Ramadan is a month in the Islamic lunar calendar but it isn’t just any month. Ramadan is the month in which - according to Islamic theology - the first revelation of the Koran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed and it is during this month that all Muslims across the globe are required to abstain from all earthly pleasures - food, water, cigarettes, sexual relations - from sun up to sun down. Fasting like this during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and it is one of the most important religious and cultural holidays for Muslims. This year Ramadan runs from May 6th through June 4th.
Below is a short video explaining Ramadan. It is a few years old so the dates are wrong and it was created by a secular news source.
Ramadan is a tremendous opportunity to learn, pray and build relationships with Muslims in your community. God is on the move in the Muslim world. More Muslims have come to faith in Christ in the last fifteen years than in the previous 1400 years combined. He is doing a new work and with today’s article I want to offer a number of ideas of how you can be a part of that work during the upcoming month of Ramadan.
Ramadan Prayer Guide
Since 1993, the 30 Days Muslim World Prayer Guide has been helping to both educate and lead Christians into a season of prayer for the Muslim world. This guide is a great resource to help you spend a few minutes each day praying for God to move powerfully. Each page has a few paragraphs about the day’s topic and three ideas to help you focus your prayer. Order one for your family or consider ordering more and enlisting others to pray as well.
Prayercast also has a 30 day prayer email series which you can learn about at this link.
Wish Your Muslim Friends a Happy Ramadan
An easy way to wish your Muslim friends a happy Ramadan is to say “Happy Ramadan.” It's really that simple but you could also say “Ramadan Mubarak” which is a simple way to say happy Ramadan in Arabic and is a greeting used across the Muslim world.
Read a Book or Two
Ramadan could be a great month to choose a book about Islam or the Muslim world to read. An even better idea would be to gather a group of friends to read a book together. Here are a few suggestions:
Show a Prayercast at Your Church
Many in our churches are struggling with how to respond to the world of Islam. There are many voices vying to shape the narrative around how we should think about Muslims. Prayercast is a great resource to help shape that narrative in ways more reflective of the heart of Jesus. You could show the Prayercast Islam video or Prayercast videos from any of the Muslim majority countries in our world at your church on a Sunday morning. Each video is just 3-4 minutes in length.
Attend an Iftar Meal at a Local Mosque
If you live in a city with a local Islamic Center you may be able to attend a community iftar meal. Many Mosques in North America use Ramadan as an opportunity to invite people in for this breaking of fast meal with the Muslim community. They usually set aside one evening of Ramadan for this. Check the website of your local Islamic center to see if they have a community iftar meal.
[Mosque Visit Purpose and Etiquette]
Make a Friend Online
Across the Muslim world people are getting online in search of friendship and language partners. Embassy exists to connect Muslims and Christians so that bold and honest conversations about Christ can happen. They would like to help you get started today.
You too can be a part of Greater Things.
Host a Movie at Your Church
There are a lot of great movies that have been made to help you and your church grow in your love and concern for the Muslim world. Consider having a movie night to watch one of these movies together with others from your church.
Pray for a Muslim People Group
Pick a particular Muslim people group and spend the month of Ramadan learning about them and praying for them. Here is a list of unreached Muslim people groups from Joshua Project - there are over 3,000 groups making up 23% of the world’ population.
[See the List]
Host a Ramadan Prayer Night
Another great opportunity is to host a Ramadan prayer night. We’d love to help you make this happen if you’d like to do this. It could be as simple as gathering friends in your home to pray or you could organize a community wide prayer event at your church.
Get More Training
Maybe you are wanting to dive in deeper, to get more training so you can be better prepared. Crescent Project has an intensive training event every summer called Sahara Challenge.
Whatever you do, do something. Do it in love and do it in prayer.
And we'd love to hear about it so share your Ramadan plans and actions in the comments below.
When I first connected with Musa* online, I was the first follower of Jesus he had ever met. I initiated the first conversation about Jesus that he had ever had. I helped him read the first chapter of the Bible that he had ever read. And I am probably the first true follower of Jesus who has ever committed to praying for his salvation.
Musa lives at the widest end of the gap.
By now it should be obvious that all Christians are born again into the Gap between God’s world-wide purpose and the fulfillment of it. But there’s more than one kind of response to that Gap. Some are asleep, some are on retreat, and some are determined to stand in the Gap particularly at its widest end where billions await the opportunity to hear of Christ for the first time.
David Bryant’s book Into the Gap introduces two ideas: the world Christian and the gap. With today’s article I want to explore the latter.
Every person in the world stands in the same sized gap between their brokenness and their salvation. Jesus Christ is the only way to be saved and that remains the same whether we we are the son of a preacher in Colorado Springs or of an imam in Islamabad.
The distance between death and life, between darkness and light is the cross of Christ.
But there is another gap that Bryant explores; the gap in our ability to hear the good news of the cross of Christ.
In my small Midwestern city, there is never a time when a person is more than a quarter mile from a true follower of Jesus. There is never a place that is more than a mile or two from the nearest church. Twenty four hours a day Christian radio programming runs on multiple stations. A drive down any main boulevard passes multiple billboards advertising churches or Christian schools.
The gospel is accessible. The gap is quite narrow.
But travel into the 10/40 window and the picture changes. The 10/40 window is the area of the earth between latitudes ten and forty degrees north of the equator. It is home to the majority of the world’s Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Animists and Unreligious (China) peoples. It is home to the majority of the world's nearly 7,000 unreached people groups - nearly 3 billion people - who have never heard the gospel. A person living in the 10/40 window would be hard pressed to find a church within 100 miles of their home. They would most likely live their entire life without ever encountering a follower of Jesus. They may never hear a Christian radio broadcast or pick up a Bible. The distance between a person who does not know Jesus and the opportunity to hear about Jesus is enormous.
This is the widest end of the gap.
At Everywhere to Everywhere, our heart is to accelerate movement toward the widest end of the gap. We work to equip and encourage everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.
In the past, the only answer to the wide end of the gap was to send missionaries into it. That is still an answer and the body of Christ throughout the world must send more. 3 billion lost in darkness demands it.
But the context of that gap has changed. Technology has opened up new opportunities to connect with people there. Globalization and world crisis have brought millions out of the 10/40 window and into gospel saturated countries. We live in a new day of world missions and because of that we must be equipped to respond to new opportunities.
I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages - villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world.
The smoke of a thousand villages is drifting in through your window. You only need follow it and you will find yourself in conversation with someone like my friend Musa, someone who has never known a follower of Jesus and never heard the gospel. Someone whom you can befriend. Someone with whom you can begin to share the good news of Jesus and to pray for.
Your journey into the widest end of the gap has never been closer.
Will you go?
Help E2E and share this article with your friends.
*For security reasons, names have been changed.
Last week I listened to an interview with Justin Long on The Missions Podcast. The topic was a discussion of what is meant by the term “Unreached.” Justin is the Director of Global Research at Beyond. He’s a missiologist, researcher and statistician whose handle on the numbers of lost in our world is quite helpful.
I wanted to share something that Justin challenged the listening audience with. There are nearly 3 billion unreached peoples in our world today. Despite this reality, the majority of missionaries and mission spending continues to go into work in countries and among people groups where the church is already established. This leaves the nearly 3 billion unreached with very little access to the saving news of the gospel.
Here was Justin’s challenge.
If there is so little effort put toward reaching the 3 billion unreached in our world then one of a number of options must be true.
The first option does not reflect the heart of God and so we are left to wrestle with the second options.
The interview is one that I want to invite anyone involved in mobilizing the church toward work among the unreached to listen to. It will do much to bring clarity to our understanding of unreached, a term that is increasingly being used in all sorts of context. Justin and the hosts do a great job of teasing out the nuances of what we mean when we talk about the Unreached.
It was noon and I was meeting my new friend Musa* for an hour over my lunch break. We’d decided to meet at our favorite coffee shops to connect. I’d first met Musa when he had reached out looking for someone to practice his English with. He’d had a lifetime of classroom instruction in his home of Cairo, Egypt* but had few native English speakers with whom he could practice.
The first time we met we covered the bases of getting to know one another. Where are you from? What is your family like? What do you like to do in your free time? The sounds of Arabic were all around him in the busy Cairo coffee shop where he sat.
I then asked Musa what he did for a living. He is a young guy, in his early twenties and had just gotten started working as a mobile phone app developer.
Then he returned the favor and asked me what I do. I’m in full time ministry so this is always an interesting question to answer. But I dove in.
I help people in churches in America understand and follow Jesus. That is pretty broad but it involves teaching, training, coaching, encouraging and casting vision with leaders and regular people. I'm not going to get rich, but I do find tremendous fulfillment in doing the things that I believe that God has made me to do. I bet that sounds a little crazy, but that's what I do and really it's who I am.
I could tell He didn’t completely understand what I was talking about so he asked a few more questions but then moved on, wondering if I’d been to Turkey. He’d recently visited Istanbul and loved the city. I told him of our four and a half years living there and how much we loved the people we knew there.
We meandered in and out of topics and then he asked a serious question, “I hope to hear an emotional situation you have been through?”
I thought for a few minutes and then told him about a recent struggle I’d been facing and about how our family had spent time praying for God’s wisdom and healing. It was good to be transparent with my new friend even though it felt a bit hard and I wasn’t sure he was following everything. Musa’s English is good but he hasn’t had a lot of experience talking about personal topics.
When I was finished, I said, “What about you? Have you been through any hard situations in life?”
Musa was contemplating his answer when he looked at his watch. He gave me a wry smile. “I’ll have to tell you next time. I’ve got to go now. But let’s make sure and meet again.”
As Musa left, I wondered about our conversation. Had I said too much about what I do? Should have I asked more questions about his faith and beliefs? Should I have offered to pray for him before he left? What if I had said something wrong?
I spent some time praying for our time together asking the Lord to use it for his glory and to reveal himself to Musa.
And then I removed my headphones and shut down Facebook Messenger on my laptop computer. I got up from my seat in the corner of my coffee shop in South Dakota, grabbed my mug and headed up to the counter for a refill.
Though we were half a world away, Musa and I had enjoyed a great cup of coffee and better conversation.
We continue to connect regularly, oftentimes just texting back and forth, sometimes hopping on a video chat to say a quick hello and at other times, setting aside an hour to grab a cup of coffee for an extended talk.
To my surprise, Musa had quickly moved into questions of faith. I’ve introduced him to Discovery Bible Study and we are slowly working through a creation to Christ story set. We read a passage of scripture - I paste it into Messenger and he reads the Arabic and I read the English. We then ask some simple questions to help us discover what the story says about God, about people and about how we should live our lives.
It’s been slow because Musa often brings up his own questions - questions that are stretching me and forcing me to dig into my own faith and theology. We started with his questions about the Christian idea of a triune God. We’re now pressing into the validity of the Bible. And those conversations are packed in between talk of family and culture and food and movies and dreams for life.
It’s a whole lot of fun.
I am the only true follower of Jesus that Musa knows. I’ve been able to pray for him and continue to pray for him regularly. Musa is one of many young guys that I am connecting with online all across the Muslim world and someday, I hope I will be able to meet all of them in person, if not in this life, then in the eternity of heaven. That is my prayer for each of them.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today and collectively, Christians are sending one missionary into the Muslim world for every 405,000 Muslims.
This has to change.
John Stott has said, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
Because of advances in technology and the globalization of our world, millions of people throughout the Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Animistic and un-religious worlds are working to learn English. They are going online to try and find people with whom they can practice speaking.
A new door of missionary activity has opened and it is open to everyone who is a follower of Jesus and has an Internet connection. Geography is no longer a barrier to your relationship with a Muslim like Musa.
C.T. Studd said, “If Jesus Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for Him.”
Will you sacrifice an hour a week to invest in a relationship with a young man or woman in the Muslim world who is looking for friendship and someone to practice English with?
*For security, names and places have been changed.
1 - http://www.thetravelingteam.org/stats
Let Us Help You
I had the privilege of being interviewed on the Engaging Missions Podcast hosted by Bryan Entzminger a while back and today it was posted to the web.
I encourage you to stop by the Engaging Missions podcast and have a listen and while you are there, make sure and subscribe to his podcast. He has some amazing interviews with some pretty amazing people.
Check out the interview here:
And be sure and check out a few of my favorite interviews from the past:
How Many Loaves Do You Have?
It is an interesting question that Jesus asks his disciples. After all, they are standing amidst a crowd of 4,000 hungry people who have been with Jesus for three days and don’t have any food. They find themselves in a remote place, far from any eating establishments or bakeries.
But Jesus has something he wants to accomplish and so he asks them, “How many loaves do you have?”
It’s a familiar story, one of many similar stories recorded in the gospels. Jesus takes what resources the disciples have, seven loaves and a few fish in this case, and miraculously multiplies it to feed the whole crowd, leaving seven basketfuls of leftovers for them to deal with when the day is done.
This story reflects an important principle in the kingdom of God. The resources are in the harvest.
Think of the parable of the growing seed. Where did the seed come from that the farmer was scattering in the empty field? It came from last year’s harvest.
Think of Jesus giving his disciples the great commission. One of his greatest Apostles was not there with Jesus to hear the commission. He was still in the harvest. He was Saul but God would use him in mighty ways after he came to faith.
Jesus demonstrates this principle when he sends out the disciples. In Luke 10 he sends the seventy two into every town and place where he was about to go. First he instructs them to pray for more harvesters.
Where are those harvesters going to come from? From the harvest!
Then he instructs them to find the house of peace and stay there. Don’t move around from house to house. My thinking would say, “I’m the Christian. I have to be the one to tell everyone about Jesus.” It seems however that Jesus is asking me to take off my superman cape and realize that the one he will use is in the harvest. So he instructs the disciples to stay.
Stay and invest in this household. They know the context of their village. They have the relationships. They will be the ones to plant the church in their home.
The Apostle Paul also sees the resources in the harvest. He doesn’t take teams of twenty believers to plant an already functioning church. He and a few of his guys enter a town, preach the gospel, invest in new believers and then leave. He encourages them from afar through letters, sends back his young Timothys to equip and encourage and comes back for a visit to encourage and help appoint elders.
Everyone in the churches that Paul plants come out of the harvest.
Dependence on our own giftings, calendars and resources always limits our vision of what God can do. When we move into new or challenging contexts with the confidence that Jesus will provide all that is needed to see his Kingdom expand, we are able to enter into the God sized vision of making disciples among all nations.
And so we have to learn to look for the resources for completing the great commission out in the harvest.
Because who knows, your next church planter might be a crack dealer.
We are excited to announce that we have three Everywhere to Everywhere (E2E) training events scheduled for this spring!
This three day training event will prepare you to make disciples who make disciples among the unreached.
You can learn more about the event by reading the program description and looking at a sample schedule a the Program Page.
You can find all your registration, training dates and pricing information at the Trainings Page.
I've been a Christian all of my life and this is the most practical training about sharing my faith that I have ever received!
E2E Training Location and Dates:
Wichita, Kansas - March 9 - 11 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota - April 26-28 (register here)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota [E2E Family Training] - May 31 - June 2 (learn more)
Help Spread the Word
Will you help us spread the word about these great training opportunities. Please take a moment to share this post on your favorite social media platform.
Feel free to print off a few of these flyers to hang up at your local church. [E2E Flyer]
Thanks so much!
This Christmas break our family visited the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas and learned all about the race to the moon. The men and women who worked on that program were asked to do what seemed impossible. They had to work toward answers to questions that they did not yet know existed. They needed to develop systems that were not yet developed. The vision to put a man on the moon was far bigger than their own capacities and yet they did it. They worked with a determination that would get their men to the moon.
“. . . but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.”
- Luke 5:19
If you are not familiar with the story of the paralytic whose friends would let nothing stop them from getting him into the healing presence of Jesus, I’d encourage you to stop and read the short story in Luke 5:17-26.
These were men whose determination would let nothing stop them from bringing their friend to the feet of Jesus. They were men of stubborn perseverance who knew their ultimate objective and were determined to achieve that objective no matter the obstacles and no matter the cost.
This is a theme Jesus brings us back to again and again in the book of Luke. A man loses a single lamb and he leaves the ninety-nine others to search far and wide for it. A woman loses a single silver coin and sweeps the house in search of it despite the nine others she has in her pocket.
Relentless searching seems to be the appropriate response in the kingdom of God to the reality of the lost. And celebration is the appropriate response to finding what was lost.
What’s It Going To Take
I first heard the term “Wig-Take” in 2007 in Chang Mai Thailand. Our trainer was telling of his work in SE Asia among an unreached people group numbering in the millions. He was sharing the plan that he and his team had developed to reach the entire people group. They had started in prayer with a simple question that he called a Wig-Take question: What is it going to take to reach this people group?
I’d grown up with questions like, “How can we get more people to come to our church?” a vision which suddenly seemed stunningly inadequate in light of his vision to reach an entire people group; a remote ethnic group of nearly 2 million people with no gospel access and no known believers and who were largely illiterate.
It began to seem even more inadequate as he shared stories of their work among these people and what God was doing.
This question presupposes a vision that is bigger than me. It’s presupposes a God sized vision, a vision I could never accomplish alone.
Pastor Chris Galanos writes about how he discovered the Wig-Take principles and explains it this way, “What’s It Going to Take to Reach Everyone in the People Group?” Not what can I do or what can you do. Not what have others done before us. Not what’s possible. No. What’s it going to take? That’s the question we must ask! We have to be willing to do whatever it’s going to take! [read the whole article]
Our trainer in Thailand challenged us with the statement, “If your vision is something you can accomplish by yourself, your vision is probably too small.”
I want to encourage you to begin to dream and pray for a God sized vision for your context.
Perhaps you live in a city: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your city?
Perhaps you live in a small rural town: What is it going to take to reach everyone in your county?
Perhaps you are working among a remote group of people in Africa: What is it going to take to reach ALL of them?
Pray to the Lord of the harvest for a God sized vision and then begin to ask yourself, what is it going to take?
Are we willing to do whatever it is going to take?
How did you do?
In last week's article, I put you in charge. (Read Last Week's Article)
I wonder what your thought process was like? I wonder if you wrestled over where to send your people and how many to send?
Maybe it was a simple decision.
With today's post I want to share the two videos that inspired last week's post. They also answer a question for us.
Not, what would you do? That was for you to wrestle with.
They answer another question:
What are we actually doing?
I want to encourage you to watch the following videos and then to take some time for reflection.
With today's article I want to ask for you to step into the role of the decision maker. I'd like to give you a scenario and then ask you to think about how to approach the problem. And if you'd like, you can share your ideas in the comments section.
You're in charge, so let's set the scene.
You are standing in a field on an open plain. Around you stand ten stadiums, each with a capacity of 100,000. Each stadium is filled with people and each person is wearing a colored t-shirt.
These stadiums represent the world's 7.5 billion people. The color of the t-shirts represents where the people in those stadiums are at concerning the good news of Jesus.
Off to your right, three of the stadiums are brightly lit by the stadium lights. Roughly 10,000 of the people in each of those stadiums are wearing bright gold t-shirts. As you scan the crowds, these gold t-shirts are scattered among a sea of other people wearing yellow or green t-shirts. The yellow t-shirts make up about 30,000 people and the green make up another 59,000 people in each stadium. A final 1,000 people wearing dark blue t-shirts are huddled in small clumps, mostly near the exits.
Let's call this clump of three stadiums Group C.
Next to these three stadiums are four more stadiums which are also filled to capacity. The security lights are on but not the stadium lights. The majority of those sitting in the dim light of each stadium are wearing green t-shirts. Let's say roughly 60,0000. There are about 30,000 yellow t-shirts, another 9,000 dark blue t-shirts and only 1,000 gold t-shirts scattered throughout the crowd. The stadium is dominated by green with some yellow, a hint of dark blue and a barely perceptible touch of gold.
We'll call these four stadiums Group B.
Finally the three remaining stadiums sit shrouded in darkness. Neither the main lights nor the security lights are on. These stadiums are filled to capacity as well. Each stadium is filled from corner to corner with an expanse of dark blue t-shirts. The vast majority, 99,950 people are wearing them. A mere 50 people in gold shirts which you can hardly see are spread all around each of these stadiums, mostly near the exits.
These three stadiums we'll call Group A.
Where will you send them? You are in charge.
What's your move?
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We are a collection of practitioners and trainers dedicated to equipping and encouraging everyone everywhere to proclaim the gospel and make disciples among the unreached locally, nationally and globally.