Publication: Pastoral Letter, September 2005
Dear Friend in Christ:
Please read this entire letter and make copies for your Christian friends.
I have just returned from The Netherlands, where I ministered to approximately 1000 leaders from 25 Muslim-dominated nations across the world. Many of these leaders are ethnically Iranian and speak the Farsi language. During the past several decades, I have ministered in literally hundreds of conferences, but this was a unique opportunity to minister to people with a special kind of heroic courage.
You will recall the “Islamic Revolution” of 1979 in Iran, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, when the U.S. was labeled “The Great Satan.” However, these Iranians I met are followers of our Lord Jesus, and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Other speakers at this conference included “Brother Yun,” the much persecuted and tortured Chinese Christian leader, and author of the outstanding book The Heavenly Man. Michael Ramsden, who is an associate of Ravi Zacharias and numerous other leaders, who shall remain anonymous for security reasons, also ministered. Some of these believers had lost relatives to martyrdom.
The security at the conference was extremely tight with each attendee having a background check and badge with photo I.D. Guests were not free to walk in. I was accompanied by Goos Vedder, a Dutchman now living in England. Goos formally worked with “Open Doors” smuggling Bibles to Russia and Eastern Europe. We were both very impressed with the courage of these people.
DANGER AND COURAGE
I was deeply touched by their stories. One mother tearfully asked me to pray for her son who is now pastoring in Iran. Daughters of a martyr were introduced to us and one speaker had lost a brother to murderers in the name of Allah. Another man asked me to pray that he would find a Christian wife. He was a new Christian from a Muslim background. He feared his parents and relatives would find out about his faith in Christ. “Why are you afraid?” I asked. “They will kill me,” he said.
Whenever invitations were given, hundreds responded to lay down their lives and return to Iran. One minister had been imprisoned and released only on the condition that he sign a paper that he would never return to his people. He prayed with me for direction and future ministry.
The conference was greatly assisted by a church associated with the ministry of “Newfrontiers.” They sent nearly 100 people to assist the conference, and they did a magnificent job. Terry Virgo, the leader of Newfrontiers, will speak to our CSM Conference in Gatlinburg, April 26-28, 2006.
I was asked to speak about training leaders for the harvest. They believe, and I do as well, that there will be a great harvest for Christ among the Islamic people. I spoke on “The Moses-Joshua Model,” “The Jesus-Disciple Model,” and “The Paul-Timothy Model.” I urged these leaders not to copy the Western Theatre Church model, but to emulate the biblical models of training leaders relationally as well as educationally_to deal with dangerous times. They seemed to understand that the best way to penetrate closed areas was relationally.
The task before them and us requires new attitudes of courage, new strategies, and new commitment to our covenant mission. As “Brother Yun” ministered, he broke out in song. The song was about the mission to bring the Gospel back to Jerusalem where it began. He confirmed my belief that we must sing about the goodness and mercy of God as we go to battle, as we carry out our mission, as Jehoshaphat instructed the singers of Judah (see 2 Chronicles 20).
While we worshipped, the Lord showed me that a new song would be carried to the fortresses by the Holy Spirit and cause disarray among the opposition. The wind of the Spirit would cause even the opposition to sing our song. Mission music will be powerful. As I watched and listened, I also realized afresh how much Middle Easterners love music, and they will respond to the song of the Lord.
It is my belief that the West is very naïve regarding Islam_not just terrorism. I highly recommend that you read How Islam Plans to Change the World by William Wagner (published by Kregel Publications and available through Amazon.com and other retail outlet such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, and Books-a-Million). Wagner is a former missionary among Muslims and Professor at Golden Gate Seminary.
I also recommend Samuel Huntington’s book The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. These are excellent and informative books.
Here are some challenges that we face:
- To wake up and become informed
- To change our thinking and actions toward Islamic nations and people
- To love people while we despise evil
- To understand that in the Islamic view of “truth”, lying is permissible
- To know the difference between Mohammad’s Mecca and Medina teachings
- To understand the radical fundamentalist Wahabbi branch of Islam. (Did you know that 80% of U.S. mosques are Wahabbi?)
- To understand Saudi Arabia’s contribution to terrorism and Islam in general
- They send oil, we send money, they send Wahabbism
- To understand the place of fear in Islam and intimidation as a tactic
- To understand that while they demand rights here, they take them away there
- To understand that the wars in the Philippines, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Nigeria, Chechnya and elsewhere are all the same war
- To understand that most of our political leaders and media do not understand
Given the opportunity, many Islamic people would be open to the Gospel, but they are not given that opportunity. And as I write this letter, Islamic training centers in the U.S. and the West are using every means to remove your objections to their mission. They are penetrating our politics, media, and educational systems. Hence, we get “soft” news on Islam.
It is true that many Muslim leaders are worried about the backlash against Islam and are publicly denouncing terrorism. What they are not denouncing is the “Medina writings” of Mohammed, nor their treatment of women or repression in Islamic cultures. Our leaders must insist on reciprocity or resist Islam in the West. They are not doing this.
WHAT MUST WE DO?
“Do” is the operative word here. We must not sit silently by. Islam has grown in the U.S. and Europe since 9/11. I do not advocate fear. These emotions will not equip us, they will defeat us. Fear is ungodly. The Lord calls us to love even our enemies (a great challenge). We will not love terror or Islam, but we must love the people.
One minister told of a Muslim convert who wanted to be baptized, but could not forgive those who tortured and raped his wife as he was forced to watch. Then they killed his son. The pastor could not baptize him while in such bitterness. Finally, he was able to free this man from unforgiveness by pointing to Jesus’ forgiveness from the Cross. He then baptized him. I was challenged by such grace.
Forgiveness is not ignorant or naïve. It is a miracle of God’s love. We are not blind to evil, to beheadings, to extreme legalism, or the tactics of our true enemy, Satan. We must face reality, diagnose evil, and apply the cure of God’s love.
Peter the apostle reminds the suffering Church and us, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (see 1 Peter 5:8-9).
What must we do? Be vigilant, resist and pray for the suffering church. We must repent of our own lethargy, petty issues, and personal sensitivities. We must stand for truth, resume our world mission, and love enough to give the Gospel to the oppressed in every nation.
We must not be silent, as naïve secularists and cowardly Christians would have us to be. We must not take counsel of our fears or the fearful. We are called to follow Jesus who showed us courage at the Cross.
Since 1955, I have sought to tell whatever I believed that the Lord was telling me. I have done so via letters, magazines, books, TV, radio, conferences, tapes, CDs, DVDs, the internet, and in every way possible. CSM is simply a means to communicate pastoral and prophetic Bible-based teaching.
I take no salary from CSM. I attended the aforementioned conference at my own expense. My salary comes from those that I pastor. Their faithfulness has sustained me and my family through the years.
What I do ask is this: if you believe that our message is from the Lord, support CSM in your prayers and giving. With your help, we can encourage the Church and take the truth to the nations. Thank you and God bless you.
Scripture Reference: 2 Chronicles