It happened during the month of Ramadan. Fatima suddenly had a vision of Jesus. She has never forgotten since how lovingly He looked at her and said, “Come, follow me!” Never before had she experienced such a deep sense of peace.
Secretly she began to do some discreet research. And this young woman, from a strict Muslim family in Saudi Arabia, discovered that she was not the only one who had experienced transformation. In fact, she found that there were even Saudi Christians who unashamedly appeared on television as Christians.
Change is taking place in countries across the Middle East. Increasingly, people are put off by extremism and do not want to have anything to do with oppressive expressions of religion. They long to truly know God and through Christian media, dreams or visions they find Jesus and, even in the face of intimidation and death threats, they dare to follow Him.
But following Jesus is not always met with immediate acceptance in existing Christian circles. Just like the apostle Paul experienced, there can be tough situations and misunderstandings. “When he (Paul) came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple” (Acts 9:26, NIV). Security concerns, fear and lack of trust in nations which do not support freedom of religion raises the question of whether it’s more effective to enfold Muslim background believers into existing churches or whether they should plant and develop their own churches. Usually, the latter is the best option.
How to Pray
- For established churches to value and welcome Muslim background believers into their fellowships.
- For Muslim background believers to connect with mature Christians and to grow as followers of Jesus.
- For new churches and initiatives to emerge that effectively enfold and equip Christians from various backgrounds and offer them a shared sense of family.
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Top photo of women with covered heads by IMB. Used with permission.