3 IMPORTANT STEPS THIS NEW YEAR
By Karen Bejjani
I love this time of year, right after Christmas and not too far into the new year, when Renod and I do a “strategic withdrawal,” a time when we purposefully step away from daily distractions and into the practice of spiritual retreat. Over a weekend, we’ll unplug from the world to deepen our relationship with the Lord and follow His plans, not ours. This annual retreat has become essential for purposefully abiding in the Lord and remembering that God redeemed us to redeem the world through us.
Apathy and fear
We didn’t always do this.It felt there was never enough time, and I couldn’t take time away to truly abide in the Lord. In my busy-ness, it never dawned on me to cross cultural or religious divides to share the Gospel with anyone, let alone Muslims. I was apathetic. And then when I became aware that the Lord calls each of us to this, I was fearful. I knew in my head that God had redeemed me to redeem the world through me, and yet I just couldn’t imagine doing it.
One day, my Muslim-turned-Christian friend, Mohammad, confronted me about my apathy and fear. In his thick accent, he loudly chastised me: “Karen, what are you afraid of? We have a living God! They have a dead god!” I knew he was right. I had to get out of my own way, and I asked the Lord to change my heart.
Impact of disobedience
When I finally met a Muslim and heard her story, my fear of the LORD was finally greater than my fear of telling her about Jesus! There are 1.43 billion more Muslims like her, and sadly, most are not likely to hear the Gospel because less than 2% of Christians are sharing the Gospel! Pew Research estimates that if current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims will exceed the number of Christians worldwide by the end of this century. In Europe, the number of Muslims is expected to double in coming decades and the demographic shifts there have already led to political and social upheaval.
The number of Muslims in the U.S. has continued to grow as well. While Muslims are younger and are having more children than Christians, they are also evangelical. It’s sobering to consider that most of those who are converting to Islam in the US were raised in the Christian faith.
Pew Research estimates Muslims will grow from 1.1% of the population to 2.1% by the end of the century. Now 2.1% doesn’t sound like much. And yet consider this: much of what we today call the Islamic world was once Christian. Have you ever wondered why the birthplace of the Christian faith is now almost all Islamic?1Hint: It had a lot to do with Christian apathy and fear.
Let’s not let history repeat itself. It will take every Christian worldwide to turn these trends around. As 2019 approaches, really ask yourself how you will take action.
Take 3 small steps
- First, consider how you might be more intentional about abiding in the Lord in 2019.
- Next, what actions might you take to be more purposeful about sharing the Gospel with Muslims?
- In addition, consider how you might pray for and support iHOPE to raise awareness and inspire Christians to get involved.
I encourage you to set aside time, whether a weekend or a few hours, to connect with the Lord and listen closely to where He wants to take you. It’s a practice that’s changed my life, and I think you’ll be amazed by how it can shape your spiritual life too.
Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
1Jenkin, John. The Lost History of Christianity, The Thousand-year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia – and How It Died. HarperOne, New York: HarperOne, 2008.