Why Should Christians Prioritize Reaching Muslims?
Muslims are “one of the most-discussed, least-understood people groups in our contemporary world,” says Alex Kochman in his article “5 Motives for Muslim Ministry.“
Reverend Doug Christgau, MedSend Global Ambassador and author of today’s Blog Post, believes that they deserve priority in evangelistic and church planting efforts. In today’s Guest Post, he explains why:
Missions exist to win the nations to worship God and bring glory to His name.
Planting a witnessing church in every unreached group is the biblical method for reaching the nations stated in Matthew 28:19-20. Yet, less than 10% of all active missionaries serve unreached groups.
Every day, 50,000 people perish without having an opportunity to hear the name of Jesus.
According to the Center for Missions Mobilization, one-third of the world’s population (2.9 billion people) has no access to the gospel. Fully 95% of the total “most unreached” world population is Muslim.
Pastor David Platt, author of Radical, asks a great question: “What is it going to take for even the concept of an unreached people to become intolerable to us?”
Here are five reasons that I believe we should consider in prioritizing ministry to Muslims:
1) Islam: The Largest World Religion after Christianity
Christians of all kinds represent about 33% of the world’s population today, which equates to about 2.4 billion people. Islam,with over 1.6 billion followers, currently represents about 24% of the population.
Between 2010 and 2050, Islam is projected to grow by 73%. This makes it the only major religious group projected to grow faster than the world’s population (Time, July 2015). Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe (Greater Europe Mission, 2012)and is expected to be the leading religion there within 20 years.
2) Miraculous Movements to Jesus
Technology, mobilization and emergencies are impacting the Islamic world. Despite resistance by Islamic leaders, Muslims are responding to the Gospel. Muslims can hear the Gospel through their mobile phones, the internet, and television. Muslims have accepted help from evangelicals in times of natural disasters.
“More Muslims have come to Jesus in the last five years than in the last two centuries combined,” (Arab World Evangelical Minister’s Association, 2009).
One million Muslims convert to Christianity each year in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation. This trend concerns the Muslims in that country enough that in 2013 they launched a “Save Maryam” campaign to counter the appeal of Christianity among Muslim youth.
Prayer is increasing to reach the Muslim world. Many breakthroughs have been associated with the annual publication of 30 Days of Prayer since 1993.
In 2015, Rick Wood, editor of Mission Frontiers, said, “We are in a God-ordained kairos moment in the history of missions to Muslims. God is shaking the ‘house of Islam’ and we must be ready and equipped to present to Muslims a loving and culturally sensitive description of the ‘hope that lies within us.’ Let’s equip ourselves for the kingdom breakthroughs in the Muslim world that God is preparing for us.”
At that time, Mission Frontiers identified Islam ideology as the first of Seven Challenges that must be faced for the Great Commission to be completed.
The sad truth is, however, that only a small percent of Muslims can hear the Gospel. The Frontiers mission agency says that for more than one billion – 63% of all Muslims – the term “unreached” still applies.
A group of believers willing and able to share Jesus with them simply does not exist.
How can they believe until they have heard?
World Outreach Vision of Muslims
In his article Muslim Mission Breakthrough, Stan Guthrie said “While the Muslim world has many fault lines…its mission movement is surprisingly unified. Fueled with abundant oil money, Islam is making up ground lost by the graying and still splintered Protestant missionary establishment in places such as Central Asia.”
Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world due to a combination of conversion and population growth. Its growth rate is one-third faster than Christianity. The Da’wah (outreach) strategy of Islam includes living an exemplary Muslim life, providing Islamic education for children, and debating. These strategies are designed to confront key Christian truths such as Biblical authenticity, the nature of Jesus Christ and the Trinity.
In the United States, Islam is the fastest growing religion. There are over five million Muslims here, almost half of them native-born Americans. Middle-class Caucasian women are the foremost American group being drawn to Islam. Many of their conversions occur through marriage to Muslim men. Muslim mosques in America have increased at several times the rate of new evangelical churches in the last decade.
For every dime that the evangelical church spends on missions, Islam spends a dollar. (Carl Ellis, Presbyterian Church in America). In prioritizing Islam, we are not only seeking to convert people who need the Gospel. We are countering a religion aiming to dominate the Christian church in both America and across the world.
Small Evangelical Investment
Over 80% of all Muslims have never heard the Gospel. 86% of Muslims have never met a Christian (Todd Johnson, Center for Global Christianity).
The ratio of missionaries to Muslims is 1:166,000 (Center for Mission Mobilization, 2016.) Twice as many missionaries work among Hindus as among Muslims; three times as many serve Chinese/Buddhists as among Muslims.
Evangelical church financial investment in Muslim missions are low. Very few U.S. churches prioritize reaching Muslims. Although missions agencies like Frontiers and Pioneers are sending many workers to the Muslim world, in 2016 there were still 1334 Muslim people groups that were not engaged by any Gospel resource.
Communicating the Opportunity
Islam became the most recognized religious force in the world on 9/11.
Most Muslims do not want to wage a Holy War of terrorism. They need to sense the unbiased and loving acceptance of the Christian church. However, all Muslims believe Islam is the only true religion, and that the rest of the world must submit to Allah.
The evangelical world is aware of Islam like never before, but few understand why it must be our priority in completing the Great Commission.
Healthcare remains the only form of access as a Christian witness in many countries.
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