10 Keys to Unlocking Muslim Strongholds
By Don Newman
Islam stands as the strongest giant against
the planting of a church for every people by the year 2000 (Otis). One
out of every five people on earth is a Muslim. The heart of Islam and
most of its followers live in the part of Africa and Asia known as the
Muslims make up the most resistant and most neglected block of people
in the world. There is only one missionary for every one million Muslims.
How can we hope to plant a church in each of the 4,000 unreached Muslim
people groups and clearly present the Gospel to the billion Muslims by
AD 2000? Here is a ring of 10 keys that just might open up the Muslim
world to the Gospel.
1. Adopt a Muslim People Group
A number of churches have already adopted a Muslim people group, but many
groups remain to be claimed for Christ. With over 600 Great Commission
Christian congregations per unreached people group, it should be possible
for a number of congregations to adopt each one.
These congregations will then provide prayer for the unreached people
groups, along with financial and personnel support to make an effective
witness and establish a church in each people group (Stearns).
2. Conduct Strategic Spiritual Warfare
The prince of Persia and the spirit of Babylon are ancient territorial
principalities who have resisted the Kingdom of God in Iran and Iraq for
centuries. They and similar demonic spirits ruling the Muslim world must
be bound before we can snatch the treasures of darkness from Satan's clutches.
This can be done through warfare prayer (Wagner) which the gates of hell
cannot stand against (Matt. 16:18).
A prayer group for each of the 4000 Islamic peoples should pray daily
and meet monthly to intercede on behalf of these people to clear the air
for reception of the Good News.
The memory of the Crusades is still fresh in Muslim minds after 900 years.
It is time to publicly repent of these bitter wars before the entire Muslim
world and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
3. Spread the Word
Islamic leaders are scared to death of the Word of God and will try their
best to prevent Muslims from hearing or reading it. The Gospel should
be readily available in every Muslim language through radio, cassettes,
videos, books, tracts, newspapers, letters, etc. The JESUS film is one
of the best tools to present the Gospel to both literate and illiterate
4. Send in International Church Planting Teams
A team of eight or more international cross-cultural missionaries needs
to be operating within a significantly large group of the people being
reached. This team should have an incarnational witness, identifying with
the people through a simple life style. They should demonstrate the gifts
and fruit of the Spirit as they interact with each other and their Muslim
friends. They need to be so committed to their people group that they
bond with them as they master the culture and language. They must never
lose sight of the goal to establish a growing church movement among that
5. Use Strategies that Fit the Needs of the People
Mission agencies are imploying many different methods of penetrating Muslim
countries, since most of the unreached Muslim people groups are in countries
that do not grant "missionary visas." Creative ways of access need to
be found to live in those countries. The team can go as tentmakers, possibly
as students, teachers or as providing some service that is appreciated
by the government and the people (Wilson). It would help to have a nonresidential
missionary based outside the country who can facilitate communications,
prayer support, and linking the work of the team with others interested
in that people (Garrison).
6. Find a Bridge in their Culture
The team should be searching for cultural and religious beliefs which
can serve as a bridge for this group to more readily accept the Gospel
(Richardson). The Koran provides stories that can be used to present the
Gospel such as Abraham's offering of his son celebrated every year during
the Id al-Adha.
7. Start a Socially Acceptable People Movement
Messianic mosques have been appearing in some countries where followers
of Jesus do not leave their culture but continue to appear as Muslims
while worshipping Jesus. (Parshall).
8. Demonstrate God's Love for the Whole Person
Since many Muslim peoples are refugees or are suffering from poverty and
starvation, holistic ministries can demonstrate God's love and concern
for their physical as well as spiritual needs. Such people find it easy
to understand and accept a Gospel that shows practical concern for their
desperate situation (Elliston).
9. Expect Power Encounters
The majority of Muslims live in fear of jinns, the evil eye,
and other animistic expressions of folk Islam. They need to see the power
of Christ demonstrated in healing, delivering from demon possession, and
conquering the forces of evil. Many Muslims have come to accept Christ
after they have had a vision, dream or dramatic answer to prayer in Jesus'
10. Demand Obedience to Christ
Those who come to faith need to be discipled in obedience to Christ and
gathered into cells where they can be held accountable to follow Jesus
whatever the cost. This requires willingness to suffer for Christ and
in some cases to die for Him. Until a number of Muslim converts are prepared
for this, the church will not grow strong or fast in that society (Patterson).
There are, no doubt, other keys which can help unlock the door to Muslim
cultures so that the Church can be planted in their midst. Let us know
what you have found useful so that the lessons learned in one part of
the Muslim world can be shared with those working in other areas that
Christ may be glorified and the last of the giants can be overcome.
References: (All are excellent for additional reading.)
Elliston, Edgar J. (ed.) Christian Relief and Development. Dallas,
TX: Word Publishing, 1989.
Garrison, V. David. The Nonresidential Missionary. Monrovia,
CA: MARC, 1990.
Kraft, Charles H. Christianity with Power. Ann Arbor, MI: Vine
Otis Jr., George. The Last of the Giants. Tarrytown, NY: Ravell
Parshall, Phil. Beyond the Mosque. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books
Patterson, George. Church Planting Through Obedience Oriented
Teaching. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1981.
Stearns, Bill & Amy. Catch the Vision 2000. Minneapolis,
MN: Bethany House, 1991.
Missions Frontiers June
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