Mission Moments: Islam
Combating violence, hatred, and the many challenges of Islam with love
By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ
“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!”
– Matthew 5:44 (NLT)
Brother Rachid (the Moroccan spelling for Rasheed) has used the power of God’s Word and prayer to deliver “more than 150,000” Muslims to the Lord through a satellite TV show called Daring Questions. Rachid’s own testimony is a miracle of God: the son of an Imam in Morocco, he was angered by the witnessing he heard on a Christian radio station, and took up a four-year letter-writing campaign to the station only to have his heart softened and then changed. When he converted (at age 16) he was kicked out of his house and lived homeless for two years as he began 15 years as a secret believer. He is no longer secret.
“The Qur’an is a violent book,” Rachid said at The Bridge: Conference for the Persecuted Church in July 2016 in the Washington D.C. area. “The life of Muhammad was very violent. If you’re going to follow his example you’ll end up being like ISIS.
“We hated the West,” he said about his childhood. “We hated Christians. We hated Jews. We were brainwashed.”
And now? “I hate Islam,” Rachid answered. “We have the right to hate false doctrines. (But) we love people. We should distinguish between doctrine and people. Jesus loved sinners, He didn’t love sin.”
There was much discussion about loving Muslims at The Bridge. And about the church stepping up. “We should be on the front line,” Gen. William G. Boykin said, quoting Jeremiah 51:50. “The church has got to rise up. We’ve got to find our legs in America. We’ve got to get back to being salt and light,” he added, this time quoting Romans 12:2.
I have spent a great deal of time focusing on Islam, particularly through widespread travels into the Muslim world. Not only do I feel a burden for the persecuted, I feel a calling to Muslim people. God has made that clear to me through the years of Climbing For Christ – sending me to Tanzania (to befriend many Muslim guides and porters on Kilimanjaro), Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey, Morocco, partnering with brothers and sisters in Pakistan, even finding a mosque in remote, mostly atheist China. I have been blessed to participate in a network of ministry leaders focusing on reaching Muslim unreached people groups, which led to the start of our Global Gospel Team. So it was not surprising when The Bridge conference turned to the interconnectedness of Islam and persecution. Nor was it surprising when, on the morning of Day 3 of the conference, I received an email from a Muslim friend in Turkey. He sent me photos of his “garden,” where cherries he knows I love were being harvested. It was a personal reminder that no persecutor or act of terror should stand between us and the delivery of the life-saving Good News of Jesus.
After all, the Qur’an itself tells the truth about Jesus: He is the Word. In the third chapter (or surah) of the Qur’an, called surah al-Imran, we read in verse 45:
“When the angels said: O Maryam [Mary], surely Allah [God] gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose name is the Messiah, Isa [Jesus] son of Maryam, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near (to Allah).”“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1 (NIV)
Cherries growing on the beautiful land (below) owned by a friend in Turkey. Sadly, after conducting Mission: Ararat in 2013, 2014 and 2015, we had to cancel Mission: Ararat 2016 because of Turkey’s military action against the Kurdish people.
CHALLENGES OF ISLAM:
Brother Rachid, author of ISIS and Islam: Through the Eyes of a Former Muslim, shared about the types of persecution awaiting a Muslim background believer…
- Family: Manipulation, rejection, violence, and honor killing. Among the many examples, in 2007 a Muslim man went to fight in Syria and saw how his religion was “corrupted.” The man fell away from Islam and became a Christian. He married a young woman, but her father forced her to return to her family’s home. The husband and his bride texted each other and met to study the Bible. One night, when the bride returned home, her father killed her. The husband fled to another country in Europe.
- Society: Rejection (“I lost 90 percent of my of friends because of my faith,” Brother Rachid said). There also is the threat (or promise) of violence. Negative labels are attached to MBBs, such as “takfir” (excommunication from Islam) and “kafir” or non-believer. These incite and encourage violence. The thinking is: the victim deserves what happens to him or her.
- Government: Harassment, interrogations, false accusations, arrests, imprisonment, torture, and execution.
- Laws: There is a death penalty for leaving Islam. “Morocco is the most moderate Muslim country and still we have the death penalty,” Brother Rachid says. If you are born to any Muslim parent, you are Muslim (“the better religion,” they clam). Christians have no official recognition in Morocco (Rachid had to marry his wife in an Islamic ceremony). No Bibles in Arabic are allowed (not a law but forbidden by officials). There are no public Bible studies (19 officers raided a women’s study once, where the women were praying for their country; “it’s like we’re terrorists,” one lady said). Blasphemy laws, limiting religious freedom, exist to varying degrees in 47 countries. “In 44 countries, including Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Indonesia, blasphemy laws remain on paper with little chance of reform. These laws enable individuals to accuse their fellow neighbors of defiling their religion (predominately Islam) leading to speedy trials and quick sentencing often times culminating in the death penalty,” the International Christian Concern reported before hosting The Bridge conference. We worked with the ICC to visit Congressional offices and urge the Passage and Implementation of H.Res. 290 and S.Res. 69 for the Global Repeal of Blasphemy Laws.