Prayer: The Focal Point for Outreach to the Muslim Word
"Why should God choose to have me pray for lost Muslims who live half way around the world? Many of them are labeled as terrorists, or at least have strange ideas and customs. Only the Lord know if they can really be saved."
Have you ever said something like this, or at least thought it? Let me tell you about a person who might have been so labeled because she belonged to a people group that would be unlikely to even hear the gospel, let along respond to it. Yet one day, she came to Christ.
I have a heartfelt concern that the Muslim clerics and spokesperson whom the American people continue to see and hear on television are able to create a perception of Islam that is not fully accurate. We have been assured that what happened on September 11, 2001, is an aberration and does not represent true Islam. Oftenjihad (struggle or exertion) is discussed as if it were a strange phenomenon and an uncommon term to Muslims.
Terrorism, suicide missions, the collapse of the Twin Towers, America strikes back, anthrax--these are all words and phrases that have haunted us ever since the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Even though these acts of terrorism reflect the most extreme interpretation of Islamic ideology to which most Muslim do not ascribe, many Americans have associated these acts with the Muslim community at large. Even Christians have found themselves avoiding Muslim people, not realizing that the recent events have compelled many Muslims to seriously examine their own beliefs.
Hagar. Single mother. Victim of forced sex. Abandoned in the desert with no child support. Yet an integral part of the story of Abraham, that great leader of faith. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all trace their heritage through Abraham. Originally, Hagar was a slave. Her owner was Sarah, Abraham's wife. But Sara was infertile. For years she struggled to get pregnant. After awhile it was heartbreaking. Finally, still determined to have children in the house, Sarah did what she thought was the next best thing: she pushed Hagar at Abraham.
The Qur'an acknowledges that Allah is closer than one's jugular vein, yet he seems so distant, so unreachable, and so inaccessible. Numerous times each day, devout Muslims recite, Bismillah-ir Rahman-ir Rahim (In the Name of God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate). They desperately want God to be merciful and compassionate, yet countless Muslims dread his unpredictable acts.
Since the tragedy of September 11, many black young adults have taken an even greater interest in Islam. One pastor, whose congregation in Chicago consists almost entirely of African-Americans, says, "Before the event, the congregation had 3 members who converted to orthodox Islam, so the appeal of Islam is not unprecedented. It has always made its mark in the black community of Chicago. But since 9/11, the number of members converting to the Muslim faith has reached up to 23 per month.