(FridayFax) Some things only happen every couple of hundred years, others only every couple of thousand. This and the next FridayFax are dedicated to one of these millennium events.
Fourteen centuries ago, Islam overran previously Christian nations such as Egypt and Tunesia. For the past thousand years, particularly since the “Christian” crusades and the development of unbiblical, westernized religious church traditions, Christians have found it difficult to win Muslims for the Gospel. Islam, with 1.4 billion adherents, is the world’s second-largest religion after traditional Christianity which has proven resistant to the Biblical Gospel. As a young Christian, I heard only one message about Islam: “it is practically impossible to win Muslims for Christ” – a message from Hell, in my opinion, born out of centuries of pseudo-missionary frustration. Ineffective missionary methods, non-integrative churches and a fantastic lack of faith among top Christian leaders right up to the 1990’s combined to create a climate of missionary unbelief. In 1982, only 2% of all Christian missionaries were working among Muslims – a ridiculously small proportion.
5,000 – 120,000 – 522,000
Yesterday, I ate lunch with three missionaries working among Muslims. One of them said “In the past two years, I’ve seen over 5,000 Muslims come to faith in Jesus in northern India. The work is growing so fast that the number will very likely soon pass 50,000. They meet in multipliable house churches, and ever more Mullahs are joining the movement…”
Another said, “From our own experience and through other reliable sources, we know that in Bangladesh, 7,000 Muslims were baptized each month in 2003. They are radical followers of Jesus. In 2004, an incredible 120,000 joined them. Since 1997, the number of Muslims following Jesus has grown by 522,000.”
522,000? That’s more than the number of evangelical Christians in Switzerland, Austria and France together! Is that possible? What happened?
Baptist missiologist and author David Garrison says, “More Muslims have come to Christ in the past two decades than at any other point in history. **In North Africa, 16,000 Muslim Berbers turned to Jesus; in a central Asian republic, 4,000 Muslims have found Christ; 15,000 Kazakh Muslims found Christ in the past 15 years. ** In an appearance on Al Jazeera, Sheikh Ahmad Al Qataani, a leading teacher of Islamic clerics in Libya, said 'Every hour, 667 Muslims turn to Christianity, 16,000 every day, 6 million each year!’ Those numbers are certainly exaggerated, but show that Islamic experts recognize what is happening: a massive missionary movement of Muslims to Christ.”
A Vision Becomes Reality
Let me use Kevin Greeson’s story as an example of what’s happening. Greeson is a Baptist missionary in southern Asia. In his book “Camel Training” published in 2004 he writes, "In September 1997, I lay down on my hotel bed in Singapore, where I was attending missionary training. Before going to sleep, I saw a vision of thousands of Muslims in Bangladesh going to Hell. The vision’s realism gripped me so strongly that I began to weep – for the first time in 22 years. The scene changed, though; the Muslims were given a new directive, were re-routed and went to Heaven. The next day, I was excited to hear that 30,000 U.S. Christians had taken part in a prayer campaign for the people group among which I wanted to work, and that they had been praying the very hour I had my vision. My first years there as a missionary brought no fruit; after two years, we had gathered 23 women who worked weaving baskets for export to the West. Then we heard of Abdul (name changed).