Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. (Acts 8:4). The news of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants entering Europe is not simply bad news. More than 2,000 Muslims at refugee centres have turned to Jesus in the last eight years. Because many refugees remain on the move, an informal network of new churches for Muslim converts is spreading in Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and elsewhere. A church in Berlin has counted 1,200 Muslims who have converted in just three years, most of them Afghans and Iranians.
At a Persian Church in Hamburg, meanwhile, more than 600 Pakistanis and Afghans lined up to be baptized during one service. There are many ‘hidden’ stories – each one remarkable in its own way. Let this encourage us to keep praying.
- For new converts in Europe to stand firm in the Lord and to grow to be committed followers of Jesus.
- For the established church in Europe to be strengthened, empowered by the Holy Spirit and willing to reach out to Muslims and assist new converts.
- Especially for radicals to come face-to-face with the love of Jesus. Percentage-wise, more radical Muslims become followers of Jesus than non-radicals.
And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31). There is a lot of persecution of the church in the Middle East and North Africa, but this also holds true for nearly all Muslim majority nations and even places where Muslims form a significant portion of the population.
The church of Jesus Christ is familiar with persecution. It has experienced persecution since its inception. In the first 300 years, the church went through 10 periods of horrific persecution – literally hundreds of thousands of believers died. Within ten years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost (Acts 2), there were an estimated 25,000 Christians.
About 350 years later, there were 800 times more, in spite of these periods of intense persecution. The apostles prayed for boldness to proclaim the gospel, they took care of the needs of Christians and non-Christians, they sought the power of the Holy Spirit and they sought to shine forth the glory of God. They prayed to be enabled to reveal the mystery of Christ to the unsaved, and they prayed for the grace to stand firm under every onslaught of the evil one. In many Muslim-majority nations, the same is happening today.
Many Christians are killed, and many are forced to flee. Still, there are others who have no other choice but to stay, and some choose not to flee, even when they have opportunity to do so.
Amongst unbelievers who are fleeing to other nations, significant numbers are coming to Christ. Many Christian leaders in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Christian leaders from Muslim Backgrounds (MBB leaders), say that there are more Muslim Background Believers in these regions today than Christians from historically Christian backgrounds.
Consider Acts 4:29-31 when you pray for the church in these nations: “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus”. And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance. (Romans 5:3). Surprisingly, the Islamic Republic of Iran is where the church is actually growing the fastest in the world, despite Iran being listed on the Open Doors USA World Watch List, as one of the top ten countries where it is hardest to be a believer. Conversion is illegal, and aboveground churches have almost all been closed down. Iran is a country that has worked hard to eliminate Christianity, and particularly Muslim conversion to Christianity. The Iranian people are going through honest introspection about what they’ve witnessed in their country in recent years. Some research points to at least half of all Iranians having rejected Islam. Source: Mission Network News.
- For perseverance for the church in Iran.
- For pastors, who often end-up in prison and are ill-treated. (Their families also suffer because of this).
- For the church to be a bold witness.
- For a new translation of the Iranian New Testament in a more modern Farsi language. (This will be very helpful, as there is a great hunger for Bibles in Iran).
If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14). The East African nation of the Republic of Djibouti lies between Eritrea and Somalia, bordering the Gulf of Aden. Djibouti has served as a predominantly Muslim nation since its inception in the 7th century.
The population is 97% Muslim, and those who leave the faith are often beaten, ostracized or killed. To show even the slightest curiosity in other religions can be dangerous for Muslims. However, there is religious freedom for foreigners in Djibouti. Many divisions have occurred within the church as a result of tribalism and jealousy. Unity and boldness are needed among the brave Christians living in Djibouti.
- For wisdom for Christian workers in Arab-focused ministries.
- For the nomadic Afar, who are essentially unreached with the gospel.
- For encouragement and perseverance for those ministering in extremely difficult conditions.