10 Keys to Unlocking Muslim Strongholds
Islam stands as the strongest giant against the planting of a church for every people by the year 2000 (Otis). One out of every five people on earth is a Muslim. The heart of Islam and most of its followers live in the part of Africa and Asia known as the "10-40 window."
Muslims make up the most resistant and most neglected block of people in the world. There is only one missionary for every one million Muslims.
How can we hope to plant a church in each of the 4,000 unreached Muslim people groups and clearly present the Gospel to the billion Muslims by AD 2000? Here is a ring of 10 keys that just might open up the Muslim world to the Gospel.
1. Adopt a Muslim People Group
A number of churches have already adopted a Muslim people group, but many groups remain to be claimed for Christ. With over 600 Great Commission Christian congregations per unreached people group, it should be possible for a number of congregations to adopt each one.
These congregations will then provide prayer for the unreached people groups, along with financial and personnel support to make an effective witness and establish a church in each people group (Stearns).
2. Conduct Strategic Spiritual Warfare
The prince of Persia and the spirit of Babylon are ancient territorial principalities who have resisted the Kingdom of God in Iran and Iraq for centuries. They and similar demonic spirits ruling the Muslim world must be bound before we can snatch the treasures of darkness from Satan's clutches. This can be done through warfare prayer (Wagner) which the gates of hell cannot stand against (Matt. 16:18).
A prayer group for each of the 4000 Islamic peoples should pray daily and meet monthly to intercede on behalf of these people to clear the air for reception of the Good News.
The memory of the Crusades is still fresh in Muslim minds after 900 years. It is time to publicly repent of these bitter wars before the entire Muslim world and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
3. Spread the Word
Islamic leaders are scared to death of the Word of God and will try their best to prevent Muslims from hearing or reading it. The Gospel should be readily available in every Muslim language through radio, cassettes, videos, books, tracts, newspapers, letters, etc. The JESUS film is one of the best tools to present the Gospel to both literate and illiterate Muslims.
4. Send in International Church Planting Teams
A team of eight or more international cross-cultural missionaries needs to be operating within a significantly large group of the people being reached. This team should have an incarnational witness, identifying with the people through a simple life style. They should demonstrate the gifts and fruit of the Spirit as they interact with each other and their Muslim friends. They need to be so committed to their people group that they bond with them as they master the culture and language. They must never lose sight of the goal to establish a growing church movement among that people.
5. Use Strategies that Fit the Needs of the People
Mission agencies are imploying many different methods of penetrating Muslim countries, since most of the unreached Muslim people groups are in countries that do not grant "missionary visas." Creative ways of access need to be found to live in those countries. The team can go as tentmakers, possibly as students, teachers or as providing some service that is appreciated by the government and the people (Wilson). It would help to have a nonresidential missionary based outside the country who can facilitate communications, prayer support, and linking the work of the team with others interested in that people (Garrison).
6. Find a Bridge in their Culture
The team should be searching for cultural and religious beliefs which can serve as a bridge for this group to more readily accept the Gospel (Richardson). The Koran provides stories that can be used to present the Gospel such as Abraham's offering of his son celebrated every year during the Id al-Adha.
7. Start a Socially Acceptable People Movement
Messianic mosques have been appearing in some countries where followers of Jesus do not leave their culture but continue to appear as Muslims while worshipping Jesus. (Parshall).
8. Demonstrate God's Love for the Whole Person
Since many Muslim peoples are refugees or are suffering from poverty and starvation, holistic ministries can demonstrate God's love and concern for their physical as well as spiritual needs. Such people find it easy to understand and accept a Gospel that shows practical concern for their desperate situation (Elliston).
9. Expect Power Encounters
The majority of Muslims live in fear of jinns, the evil eye, and other animistic expressions of folk Islam. They need to see the power of Christ demonstrated in healing, delivering from demon possession, and conquering the forces of evil. Many Muslims have come to accept Christ after they have had a vision, dream or dramatic answer to prayer in Jesus' name (Kraft).
10. Demand Obedience to Christ
Those who come to faith need to be discipled in obedience to Christ and gathered into cells where they can be held accountable to follow Jesus whatever the cost. This requires willingness to suffer for Christ and in some cases to die for Him. Until a number of Muslim converts are prepared for this, the church will not grow strong or fast in that society (Patterson).
There are, no doubt, other keys which can help unlock the door to Muslim cultures so that the Church can be planted in their midst. Let us know what you have found useful so that the lessons learned in one part of the Muslim world can be shared with those working in other areas that Christ may be glorified and the last of the giants can be overcome.
References: (All are excellent for additional reading.)
Elliston, Edgar J. (ed.) Christian Relief and Development. Dallas, TX: Word Publishing, 1989.
Garrison, V. David. The Nonresidential Missionary. Monrovia, CA: MARC, 1990.
Kraft, Charles H. Christianity with Power. Ann Arbor, MI: Vine Books, 1989.
Otis Jr., George. The Last of the Giants. Tarrytown, NY: Ravell Company, 1991.
Parshall, Phil. Beyond the Mosque. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books 1985.
Patterson, George. Church Planting Through Obedience Oriented Teaching. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1981.
Stearns, Bill & Amy. Catch the Vision 2000. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1991.
Richardson, Don. Eternity in Their Hearts. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1984. Wagner, C. Peter. Warfare Prayer. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1992.
Wilson, J. Christy. Today's Tentmakers. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1979.