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I have just returned from a notable prayer event in Rome. I would never have expected that Egyptians, Syrians and others from the Middle East would call together both European Church leaders and leaders of Immigrant congregations to pray for this needy continent. I was so blessed by the commitment of scores of Egyptians and the many others from the Middle East, who sacrificed time and finance to invest in three days of intensive prayer meetings.
There is no doubt that the great flood of immigrants from the Muslim world into Europe over recent years has provided opportunities for the gospel like never before in history.
That, combined with militant Islam showing such an ugly face, has led to a ripening harvest. It is probably best if I explained that statement in the words of a prominent Church leader from the Middle East. These are some of the things he told us:
“These last six or eight years have destroyed Islam. The damage is beyond imagination. Muslims are destroying Islam from within through their cruelty”. Here are some statistics he gave: A recent gallup poll in Iraq returned an amazing result: Thirty-two percent declare they are no longer Muslim. That means ten million people in Iraq alone! “In Egypt the best estimates are that four million Muslims have become followers of Jesus over the last fifteen years or so.” As he said, “These are not a small number of conversions, but huge movements. This has never happened before in history, and these numbers are not guesses, they are accurate“.
This pastor was invited to Iraq to speak in churches. When he arrived, government authorities turned up at the airport to greet them. Wherever they went, they were taken by government limousines with over sixty bodyguards. Iraqis are keen to hear the gospel but recognise there is a risk for people to proclaim Christ openly. As he taught on being a disciple of Jesus, a very senior Muslim theologian attended and asked for time with the pastor. Actually, the conversation was not as encouraging as the pastor expected, but he did get a clear opportunity to present Jesus. Two weeks later, the Iraqi pastor of the Church he visited, phoned to say this same senior theologian had accepted Jesus. He now wanted to invite the visiting pastor to return, to come to the centre of Shia Islamic education to talk about the divinity of Christ. This is without precedent!
Whether it is Iraq or Turkey or Syria or amongst immigrants in Jordan, Lebanon or further afield in Europe, we consistently hear stories of God’s remarkable power drawing Muslims to Himself. We heard of countless miracles including children who had died being raised from the dead as a witness to the truth of the gospel.
She expressed her forgiveness and her love for them and her commitment to pray for them.
It is not all a wonderful sense of triumph. If you read the International press, you would know that Christians have been subjected to terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. Last year two Muslim terrorist machine-gunned a wedding party as they exited their Church. They killed several and amongst them was a little girl who was holding her mother’s hand. The mother was wounded in the leg. A short while later she was interviewed on television from a wheelchair and the journalist asked what she felt towards the men who did this. She expressed her forgiveness and her love for them and her commitment to pray for them. The pastor who told the story said,
“When that four minute interview was aired all over Egypt, it did more to proclaim the reality of Jesus then most of the preaching in the last five hundred years.”
Yes, these are remarkable times. These are also times of high risk and as many have said ” With these vast immigrant movements into Europe, it will be changed one way or another—either being more subject to Islam or seeing the great harvest of Muslims coming into the kingdom of God.”
I intend to continue to support and cultivate this prayer movement to the best of my ability and draw these dear intercessors together with others that I am working with. I have no doubt that concerted prayer has already made a huge difference and will do more so in days and years to come.