January 19, 2018

Islam on the Mission Field


What effects do missionaries feel as the result of Islam on the foreign field? There are varying responses, depending on the field in question. The answer will be influenced by how large a percentage of the local population belongs to Islam and, more importantly, how much of the government is in the hands of Muslim hardliners. Where Muslims are predominant, they will seek to impose Shari’ah Law. Their religion is all-encompassing by its nature. Islam will seek to dictate all areas of the lives of its adherents if allowed to do so—whether religiously, politically or socially. Where Islam has already gained control, those outside of the Islamic faith will have sanctions imposed upon them. Where Islam is not yet predominant, the Muslim population will be working toward that goal.

Much of our ministry has been in African countries where Islam has not yet gained control but has been on the rise, edging toward the day when Muslims hope to take complete control. In the country where we first served, we learned how competitive Muslims can be. We began doing open-air evangelism on Saturday evenings on busy street corners near our newly planted church. We used a small handheld amplifier. Some passing by would stop to listen to testimonies from new believers and to the singing and preaching. A couple of weeks later, the Muslims began doing open-air evangelism in that area for the first time. They had a huge amplifier with powerful speakers, microphones, and enough lighting to illuminate the entire area. They blocked off the entire street, as many gathered around to listen. Later, when we had enough money, we painted our new cement block church building tan with brown trim. Just a few days after that, the mosque three blocks from us was painted tan with brown trim after having sat unpainted since its construction a number of years earlier.

“Aggressive,” although still not a strong enough term, more accurately describes the Muslim determination to dominate. Their aggression, as history bears out, seems to know no limits. Our first church grew under national leadership to an average attendance of around three hundred. Evidently the Muslims considered this a threat to their dominance in that area. In the year 2000, during a time of political unrest and rioting, a Muslim mob from that community encircled the church building, broke down the wooden doors, threw in gasoline and bottles of propane gas, and burned the building. They came at 9 am when there were twelve believers, including the pastor’s wife and three-month-old baby, gathered to pray in the pastor’s home attached to the church. When these believers attempted to flee from the fire, they found that they too were encircled by the mob and were told that they would be killed if they attempted to escape. They were trapped for two hours under the same roof as the church, separated from the raging fire only by a block wall, not knowing if the wall might soon collapse or if the roof above them might also soon catch fire. Only by the grace of God were they allowed to escape as one influential Muslim neighbor, who knew the good testimony of these Christians, interceded on their behalf.

The political unrest that provoked this incident was the fact that a Muslim man had been denied candidacy for political office because he was not qualified according to the constitution of the country at that time. The cry of the mob as they had attacked the church was that the prayers of the Christians were preventing the Muslim community from taking power. This cry was a blatant admission of their overarching purpose as well as a tacit acknowledgement of the power of prayer when serious Christians gather to pray in Christ’s name. Of course, the authorities never prosecuted anyone for this mob violence despite the fact that the leaders of the mob were known by our brethren as the professors in the Qur’anic school in the neighborhood. Evidently the authorities feared that prosecution of the mob’s leaders would provoke further violence. The church was told that it was for them a time to pardon their attackers. Other Islamic nations had willingly armed and financed the rebels.

This political unrest was a forerunner to the bloody civil war that broke out in that country a couple of years later when rebels in the northern half of the country, predominantly Muslim, made an armed grab for power. Even as I write this article, that country is again on the verge of civil war. A part of the problem that has so destabilized this country goes back to the insistence of Muslims upon having authority and predominance. When they have enough of the population, they will either have a Muslim leader or they will wage war.

When serving in another African nation, we lived two blocks from a mosque built with funds coming from Saudi Arabia. It was huge, lavish, and beautiful due to Western petro dollars being pumped into oil-rich Islamic countries. This same scenario is being carried out across much of sub-Saharan Africa. Indirectly, the West is funding the exporting of Islam around the world. Because this is true, the Islamic faith is advancing more quickly than are other religions.

A man in one of our African churches told us he had become a Muslim partially because of their social programs. They were providing Muslim-style clothing, shoes, and food to all who joined them. That was an enticing offer, especially in light of the low level of commitment required to convert to Islam. His main reason for converting to Islam, however, was to find a solution to the problem of sin in his life. However, for the Muslims, externals are the key, and the heart is not an issue. Our brother soon realized there was no change in his sinful heart and that he was still guilty before God. Praise the Lord that a heart knowing only the externals of a cold, hard, dead religion can still be reached with the message of the love of God and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Our brother left their midst still searching for the truth, and three months later a zealous believer from our church helped him find life-changing truth in the person of Jesus Christ.

A dear brother who has been serving faithfully as a pastor for years told us how he came to the Lord despite being born into a Muslim family. Before his salvation, our brother was asked to interpret a conversation between a Muslim leader and an unknown hit man. The leader was offering the unknown man forty dollars to kill another man suspected of committing adultery with the leader’s wife. Our brother, still a Muslim, protested that murder is not right. The Muslim leader told him the teaching of the Qur’an is not against such an action when there is a good reason. The deal was carried out, and the interloper was killed. Because of that experience, serious doubts about a religion that would sanction such actions began to haunt our brother, who later came to know the Lord.

One of our sisters likewise gives testimony of being reared in a Muslim family. She attended a Qur’anic school and later married a Muslim man. She had practiced the Muslim religion but was troubled with the question “Who is Jesus?” She knew that the Muslims spoke evil of Him even though He is one of their prophets, and she had always been warned not to talk with Christians about their Jesus. As she wondered about the person of Christ, she noticed other elements within Islam that also troubled her. She saw numerous satanic practices, divinations, and invocations with candles. She saw great division and rivalry among the different branches of Islam. Against this backdrop she began her search to know Christ. Her search took her down a winding path, but one day she saw a child she knew walking in the street with a tract in her hand. She asked to see the tract. It was one we had just given the child as we stood on a busy street corner. The tract led our sister to our home that Wednesday afternoon. We had the opportunity to answer her questions as to who Christ is. She came back to prayer meeting that evening and within a short time had put her faith in Christ. Knowing Him personally, she has become a faithful servant of the Lord and a diligent student of the Word of God.

Islam has no valid solution for the problem of sin. Muslims cannot know that they have been forgiven because they have not received the Christ who paid the price for their sin. They have not trusted the risen Lord who has already demonstrated His power over death and the grave. The challenge for us is to live a life of purity and holiness before the Muslim world, manifesting the love of God, faithfully announcing the reality of the wages of sin, and presenting Christ as the only answer. We must not forget that the Holy Spirit of God is still convicting guilty hearts as we live and announce the message of Christ.

The author is a Fundamental Baptist missionary who has been in ministry for thirty-two years, twenty-five of which have been in missions.

(Originally published in FrontLine • March/April 2011. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

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