An important principle of Disciple Making Movements is seeking out ‘the person of peace’. Sometimes the most difficult person to reach with the gospel, the person who is openly hostile to God’s Word, will become the most dedicated follower of Christ and win many others for Him.
Take Riyad, a Muslim imam who called people to prayer at four local mosques. He was a respected man in his community and personally responsible for teaching the Qur’an to nearly 1,500 people. But he had committed himself to one overall task in life: to rid his town of all Christians and to do his utmost to destroy the Christian church in his native land.
Riyad used his official capacity as an imam to further this agenda. He collected alms from his followers, but used this money to purchase supplies for making bombs. He would secretly lead raids on Christian churches and private homes, sometimes burning them to the ground, other times simply vandalizing and intimidating. Government officials turned a blind eye on the matter and his Muslim followers didn’t see anything reprehensible in his acts; extremism in the cause of Allah was hardly a vice in their eyes.
‘The Christians openly started to pray for him – that God would either change his heart, or remove him from the area.’
The only people who openly responded to Riyad’s deeds were his victims, the Christians. They started to pray for him. They organized prayer campaigns throughout the region, holding all-night prayer meetings to ask God to either change Riyad’s heart or remove him from the area. They made no secret of this, but openly told others how they were praying. “While I was burning, and destroying and killing against the Christians, these Christians were praying for me. I would hear them as they walked on the road, praying aloud!” Riyad later said.
Then one day, Riyad met some Christians who asked him to study the Qur’an with them. Riyad expected that he could persuade them to become Muslims, but instead the Christians turned him to the many passages in the Qur’an that speak about Jesus. “I began to realize that God had revealed truth to these men, and I started to change my ways,” Riyad said. Eventually his friends turned him to the Bible, and everything became clear. He turned his life over to Jesus Christ.
‘He stood in front of the crowd and said: Listen, Jesus is the grace and the truth from God. We should follow Him!’
But he did not loose his zeal; the Lord merely redirected it. Soon after becoming a Christ follower, he went to one of his mosques as he had always done. Hundreds of people were gathered there, waiting for him to come and lead them in their prayers. He stood in front of them and said: “Listen, Jesus is the grace and the truth from God! Unless we follow Him, we cannot go to heaven.”
The people were shocked to hear such words from their imam. They leaped up, forced him to the ground, and began to collectively beat him. Some ran into the street and screamed: “Our imam has become crazy! He has gone mad!” The crowd held him prisoner until three in the morning, then finally let him leave. Riyad fled the village, and the next day a crowd swarmed his house, stealing whatever they could carry and destroying the rest.
But Riyad grew in his faith and understanding, and the Lord used him in powerful ways to lead many sheikhs to Christ. Like the apostle Paul, the man who violently persecuted the people of Christ became a committed disciple, all because some Christ followers were willing to take the risk of reaching out to a difficult and dangerous person.
Source: Jerry Trousdale, Miraculous Movements (summarized by Joel News)