Advancing the Gospel in Strife-ridden Central Asia
Newspapers brim with headlines of militant clergy, Marxist students, American hostages, Russian tanks in the streets of Kabul, oil, and the clash of Western values with resurgent Islam.
Much of the world's attention is focused on the upheaval in countries of South central Asia, but undercurrents of quieter upheaval are often missed by the press.
One such undercurrent is a new openness on the part of many Muslims to Jesus Christ.
An individual associated with the Samuel Zwemer Institute in Pasadena (an organization spearheading Muslim ministries throughout the world, training missionaries to reach Muslims), said he believes God is using turmoil in ,that corner of the globe much as He has used turmoil at other times in history to make the church grow.In some areas, he said, people have become tired of the entrenched Islamic religious order, which they believe has failed them.
Marxism, which held hope for many, has begun to fade in the eyes of some as they watch the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.
Now, Muslims who are disenchanted with Islam and feel betrayed by Marxism have begun looking toward Jesus.
While there are no mass conversions, there is a fresh interest in Jesus, and, in some areas, a growing number of converts.
The number of converts, while still small, is by one count much larger than at any other time in this century. Right now, for instance, thousands of Muslims are studying the Bible through correspondence courses.
However, running counter to this exciting trend is another resurgence and resistance of Islam.
One of the main reasons for Islam's resurgence is that Muslims are convinced their era of world influence has arrived, as demonstrated by the blessing of oil God has given them.
The resistance of Muslim people to Christianity is based to a great extent on their view of the West.
They see a culture awash in alcohol, pornography and materialism. In addition, employees of western oil companies are not allowed to share their faith with Muslims, which makes Islamic leaders happy, but leaves the impression that Westerners are materialists only interested in oil.
Because Western culture seems riddled with evil, Islamic governments often deny visas to missionaries and try to limit their effectiveness.
Now, with the influx of oil money, Islam is financing missionary work of its own.
Those interested in missionary work in Islamic countries should consider a secular job in the country as an option. There are also openings for regularly supported missionaries. Unless the number of candidates greatly exceeds the number now volunteering, there will continue to be openings.
For those interested in "tentmaking" missions among Muslims, the jobs most needed and available are in medicine, engineering, agriculture and teaching English as a second language. As one authority put it, the opportunities are "just about unlimited."
To serve in an Islamic country requires a solid understanding of the Bible, Islam, and the relationship between the two.
The Zwemer Institute is designed to provide training for Muslim ministry. If interested, write to: The Zwemer Institute, Box 365, Altadena, CA 91101.
Muslims in Mali need of prayer
Just over 6 million people live in Mali, a predominantly Muslim nation in central West Africa. 60% of Mali's population is divided into 9 subgroups and there are at least 16 different groups of Muslims in Mali that need to be reached with the Gospel. Two of these are the Manding and the Berbers.
3 million Manding live in Mali, about 1.2 million of which are Muslims. In Mali, the Manding are known as Bambara, taking the name from the largest and most dominant tribe among them. There are 9 major tribes. Churches have been started among three of them.
350,000 Berbers, mostly of the Taureg tribes, live in northern Mali. This area was devastated by the 1968 73 drought. Christian relief efforts left a good impression during that time. Missionaries have been working among these people, but have seen a few come to Christ.
Please pray for these people.