Recent terrorist attacks in Britain and the Middle East continue to fuel fear and hatred, greatly aided by the media and exactly as calculated by the terrorists. Yet since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, a movement has been spreading through the whole Muslim world in which more Muslims have become believers in Isa (Jesus) than in all the previous 14 centuries.
This unprecedented development in history coincides with the emergence of a global prayer movement now followed by Christians worldwide seeking to replace fear and hate with faith and love for Muslims observing the Ramadan month of prayer and fasting.
Ramadan, which began this year on 27 May and will end on 24 June, commemorates the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad according to Islamic belief, and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.
The 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World focus was launched in 1993 following a meeting of global YWAM leaders in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, who together signed the Red Sea Covenant committing to a new focus on the Muslim world.
The idea of praying for the Muslim world during Ramadan was initially misunderstood in the Netherlands. One evangelical magazine wrote at the time that ‘now YWAM had really gone too far’ by ‘observing Ramadan’.
Today however literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of believers are praying for Muslims ‘around the world and across the street’ using prayer guides in printed and digital form in over 30 languages—in adult and children’s editions. Each day a specific issue or area of the Muslim world is featured, offering better understanding of Muslims and Islam and providing pointers for prayer.
Ramadan has been chosen for the time of the prayer focus because it is when many Muslims are focused on spiritual matters. The emphasis is on praying for Muslims, not praying against them. For, as the coordinators of 30 Days explain, prayer expands our ability to love. As we pray for people, we begin to get God’s perspective for them, and to see them as individuals God loves, each created in his image.
This is opposite in spirit to the fear, anger or even hate so easily incited by headlines focusing on the actions of extremists–even in Christian hearts and minds. The antidote to fear–which makes ‘False Expectations Appear Real’–is love, according to 1 John 4:18: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
In this spirit, Brother Andrew has often spelt out I-S-L-A-M as ‘I Sincerely Love All Muslims’. He sees the hand of God behind the waves of Muslim migrants seeking refuge in Europe. “If we don’t go to them, God will bring them to us,” he has repeated over many years.
Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbours, and also one’s enemies, and to ‘pray for your persecutors’ leave little room for the ‘natural’ and ‘understandable’ Western reactions towards both Muslims in general and terrorists in particular.
In this light, the 30 Days of Prayer is a radical response which author Dr David Garrison believes is connected to the movement of conversion he has been researching in recent years.
In his book, A Wind in the House of Islam, he explores the stories of more than 1,000 Muslim-background followers of Jesus Christ from each of the nine so-called ‘rooms’ or regions in the House of Islam. These nine distinct cultural regions or affinity blocs share mutual history, languages, geography and ethnicity. His conclusion is that the wind of God’s Spirit is blowing through every one of these nine ‘rooms’.
Garrison has traveled throughout the Muslim world—from West Africa to Indonesia—collecting interviews and personal stories of former Muslims from within these movements who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Garrison wanted to understand how God was at work in our day creating more Muslim movements to Christ than at previous time in history. A ‘movement to Christ’ he defined as being when more than 1000 Muslims were baptised as Isa-believers within a community, or over 100 churches were planted, within a generation.
In his global study, Dr. David Garrison observed that the first Muslim movement to Christ did not occur until the 19th century, more than 1000 years after Muhammad’s message first echoed from the minarets of Medina.
He noted a further ten Muslim movements to Christ in the late 20th century. But, he writes, in the few years so far of the 21st century, we have already seen more than 60 new Muslim movements to Christ–a staggering increase!
In other words, behind the fear-inciting headlines, another story of transformation is unfolding. Dr Garrison has met former terrorists who have become ‘wonderful, radiant followers of Jesus Christ’, ready to lay down their lives in service of others.
Joining the 30 Days of Prayer movement therefore means becoming part of what could be one of the most significant developments of our day!
Till next week,