International (MNN) — When it comes to the Muslim world, just over 50 percent of Muslim people groups are completely unengaged, meaning they have no one sharing the Gospel in their community. If you include Muslim groups that have at least less than two percent of an evangelical presence, that statistic goes up to 84 percent unreached.
A leader* with Frontiers USA says these numbers have very real implications for missions in the 21st century. “Many times you’ll hear people say that Muslims are resistant to the Gospel. But if these numbers are correct, and we believe they are, then the vast majority of the Muslim world hasn’t even had the chance to resist the Gospel. So a real passion for us is that the unengaged Muslims of the world would be engaged with the Gospel.
“When we look at the Muslim world to think through how we can strategically send workers, then we look at the unengaged parts of the Muslim world. The vast majority of Muslims who have not had an opportunity to hear the Gospel basically reside in six geographical areas of the world, and it’s those six that we’ve prioritized.”
Frontiers USA has their mission trip applications open for 2017 to engage the Muslim world, and they want you to get involved! Or, if you’re not able to, you can share this article or Frontiers’ website with friends and family who may feel led by God to go.
The good news is you can have a heart for our Muslim neighbors and influence their salvation wherever you are. The Frontiers’ leader says it starts with a deepened understanding of God’s heart for lost people.
“I think a lot of it has to do with just being informed. First of all, being informed biblically, so immersing ourselves in the Bible to gain the heart and the passion of God and the Gospel…. Then, if it’s for Muslims, it’s getting to know Muslims. Of course, when we don’t know something, that’s when we would be more enticed into fear or anger. So giving yourself a chance or an opportunity to meet a Muslim or engage with Muslims here will begin to…give you His passion and His heart for Muslims.”
One thing that struck this leader with Frontiers about the impact of missions with Muslims was a survey that came out in 2007 by Fuller Theological Seminary. This survey interviewed 750 formerly-Muslim Christians from 30 different countries over a 30-year period.
He explains, “They asked them this question: ‘What influenced you towards becoming a Christian?’… They said the most important factor was seeing the Christian faith lived out in front of me and having a Christian friend. So that can only happen face-to-face…. The unengaged Muslim areas of the world, they don’t have that opportunity to meet a follower of Christ. Thus, the need to get more workers and the need to consider the heart of God as we see it in Scripture.”
There are amazing stories and testimonies coming out of Muslim-majority nations and regions about how God is moving. The leader with Frontiers shared the story of a 16-year-old Muslim boy named Waheed who came to Christ and was miraculously saved.
“We were in northern Pakistan at this particular time, and at that particular time in history there were about a million Afghan refugees in northern Afghanistan, the Russians were in Afghanistan at that time. This young man was working as a gardener with a family that we knew, a cross-cultural working family. Over a period of time in reading Scripture and engaging with Scripture, he came to faith and was obediently following Christ. He lived at their house and then he would go back to the refugee camp on the weekends. On one of these trips back to the refugee camp on the weekend, his mother found a Bible and that caused her great stress. She [learned] that he had become a Christian and that he was an apostate to Islam, and within Islam then an apostate is to be killed.”
The young man’s mother told his father, who was away fighting in Afghanistan, and the father decided to return home for his son.
“He was going to capture his son, take him into Afghanistan, put him on the front lines of the jihad they were conducting against the Russians, and more than likely would die. But he would die in a jihad, and thus, would be saved within the Islamic worldview.”
The Frontiers leader and his coworkers started praying urgently for Waheed. The following night, Waheed had a dream about Jesus.
“In this dream, Waheed is sitting on his little bed, and right beside him is Jesus. Waheed is holding a candle and it’s lit. All of a sudden, the door busts open and a bunch of Afghans come in and they blow out the candle, at which point, Waheed wants to fight them. He stands up to fight with them [and] Jesus doesn’t say a thing, just puts a hand on Waheed’s shoulder and sits him back down on the bed. Well, as dreams go, this went on all night… So his interpretation of the dream was it’s okay, Jesus is going to protect you, just remain calm.
“Well, it was a few weeks after that, that we heard the rest of the story. The father had come that evening with a group of Mujahideen and a Russian jeep and AK47s…and the house [Waheed] was in was a flat-roofed mud house. When they came around the corner about two or three o’clock in the morning, they noticed four large shiny beings on top of the house and they knew these were angelic beings, and they were filled with fear and they left. Later, one of our coworkers talked with the father, and the father said, ‘God is protecting my son. There’s nothing I can do.’”
Testimonies like Waheed’s about how God is changing hearts and saving His people in the Muslim world should be an encouragement to others who see missions to Muslims as challenging. It may be difficult to step out of our comfort zones, but God is using miracles and the power of an active Church to draw Muslims to Himself.
*Name omitted for security purposes.