On the Arabian Peninsula, outbreaks of violence and extremism frequently cause extreme suffering for Christians. But amidst this pressure, they are still able to share the love of Christ in surprising ways.
The violence and mistrust between Shia and Sunni Muslims provides an environment where extremists can migrate and multiply. Fanatic Islamic groups, who are very vocally and explicitly anti-Christian, can roam the region more freely than before, which poses an extra risk, especially for believers from a Muslim background.
And yet, Christians continue to find ways to witness, and one of these is in helping others around them when they are in need. In many places where violence breaks out, it is Christians who provide relief to the victims.
All their lives, Muslims on the Arabian Peninsula have heard anti-Christian messages from their religious leaders, but now they are seeing how, while Muslims are fighting and hating and killing each other, Christians are reaching out to Muslims through the love of Christ. The Muslims are wondering: “Why should I still hate Christians?”
As a result of this, even though Islamic fundamentalist groups are persecuting Christians at a greater intensity than before, the hostility towards Christians from the family and the community has slightly decreases. “In some areas, the threats from direct relatives like brothers and uncles has been reduced,” one believer explains.
A growing number of Muslims are openly questioning their beliefs,” says a local Christian. “They are doubting what their political and religious leaders are teaching them. They are wondering: ‘Why is what the imam preaches – a message of peace and mercy – so different from what we see Islam do in practice? Hate and violence are growing. Why should we have to align ourselves with one of the violent parties in this conflict?”
This gives Christians the opportunity to respond by asking: “What if God is different than you thought He was? What if His true nature is love and peace? How can you live your life in the way God has intended it for you?”
That is an openness that is really new for the region.
- Give thanks for the growing witness of Christians across the Arabian Peninsular, and for the increased openness to the Gospel amongst many Muslims.
- Pray for those Muslims who turn to Christ, for protection over then and their families, and for good discipleship and support from Christian communities.
- Pray for protection over Christians, with the ongoing persecution from Islamic fundamentalists.
- Pray for a continued move of the Holy Spirit across this region, that many will turn, and hear, and put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Pray for peace in this region, and for the extremist Islamists themselves to have life changing encounters with Jesus.
Psalm 40 vs 3: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.“