How do we live out our faith and share the love of Jesus in an Islamic culture without offending or even worse, ostracizing the very souls we are seeking to reach? We wondered about this delicate dance before we launched our work in the Muslim World in 2001 just after 9/11.
What we found was that Jesus so often beautifully led the way into easily formed relationships with Muslims by preparing the hearts of those we are about to meet. He often did this through endearing Jesus dreams, unforgettable visions, and mind-boggling miracles. After that, Muslims were more than ready to hear that He was more than a prophet and the true savior of the world.
Jesus’ heart is especially for those who are brokenhearted, hurting, or those suffering in some way. So, He intimately pursues and woos them with His divine love. In response, these dear men and women are so absolutely unashamed and completely confident in who Jesus is and nothing will stop them from sharing about their transformed lives and the Transformer – Jesus.
Over the last two decades, we have had the privilege of meeting many brave Muslim women living in Middle Eastern nations who are choosing to put their faith in Jesus, willing to count the cost, even if it means losing their lives.
Although some of these women live in radical, fundamentalist villages, we have discovered a golden thread of truth woven in the fabric of their culture.
What we found was that no matter the religion or region, women are the spiritual gatekeepers of their families. This includes the religion of Islam. Though Muslim women often have few rights in their society, they are the ones to pass their beliefs onto their children.
You see, God has gifted all women with the imperishable gift of spiritually influencing their families, communities and even their world. This Biblical pattern is seen throughout the pages of Scripture. Deborah, Esther, Elizabeth, and Lydia are just a few examples of women who lived lives of risk for the Kingdom of God.
There was a group of faithful women who went against what society expected to follow and provide for Jesus and the apostles. They faithfully remained with Jesus as He suffered and died on the cross while all the apostles (except John) fled in fear. Three days later, the eleven remained in hiding, but this same group of valiant women ventured out arms laden with anointing spices to Jesus’ grave, only to discover the astounding truth that Jesus was alive! These spiritually influential woman carried the miraculous truth of Jesus’ resurrection back to the men in their lives.
And the world has never been the same.
We see this same model lived out today. Muslim women are often the first ones to discover the Good News of salvation in Jesus and bring the life changing message back to their families. To expect these women to have no concerns about living or sharing their faith would be unloving and unwise, knowing what risks they face.
But more often than not, these former Muslim women, now followers of Christ, radiate the love of Christ and their families sit up and take notice. These dear women whose lives have been forever changed fearlessly rise up with a holy boldness sharing this new hope within them.
This holy boldness is unique, standing out in our evil world in which we live. The “holy” part of boldness is cloaked in the fruit of the Spirit. It’s a joy-filled, patient, peaceful, kind and loving boldness that reflects the image of the One they represent, Jesus Himself.
Typical boldness can be arrogant, prideful, opinionated, or self-serving. The reason we are not particularly attracted to this type of boldness is because it reflects Satan.
Instead, we are drawn to men and women who stand up for what they believe in with purity and winsomeness. So are the people who know these women best and they want to discover the Source.
The days are growing increasingly dark and God is looking for people with holy boldness. Men and women who will not be afraid to share the Gospel of truth. Followers who will stand up for Him against all odds reflecting His image as they do so.
So, it’s no wonder that the Middle East is the region with the fastest growing church per capita in the world. Jesus has raised up women from a Muslim background and they are ready to follow Him to the death. They’re the new unstoppable force in the Middle East.
Tom and JoAnn Doyle are authors of the new book, “Women Who Risk,” and are the founders of Uncharted Ministries.