Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2006
Many of you are aware that International Outreach Ministries has helped to launch an amazing Arabic language website. Did you know that we had 51,000 new visitors to our website in January? Since there were 35,000 visitors in January, and 19,000 in December, we are seeing an incremental curve revealing yet another indication of growing spiritual hunger among Muslim people. We also believe it may point to a spiritual change with regard to the strength of the spiritual principality behind Islam.
We are also receiving reports from Muslim countries of large numbers of conversions to faith in Jesus Christ, as well as a new attitude of Muslims reconsidering their faith, because they are not able to understand the violence espoused by extremists. They know these extremists are a very small percentage of Muslims, not representative of the majority, and certainly not of themselves.
Our outreach website is directed at people who are “thirsting for God.” We use a bridge-building approach as opposed to the confrontational style of evangelism so often employed with Muslims. The material on the site is all written by “MBB’s”—Muslim Background Believers—who really know how to share a message which reaches the hearts of Muslims. We open a dialogue with Muslim seekers based on a recognition that they are truly hungering for God, but do not know how to find Him. The thousands who are seeking out this site are reading the material on it, and “down-loading” answers to the questions Muslims have about Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us that our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but with rulers, authorities and powers of the dark world and with the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms (see Ephesians 6:12). Though this is often our personal experience, it is also our global struggle.
Christians need to remember that the Bible is saying the enemy is not people; the enemy is spiritual. The Muslim people are simply captives to this spiritual ruler of darkness. However, over the past decade, millions of Christians have been praying against these spiritual forces, and we believe we may already be seeing a weakening of its power.
The Bible also tells us that God has raised Christ to a position in the heavenly realms far above rule and authority, power and dominion — in the present age. It is essential that we not allow news media to rob us of our confidence in our risen Lord. He is not worried about the developments on earth, because God has placed all things under His feet and has appointed Him head over everything for the Church (see Ephesians 1:20-23).
Why does it say Christ has been appointed head over everything for the Church? The Church has a primary role in the advancement of the will of God in the earth. In fact, the Bible also tells us His intent was that now, through the Church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places, the same spiritual rulers with whom we struggle (see Ephesians 3:10). This is not a time to abandon our faith, nor to give up the struggle. The assignment of the Church is to educate rulers and authorities in spiritual places! An obedient Church will accomplish His divine intent!
Jesus did not give us permission to evangelize the world selectively. Yet, this is exactly what we have done when we have gone to the easier places, and avoided the tough ones.
We should have evangelized the Muslim world a thousand years ago. The hostilities of today are the fruit of Christian disobedience over the years! Do you realize that less that 1% of all Christian giving to mission goes to reach the Muslim world? Yet Muslims comprise nearly 23% of the world population! We have sent two missionaries for every one million Arab Muslims. This is a sad measure of our lack of obedience to the Great Commission. No wonder the world is in turmoil over the emergence of Islam on the world scene!
However, the Church has done better in mobilizing intercessory prayer for the Muslims held captive by this dark religious principality. Huge prayer networks have concentrated on the “10/40 Window,” a geographical area which includes the Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists. One group claims to start every new church with a miracle. In the past five years they planted 62,698 new churches, and most of these are multiplying. Now, there are huge protests in India by Hindus who are panicked by the swelling numbers of Hindus coming to faith in Christ. Of course there have been missionaries among the Hindus who have benefited from this prayer; missionaries in far greater numbers than those among the Muslims. Yet, we are also seeing changes even among Muslims.
DO NOT FEAR
A large “people movement” began in Bangladesh with the conversion of one young man in 1984. Today, this movement reports between 5,000 and 10,000 baptisms per month of Muslim people coming to Christ. In Mozambique, a large number of unusual miracles have triggered a similar people movement there. Some of the missionaries who were in on the beginning of this movement tell us now that it is “out of control”—that is, they have no idea how many churches are being planted of new converts in this mostly Muslim land. They do know of thousands, and regularly receive reports of hundreds more in remote areas.
A recent book, written by a Christian, told about Islam’s plan to take over the earth. Yet, in perusing this book, I was able to find only one small, positive hope out forth by the author; he wrote that he hopes Jesus will come back to take us out of here before it gets worse. The Jesus I know is not cowering in heaven, and He is not returning for a defeated, cornered, or escapist Church! He rules and reigns, and His believing, obedient Church will extend his rule throughout the earth while teaching spiritual forces of evil about the wisdom of God. He is the One who will take over the earth; make your plans based on this certainty.
As Peter said, “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened, but in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord” (see 1 Peter 3:14-15). He was quoting Isaiah, who went on to say it this way; “Do not call conspiracy everything they call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear. The Lord almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear” (see Isaiah 8:12-13).
As the saying goes, “It’s not over until it’s over.” When it’s over, Jesus will reign on the earth and every knee will bow to confess Him as Lord and King!
Scripture Reference: Ephesians 6:12; Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 3:14-15; Isaiah 8:12-13
Gary Henley is a member of the International Outreach Ministries (IOM) Board of Directors. He served as the President and Executive Director of IOM for twenty years, traveling widely and encouraging missionaries around the globe. In addition, he spent twenty-six years as a church planter and pastor.