“What attracted me is the loving environment of the church”
Fadi became a Christian because he read the New Testament. “I read about the teachings of Jesus, the high values and virtues. The high standards Jesus teaches are the biggest evidence that these are teachings of God. What also attracted me is the loving environment of the church; that is something impossible to find outside.
Sadly, it seems to be very hard to find that “loving environment of the church” within large sections of the alleged church in the “west”.
Muslims Turn to Christ in Unprecedented Numbers Pt. 1
The Islamic State has been filling the headlines for a long time and filling the hearts of many people in the Middle East with fear. But in the midst of all this, the church in the Middle East is showing the love of Christ to those who fled their homes. Muslims in the Middle East are turning to Jesus in unprecedented numbers.
Muslims Turn to Christ in Unprecedented Numbers Pt. 2
Somewhere in Lebanon we meet with a young woman named Karima*, a refugee from Aleppo. She still covers her hair, but the change in the way she dresses compared with when she first arrived in Lebanon is obvious. She became a Christian more than two years ago. Karima and her husband, also a convert, are now working with one of the churches in Lebanon, both as teachers to Syrian refugee children. They had their doubts about Islam before they came to Lebanon. She saw miracles happen in her life because the pastor of a church prayed for her. God provided a place for them to live, a job and even healed her seriously sick son.
Aleppo Churches Open Doors to Displaced Muslim Families
“Many Muslims were genuinely surprised when they met Christian women in our churches willing to serve them. Their image was that all Christian women spend most of their days dancing in nightclubs and drinking alcohol! Meeting each other was a shock, both for them and for us,” says Kristina. Kristina also says the Muslim women were surprised to see that churches offered support and programs for all Syrians, not just for Christians. “Their mosques don’t do that,” Kristina says. “Many are re-thinking the faith they grew up in and have dropped their hostility towards Christians.”
The following thoughts are my own and aren’t an expression of anything that the producers of the above video have said, so I take complete responsibility for them. (Although I think their message and mine aren’t following different tracks ).
The “western” church has a unique opportunity to reach out to Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Whereas many Muslim countries have been more or less closed to the gospel, the Lord has been bringing Muslim families out from those closed lands to the “freedom” of the west, where sharing of the gospel isn’t hindered by legal and political constraints.
Sadly the response from parts of “the church” hasn’t been welcoming. Instead political rhetoric, fear and hostility have become far too prevalent responses from professing believers. Responses that have demonised those the Lord has brought to us, who we should be helping, and sharing the love of Christ. So instead of the gospel being denied to Muslims by hostile governments, it is being denied to them by the fear and hostility of people claiming to follow Christ.
Many of those Muslim people have experienced some of the very worst of things done in the name of Islam, so a genuine expression of love from those who claim to follow Jesus would offer them a significant contrast to what they’ve experienced from their own religion. But are they getting that?
Sadly, mostly, no!
Expressions of hostility against Muslim refugees not only robs them of the gospel and the opportunity to turn to Jesus; it has the potential of hardening them to the gospel, increasing the likelihood of a reciprocal hostility and thereby CAUSING the very kind of reaction that had been feared. They have long-standing impressions of anti-Muslim “crusaders” reinforced, increasing the likelihood of withdrawal into religious enclaves within our nations that potentially become fertile environments for extremism.
What COULD be an alternative to creating and fostering that kind extremist, radicalisation environment that leads young Muslim men to violent reactions against the “Christian” West?
The alternative could be groups of equally committed former Muslims, drawn to the Lord through a living example of the love of Christ being shown to them by followers of Jesus; former Muslims being equipped to return to their homelands to take the gospel where the majority of us could never go.
Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.
Hatred and exclusion aren’t things we like to experience, so we’ll do what we can to avoid them. However to what lengths will we go to maintain whatever acceptance, respect, security and comfort we may have?
Are we willing to compromise our Christian witness and the validity of the gospel we’ve been commanded to preach, just to maintain “freedoms” allegedly upheld by the political systems within our “western” societies?
And what if the hatred and exclusion leads to physical danger – even threatening our lives? Where would our priorities lie?
Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.
I’m blocked from commenting on Bill Randle’s’ site, so I want to use this post to address something said on his blog.
In recent articles Randles has been lamenting how the “West” has abandoned Judeo-Christian influences and has taken a too welcoming approach to Muslims, something he sees as a threat to Western values and security.
When Steve (a frequent commenter on my blog) questioned what Randles had written with regard to Muslims, another commenter, in support of Randles’ assertions, said:
But Bill Randles’ post doesn’t reflect that “Islam not Muslim” claim.
Within Randles’ article the following statements ABOUT MUSLIMS were included.
Evidently, the “new normal” for our once secure nations, is carnage in the streets, broken bodies of men, women and children, streaming with blood and broken toys, courtesy of “immigrant guests” from third world countries, usually Muslim
These leaders have dumped upon their taxpaying populations, millions of miserable, ungrateful and downright murderous Muslims,
…a five year old special needs child was attacked, raped and humiliated by three of her “Muslim immigrant” neighbors
…sexually harassed and raped by savages from Muslim lands
Muslims will continue to be “welcomed” into our societies, so we can wait for the next outrage.
I have to ask, how profitable is this kind of rhetoric against non-Christians?
Muslims also need Jesus and are able to seek and find Him – but why would they want to seek the truth of the gospel if they think posts like Randles’ article are an example of it?
In closing I’d like to ask you to make a comparison between the attitudes expressed in Randles’ articles and those I’ve recommended in some of my earlier posts, such as those linked below, and think about which more closely reflect a Christlike viewpoint:
Recently I’ve been posting a lot of material from and about people who recognise the need to share the gospel with those from a Muslim background, a sharing in both word and deed.
I’ve felt the need to give prominence to that ministry direction because I’ve become increasingly aware that the complete opposite is happening – that too many professing Christians are responding to Muslims with hostility and fear. And it’s happening at a time when opportunities to reach out to those from Muslim backgrounds are increasing, and are becoming more and more critical.
Many of those Muslim background people are in an extremely vulnerable position. Many have witnessed the worst of what’s being done in the name of Islam, have lost everything because of it and are in desperate need of help.
Consider what response they’ve been getting from those who are able to help.
I’ve seen far too much hostility directed against them, even by recognised Bible teachers. I’ve drawn attention to some of that in previous posts.*
While individually we may not be in a position to personally interact with a person of Muslim background, we can ALL do something about the toxic atmosphere that makes the ministry of others more difficult.
I feel that the professing Christians are at a critical point in history, when we will face the choice between obedience to Jesus and His gospel, and the security of our comfortable lifestyles. If we choose the latter we’re likely to see our fears realised and we’ll lose the security we idolised and tried so hard to protect.
And even worse than losing that revered security, those misplaced priorities potentially put our relationship with God at risk.
* Another example of which has been recycled here:
The official title of the discussion below is “Why Muslims Are Angry”. The title I gave to this post reflects an experience spoken about towards the beginning of the talk, that shows a far too common attitude.
The latter half of this audio also provides a reality check to the image of the “west’s” allegedly worthy Judeo-Christian history that I tried to address here:
So far I’ve listened to the first few podcasts on this site and have found them to be very interesting and challenging.
There are 51 podcasts in all. I can only give my qualified “endorsement” to the first four – those I’ve listened to myself. Those four genuinely challenge Christian attitudes to Muslims – without compromising the gospel and without diluting the fact that Muslims need to turn to Jesus as the only way to God.
Here are a few excerpts from “Why The Church Must Love The Refugee” by Scott Gustafson.
Please go to the link at the end of this post and read the whole article.
Research finds that churches are 2x more likely to fear refugees than help them
The biblical case is clear for the Christian: caring for foreigners, immigrants, and the refugee is an irrefutable mandate.
Though we gratefully enjoy the benefits of American freedom today, from a biblical perspective we are not entitled to it, for it is far from the norm in the biblical and historical context.
In our fear of losing our blessed, but uniquely American comforts and freedoms, we have conflated ‘Christian’ with ‘American’.
I pray that the church will not miss one of the greatest ministry opportunities in the history of mankind out of a fear of cultural change and an idolization of safety. Now is the time to be salt and light.
Does the following reflect the way we live our lives – or at least how we ASPIRE to live?
Or do we prioritise other things that might be compromised if we obeyed what Jesus said?
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Say Hello is an imperative that beckons believers into the wonderful experience of relating Christ to Muslim women. Its intention crumbles language and culture barriers by appealing to everything Christian and Muslim girls of all ages value in common. It imparts joy in friendship; it yields eternal fruit.
Research affirms that Christian friendships are key to a Muslim’s decision to follow Christ. * (Christianity Today reference) Most Christian women regularly come in contact with Muslim women, but stereotypes and unfounded fears deceive us into behaviors that keep them marginalized and lost. A simple act of friendship can initiate a Muslim woman’s journey to Jesus.