religion and prophet.

At the end of the day, I am empty-handed and socially exhausted. Feelings of failure rush in.
What have I actually done?

This is where we go wrong. As Westerners, we want measurable results for the measurable
amount of work we put in. We think hours put in and contacts made will determine whether
we see fruit. We presume that our cultural understanding of “working hard” will make us
effective laborers amongst the harvest. I imagine God, in all love and grace, chuckling at our
efforts to put His plans for the nations into an Excel spreadsheet.

Upon coming to New York, I had lofty dreams of becoming a proficient cross-cultural worker
in ten months time. I thought I would launch overseas knowing exactly what to do and how to
do it. But instead, at the halfway point, my idols of ministry proficiency and measurable
success are shattered on the floor. I am left utterly dependent on the Father for it all.
In my self-inflicted feelings of failure, the Spirit gently reminds me that “success” (whatever
that may actually mean) is not the finish line. I cannot wait around in bitterness for the
tangible results of church planting to fulfill me – there is nothing I can do that will increase
God’s love and approval of me.

“Success” has already arrived, in the form of praising God amongst the nations and being
faithful to bless the people He puts before me.

With this reminder sitting fresh in my heart, I walked into a pizza place a few days ago and
met eyes with a veiled woman sitting in the booth nearest the window. She was delighted
when I greeted her in Arabic, and instantly asked for my phone number so we could talk

“Wait, you never told me your name!”
She smiled and said, “My name is Feiyaz*. It means ‘success’ in Arabic.”

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