Welcome to the Middle East. All the news isn’t bad. Muslims all over the region are coming to faith in Christ. What’s more, they’re willing to suffer persecution for Jesus in part because they see the redemption of other Muslims and want to be faithful in sharing the good news of Jesus.
ISIS and Genocide
Terrorists of the Islamic State are enslaving, starving, beheading and crucifying Christians in Syria and Iraq and trying to forcibly convert them to Islam.
- The number of Christians in Syria has dropped from 1.25 million to 500,000 in recent years, according to analyses by Alliance Defending Freedom.
- The number of Christians in Iraq has dropped from 1.4 million to fewer than 275,000 in recent years.
This is genocide.
To be clear, ISIS is waging genocide not just against Christians – they are also seeking to destroy the Yazidis (a minority sect in the region) and Muslims who don’t share their same theological and eschatological views. It is Muslims who are dying most at the hands of ISIS.
Because they believe that such genocidal actions will help accelerate the coming of their “messiah” – the Mahdi – and to usher in the global Islamic kingdom or Caliphate and bring about the End of Days.
2015: A Year of Persecution and Growth
That being said, persecution is not stopping the spread of Christianity. To the contrary, the killing of Christians is accelerating the spread of Christianity and the growth of the church.
Tom Doyle, a pastor turned missionary to the Middle East in 2001 says, “The year 2015 was certainly a year of persecution for followers of Jesus Christ in the Muslim world. But one of the reasons for this is the large number of Muslims who have left the religion of Islam and now embrace Jesus as their Savior.”
Doyle authored “Killing Christians” and “Dreams and Visions” – books that record the recent experiences of Middle Eastern Muslims having dreams of Jesus.
2 Stories Of What God is Doing Throughout The Middle East:
- A pastor in Jordan named, Amir, says: “The amazing occurrence of dreams about Jesus seems to be even growing. Of the hundreds of Muslims that we are working with, the majority of them claim to have had one or more Jesus dreams. Jesus tells them in the dream how He loves them. What a message Jesus has in this sea of hatred all around us.”
- In Syria, Farid – a pastor and national Christian leader – says: “We’ve never seen Muslims come to Jesus like this. The ongoing civil war in our country has soured many to religion since this is essentially a religious war. Jesus brings something that religion can never deliver. He brings hope and reconciliation.” Farid says that the Syrian underground church is growing rapidly and in some home groups Alawites and Muslims worship together. “In the streets of Syria, they are killing one another, but when they find Jesus and reconcile with the Father, only then can they reconcile to one another. Jesus is the only hope for Syria. We have seen more than 1,000 Muslims come to faith in Christ in Syria in the last few years.”
Muslims and Christianity
In 1960 an estimated 60,000 Muslims became Christians in the Middle East and by 2011 the number was conservatively estimated to be 10,000,000.
So why is it that Muslims are now coming to faith in Christ in significant numbers?
“One of the reasons,” Doyle writes, “is that Islamic terrorists are killing violently for their faith, while followers of Jesus are dying peacefully for their faith.
Muslims are watching the violence and it has soured them towards their religion. It has also opened them up to the possibility that there may be something to this Jesus after all. They see hate in radical Islam and love among the Jesus followers, even as they are taken to be executed.”
The stories lead me to ask, “Could I retain my faith if it meant losing my life?”
The question is hypothetical for me, at present, but a growing reality for multitudes of Muslims.
APPLICATION: Please leave a comment below.
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