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Islamic governments leading people to Christ

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, who is also a member of the Experts Assembly, waves to media with an ink-stained finger, after registering his candidacy for the February 26 elections of the assembly at interior ministry in Tehran, Iran, December 21, 2015 (Credit: AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)According to Operation World, the country with the fastest growing evangelical Christian population in the world is Iran, where the church is growing 19.6% a year. The second fastest growing evangelical Christian population is found in Afghanistan, with an annual growth of 16.7%. Seven of the top ten fastest growing evangelical populations are in majority Muslim countries.

It is fascinating to realize that the two countries that attempted to created "pure" Islamic states in recent years instead became places where the gospel is growing the fastest—and both at more than twice the rate as the third country. In Iran, the "Ayatollah Khomeini felt a holy mission to rid Iran of what he saw as Western corruption and degeneracy and to return the country, under an Islamic theocracy, to religious purity." When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996 they determined to make a true Islamic country governed by Islamic law.

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Many Muslims are coming to Christ because of ISIS

Islamic State group militants posing in Yarmouk Palestinian camp, located in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, that is partially now under their control, April 7, 2015 (Credit: AP/SIPA USA/Balkis Press)The vast majority of Muslims in the world want peace. They just want to live their lives and take care of their families. They want their children to be educated and have families of their own and live good lives.

Many Muslims are appalled at the atrocities they see committed in the name of Islam. When they read or hear about the latest act of terrorism it can lead to questions.

Why are so many Muslims willing to kill in the name of Allah?
Why are so many Muslims willing to kill innocent men, women, and children in the name of Allah?
Why are so many Muslims willing to kill fellow Muslims in the name of Allah?

Pew Research polls
 show that the majority of Muslims worldwide dislike ISIS. ISIS' next door neighbors' views are very unfavorable: 99% of Muslims in Lebanon, 94% of Jordanians, 91% of Israeli Arabs, and 84% of Palestinians have an unfavorable view of ISIS. Even those further away are overwhelmingly negative: Indonesia, Turkey, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Malaysia and Senegal range in negativity from 60% to 79%.

Yet, when pressed, any knowledgeable Muslim will agree that ISIS exemplifies the type of jihad that led to the expansion of Islam from a tiny population in 623 AD to controlling 28% of the world's population by 750 AD. The early leaders of Islam saw it as their "manifest destiny" to conquer the world. Again, questions can arise in the minds of modern Muslims.

How can ISIS be wrong and yet look so much like early Islam?
Is Islam really a religion of peace when the Prophet they follow fought in so many battles?
Why are the early portions of their Holy Book more peaceful when their Prophet expected Jews and Christians to follow him, and more violent in the later portions when he realized they would not follow him peacefully?
Since the ultimate destiny of Islam is world domination, is there a possibility that ISIS is what it claims to be: the beginning of that promised worldwide Muslim caliphate?
Even within the global Muslim community, many see signs that disturb them.
Forty-three groups in nineteen countries have pledged their support to ISIS.
ISIS and other Muslim groups such as the Taliban and Boko Haram view rape, sexual slavery, torture, murder, and genocide as religious duties.

Gulf States are not accepting refugees and the heretical West are accepting tens of thousands. This concern is expressed in the trending Middle Eastern hashtag #ShameOnArabRulers.
In contrast to the poll mentioned above, an Al Jazeera online poll in Arabic with 60,000+ respondents showed that eighty-one percent supported ISIS!
One day a courageous Muslim Imam (religious leader in a Mosque) stood up in front a crowd of Muslims. Before him they had heard speeches denouncing their enemies with many urging death to the Jews and the Christians. His voice rang out with a challenge. "This hatred is killing us! It is like a cancer in our soul. We are giving a heritage of hatred and violence to our sons and daughters. Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) shows us a better way! He tells us to love our enemies and forgive those who hurt us. He shows us the True Path to God!" (as part of their daily prayers Muslims ask Allah to show the True Path).

You can imagine the response. He was shouted down and many threatened to kill him. But others came to him later and said their hearts were touched and they wanted to learn more. As a result, a growing movement of New Testament house churches are spreading throughout this region.

What ISIS is doing is evil. But God is not surprised nor is He powerless. He is sovereign. We can see a similar dynamic from the life of Joseph, when he tells his brothers, who had tried to kill him and sold him into slavery, "You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result--the survival of many people" (Gen 50:20).

Pray for millions of Muslims to be disillusioned and find life and peace in Jesus. Here is a guide of "7 Ways to Pray for Muslims besieged by War."

Pray for all Muslims, even ISIS and other persecutors, to find Christ, just as early Jewish leaders and even Saul the persecutor became disciples of Jesus. This site guides you in praying for ISIS members.

What Satan has intended for evil, God is using for eternal good by bringing many Muslims to Christ.

William Allen Crews has lived and served among and appreciated the warm hospitality of Muslim people for 25+ years. He has a great desire for his many Muslim friends and all Muslims to realize that Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) is the Straight Path they seek everyday in their prayers.

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Most difficult places in the world to be a Christian

North Korean citizens gather in Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang to pledge to meet the goals stated in Kim Jong Un's New Year address four days earlier, January 5, 2016 (Credit: AP Images/Kyodo)According to the 2016 World Watch List, released yesterday, the most difficult place to be a Christian is North Korea. This is North Korea's fourteenth year atop the list. Scoring a 92 out of 100, North Korea was followed by Iraq (90), Eritrea (89), Afghanistan (88), with Syria (87).rounding out the top five.

Boasting a population of 24.5 million, North Korea has an estimated 300,000 Christians. Open Doors, the organization that puts out this list, found that North Korean officials see Christianity as not only "opium for the people," but also "deeply Western and despicable." In turn, Christians in North Korea must keep their faith a secret, or risk being sent to a labor camp or a prison.

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Unrest brews in Saudi Arabia as economy weakens

Saudi women shop at a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has announced on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015 a projected budget deficit in 2016 of $87 billion (327 billion riyals), as lower oil prices cut into the government's main source of revenue. (Credit: AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)Saudi Arabia made headlines recently when their execution of a popular Shiite cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, placed even greater tension on an already perilous relationship with Iran, a Shiite majority nation. However, as CNN describes, the Saudis' financial troubles at home are perhaps a more pressing concern than their struggles abroad. As Heather Long succinctly puts it, "Saudi Arabia is running out of money."

Around seventy-five percent of the government's budget comes from their global oil sales. As oil prices have fallen from over $100 a barrel in 2014 to roughly $36 currently, the country has experienced increasing financial hardship. They ran a deficit of almost $100 billion last year and 2016 is not expected to bring much improvement. The International Monetary Fund predicts that the country will be out of money in roughly five years unless oil prices improve to $50 a barrel or better.

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African Muslims save Christians from jihadists

An elderly man from a Somali tribal clan carries an AK-47 and the Islamist black flag with the words 'There is no God but Allah and Mohamed Is the Prophet of Allah'  as he vows to fight the Somali government forces and African Union peacekeeping troops in Mogadishu's Maslah Square neighborhood, March 5, 2011 (Credit: AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)With all the coverage given to ISIS in the news these days, it can be easy to forget that they are simply one of several jihadist terrorist groups plaguing the Middle East and Africa. The Al-Shabaab extremists, for example, have largely staked their claim to the terror market along the war-ravaged border between Kenya and Somalia. And, as CNN's AnniRose Ramos describes, "Their M.O. is a tried and terrifying one: Launch a raid, single out Christians, and then spray them with bullets."

That is the tactic they've used over the last several years in attacks on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, on a bus full of teachers in Mandera County, and, most recently, in April when they massacred 148 people at Garissa University College in north-east Kenya. In each case, Christians or those who could not recite certain passages from the Qur'an were singled out and murdered by the group.

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