I would like to share a few thoughts with you from a broadcast I listened to from the Voice of the Martyrs then next blog we will pick up our study into 2 Corinthians 5:17-21. This podcast was an interview with a Christian who works in Muslim countries and had some amazing stories to share about how God is working in these closed countries.
It is easy to become discouraged for the church when we read headlines of ISIS radicals beheading and drowning Christians. In parts of Syria and Iraq entire Christian populations have been displaced and when Christians refused to leave they have were killed or sold into slavery. We begin to wonder, God where are you in all this mess? Why is Satan winning this war?
As I listened to this Christian worker give his testimony I began to realize that the headline news is only part of the story that is going on in the Middle East and the reality is that God is very much at work and actively bringing many people to a saving knowledge of Himself.
Recently an ISIS fighter had a vision of Jesus upon the cross. For him that was bad news not good news. It so upset him that he went to his computer and began searching for Muslim websites to shore up his faith but instead he was led to a Christian site and he began to read. His heart was changed and he found himself believing in Jesus in spite of his radicalization. He fled Syria and found Christians in Turkey where he has starting sharing his faith at a number of Christian conferences.
A second ISIS fighter also fled Syria after receiving a dream about Jesus. This man, however, was an executioner who had killed scores of Christians by every means imaginable. He also, under the leading of the Holy Spirit, has given his life to Christ.
One of the most interesting and heart stirring stories took place when a Christian cab driver picked up a bearded man at the Syrian border. The man told the cab driver that he wanted to go to the airport, but first he needed to find a Bible. The cab driver took him to a Christian worker who gave him a Bible. Their curiosity was aroused as to why this evidently radical Muslim would want a Bible so they asked. He said he was a Saudi sheik who had been with ISIS teaching them the theology behind Jihad. However, he had become tired and discouraged over so much killing and began to think there must be a better answer.
This work of God is not confined just to ISIS however. A lady in Somalia recently received a video from a friend in England showing the beheading of a number of Christians while the people doing the beheading were reciting the Koran. She was horrified that the Koran could be quoted while people did these despicable deeds. She said for the first time in her life she prayed from the heart and asked God to show her whether or not that was whom he really was. That night she also had a dream in which she saw a large group of people worshipping Jesus and in the crowd she saw herself. Her husband is now a Christian as well and they are sharing their faith with their family members.
One of the tragedies of the ISIS takeover in large parts of Syria is that almost one third of the entire nations population has fled and now live as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. One pastor remarked that the refugee crisis has opened the door for the Christian church to serve and present Christ like never before.
Christianity has made little headway into the hearts of Sunni Muslims throughout the years, but now it is starting to take hold. One little church in Lebanon had a congregation of two hundred but now it has doubled with the influx of Muslim converts. Another church of thirty-five people is now leading thirty-five Bible study groups with Muslims.
A story that touched my heart was an interview with the surviving brother of two of the Coptic Christian men who were beheaded on the beach in Libya. The man was asked if he could ever forgive the people who killed his brothers? “Of course” was his answer. They then asked what his mother would do if she ever met the men who killed her sons? He answered “she would welcome them into her home, cook for them and forgive them.”
Friends of mine have just returned from a three-month mission trip where they heard accounts like this from men and women throughout the world. Their faith and trust in God overwhelms me when I hear these stories of God’s faithfulness in bringing hope to the world.
If we’re not praying for ISIS already, we need to start and ask God to come into their hearts. So often we are so angry at the things they do we simply want them all dead and we forget they are God’s children. We need to remember that dreams and visions are very much God’s tools for reaching out to Muslims who believe that it is through such devices that Allah speaks.
I find myself being encouraged and strengthened in my resolve to serve Jesus when I realize what He is doing throughout the world. I find a renewed desire to share Jesus with neighbors and strangers alike. Since God can work with such power in war-torn nations and with people fighting against the gospel what could He do with us in our free nations?
The missionary I listened to on the podcast ended by telling the story of someone who presented a prophecy at one of their recent meetings. This person revealed that God was preparing a new Paul and Barnabas from among the ISIS people who were going to bring the Gospel with power to these radical Muslims.
We live in amazing times and there is no time for pettiness and quarrels amongst us as Christians. It is time to throw our fear of rejection away and stand firm for the Gospel. What God is doing for the lost in the Middle East He will do for the people of our communities and towns.
* I hope these stories have stirred your heart as they have mine. These people need our support and prayers. Please take the time to read some of their stories and testimonies at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ you will find many more on the internet…