Church Spreads God's Love to Muslim Leaders
The events of September 11th and thereafter have been horrifying and yet glorious. As we watched the audacious, inhuman attack on the World Trade Center unfold before our eyes, I wondered, “How could this be? How are fanatics able to hijack and fly passenger aircraft into skyscrapers?” It seemed more like a trailer for a new Hollywood blockbuster. Had someone put “Live” at the bottom of the screen by mistake? But no, this was the real thing actually happening on TV as the world watched in disbelief. What was to happen? And as a Christian, how was I to respond?
I am the current chairman of a gathering of local charismatic pastors in Croydon, a large residential and business town of 350,000 people 12 miles from the center of London. We take our name “133 Group” from Psalm 133, “The Lord bestows His blessing on brothers who live together in unity.” The group has met together in various forms since a Luis Palau mission to London in 1989. We meet monthly for friendship across denominational boundaries as well as for worship and prayer for Croydon.
In May this year, we met together for a day of prayer and fasting and felt impressed of the Lord to start to meet weekly as a cell group instead of monthly. This has demanded a huge commitment from the busy pastors involved but the Lord has blessed us.
I wanted to send a message of peace to the local Muslim Community
After the summer break we arranged to meet again for a day of prayer and fasting to see what the Lord had for us next. This was scheduled for Wednesday, the 12th of September the day after the tragedy in New York occurred. The “Prayer in the City” meeting at our church, Folly’s End, was already scheduled for the following Saturday so the pastors decided to use that meeting for a public prayer meeting for the victims of the tragedy.
On that Friday afternoon, I had a crazy thought, why not invite the local Imam [pastor] from the Croydon Mosque to join us? Although this seemed to me to be a bold move, I called him and told him that I wanted to send a message of peace to the local Muslim Community and that this could be an opportunity to express solidarity against terrorism. In fairness to him, I explained that this was not a multi-faith meeting, but this was our flat out, charismatic, “Jesus-Is-Lord” prayer meeting for the city. Much to my surprise, he consented to come. After I put the phone down, I asked myself, “What have I done?” But then I said, “Ah well, over to you Lord.”
Later on that day, I received a phone call from Melinda Fish who was stranded in London with her sister because of the air traffic situation. I invited her to attend as a representative of USA.
The meeting that followed was what I can only describe as the most encouraging meeting I have ever had the privilege of attending. I witnessed the power of the gospel manifested in the most surprising way. While I was giving an introduction to the 300 or more who had come, the Imam walked through the door. I stopped to welcome him explaining that we did not want this situation to become a war between the West and Muslims.
He explained to me that he was the junior Imam, and that his “boss” would come later after leading prayers at the Mosque. As I sat next to him, I wondered just how this young man would respond to our charismatic worship. I remember wondering what I would feel like if I were sitting in a Mosque during their meeting. I didn’t have to wait long, because he turned to me and said, “This is very moving and inspiring; I feel something warm and encouraging.”
I invited him to make a statement. He told us that he was very honored to be with us and that his religion did not allow for these acts of terrorism. Then in the most gentle and humble way, he said that he was having a very spiritual experience just by being there.
We laid hands on this young man and asked the Holy Spirit to come upon him with the Father’s love.
As he stood onstage, I invited Melinda to come up. She reminded us that from the cross, Jesus had told us to forgive our enemies and to pray for them. She said she had been praying for Bin Laden for three months. She encouraged us not to harden our hearts toward anyone, but to pray for their salvation. We then prayed corporately for those who saw themselves as our enemies.
After more worship came the prayer and ministry time. As the people got together in small groups to pray, the Imam asked me what they were doing. “Why are they touching each other?” he wanted to know. He said that Muslims pray with cupped hands.
"I feel so uplifted in this meeting.”
I replied that we do that too, but that we also touch each other because we want to express our love for one another and that we believe that the laying on of hands imparts the love of God through us to each other. He was quiet for a while and then asked me if he could receive this sort of prayer too. We laid hands on this young man and asked the Holy Spirit to come upon him with the Father’s love and also touch his family and his community. We blessed his spiritual search and asked the Lord to reveal Himself to Him and for the Holy Spirit to fill Him. As we prayed, he was visibly moved, and we sensed a very deep spiritual hunger in him. He commented, “I feel different. I feel something I’ve never felt before. I feel so uplifted in this meeting.”
He had to leave at 8:45 to conduct a prayer meeting and said he would come back with the senior Imam. We wondered if we had seen the last of him, but within 20 minutes he was back bringing the Senior Imam with him. After the Senior Imam made a statement of condolence sharing our grief and calling us all to stand united against terrorism, the people welcomed them with enthusiastic applause.
After the meeting, I talked for a while with the young Imam over tea. He said that our church was “magnetic” and asked if he could come back, not to speak but just to sit with us. They invited me to the Mosque to share about Christianity. Pray that they do, so that I can share my testimony.
The shock of the last few days has left us feeling terribly heavy and wondering about the outcome, especially since we know there will be a response from the USA and England who is beside her and the rest of the free world in this fight against terrorism. We are trembling for the countless thousands who could be caught up in the struggle. Many have said we could be headed towards Armageddon or at least another World War.
What would happen if revival started not in our churches as we’ve expected, but in the Mosques across the world?
However, even if this is the case, in the light of this massive wake up call to the Church, what happened at that service with that Muslim Imam can remind us of the power of the gospel of Christ to the saving of ALL mankind. Now is the time for the church to rise up and engage the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places with the power of Christ. We cannot reverse what has happened, even if terrorism should be totally stamped out.
What we are called to do is to rise up in faith, love and witness and storm enemy strongholds with the power of Jesus. God can turn this tragedy around to His Glory. What would happen if revival started not in our churches as we’ve expected, but in the Mosques across the world? Now THAT would change things!