What Is Happening with Islam?

Arab Spring, Arab Summer, Arab Fall, Arab Winter . . .
Egyptian youth are disillusioned. So are Iranian youth. Recent demonstrations in Turkey indicate that the same is true in that Middle Eastern country. 

It is not just youth culture that is at odds with an older generation. Sunni and Shiite differences are exploding into increasing violence in Lebanon, Syria, and Pakistan.

Generational and religious differences are not the only factors that create violence in the Muslim world. Ethnicity plays a part as well. Often described as “the world’s largest people group without a country,” Kurdish people who are a minority group in a least a half-dozen Muslim countries are persecuted simply because they are Kurds.

Inaccurate Media Portrayal
American media focuses most of its reporting on the terror aspect of all of this unrest—primarily on the roles of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban in relation to the U.S.—and secondarily on “state sponsored” violence against Israel. Its profit margin is driven, more often than not, by sensation.

The question for the Church is whether or not U.S. news provides an accurate picture of what God is doing in the Muslim world. And then there is the question of whether or not we would do something more ourselves—given the knowledge that God is doing far more than we imagine.

Muslim World Coming Unglued
We know from the history of the Church that the gospel has spread rapidly during times of social and political unrest. The early Church in the Roman world is one example. Luther’s and Calvin’s ideas swept through the Europe of the 1600s due to technological change (the printing press) and socio-economic change (the emergence of an entrepreneurial middle class). Wesley and Whitfield shared the gospel in mass gatherings driven by working conditions of the industrial revolution.

We know from Scripture
that God is building His Church, expanding His kingdom and drawing the elect from every nation to Himself. Today we are seeing this in the Muslim world in the midst of rapid, unprecedented change in economic, political, social, and religious culture. It is as if the entire region is coming unglued.

We Need a “Ministry Spring”
In part, those changes mean that some of our MTW workers are being forced to leave their fields. Is that because God has stopped working among Muslims? Or is God asking us, His Church, to work differently? Perhaps the globalization of the Muslim world is calling for more global efforts.

While details can’t be shared in print, positive results are accompanying societal upheaval. Muslims are coming to Christ. Converts are meeting for fellowship, prayer, preaching of the Word, and celebration of the sacraments.

Partnerships between U.S. churches and local churches overseas have been created. The exchange of resources (prayer, training, mutual encouragement, as well as finances) has been very encouraging. 

The missions force that MTW has working in the Muslim world is about one-fifth of the total MTW missions force worldwide. We work in over 30 countries. We need to grow. Rapid change calls for rapid response.

We need young men and women who will follow God’s calling in new and creative ways. We need a “ministry spring”—an “occupy” movement directed at the unreached nations of the Muslim world.

JL Oct 1, 2013
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