International (MNN) — There is a strong temptation in society to form “them versus us” identities. The schisms between political parties, religious groups, races, and socioeconomic statuses can be deep.
Between Christians and Muslims, this divide often looks like fear. Persecution against Christians is on the rise around the world. With many Christian attacks perpetrated by Muslim extremists, that fear only grows.
However, Jane* from Cry Out says allowing fear to dominate our interactions hinders our Christian witness in the Muslim world.
“I think there are so many misperceptions that all Muslims are terrorists, or all Muslims want all non-Muslims to die, which is so not true. Muslims are just normal people like you and me. They have families, they have friends, they have dreams, they have hopes, they have aspirations, [and] they have just as many fears as we have.
“Often, I think they have even more fear because we have the knowledge of the truth. We have the revelation of Jesus’s love for us. They don’t have any of the certainty that we have in God…. I think a lot of them live with more fear than we realize. But we allow our own fear, which is not based on truth, to blind ourselves to who they are.”
Right now, the Muslim world is in the thick of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month focused on fasting and prayer as Muslims seek Allah’s favor. There are many Christian prayer initiatives during Ramadan encouraging believers to pray for Muslims to find salvation in Jesus Christ.
Jane says praying for Muslims, especially during a season like Ramadan, can actively change our own hearts and foster compassion for the Muslim world.
“Maybe part of what we should be praying is that God would replace the fear that we feel for the unknown — for the person we don’t understand because he or she looks different from me — to replace that with His love for them. Because God loves all Muslims all over the world.
“I think we can ask God to give us that love, that we would have the boldness to go to them and just speak to them as normal people and just love them the way that He loves them. We are Jesus’s hands and feet. How will they know that Jesus loves them if we’re not willing to love them?”
Ramadan is a critical time to pray because it’s a time when Muslims are genuinely hungry to hear from God. They want the truth and are more spiritually aware, perhaps, than any other time of the year.
“They are very focused on giving up their physical things, so they can encounter spiritual things,” says Jane. “They’re very open to dreams [and] to encounters with God. There’s an openness to talk about God. There’s an openness to engage with God. There’s an openness to seek His face in whatever way they can meet Him.”
Cry Out frequently hears stories of Muslims who have dreams and visions of “a man in white” during Ramadan. They soon discover that man is Jesus and come to faith in Him.
“There’s an openness for encountering angels. There’s an openness for prayer, for having dreams or visions in the night. I think we can pray specifically for people to dream about Jesus or for angels to appear in people’s dreams during this month,” says Jane.
“But even more than that, we can pray for believers that know Muslims, or that are neighbors with Muslims, or that live in Muslim countries to have the boldness in this month to actually ask their Muslim friends, ‘Have you had a dream of a man in white? Can we talk about it? Do you want to talk about who the man in white was in your dream?’
“Especially believers in the West should be encouraged and challenged during this month. As we’re praying for our Muslim neighbors [and] our Muslim friends to have these dreams, we should also have the boldness to actually ask them when they have dreams, and whether they will be open to talking about those dreams.”
Click here to learn more about Cry Out and their ministry in the Muslim world!
*Name changed for security purposes.