One of the number one reasons former Muslims give for leaving Islam and coming to faith in Christ is that they met a true follower of Jesus. The challenge is that the vast majority of the 1.8 billion Muslims in our world today live in places where there are no followers of Jesus. In Turkey for example, a nation of over 80 million, fewer than 10,000 have left Islam to follow Christ and eighteen of the country’s 81 provinces have no known churches. Most Turks will not hear a clear presentation of the gospel this year - perhaps not in their lifetime. They won’t have a friend who is a follower of Jesus.
It is much the same for Hindus, Buddhists and the followers of the world's many other religions who live in what missiologists call the 10/40 window. 95% of the world's unreached people groups live in the 10/40 window.
Globalization is bringing the people of the world to countries where there are churches in every neighborhood and Christians all around them. Technology is opening up the world to communicate with one another in ways never before imagined. English is the new lingua franca and it is easier than ever to connect with a unreached peoples - and their families - and to be the first true follower of Jesus they have ever met.
Covid-19 is a terrible disease that is bringing and will continue to bring great loss to our world. But it is also bringing opportunity. Children across the globe have been sent home from school. They are isolated and oftentimes alone and are spending their time online. Your children are home. Muslim children are home. Hindu children are home. Buddhist children are home.
What would it take to help your child be the first real Christian one of these children has ever met?
What would it look like if you could help your child build a friendship with a child their same age and gender from another country?
There are dozens of online communities working to connect children with other children and adults with other adults through the age old practice of pen pals. Some help you connect through traditional mail. Many more are helping make connections through email.
I want to invite you to consider praying as a family about becoming pen pals with new friends in the Muslim world. Imagine if each member of your family were connecting with people in a Muslim majority country. Imagine how much you would learn about the world. Imagine the encouragement you could bring to an individual who is also living through this current world crisis. Imagine the conversations about Jesus that just may happen as you hear the story of your new friend’s life and they hear yours.
I want to first and foremost, encourage you to do this as a family. Your kids are going to make easy connections as they share about what they do for fun but depending on their age, they’ll probably need some coaching.
And you, mom and dad, are going to need your kids to keep you accountable to continue to reach out and connect through email or regular letters with new friends.
Be a family on mission together!
When I first helped my son with pen pals in Turkey and Indonesia he was twelve. We went onto the website Pen Pal World together and I helped him set up his profile. We prayed about what countries to look into and then searched together for boys age 12 that he could connect with. He reached out to two and they both responded. Soon they were exchanging emails. They were super simple. At one point the thread of emails was over 70 replies between the two of them. One would ask a single question - “Who’s your favorite soccer team? - and the other would respond “Real Madrid,” and then send off a single question of their own, “What’s your favorite movie?” It felt a little ridiculous but they were two twelve year old boys getting to know one another. This boy happened to live in Indonesia. I monitored and checked in with my son regularly, encouraging him and helping him know how to proceed.
Below are three sites through which you can find pen pals in the Muslim world. All three have their users create profiles which include the user’s gender, age and country. Be sure and help your children find friends who are the same age and gender - and that goes for you too! And then pray about what countries in which you would like to make connections.
It’s a great reason to explore and learn about countries within the 10/40 window.
A great resource to tune up your heart for these nations is Prayercast where you can learn about every country in the world. https://www.prayercast.com/
And a great resource to help you and your family learn more about Islam and how to share the love of Jesus with Muslims is the Bridges study. https://www.crescentproject.org/bridges
Interpals started in 1998 and has been helping people make new friends across the globe ever since! You can sign up for free. You’ll need to create a profile and then you can search the profiles of others to find someone to write to. You can start by messaging on the Interpals website. This will all happen on their on-site inbox, which means you won’t need to give out personal information at first. Take some time to get to know the person you are connecting with. You will want to switch over to email though so that your conversations can happen more naturally.
Like Interpals, PenPal World has also been active since 1998. Like Interpals, you will sign up, build a profile and search the profiles of others, then communicate within a PenPal World inbox. They also have some helpful safety features. They manually verify every single profile photo, and they enable minors to block all adults.
Global Penfriends was established in 1995, and is a safe platform that runs in a very similar way to Interpals and PenPal World. It is completely free, and you set up a profile, search for others, and have a secure inbox. Unique to Global Penfriends is their My Post service, which enables members to send snail mail to each other via the internet! You can use this service to send any written correspondence: letters, postcards, birthday cards, invitations, etc.
Parents, you will want to look at each and see which suits your needs best.
Please remember that these sites are secular sites open to anyone with an email address. They are for profit and so it is in their very best interest to make the sites as safe as possible. That said, it is up to you to stay safe and remain vigilant. You and your children have an opportunity to build real friendships and to be Christ’s ambassadors in a lost and broken world.
And you can do it together!
Learn more about unreached people groups and the 10/40 window in the short video below.
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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.