On Monday, Oct. 14, around 4 million Muslim pilgrims, representing the world’s estimated figure of 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide will be standing on Mount Arafat. Also known as the Mount of Mercy, the granite hill is just east of Mecca, the religious capital of Saudi Arabia. The hill is where multitudes of Muslim pilgrims will end their “Hajj” (pilgrimage), often a once-in-a-life-time experience at the most sacred location a Muslim can reach to stand before Allah, asking for mercy.
This is the place where the Muslim prophet Mohammad stood and delivered his “farewell sermon” to his followers who had accompanied him for the Hajj towards the end of his life. The eyes and hearts of all the world’s Muslims will be focused on the crowds near Mecca as they spend the entire day on the hill, pleading to Allah to forgive their sins.
This experience comes at the end of the longest, most exhausting and costly trip each committed Muslim yearns to take at least once in his/her lifetime. Millions of Muslims keep on saving money with the hope that one day they can eventually take the trip, visit the tomb of the prophet Mohammad and somehow get, according to their belief, as close as possible to Allah. The desire of each of the pilgrims is to reach out to Allah and ask desperately for his possible forgiveness for all the transgressions they have committed. The sad question is: can man ever be forgiven and redeemed by hard work, or the shedding of animal blood? Watching those millions of Muslims on Mount Arafat should break our hearts as Christians.
There are some important questions that we as Christians have to ask ourselves every time we watch the news reports from Mecca, broadcasting images of the Muslim pilgrims:
- How quickly do we switch off the news reports about the Hajj, changing TV channels or ignoring any reports about Muslims, without even sending prayers for them to the Father? Are we claiming that praying for Muslims during their special season is not really our business?
- How many of us are broken before the Lord for millions of Muslims who are seeking God’s mercy and forgiveness on a physical mountain, instead of at the foot of the Cross?
- How do we feel when we stop, think and realize that 1.6 billion Muslims around the world will live their entire lives and eventually die with no guarantee of salvation and redemption – simply because many Christians are so reluctant, so afraid and so busy that we fail to reflect the light of Jesus to them?
Open Doors USA Offering Kits for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church
On Sunday, Nov. 3, hundreds of thousands of Christians from around the world will unite to observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. IDOP is a global day of intercession on behalf of persecuted Christians worldwide. Its primary focus is uniting Christians to pray and act for those who face imprisonment, harassment, disenfranchisement and even death for their faith in Jesus Christ. Believers in the United States can join in lifting up our brothers and sisters in Christ by requesting a free Open Doors IDOP prayer kit to share with their pastor, school, small group, family and friends and uniting in one voice, praying for those who are suffering simply because they follow Jesus.
The kit includes a prayer event leader’s guide, several powerful videos, four PowerPoint presentations, resources for worship music and scriptural passages about persecution. The prayer kit can be ordered at www.OneWithThem.com or call 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535). The kit also includes an OneWithThem wristband. Wearing the flexible, silicone wristband that looks like barbed wire is a unique reminder to pray for persecuted followers of Christ and is a great conversation starter with your friends, family, neighbors and strangers to show that you are supporting suffering Christians. To order additional wristbands, visit www.OneWithThem.com.
Central African Republic Church Leaders Plead for Action
Church leaders in Central African Republic (CAR) issued a joint appeal for urgent action from the international community to prevent “genocidal interfaith civil war” in the troubled nation in the heart of Africa. Prominent church leaders representing all known denominations in the country issued the appeal on Oct. 6 after a three-day conference in the capital of Bangui hosted by Open Doors on the request of the local church leaders. Since the government of President Bozize was deposed in a coup by the Seleka coalition of Michel Djotodia in March, the country has been engulfed in lawlessness. “In this situation, Christians are specifically most affected,” the church leaders explained.
In the Bangui Declaration the leaders also appealed to the international community and Christians around the world to, among other things, ensure that security is restored and that the millions of people affected by the crisis receive emergency humanitarian relief. “We are glad we could be here at this time,” commented Open Doors’ Africa Director at the conclusion of the conference that took place amid a tense atmosphere as violence continued across the country and in the capital. “The Church has been deeply affected.
Christians are faced with very many challenges and are in dire need of assistance. It is our responsibility to raise as much awareness, prayer and action as possible. This is what we have been called to.”An immense humanitarian crisis is in the making. It is estimated that at least 4.6 million people’s lives have been disrupted by the violence; 1.6 million have been displaced and hundreds of thousands face food insecurity. While the international community has been slow to offer any assistance, a small force of poorly trained regional peace keepers have proven unable to protect civilians and restore order. Church leaders expressed deep appreciation for Open Doors efforts and its presence despite the tense atmosphere. The Open Doors team reported from the conference that, “We heard deeply moving testimonies of persecution in the country. People wept. We prayed for them. We had an extraordinary time of prayer.”(For more information or to set up interviews, call Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected])