Middle East (MNN) — Is sharing the Gospel with Muslims a lost cause? Julyan Lidstone with Operation Mobilization admits there are many challenges. But in the Middle East, God’s Kingdom is growing because Muslims are hearing the Gospel.
“Muslim fundamentalism has been on the rise for the last 30, 40 years,” says Lidstone. “That means there is a rise in persecution. And in some areas, there’s a rise in martyrdom and a lot of difficulty.”
Islam is the primary religion in 35 of the 50 countries on the Open Doors World Watch List, a compilation of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians. The Middle East holds 7 of the top 10 countries.
“In that area, which of course is suffering a lot because of the civil war in Syria,..the Lord is using that to open hearts and turn people toward Himself,” Lidstone shares. “More is happening inside of Syria than we’ve ever seen before.”
There are reports of new house churches in northern Syria, Lidstone adds, and churches in Lebanon and Jordan are reaching out to Muslim refugees as never before.
“God is working in an unprecedented way, so we are hopeful that we are going to see the kind of breakthroughs that we have never seen before,” the OM missionary says.
“In Azerbaijan, there are now thousands and thousands of Muslims who have come to faith in Jesus.”
However, that spiritual harvest hasn’t always been the case in Azerbaijan. When Lidstone and his wife began serving as OM missionaries in the country 24 years ago, there was no outreach to the Azerbaijani ethnic Muslim population.
“These dear Russian saints said to me, ‘No, we don’t do that because it’s a waste of time,'” says Lidstone.
In response, Lidstone shared a modern-day parable with the church leaders.
“Imagine a farmer [who] had two fields. One field had been cultivated and was fertile, and when you sowed in it you got an immediate harvest. The other field had been ignored, was full of rocks and thistles, and if you sowed any seed in that field, you wouldn’t get any result,” Lidstone explains.
“What would the farmer do? Would he just ignore the one field and focus on the other? No!”
Lidstone continues: “That farmer would get out into the barren, infertile, uncultivated field [and] roll his sleeves up, lift those boulders, pull the thistles out, fertilize the ground, so that he could get a harvest out of that field as well.”
As always, the most important way to help is also the easiest: prayer.
“As the saints pray more, we see God work more,” says Lidstone. “Please pray that God would give us boldness. One of the spiritual characteristics of Islam as a religion is that it wants to dominate and it wants to intimidate.”
Pray also for the protection of OM Gospel workers in the Middle East. As previously stated, there are a multitude of challenges facing Kingdom work.
“Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in dreams and visions and miracles,” Lidstone requests. “That’s one of the reasons we believe we’re coming to a tipping point, because we see more dreams and we hear more stories of healings than ever before.”