When our children were little we moved to the country of Jordan and took a downstairs apartment with a strip of rocky land beside the building. For several days I removed rocks and scraped up the dirt to prepare the ground for grass. I also got a turtle for the kids. They named him Zippy.
One day some neighborhood children looked into the yard at me and the turtle and started talking in Arabic. I was still in the rudimentary stages of learning the language but I could answer their basic questions about our family and why we were there. Then, the biggest boy asked me if I was a believer, meaning whether or not I was a Muslim.
I answered that we were followers of Jesus, he didn’t understand what I was saying, so he asked again, “Are you a believer”? This time I used the more common word and told him that we were Christians but, again, he didn’t understand. For a few more tries he asked if I was a believer and I tried every kind of answer about Jesus that I could think of. At one point I think that I accidentally said that I was Jesus. Finally, I gave up. “No, I am not a believer,” I answered. “I am an infidel.” The next morning the turtle was gone and there were perfect little footprints of the boy who had walked across the soft dirt in the night to steal him. After all, stealing from an infidel isn’t wrong.
"Are you a believer?" [in Islam] or are you a non-believer; an infidel?
It was okay that the boy had stolen the turtle, I reasoned, because he is lost and lost people behave like lost people. That is why we were there. But something changed in the way that I was gardening. I often caught myself on my knees, aggressively stabbed my hand spade into the dirt with a feeling of intense anger that kept coming back—and anger isn’t a normal feeling for me. I was ruminating on Islam, and the way that it held my neighbors as prisoners. I could shake the feeling only for it to come back later.
We were living just around the corner from the mosque and were woken by it every morning before sunrise and were forced to stop all conversation because of its volume four other times each day. I’m sure this added a weakness of my flesh but it also emboldened and, apparently, angered God’s Spirit inside of me. It was like I was trying to move past it all but God wouldn’t let me. Islam is wrong, and it is bad. Muslims are just regular families like anywhere else but this wicked Islamic system was holding all of our community as religious hostages. Islam tells them that they are God’s real believers when they are not. Islam tells them that they are the ones that are right when they are the ones in the wrong. Islam tells them that they are walking in light when they are actually sitting in darkness. Islam teaches that Jesus was never sent to the cross, never died, and that the stories of his resurrection are fabrications written centuries after the original apostles had died.
Islam tells them that they are walking in light when they are actually sitting in darkness.
Is there anything that we, as disciples, can do to fix this and introduce these sweet families to Jesus and to freedom? Many of us, what you would call missionaries, are in places like this, trying to talk to these families, but we are making very slow progress. We need more resources and a missionary always asks for the same three things: 1) We need prayer for God’s power to move against the dark, spiritual authorities of these lands. 2) We need more laborers to be on sight, to learn the language and to engage with the lost, staying here as a career. 3) We need money to finance our work and for special projects, like mercy ministry programs to all of the refugees.
Your church may be aware of these needs and focus on them every time that you meet. If so, please give them our thanks. But, if Satan has tricked these boys into thinking that they are true believers, even when they reject Jesus and steal turtles, then he can just as easily be deceiving your church into thinking that Islam is not so bad and that the missionary needs are not as important as the needs of the local church. They may not even recognize that there is a spiritual war going on outside.
Also, if you haven’t gotten angry at Islam, yet, then let the Holy Spirit in you get mad. The same kind of wrath that came over Jesus as he turned over tables in the temple should motivate you to pray out, speak out or even act out among your church so that you can get others working on this massive problem with you. We, even us weak disciples, have to pull down Islam. It blasphemes God, it lies about Jesus and it entraps the lost in a way that only we can fix. We are the only hope for ones such as that little turtle stealing boy.
Main point: Satan is using Islam to encapsulate captives so that they cannot hear or see truth, even when it is presented to them. So what? It is our responsibility, as authentic disciples, to persevere through these trials and we need back up from your church. What are you doing to help?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.