God never holds an emergency committee meeting because something’s happened that took him by surprise. He knows what he’s doing!
While Christians may be more afraid of radical Islam, most of our Muslim friends are more open than ever to the gospel. Most are embarrassed by the brutality and the recent beheading of Christians in Muslim countries.
I tend to think of modern Islamic radicals as ‘proto-evangelists’ for the Christian faith! The first of these was the Ayatollah Khomeini. The atrocities of his brutal regime in Iran led many Iranians to leave their country. It also led to an exodus of Iranians out of Islam. Some Iranian believers have called the Ayatollah ‘the greatest missionary, because he showed us what Islam is really like’!
‘Islamic State’ (IS) is the latest in a succession of groups and states working for the absolute application of Islamic law. Their declaration of a new caliphate has alarmed the Muslim world. The group’s clever and successful propaganda films glory in violence, hostage-taking, beheadings, sex slavery and the slaughter of Muslims and non-Muslims. But God is sovereign!
Reports from local Christians and missionary agencies tell us that, as a result, more Muslims are coming to Christ, and still more are attending Christian meetings.
‘I have been a Muslim for 41 years, and in all that time never questioned Islam. But now, I have decided to leave it’, said a Muslim student. She told a Christian missionary that she had watched IS videos and been horrified by the brutality, justified as ‘methods of the Prophet’.
Blood of the martyrs
In January this year, 20 Egyptian Christians and another Christian from Chad were kidnapped, paraded and ruthlessly beheaded by hate-filled men from IS in Libya. They were murdered simply for being Christians.
An encouraging report from a local organisation told of the fruit of this martyrdom: ‘The mother of one of the young men was interviewed on TV a few days later. She was asked what she wanted done to the murderers. Sobbing, she said, “We forgive them and pray for the Lord’s mercy for them and their families”.
‘The interviewer, a secularist Muslim, afterwards commented: “Now I understand how Christians take to heart the glorious words of Jesus about loving one’s enemies and forgiving those who persecute them”.
‘A woman with a distinctly Muslim name later blogged: “Our murderous terrorists and suicide bombers are considered martyrs when they die in action. But they are not. These brave Christians are martyrs, walking in the footsteps of Jesus, the noblest man that ever walked on earth”.
‘One of the first TV commentators, a Muslim, viewing the video of these gruesome beheadings, reported: “Yes, I heard with my own ears and saw with my own eyes their lips in prayer … I heard one calling on Jesus to receive his life … What courage, what faith … This must be what God wants humans to be like!”
‘Hani, a Coptic young man, blogged: “Lord Jesus, thank you for these brothers. They taught me two things: one, it is for real that we must be ready to die for your sake. You died for me; two, I am not ready to do so, unless you enable me…”’
In recent years we have had the privilege of partnering with Global Recording Network. During the recent vandalism in Niger, a Christian mission headquarters was burnt down and the life of its director threatened. But read this encouraging report:
‘What intrigues us, saddens us, moves us: The barbarism of the heart of man, his wickedness and his propensity for evil when it is without the good God. This is what is distressing. Unprecedented violence swept the Christian community in Niger in January 2015, following the Mohammed caricatures in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in France.
‘About ten towns are affected. Those who have committed acts of vandalism think every white person is a Christian. That is why they associate the staff of Charlie Hebdo with Christians…
‘More than 84 churches and mission headquarters were burned, many of which were rased to the ground having first been looted and vandalised. More than 69 homes and businesses suffered the same fate. Lives were lost. The most dramatic experience was the trauma of continuous death threats. These threats were real and not just to intimidate.
‘[But] the outcome is breathtaking. No Christian has lost his life in these difficult circumstances. The regrettable deaths are on the side of Muslims. These trials have led to a revival, first of all, in the Christian community. Those who had stopped going to church out of laxity woke up. Their faith is stirred up.
‘But it is especially in the Muslim community that wonderful things are happening. Many of them are disgusted by what has happened, denouncing the violence of their Muslim brothers.’
‘Leaders in Christian communities have publicly granted forgiveness to the perpetrators of the attacks. This offered forgiveness has deeply touched Muslims. They find it hard to believe. They say, “If only it was Christians who had committed just 10 per cent of what happened, we Muslims would kill them all. How can you forgive such terrible acts committed against you?”
‘An amazed imam called a pastor and asked, “Your pardon, is it real? Is this only a way of suppressing and hiding your revenge? If it is real, then you’ll see a lot of people come to your churches. We are watching you!”
‘And that’s what’s happening. Many curious and amazed Muslims are now going to church, seeking to know the Christian God, the God who asks his people to forgive. Many Muslims are starting to buy and read the Bible … Fear to read the Bible among many Muslims is fading. Pray that this emancipation will last and bear everlasting fruit.
‘Most people in Niger thought that there were no native Christians there. To them, Christians are foreigners from another region, or American or European missionaries. Thanks to the persecution of Christians, they have discovered there are native Christians there, people who choose not to follow Islam. Now the prayer of Christians is also sought in meetings when there are issues to resolve.
‘What the enemies of God’s people are reaping: God is not to be mocked. It is reported that people who participated in the attacks die. 169 people were arrested and remain in prison, awaiting investigation.
‘In Zinder, the man who bought petrol for youths to go and burn churches died in a road accident. A young man who stole money from a church, then bought a motorcycle with it, also died in an accident … Two young people who participated in the attacks died of suffocation in the house that their friends burned, not knowing they were inside…
‘Please pray for all these Muslims who have started going to church or reading the Bible, curious and eager to know the true God. Pray that Christian communities will be united and give an encouraging and powerful testimony’. Indeed, ‘all things work together for good’ ! I trust these news items will encourage you to praise our sovereign, all-knowing God!
You may not be able to go to Niger, Iraq, Pakistan or Syria to share your faith, but Muslims are coming to us; the mission field is next door! To help you overcome your fear, we have launched a project.
Take out a sheet of paper and pray, ‘Lord, bring to my mind Muslim people whom I know’. Write down the names of all the Muslims you know and meet in various places (you may not know the name, so write a description: ‘the man who works in the shop’, etc.).
Ask God who you should talk and give a tract to first. Circle five names that God has put in your heart. Then take time to pray that God will open their hearts as you witness to them.
Just imagine how many Muslims will hear the gospel if each Christian overcomes his fear and witnesses to just five Muslims! A two-minute video presentation of this project can be watched on https://youtu.be/RF41EUnNTi0