12 August 2010
19 years of Christian prayer for Muslims during Ramadan? Breakthrough! That's what! Breakthrough: The Return of Hope to the Middle East by Tom Doyle documents a small fraction of these breakthroughs, bringing hope not only to the Middle East, but to the hearts of the readers as well.
In the first chapter of this book, Mr. Doyle shares about how he was called by God to be a missionary in the Middle East. Chapters 2 and 3 take a brief look at how Islam began and where the religion finds itself today. Chapter 5 gives a condensed history of the Crusades, the Reconciliation Walk, and the power of forgiveness. In chapter 8 we read some stories about Jews who have come to know Yeshua (Jesus). The rest of the chapters contain powerful true stories of Muslims who have turned from Islam to embrace Isa (Yeshua, Jesus) as God, master and savior. Here is a small sample of what you will find:
Shireen recalls, "I knew Hassan's faith in Christ was what I had been desperately searching for and what had been missing in my life. Jesus had to be the answer to all my questions about God. Can you imagine how powerfully this hit me? Here was a Muslim man telling me — a Jewish woman — about Jesus. We live in Iran! Talk about risk! Hassan's love for Jesus was all over his face. And Jesus put that love in his heart for ME. He prayed for me, and his passion for communicating the truth to me transcended any fear he might have of getting caught." Shireen received Christ in the breakroom of the bank that day. "I was forgiven, and I had a relationship with my loving Father in heaven, who had pursued me."
Later that week Shireen left her apartment at midnight and traveled a few miles to an address that Hassan had given her. She knew it was dangerous, but she wanted to attend her first Christian worship service — an underground meeting in a home. The believers, all of them former Muslims like Hassan, were waiting for her. When Shireen walked into the basement of the house, they jumped to their feet with applause and hugged her so hard that she thought she would be crushed! These believers worshiped and praised Yahweh with all of their hearts. The leader of the group then shared how Hassan had told them about the burden he had felt for Shireen to find Christ. "So we have been praying for you for months now, Shireen. Welcome to Jesus' family!"
Shireen continued, "None of the world's problems will ever be solved through politics. None of them will be solved through war, either. When you give your life to Jesus, he fills you with his love. All of the barriers between races and religions become meaningless. He is the only one who can break through all of that. Hassan could be in jail for telling me about Jesus, but he didn't care. It was worth it to him. And when I walked into that room and thirty former Muslims were jumping up and down, hugging and loving this little Jewish girl, then I knew that I truly had found God."
"Islam is cracking from the inside," Hamdi says. "They thought that all Christians hated them, just as I did. But now they are seeing love. It's our job to bring it to them. It took a Jew to show me how God's love operates. He should have hated me for all I did to him, but he loved me. God has now sent me to bring this message to Palestinians who need to know about the love of Jesus. When a believer has the Word of God and the love of God in his heart, this is irresistible."
Jamal's personality and attitude radiate the love of Christ. The joy on his face lights up a room. He is called to be on the frontlines for Christ, where he is passionately driven to take Jesus and his message throughout the entire Middle East. His life has been tough. "I think every Christian should go to jail at least once for his or her faith in Christ," he says. "After that, the only thing left for them to do to us is kill us. But that is the best blessing of all. Once they kill us, we are with Jesus forever!"
One day as Ahmad was driving through the city, he spotted an old friend. Ali needed a ride, so Ahmad picked him up. Ahmad noticed that Ali was more nosy than usual, as he started looking through the glove compartment. Ali found Ahmad's Bible, appearing shocked when he realized what it was. "Ahmad, what are you doing with this?"
"It's mine, Ali. I read it every day." That was a bold statement considering that Ali had become involved in a terrorist group. Ali responded, "I've always been interested in the Christian religion. And I suppose it wouldn't hurt to read the Bible, would it, Ahmad?"
Ahmad refused to let his friend borrow the Bible because it was the only copy that he knew of and because he was afraid Ali wouldn't give it back. "Can't I just have it for a week?" Ali begged. "Absolutely not!" Ahmad exclaimed.
Ali continued to bargain, and finally Ahmad gave in and agreed to let Ali have his Bible for one hour. Ali promised that Ahmad could run his errands and then come back and pick up his Bible. An hour later Ahmad was on Ali's doorstep, but no one answered the door even though he pounded and pounded on it. This routine went on day after day for two weeks, and Ahmad was fit to be tied. He decided to stay at Ali's front door until he got his Bible back. He continued knocking until Ali's nephew finally opened the door. At five years old, he wasn't very good at covering up. He said, "My uncle told me to tell you that he is not home!"
Ahmad started laughing and walked through the doorway. He found Ali in his bedroom — on his knees and with tears in his eyes, Ahmad's Bible open in front of him. "I haven't left my home in two weeks, Ahmad. I am sorry I kept your Bible, but I couldn't stop reading it. I love Jesus now." Once again Ahmad was overwhelmed by the power of God: Ali was a new creation in Christ.
Today Ahmad and Ali are in one of the most difficult areas of central Asia. The two of them are pastoring over six thousand new believers, the majority of them under the age of twenty-five. They have started over forty churches, which have gone underground to protect the growing flock. Ahmad and Ali represent the new breed of spiritual leaders in central Asia. Recently Ahmad and Ali have been targeted by the resurging Taliban. Miraculously, both of them have survived and are faithfully serving Christ in central Asia, even though the terrorist group has threatened to kill them.
"Jews and Palestinians have to live together in Israel," Kareem observes. "There is no other way for us to exist. Neither the Arabs nor the Jews are leaving, so our problems are here to stay. Jesus is the only one who can bring a peaceful coexistence to the land of Israel. He took away my hatred for Jews and filled me with love for them. Likewise I hated Muslims, even though I lived among them in Bethlehem. Now my heart is wide open to the people of Islam also. When I see the word ISLAM, I remember this acronym: 'I Shall Love All Muslims.'
"Isn't it amazing that God would bring me to serve him in this major battleground between the two religions? This city needs Jesus' message of love and forgiveness. Hebron can be the place where people see that only Jesus can solve the four-thousand-year-old conflict between Jews and Arabs. Both of us are the descendants of Abraham. Jesus wants to tear down the walls between us and create 'one new man,' as Ephesians 2 tells us. Hebron will see this one day."
In the fall of 2007, one night Amir awoke with excruciating pain. He was rushed to the hospital, where medical tests revealed that he had acute kidney failure and was soon going to need a transplant. Amir recounts what happened next. "I knew that I was going to die. One night I nodded off to sleep, and then in the middle of the night I was awakened by someone talking. A man in a white robe was at the foot of my bed, and he said that he was Jesus. He had nail prints in his hands and in his feet. He said that he had heard the prayers of his followers. He told me that he was going to heal me for his glory, and he touched me. Then he was gone." The next morning the doctors and the nursing staff were shocked, since Amir was coherent and seemed to be just fine. "Jesus did it!" Amir proclaimed. "He came to me last night and healed me!"
"I am sure the doctors thought I had lost my mind at that point. But they began to run tests on my kidneys, and they couldn't find anything wrong with them! They responded, "It couldn't have been Jesus. If someone healed you, it must have been a good Muslim man. It wasn't Jesus."
"How do you know it wasn't Jesus?" Amir asked.
"Jesus doesn't come to Syria! This is a Muslim country, not a Christian country."
"I can prove to you that it was Jesus. Have you ever met a Muslim who had nail prints in his hands and in his feet?"
"At this point they were speechless. They never asked me about the matter again. Jesus gave me back my life, and I owe him everything. My family loves him now too."
The Islamic cleric leaned into the camera and said, "A tragedy has happened: Muslims are converting to Christianity. Every year six million Muslims convert to Christianity."
I am convinced that one of the reasons — perhaps the GREATEST reason — we have seen so many Muslims come to faith in Christ in the last few years is because of the fervent prayer of believers around the world. The most important thing you can do for the Muslims of the world is to pray for them.
Many believers are willing to die in order to reach the Muslim world, and God is using their all-out commitment as in no other time in history. Today is the day for Muslims worldwide to hear about Jesus.