When you think of Muslims, what images come to mind? 9/11? Fighting in Iraq? Terrorism alerts? Long security lines at the airport? This is precisely the way Satan wants us to think about Islam.
My dear friend Tom Doyle is longtime missionary to the Middle East with e3 Partners. When he and I were presenters at a recent radical Islam summit, he shared an observation I've not forgotten. Tom noted that more Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus. At the same time this spiritual awakening began, radical Islam became a daily headline in the West. According to Tom, this is Satan's counter-strategy to the Spirit's evangelistic work. Our enemy wants us to fear and even to hate Muslims at the very time our Lord wants us to love them and pray for them.
Ramadan begins on June 28 and continues through July 27. There is no better time of the year for Christians to reach out to the Islamic world. As Muslims are fasting from sun-up to sun-down and seeking to purify their souls through prayer and sacrifice, they are open to the work of the Spirit as never before.
Usually Christians focus during these weeks on ways we can pray for and reach out to Muslims. Certainly this is a valuable and effective emphasis. But I read this week a different appeal from one ministry to Muslims, which is calling on Christians to "pray for fellow believers living in Islamic-dominated countries, praying specifically for God [to] strengthen them to be an example of Jesus to their neighbors."
What an effective strategy. Believers living in Muslim-majority lands are obviously closer to the Islamic world than those who live in Muslim-minority countries. They know the language, the culture, and the challenges their Muslim neighbors face. They are able to build relationships with them, earning the right to share the gospel by proving God's love in theirs. But they need us to partner with them in prayer, asking the Spirit to manifest his fruit through their lives and witness (Galatians 5:22-23).
William Carey (1761-1834) is known as the "father of modern missions." After he presented the spiritual needs in India to a group of Christians, one of them responded: "We see there is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?" Carey replied, "I will go down. But remember, you must hold the ropes."
In exploring a chasm, the one holding the rope is just as important as the one at the other end. Without the first, the second is lost. Will you join me in praying every day of Ramadan for Muslims to meet Jesus in visions and dreams? For God to empower your witness to your Muslim neighbors? And for the Holy Spirit to manifest his fruit and character through believers in Muslim lands? For a helpful guide to praying during Ramadan, go here.
John Stott: "Jesus' authority on earth allows us to dare to go to all the nations. His authority in heaven gives us our only hope of success. And his presence with us leaves us no other choice." Do you agree?
Publication date: June 27, 2014