Category Archives: Islam

Stats revealing how our church may be a bit off-goal!

First a quick history lesson.  The gospel arrived in Jerusalem, and from there the world knew of Jesus.  First in Israel, then to surrounding Middle Eastern countries (before Mohammed great monastery’s were everywhere in Saudi Arabia), then spreading west-ward to Europe.  Through the ages, the gospel crept further west, spreading to America, and then to South America, as well as shortly after spreading to Asia.

Well that’s the whole world then, right?  Phew!  But as far as people who know Jesus Christ as their Savior, or even knowing who he was historically, most of the world does not know Him.  So when we talk about the “least-reached people” we talk about people groups who have the least amount of believers among them, and do NOT have access to the gospel because no church or Christian presence is there in their own language.  The most reached ones being countries like South Korea and America, with confessing believers in Christ ranging in the 30% of the population.  Least reached countries being like Indonesia (which is mostly Muslim) where the believing community is more like 0.01%.

The stats below are presented to bring to your mind the perspective of urgency in our world that oh so desperately needs to know Jesus Christ.  Because “globalization” is happening and is already here, and our world is ever increasing to be an Internationalized community, its good to know where we stand in perspective to other countries, gospel-wise.  So now, the stats:

We Live in an Asian World**

(this includes the Middle East)

61% of the Worlds population are Asian

12.7% are European

8% are from Latin America

5% of the Worlds population of the world are North Americans

“Asia is the only continent where Christianity is not the largest religion.”

“Asia is our greatest challenge for world missions.”

America is Packed Full of Churches

The US and Canada have 575,000 churches, or one church for every 537 people.

In Turkey there is approx. 1 BELIEVER for every 2.5 Million people in Turkey.  About one church for every 5.5 million people.  That’s like ONE church for New York, of about 150 people.

In some places the stats are worse, like India and Pakistan.

Least-Reached People groups by Blocs

Western (much of Europe) – 100 Million

Tribal/animalist – 242 Million

Buddhist – 376 Million

Chinese – 400 Million

Hindu – 841 Million

Muslim – 1.27 Billion

Foreign Missionaries Working in those Least reached Blocs

Western – 60,000

Tribal/animist – 11,200

Muslim – 7,000

Hindu – 5,000

Chinese – 2,000

Buddhist – 1,800

We are Good at Reaching the Churched Here in the West

(Not in the stats, but ask yourself how many people you know have attended church once, grew up in the church, have heard of Jesus Christ, have a Bible but not read it, or just heard of Christmas or Easter)

74% of our Foreign Ministers we send out, are sent to reach “nominal Christians” either in the America’s or Europe.

If Asia consists of 61% of the Worlds pop. how many are we sending to Asia?

1% to Jewish people

2% to Chinese (Asia)

3% to Buddhists (Asia)

4% non-religious Aetheists

6% to Muslims (Asia)

Where There is Darkness There Aren’t Enough Candles

Ratio of Foreign Ministers per Million in Geographical areas

<25 FM’s per Million in Middle East

<25 in Eurasia

<25 in Asia

85 FM’s per Million in Africa

100 in Europe

175 in Caribbean

415 in Latin America

500 in Pacific per Million

If the church is the body, are we more like a mis-proportioned body builder, who only works out his biceps, but forgets to work the rest of his body and so appears awkward.  Are we like a shipbuilder who focuses all his attention on the mast and sail, but forgets to water-seal his hull, and so making him dangerously prone to sinking?

Don’t get me wrong, local ministry of the church is absolutely necessary!  Just posing the question….perhaps we are a bit mis-proportioned?

What do you think?

** All stats and information found in “Through God’s Eyes: A Bible Study of God’s Motivation for Missions”, by Patrick O. Cate, William Carey Library, Pasedena, CA. Pp. 61-69

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Osama bin Laden and Pakistan’s Intelligence Community

Last night my wife got a text from her mother saying, “Osama is dead!”  Indeed news of his death has spread around the world like lightning.

And as I expected an email arrived to my inbox from the folks at MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute).  Among other pressing issues that weigh on the world like anti-semitism, racial violence, and terrorism, they submit reports to government agencies on specific occurances.  The death of Osama bin Laden, is such one occurance.

The report entitled “More Shame and Retribution heading ISI’s Way” details how Pakistans intelligence agency (ISI), knew of Osama’s whereabouts, for quite some time.  Here are some interesting excerpts from the report….

1.  Pakistan may have known, and said nothing:

“Nothing in the Af-Pak region goes unnoticed by the ISI, and if bin Laden managed to play hide-and-seek with the world all this while, it was only thanks to ISI’s patronage. Although the U.S. has claimed that Pakistan was not in the know of this operation, terror groups would not believe so.

“They are aware that nothing is possible unless there has been a certain degree of support from the establishment. Moreover, Osama was living in a place close to the army headquarters in Abbottabad, about 70 kilometers northeast of Pakistan’s capital Islamabad. This is not a fact that would have gone unnoticed by the ISI.”

2.  The US knows that Pak’s intelligence supports other terroristic groups.

“Last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated in Islamabad that the ISI continues to support the Haqqani Network, the second largest group of militants among the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

3.  On-going trials in Chicago may shed shaming light on the dark inner-workings of the ISI.

“The other embarrassment that the ISI would face is post-May 15, when Headley and Rana go on trial. Rana, in particular, had in his defense claimed that the LeT had nothing to do with the 11/26 attack in Mumbai and that it was the ISI, which had planned everything since day one.

“The ISI is extremely worried; it has been trying to exert immense pressure through diplomatic channels to prevent any such statement from coming out. If Rana’s claims are accepted by the court, many high-ranking officials will have to stand trial. It would also go on to confirm that the Pakistani establishment had sponsored the gruesome attack on Indian soil.”

As the world rejoices at the death of the darkest and most influential terrorist the world has known, the issue and conspiracy of terrorism continues.  I fear that many, including officials in high places, have grown to the sentiment that terrorism may be necessary for their selfish functions!

Continue to pray for the regions affected by the oppressive and satanic intimidaters, like Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iraq and Iran to name a few.  Whole nations suffer poverty, starvation and injustice because of a few mens’ greedy hands of power.  We know that a small number of terrorists have repented and turned to Christ in miraculous ways, so we pray for more, and more such transformations, so that the seats of terrorism may be found empty!!

Terry Jones and Politics, Pulpit and the Quran

Everyone reading this, please watch this video first, and then proceed.

I just want to contrast the core of what two pastors said and draw light to one of them (and hopefully show one is really not so much a pastor at all)

Reverend Ed Rowe

“I’m here to say, the Quran was not just burned.  The “quran burning” burned everything Jesus said on the Mount of Olives, it burned every statement Jesus made.  I’m here to say there is nothing in the gospels that support the burning of the Quran.”

Reverend Terry Jones

“We did not come [to Dearborn] to demonstrate against the Quran.  The only thing we ask is that they honor and obey the constitution of the United States.  If they are willing to do that, then our message is one of ‘welcome.'”

I want to highlight two words that makes Reverend Terry Jones more like “Republican” Terry Jones.

“Gospel” and “constitution.”

What does Reverend Ed Rowe quote for his authority?(Gospel)  What does Terry Jones quote for his reason of demonstrating?(Constitution)  For Terry we clearly see that he is using and abusing his pulpit for “patriotic” propaganda!

At the core of Terry’s worldview, is an extremely messed up idea of government.  For some the order, the system, the infra-structure that a government brings constitutes the blood in their veins, they’re all about government.  They believe in the solutions, they believe in the people who founded it.  They might even be dreaming that it is a perfect system.

It’s interesting to consider the story of the prophet Samuel and Israel’s first king, Saul.  With all the chaos happening in Israel, God was pleased to place someone in charge, to put order to this chaos.  Right?  I mean, they needed help, so it would have made sense to appoint a king, someone to put int place a “system”, or a government.  Wrong!  What did God say exactly when Israel asked for a king to be over them?

“Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations’ but the thing displeased Samuel….And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but rejected me…”  I Samuel 8:5-7

What?  Israel rejected God by asking for a king?  How is that?  Listen further, this drives to the core of the sufficiency of God.

“…for they have not rejected you, but rejected me from being king over them.  According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.” vv. 7-9

God is sufficient?  For everything?  Indeed yes!  And so it is a slight form of idolatry that government is.  It’s when a people like Israel say, “We cannot see God, we cannot touch God, and we cannot tell if he is even there.  Let us appoint for ourselves a person, or an assembly of people to act like God, to determine the laws, to perceive what is right and wrong for us.”

And so, Republican Terry Jones (not Reverend), a loyal patriot to his great nation, commits idolatry of the slightest kind, and with stars and stripes across his heart he burns a book.  Radicals burn things!  Cars are burned in riots, flags are torched in protests, and people light themselves on fire in utter desperation.

Are we radicals?  Are Christians to be different?  You bet!  Are we to burn books?  No!  Those who seek the warfare of the physical, take on physical means!  Bullets, propaganda, bombs, and mobs.  Those who wage war on spiritual forces, arm themselves with spiritual armor.  Equipped and empowered with the zeal of God for the lost, we ought to live like Christ.  Set the captives free!  Champion the light into darkness!  Breathe life into dead bones!  Love the unlovable!  Correct the uncorrectable!  Give a firm hand to those who would slight you, but do not strike.  Pour water into leaky and dry cisterns, but do not exhaust your own.  Give, give and give as if you have to draw on supernatural resources to continue!

Terry Jones misunderstands government as a pastor.  Government has its place, it is a terrific thing, don’t get me wrong.  But I am embarrassed of my brother when stupid gospel-less things come out of his mouth.  A pastor seeks the Glory of God.  A statesman seeks the Glory of a Nation.  Two different offices; two different people.  One seeks the coming of a perfect ruler to a perfect kingdom; the other seeks to make his rule perfect.

Pray for Terry!  He not only burns Qurans, but bridges!

Muslims form a human shield around Church in Egypt

The Big Wigs are coming

Western Christians celebrate Christmas every year on Dec. 25, the date chosen to celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Eastern Orthodox Christians, like the Coptics of Egypt (of whom make up 10% of the Muslim majority country).  But this Christmas for the Copts, which was a few days ago in January, some different visitors came.  Famous Egyptian actors Adel Imam and Yousra came, as well the Presidents two sons came, among other high profile people.

Together in Solidarity

Why did such people come to church that day?  Something which further complexes us is they are all Muslim.  The answer is mostly found in what happened New Years Eve at a Coptic church there in Egypt.  After a prayer vigil on NYE, an extremist blew himself up killing 21 people.  According to some journalists, this was the last straw to the people of Egypt, Muslims and Christians alike.

The droves of Muslims came to form a human shield around the Coptic church on Christmas.  These Muslims came in support of the church from the terroristic tragedies of late, and a coming alongside a community that has in large part not been protected by police and government.  Of all violent situations had in the recent past, a turnout like this may be the first.

“We either live together, or we die together,” was the sloganeering genius of Mohamed El-Sawy, a Muslim arts tycoon whose cultural centre distributed flyers at churches in Cairo Thursday night, and who has been credited with first floating the “human shield” idea.

– Abraham Online

Different county, different sentiments

As many of you may remember, as I wrote earlier, a Christian woman in Pakistan, was recently falsely convicted of a Blasphemy crime and little was done by Muslims in the area to interecede and help the family.  When we looked on and clicked around petitioning websites to give our voice, little was done (as far as I know).  So it is extremely refreshing to see Muslims stand up in support of religious tolerance, and to see them stand as human barricades in front of the church, so affirming their desire to live as one.

“This is not about us and them,” said Dalia Mustafa, a student who attended mass at Virgin Mary Church on Maraashly Street. “We are one. This was an attack on Egypt as a whole, and I am standing with the Copts because the only way things will change in this country is if we come together.”

– Abraham Online

I am so happy in this expression of peace.  This is a brilliant example of two religions able to co-exist.  They may disagree, but live together in peace.  Praise God!

Original article here.

A more dramatic article, with backdrop here.

Those responsible for the Alexandria bombing will, as always, go unpunished and the whole affair will soon be forgotten. Alexandria will happen again. Nagaa Hammadi will happen again. El Kosheh will happen again and the government will continue to insist that “nothing will disrupt the national unity.”

– Joseph Fahim

From CNN, here.

If woman not hanged, a reward for killing her has been placed

Justice is hard-wired into all of us.  We all have a sense of fairness, and when injustice shows its ugly face, something cries out within us, “NO!  This is wrong!”

As of December 6th, 2010, Asia Bibi a Christian field worker in Pakistan, mother of five children, wife to a Christian husband, is scheduled to be hanged.  Why?  The allegations are more shaky now, as the accusers are being less specific, as it “will complicate matters” worse if they do say exactly what Asia said.  Her crime was speaking against the prophet Mohamad.

There is a possibility that she might be pardoned by the president.  This great news is quickly sombered by a threat shared by many.  A local cleric announced, with the backing and authorization of Pakistan’s second largest local newspaper, that if the judicial system does not hang her, a reward will be given to anyone who can kill her.

“Maulana Yousaf Qureshi, offered a 500,000 rupee (£3,800) reward to anyone who killed Bibi if the court fails to hang her.”

– The Guardian

Canada and other nations have offered asylum to Bibi and her family, if they survive what their kinsmen are threatening upon them.  While Asia is in jail, her family is continuously receiving death threats, saying things like “Wait til we get our hands on you.”

Brothers and sisters, do not be angered too much.  Don’t burn with hate towards the people carrying out these terrifying acts of injustice.  Instead, remember the words of our Savior, Jesus Christ,

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you”

– Luke 6:27-28

Why?  Does it even make sense to love those who hate you?  If this life was all there was, no it would not make sense.  But because we serve a God who has provisioned life after death, a life eclipsing this one in greatness, it makes every bit of sense.  We Christians have an eternal focus, that allows us to truly not be afraid of what mortal man can do to us.

Jesus said, “love those who hate you.”  Why would God want you to love those Pakistanis, or anyone who would hate you?  God want’s them as his own.  God wants to redeem them.  Because God is eternal he works in his eternal scope of work.  It may take a believer loving a very hard to love person for them to hear the good news of salvation.  In God’s divinely perfect plan he has deemed us as messengers to the world, of the good news of Salvation to ALL who believe.

But in this hour, remember to pray for Asia and her family.  Soon she will join her maker in perfect paradise, but her family will be left with a scar of a memory, a testimony of their mothers faith, and a life to live on earth for God’s glory.  Losing a loved one is difficult, and honestly I can’t relate to the Bibi, but much painful struggle must be the theme of days recently.  Pray for strength for them, pray for perseverance, and safety!!

Don’t forget to pray for the Pakistani’s who are carrying out this unjust deed, also.  As Christ prayed on the cross, “Father forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

Here are some articles to read about whats going on;

The Guardian – Cleric Puts Price on Pakistani Woman’s Head

altMuslim – A sip of water (a Muslims perspective on the event and a look into the blasphemy laws)

His Peace Upon Us – Death for Blasphemy? (a missionary who’s writing I’ve greatly appreciated)

———————————————

UPDATE!: January 11, 2010

Politician working on revising the Blasphemy laws, was asassinated last week.

At a market in Islamabad on Tuesday, Mr. Qadri pumped more than 20 rounds into Mr. Taseer’s back, Pakistani media reported, and yet was not fired on by any other member of the security detail, raising still more questions about whether any of the others knew of his plans in advance.

Mr. Qadri immediately surrendered, called himself a “slave of the Prophet,” and indicated that he had killed Mr. Taseer for his campaign against the blasphemy law.

 

We will not forget…but does that mean tolerance is not possible?


America doesn’t seem to have healed from the wound that the terrorists gave us on 9/11. We won’t forget, and indeed this generation who beheld that event, will not be able to forget. We will all remember.

But the lesson of forgiveness is a hard one learned. People are still struggling through issues of justice in light of what happened almost 10 years ago. I think America is still asking the question, “how much grace is too much grace?” Are we being too gracious in letting Muslims build a Mosque near ground zero? When do we say no more? Perhaps, when we have healed, and we are able to open the hand of tolerance and be able to live in peace side-by-side. One way to get there might be for there to be understanding of each other. We get frustrated at things and people we don’t understand. The Organization of the Islamic Conference are thinking education is the answer to Islamaphobia.

Islam has recently been under attack in the United States, especially with a controversy over a proposed Islamic center near the World Trade Center site and threats by groups to burn the Quran in protest. The OIC chief’s new book, “The Islamic World in the New Century: The Organization of the Islamic Conference, 1969-2009,” includes an entire chapter on the danger of growing Islamophobia in the West.

“The Muslim world is going through an unprecedented difficult and trying time,” İhsanoğlu told the ministers during their annual meeting Friday. “We are facing daunting challenges and severe hardships. Islam and Muslims are under serious attack, and Islamophobia is growing and becoming more rampant and dangerous by the day.”…

…Education, İhsanoğlu said, is the key to helping the West truly understand Islam.

Read the article here