Written by Koinonia House
Should Christians be concerned? Certainly. Christians should be more concerned, perhaps, that too many Christian churches are weak and worldly and full of mushy, lifeless messages. If the Western Church were full of the Spirit of God and gushing life, there would be little to draw people to Islam.
Both Christianity and Islam, however, are missionary religions. Christian missionaries and evangelists spread the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins, and Muslims spread Islam. Yet, if people decide they want to leave Christianity, they are free to go. Jesus never chased people down and forced them to follow him. Judgment might await unbelievers, but believers do not pick up stones to hasten the journey. In fact, many Christians pray desperately for their loved ones who walk away from Christ, waiting with hope for the prodigal's safe return.
Leaving Islam, however, is not such an easy thing. Even in the West, Muslim young people resist telling their families they have converted to Christianity out of honest fear. And while Muslims are free to spread their faith in the West, Christians are not necessarily free to preach the Gospel to Muslims.
Four Algerian Christians have just received suspended jail sentences and fines for attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity. Under 2006 law, it is illegal for non-Muslims to attempt to convert Muslims. The Muslim government of Algeria denies harassing Christians, but over a dozen Christian churches have been closed in the past half year.
Muslim converts to Christianity have had their homes raided and have been imprisoned in a recent crackdown in Iran. Many Christian converts are held for weeks and are physically and psychologically mistreated. Huge bail amounts are required for their release, and they are threatened against spreading their faith or worshiping.
Yet, it may be the difficulty that makes Christianity so precious in traditionally Muslim countries. In the free West, we take the love of Christ for granted. In Iran, though, the underground Christian church is healthy and growing, much to the alarm of the Islamic authorities. Open Doors USA President Carl Moeller said the Iranian authorities, "are recognizing that there's a mushrooming house church movement going on in Iran. (It's) doubling in size of the indigenous house church movement there in Iran every six months. So the rate of growth is actually stunning."
Under current law in Iran, leaving Islam can be punishable by death, though no execution has been carried out in recent years. The home church growth in Iran has been enough, however, to get even the Iranian parliament upset. There was a proposal reportedly put out this January to make the death penalty mandatory for "apostates" who leave Islam.
Moeller said he believes there is "disillusionment with conservative clerics and harsh political hatred," in Iran, which he said "creates a tremendous opportunity for the love of Jesus Christ to make inroads into people's lives. People are searching for real spiritual answers, and they are finding it in Jesus Christ." Radio and satellite broadcasts of Christian messages in Farsi have been a tremendous evangelical tool.
While the Church is growing in Iran, though, the Muslim community has been spreading in England. In fact, it was reported Monday that two preachers handing out tracts were told to stop by a Muslim policeman. "You can't preach the Bible here," the officer said, "This is a Muslim area."
The officer went on to say that spreading the Gospel in a Muslim area was considered a hate crime. "You have been warned," the officer said. "If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned."
The two preachers, one of them an Egyptian-born Muslim convert to Christianity, did not take the rebuff sitting down. Baptist Missionary Arthur Cunningham said, "I am dumfounded that the police seem so nonchalant. They seem content not to make it clear that what we were doing was perfectly legal. This is a free country and to suggest we were guilty of a hate crime for spreading God's word is outrageous."
What is the answer to the spread of Islam in Britain? Anglican Paul Eddy is arguing that the Church of England should stop being so blasted wishy-washy.
Last week, Eddy proposed that the Anglican Church state very plainly that it believes Jesus Christ to be the only way to God, and stop watering down its faith. It should give its members tools for evangelizing Muslims and wisdom on helping Muslims converts to Christianity.
"For years, we have sent missionaries throughout the whole world, but when we have the privilege of people of all nations on our doorstep, we have a responsibility as the state church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ," said Eddy.
Islam is making its way in the West, but it would have far less success without dead Christianity. Dead Christianity is a vaccine that inoculates people against the real thing. True Christianity is full of life and health through the Spirit of God. Dead Christianity has few answers, and looks no different than any other religion on earth. Christ-centered Christianity is full of holy power that frees people and heals lives. The Christians of Iran have found what too many Western churches have lost - Jesus Christ. If we get him back in our churches, in our homes and our lives, we'll be leading the Muslims to him, rather than the other way around.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." - John 14:6
• Iran Launches Crackdown On Ex-Muslims - BosNewsLife News Center
• Anglican Church to Debate Convert Motion - BBC
• Church of England Advised Against Withholding Christ from Muslims - The Christian Post
• 'You Can't Preach the Bible Here, This is a Muslim Area': - This Is London
• Algerian Christians Sentenced For Converting Muslims - Reuters
• Strategic Trends: The Rise of Islam - Koinonia House
• The Sword of Allah - MP3 Download