“We’d like to conduct some Muslim Awareness Seminars in the country,” the new missionary said to one of the national leaders.
“What for?” the national pastor began with a hint of sarcasm. “We’re aware of them.”
This brief conversation, which took place several decades ago in an Asian country, would be unheard of in the same place today. What changed?
For more than thirty years, missionaries Michael and Sharyl, called Asia their home. They were the first Assemblies of God missionaries ever appointed to their country of service with the specific purpose of reaching Muslims. Upon arrival, however, not many believers shared their vision to reach the people of Islam. Through the power of prayer, that would all change!
Believing that more laborers were needed to reap a harvest among Asia’s Muslims, Michael and Sharyl began praying that the Lord would change the hearts of His people toward Islam’s followers. Asia is rife with Muslims, as 50 percent of Muslims live on this continent. Furthermore, two-thirds of all Muslims worldwide are ethnically Asian.
Michael and Sharyl began an advocacy campaign, traveling around their country of service and speaking with various groups of believers about sharing the love of Jesus with Muslims. Initially, they focused on teaching Asian Christians to pray for Muslims by hosting Jumaa Fellowship meetings. Slowly, as national believers began praying for Muslims, attitudes of indifference or anger toward the people of Islam began to dissipate. Then it happened.
A visiting pastor from another Asian country asked why more believers were not engaged in reaching Muslims throughout the country. He suggested that they launch a training program for that purpose at the local Assemblies of God seminary. Michael and Sharyl were thrilled. What an open door for training!
Now, 23 years later, Michael and Sharyl have seen 900 students, hailing from 59 nations, complete this seminary program. God has raised up laborers and sent them to the far-flung Muslim mission fields of Asia! Indeed, Michael and Sharyl’s vision of seeing more workers develop hearts to reach Muslims is being fulfilled through this ongoing program. When asked about the shift in thinking toward Muslims in his country of service, Michael replied, “It all begins with prayer!” The missionary couple had prayed for a breakthrough, and God answered. Additionally, in teaching and encouraging national leaders to pray for Muslims, God changed hearts.
Global Initiative has partnered with Michael and Sharyl for decades by sending professors to teach classes at the seminary’s training program. What’s more, Michael and Sharyl are now part of the Global Initiative team! In December 2019, Michael became our Director of Training, a position for which he is well-suited. He now oversees both the classes that he and Sharyl started in their country of service decades ago as well as various other training events that take place all over the world.
Michael and Sharyl’s story highlights two central components of Global Initiative: prayer and training. Through Jumaa Prayer Fellowship, believers all over the world are praying in concert for specific needs concerning outreach to Muslims. God is answering the prayers of His people as we cry out for the lost to be found. As with Michael and Sharyl, He is also answering the cry for more laborers in the Muslim harvest fields.
As God answers this prayer, many more workers must be trained. Within this next year, our team members will go to several locations in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. In addition, we are launching online training programs, which will extend the reach of Global Initiative’s training ministry.
Just as Michael and Sharyl were thankful for the open door to train believers all those years ago, we are thankful for the open door we have because of your partnership. Indeed, your partnership makes this possible. Because of you, there is a ripple effect of gospel proclamation all over the Muslim world as leaders are empowered to reach Muslims in their own contexts.
We pray and press on because every Muslim needs to know the Truth about Jesus.