International (MNN) — The past few weeks have seen a rise in extremist aggression in Muslim communities and increased persecution around the world.
The past few weeks have also been Ramadan.
Bruce Smith of Wycliffe Associates said that’s not a coincidence or a new trend. “Ramadan is a time of the year when they are focused on demonstrating their commitment to religion and to Islam,” he said. While the majority of Muslims turn to fasting to prove their faith and millions travel to Mecca, some turn to jihad.
Those divisions can cause serious persecution even within Muslim circles. “We tend to often frame this in terms of East against West, Muslim against Christian or Muslims against America, when in fact a lot of the violence is Muslim against Muslim,” said Smith.
But Muslims aren’t the only ones fervently pursuing their faith this month. “During this same time of year as violence increases, there’s also a very focused background attempt on the part of Christians that are in this part of the world to be a witness, to be salt and light,” Smith said. “Christianity and the testimony for Christ is continuing to go forward around the world very effectively even when it appears that Islam is at its peak of power.”
Still, there’s a reason no one is talking about Christian work this month. Smith said many workers around the world have to remain anonymous, and although their work means everything to the people around them, they can’t always share the results with the rest of the world.
“Increasingly, the languages that are still without Scripture are in the most difficult parts of the world,” Smith said, and the constant threat of terrorism in these areas means things have to be kept quiet.
But silence from the front doesn’t mean a battle isn’t being fought. “Right now, we’ve got a partner that’s ready and willing and able to launch Bible translations in 25 new languages throughout the Middle East in the heartland of Islam,” said Smith.
Wycliffe Associates is also sending technology to translators to help them upload translations to a global audience and quickly convert Scripture into their own heart language. All these tools are installed on normal laptops and tablets to help protect the safety of Christian workers in tense areas.
As Ramadan continues, Smith encourages believers to consider the Muslim holiday as a reminder to pray. “When I see the news and I see people that are on their pilgrimages or even terrorist attacks, I realize these are people who are confused and deceived about who God is.”
“The Holy Spirit is at work behind the scenes every day making progress for God’s Word among the nations,” Smith said. Find out more about that work and how you can help right here.