798) New Life for an Old Church

 

Adapted from the June 10, 2015 Breakpoint blog at http://www.breakpoint.org, The Growth of Christianity in the Muslim World, by Eric Metaxas

       Even while the West turns its back on the faith, Christianity is growing by leaps and bounds.

     A Washington Post article tells the story of a tiny Baptist church near Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  The congregation had dwindled to just fifteen members.  With bills stacking up, Deacon Larry Montgomery told the congregation, “We’re just not going to make it.”

     Montgomery then told the people of Scenic Drive Baptist that there was a congregation who might want to buy the church.  This congregation had been meeting in homes and had a pastor whose business card quoted John 4:35:  “Look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.”

     Montgomery approached the pastor, who then called his flock to pray about it.  His prayer began “Abuna Semawi, nashkurak.”  That’s Arabic for “Heavenly Father, we thank you.”  The pastor, Egyptian-born Raouff Ghattas, a nuclear engineer by training, had attended a Southern Baptist seminary with a view to becoming a missionary.  He and his American-born wife, Carol, share a mission:  “Never rest until you tell every Arab about Jesus.”

     For two decades they served in places like Syria, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia.  But when they returned to Carol’s hometown of Murfreesboro, they found that their mission field had come to them.  The town even had a mosque.

     So they went to work telling local Muslims about Jesus, and ‘Scenic Drive Baptist Church’ became ‘Arabic Baptist Church,’ a place where Arab Christians and non-Arab Christians can worship together.

     In every sense that matters, Scenic Drive Baptist did “make it.”  It just did so in a way that suited the moment we are living in.

    Here’s a statistic that will – or at least should – blow your mind:  More than half of all Christians who have ever lived are alive today.  The Gospel is being preached all over the world, and people are saying “yes.”

     This includes the Islamic world.

     In a recent “Breakpoint This Week” broadcast, my colleague John Stonestreet spoke with David Garrison and Paul Filidis about the upcoming “30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World,” which starts on June 18.

     Garrison traveled more 250,000 miles around the Islamic world chronicling what is probably the most under-reported important story of our time:  waves of Muslims converting to Christianity.

     His book, A Wind in the House of Islam, documented nearly 70 movements of Christianity in the Islamic world in the past two decades:  movements being defined as “1,000 Muslims receiving Christian baptism, a public statement of their faith in Christ.”

     In fact, Garrison estimates that these 70 “movements” represent more than 80 percent of all such movements in Islam’s 1,400-year history.  As he put it, Muslims all over the world “are falling on their knees, finding that this is the living God who has come into the world— God with us, God among us— who is bringing them salvation that they were never able to find” in Islam.

     The “30 Days of Prayer,” which coincides with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, is one way we can participate in this great work of God.

     Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to John Stonestreet’s broadcast on the month of prayer for the Muslim world.  Also see:

http://www.30daysprayer.com

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Acts 4:8-12  —  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them:  “Rulers and elders of the people!  If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel:  It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.  Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’  Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

John 14:6-7  —  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

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Lord Jesus, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Without the Way, there is no going.  Without the Truth, there is no knowing.  Without the Life, there is no living.  You are the Way which we must follow, the Truth which we must believe, the Life for which we must hope.  Lord Jesus, may all come to know you as the Way and the Truth and the Life.  Amen.

–Adapted from The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis

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Pastor Raouff Ghattas of Arabic Baptist Church: