EIGHTEEN THOUSAND IMAN, MULLAHS AND EMIRS LED TO CHRIST IN WEST AFRICA
At 19, a leper first introduced him to Christ and a blind man led him to salvation. “His reading braille captivated me,” says Brother Thomas. “I asked him where I will go when I die.” In response to the young man’s request, the blind man quoted Scripture from the Book of John. The power of God’s Word left a lasting imprint on his heart and propelled his future ministry. “I didn’t understand the cross or what my decision meant, but I went ahead and received Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour.” Raised in a Muslim home and community in West Africa, he experienced hostility, but took it in stride. “Every true believer should experience opposition,” he maintains. “The important thing is the discovery of the life-given Spirit in Christ. I found a new life.”
Two years after his life-changing conversion, he felt an overwhelming desire to share the Good News. “I saw my people were living in darkness,” he says. Although he had little training, he began to travel from village to village for several weeks at a time. “Nobody told me to go. I didn’t know many of the Scriptures,” he admits, “but I wanted to tell people that Jesus can give you eternal life.” Through eventual contact with Sudan Inland Mission (SIM), he received further training. In 1990, he went on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and served with them for a decade, utilizing the impactful JESUS Film. In 2000, he started his own organization, which targets Muslim leaders throughout West Africa. “They the leaders are sincerely deluded,” he observes. “Satan has blinded their eyes. They cannot see the light of the gospel.”
“They were born into it,” he continues. “Nobody told them anything different. Most people in West Africa are not Muslim by choice. They are born into a community that believes in Islam.” Brother Thomas decided he and his team would have to approach the “custodians” of the community of Islam, something very few are willing to do. “Christians never take the initiative to go to them,” he observes. “The Bible never tells us to wait for them to come to us. The Bible says to go. The lack of going to the Muslims is disobedience.” Brother Thomas and his team develop relational connections with Muslim scholars slowly and privately. It may take weeks or months of meetings before an Islamic scholar will discover the Truth.
“We met with a Shia leader in one country for a year,” he notes. After Islamic services on Friday, this Muslim leader would drive several hours to spend a weekend with Brother Thomas. “I went through the Word teaching him.
The turning point was when he realized that Jesus is God.” Remarkably, this imam actually stayed in the mosque, but his message changed dramatically as a follower of Jesus. The man’s changed perspective did not go unnoticed.
“They took him to a psychiatric hospital and took his wives away. They said he was mad,” Brother Thomas says. After his release from the psychiatric facility, Brother Thomas urged the man to escape. “We don’t know where he is today. Quite a few of these leaders who converted have died.”
Another Muslim leader who met with Brother Thomas made regular appearances on national TV during Ramadan. “He came to Christ because we proved to him the Quran is not the inspired word of God and is not in the program of God for salvation,” he recounts. One Friday evening a mob of other scholars came to kill the recent convert, but were unsuccessful. “He was fearless,” Brother Thomas says. “They gave his wife to his best friend and took his daughter away because he rejected Islam. This year he was poisoned and died.” Brother Thomas believes that in the top ranks of Islamic scholars, many are atheists, because they no longer believe in the inspiration of the Quran.
In the last 15 years Brother Thomas and his team have led 18,000 imams, mullahs, and emirs to Christ. “We have led several Al Qaeda commanders to Christ, some of whom penetrated our centre as spies.” His team of 300 has dwindled to 65, due to the intensity of the fight. “Some have died, some left us, and some became afraid,” he says. He has developed a training program that is bearing fruit wherever it has been employed. Brother Thomas believes the church has been ineffective in reaching Muslims because they have concentrated on methods and strategies. “Christians want to bribe the Muslims to faith through relief and compassion, but those methods do not save. If you give relief to them it will not save them.” For salvation Muslims must discover Christ through His Word.
Franklin Graham, head of the Samaritan’s Purse organization as well as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has endorsed Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s idea of halting Muslim immigration into the United States, at least temporarily. He warns there is good reason: some 144,000 Muslims already in the United States “who openly say without hesitation that violence in the name of Islam is justified!” Graham’s comments were posted on his Facebook page, where he noted that “political leaders and world experts” say that “the vast majority (as many as 99%) of Muslims are peaceful people.” Well the Pew Research Centre has released research on how Muslims in the U.S. self-identify on questions of violence – and the conclusions are frightening.”
Graham cited the 1.8 million Muslim adults in the United States. “Pew Research released that 8% of adult Muslims in the U.S. said that suicide bombings and other forms of violence in the name of Islam are ‘sometimes’ or ‘often’ justified. Think about it – that’s 144,000 Muslims who openly say without hesitation that violence in the name of Islam is justified! “That’s not ‘peaceful’ and that’s not a small number” he wrote. “House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World” conveys what the West needs to know about Islam and the violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures and systems of government “I’m 100 percent sure of this – our nation and our politicians need to realize the dangers of allowing people into this country that are not properly vetted.”
The simple fact a part of America’s Muslim population believes the Constitution should be ruled by Sharia law is a concern. “For some time I have been saying that Muslim immigration into the United States should be stopped until we can properly vet them or until the war with Islam is over,” he wrote. “Research shows that there are 2.75 million Muslims living in the U.S. According to a poll commissioned by the Centre for Security Policy, 51% of Muslims living in America believe ‘Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to Sharia’ [Islamic law] instead of the U.S. Constitution.” He continued, “29% agree that violence against those who insult Mohammad is acceptable, and 25% agree that violence against America can be justified as part of global jihad. . This is frightening.”
Trump had called for a halt to Muslim immigration until those in Washington can figure out what to do regarding Islamist terror, especially that inside the U.S. His comments came in the aftermath of the Islamic terror attack in California where a radicalized husband and wife shot and killed 14 and wounded another 21 at a county Christmas party. Trump has made it clear he is not insulting a religion, but addressing a security concern. The result of Trump’s comments is that he’s gotten more popular in polls and the Washington Times reported now nearly two-thirds of “likely Republican primary voters support Donald Trump’s plan to bar Muslims from the U.S.” A Bloomberg Politics poll showed 65% of likely Republican voters approved of the Muslim ban, compared to 22% who opposed it and 13% who didn’t know.
The Pew report explained that with only 1% of the nation’s population, Muslims managed to account for half of all the nation’s terror attacks following the 9/11 terror attacks. Mark Krikorian, chief of the Centre for Immigration Studies, explained, “That means Muslims in the United States are about 5,000% more likely to commit terrorist attacks than non-Muslims.” The Pew results also suggested a political reason for a Democrat White House to be bringing hundreds of thousands of Muslims to the U.S. Pew found that 70% of Muslims in the U.S. vote Democratic, while only 11% vote Republican. “House of War: Islam’s Jihad Against the World” conveys what the West needs to know about Islam and the violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the subjugation and destruction of other faiths, cultures and governments.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has declared his Muslim-majority country an Islamic republic, saying the move marks a break with the colonial past. Mr. Jammeh told state TV the proclamation was in line with Gambia’s “religious identity and values”. He added that no dress code would be imposed and citizens of other faiths would be allowed to practice freely. Some 90% of Gambians are Muslim. The former British colony’s economy relies heavily on tourism. However, relations with the West have soured recently. “The European Union temporarily withheld aid money to Gambia last year over its poor human rights record.” Mr. Jammeh has been president of the tiny West African country for 21 years. “As Muslims are the majority in the country, Gambia cannot afford to continue the colonial legacy,” Mr. Jammeh said.
Jammeh’s announcement came after Gambia said it would take in Rohingya refugees as part of its “sacred duty” to alleviate the suffering of fellow Muslims fleeing Southeast Asia to escape oppression. The government of the West African nation appealed to countries of the region to send Rohingya refugees to its shores, where it said it would set them up in refugee camps. “The government of Gambia notes with grave concern the inhumane condition of the Rohingya people of Myanmar – especially those referred to as ‘boat people’ – currently drifting in the seas off the coast of Malaysia and Indonesia,” it said in a statement. “As human beings – more so fellow Muslims – it is a sacred duty to help alleviate the untold hardships and sufferings fellow human beings are confronted with.”
Mr. Jammeh withdrew Gambia from the British Commonwealth in 2013, describing the organization as neo-colonial. In 2007, Jammeh’s government has been regularly criticized by Britain and other Western powers for human rights abuses. Jammeh has ruled Gambia since seizing power in 1994. Jeffrey Smith, a senior advocacy officer at the Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, said that Jammeh’s “unilateral” decision to call Gambia an Islamic republic is part of a “larger pattern of capriciousness” and has ulterior political motives. “Jammeh has burned all bridges with his former donors in the West due to his deplorable human rights track record and the rampant corruption in the nation” Smith said. “He is desperately attempting to foster a closer and more lucrative relationship with the Arab world” he said.
POPE DEFENDS TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE AS ITALY DEBATES CIVIL UNIONS
Pope Francis issued a stern reminder of the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage as a fierce debate raged in Italy ahead of a vote that would give legal recognition to homosexual couples. The Senate is due to resume debating a bill that would legalize civil partnership for homosexuals as well as for unmarried heterosexual couples. Many opponents say the law is a Trojan horse that would lead to legalizing same-sex marriage. The Pope, told Vatican judges “there can be no confusion between the family God wants and any other type of union”. “The family, founded on indissoluble matrimony that unites and allows procreation, is part of God’s dream and that of his Church for the salvation of humanity,” he said in an address to members of the Vatican court that rules on marriage annulments.
Despite the European Court of Human Rights condemnation of Italy last year for failing to introduce a law on civil partnerships, its passage has been held up by objections from politicians of all stripes. Opposition parties and even some members of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD) are incensed by a proposal in the law that would allow homosexuals adopt the children their partners had from previous heterosexual unions. The presence of the Vatican in Rome is often cited as a reason Italy has not given same-sex couples rights or protection on issues like parenthood. The bill’s author, PD Senator Monica Cirinna, told reporters this week that the ruling party was in a state of “high fever” as the vote approaches.
The Church’s position was always lurking in the background of the debate. “There has always been a clash between the non-religious and the Catholic members of the party,” Cirinna said. “The great dome sometimes casts a shadow,” she said, referring to St. Peter’s Basilica. Some fear the bill would open the way to loosening laws on surrogate motherhood, which is illegal in Italy. Interior Minister Angelino Alfano has said that those who break the law should be treated as sex offenders and sent to prison. The conservative Northern League demonstrated at the Pantheon in Rome this week collecting signatures for their bid to remove the stepchild adoption provision from the bill ahead of the vote in the upper house.
INCREASING NUMBER OF ERITREAN CHILDREN ATTEMPTING SUICIDE
Why would a child attempt suicide? Perhaps a hopeless future! Eritrea – nicknamed the “North Korea of Africa” – is currently experiencing a mass exodus of children. All youth, both boys and girls face compulsory and indefinite military service in a country that is not even at war. As tiny as Eritrea is, it constitutes one-third of the Middle East’s refugee migration and the majority of the 3,000 drowned in the Mediterranean Sea last summer. Recently five Eritrean children in an Ethiopian refugee camp attempted suicide. Four failed, but one succeeded. Reports estimate that 100 Eritrean children arrive each day at camps in Ethiopia. Even Eritreans discriminate among themselves.
A counsellor in the Mai Aini refugee camp reports that those from the south are particularly vulnerable. They are believed to be “evil-eyed”. Those children usually attempt suicide. All have hopes of migrating on. When that proves impossible, they are desperate and resort to desperate measures. There are various reasons for the mass exodus: poverty, soaring food prices and political instability. But, high on the incentives is Eritrea’s “compulsory military service” – one that never ends. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 12:12). The nation of Eritrea is number 9 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians in the world.
Please pray for:
* a new form of government for Eritrea, one that respects human rights and seeks to guard the welfare of its citizens, including the children. Please also pray for entrepreneurs to see Eritrea’s potential and invest in the country, provide jobs, and career choices for the people.
* the elimination on compulsory military service during peacetime that will provide hope for Eritrean’s youth. Please pray also for the Lord Himself to comfort and love the broken-hearted Eritreans, revealing Jesus Christ to them as their hope for salvation and an eternal home.
* Increased access to the Gospel message via SAT 7, radio and television, and Social Media. Pray that these media outlets will broadcast Christ’s message of love and hope. Pray the Eritrean youth will know He has a plan for their lives. Pray also for children’s ministries to work with the children in both Eritrea and in the refugee camps. May they know that Jesus loves the little children of the world.
CAMPAIGNING IN EGYPT AGAINST FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION BRINGS LITTLE SUCCESS
Years of campaigning against FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) in Egypt have so far produced little results. The ‘Egypt Health Survey 2015’ shows that the total number of FGM cases among Egyptian women age 15-49, was 87% in 2015 compared to 91% in 2008. The report, recently published on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Population, states that in the next 15 years more than half of Egyptian girls age 1-14 will be circumcised, unless education convinces their parents to refrain from the practice. The international Christian organisation Arab Vision has campaigned for many years against the practice of FGM by raising awareness about its harmful effects. “The difference of 4% is too small to speak about success. We will continue our efforts to inform people about the practice of FGM, until we see a real breakthrough!
In the past years we produced several documentaries which were used by grassroots organisations, convincing people that FGM should no longer be practiced,” Arab Vision said in response to the report. FGM has been practiced since Pharaonic times and although it has been banned by the Egyptian government since 2008, the practice is still widespread. 9 in 10 women age 15-49 are circumcised, according to the report. Of the interviewed Egyptian men and women 50% of the men and 46% of the women believe that female circumcision is required by religion. Thereby they overlook the fact that it’s a life-threatening operation for a girl that can cause permanent medical and psychological problems.