Unbelievable Spiritual Awakening Sweeping the Muslim World
We are in the early stages of a historic spiritual awakening to Christ in the Muslim world.
More Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ in the last half century than in the last 14 centuries combined.
In this episode of Inside The Epicenter, Joel Rosenberg shares insights from Mark 5:1-20. He touches on how to love Christ by loving those who don’t yet know him and the dynamics of conversion in the Middle East.
Joel also shares how believers can stand with the Church in the Arab world and support them as they seek to fulfill the Great Commission in this generation.
Wondering how to come alongside our brothers and sisters in the Epicenter and help them in this critical hour? Listen to this episode to find out!
- [Joel] Sometimes the greatest answer to our prayer is when God says "No." We can bring any request to him, but our Father knows what's best for us. And when he says, "No" it's not because he doesn't love us, it's because he does.
- [Carl] Do you really know that Jesus loves all peoples in the Middle East and not just Israel? We must give everyone in the epicenter the opportunity to know Jesus. Hi, and welcome to this special episode of "Inside the Epicenter" with Joel Rosenberg, a podcast of the Joshua Fund, a ministry dedicated to blessing Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus. I'm Carl Mueller, executive director of the Joshua Fund. And today we're gonna hear a message from Joel to present the insights from Mark 5:1-20 as Joel touches on how to love Christ by loving those who don't yet know him. Let's listen.
- [Joel] And during the course of this summit, we've studied Daniel's prayer of repentance. We've studied the apostles prayer for boldness. We've studied Jesus's prayer to his father and his emphasis on unity. We've heard from dear Israeli and Palestinian brothers and sisters on the exciting things that the Lord is doing in this land, the challenges they face and the specific ways we can pray for them. One other thing I wanna note because it hasn't been noted yet, it's not exactly in our context, but the Lord is also drawing Jewish people to the Lord in large numbers outside this land. In fact, he's drawing more Jewish people in North America to himself than he is drawing Jewish people here in the land to himself. We came out with a study that Joshua Fund helped fund and the Alliance for the Peace of Jerusalem released and did with Lifeway Research we have just found and released, there are now 871,000 Jewish followers of Jesus in the United States alone. That's this new study. It's amazing. And when you add it to the other Jewish believers around the world, there are roughly 1 million Jewish people who believe that Jesus is the Messiah now up from roughly 2,000 Jewish believers in the world when I was born in 1967. So God is doing an amazing thing. But we wanna shift now in our message. We wanna zoom up a bit. We wanna take a look at what God is doing in the Arab nations around Israel. For the Lord loves them dearly and they are a key part of the Joshua Fund calling to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus and to strengthen the church in the epicenter to fulfill the great commission. So the Joshua Fund focus is Israel and the Palestinians, and then five Arab nations around her, Lebanon to the north, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq to the east and Egypt to the south. And the text of the Lord has put on my heart is found in Mark chapter five. So if you turn in your Bibles there to Mark chapter five, we're gonna examine verses one through 20 in this final message, a message I call, "Will I Cross the River? A Biblical Call to Love the Arab People and to Reach Them with the Gospel." Matthew chapter five, beginning in verse one. "They came to the other side of the sea to the country of the Garcins. And when Jesus had stepped out of the boat, immediately there met him out of the tombs, a man with an unclean spirit. He lived among the tombs and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain for he had often been bound with shackles and chains, but he wrenched the chains apart and he broke the shackles in pieces. No one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always crying. He was crying out and cutting himself with stones. And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him and crying out with a loud voice. He said, 'What do you have to do with me Jesus son of the most high God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.' For Jesus was saying to the man, 'Come out of the man you unclean spirit.' And Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?' The man didn't reply but the demon did. He replied, 'My name is Legion for we are many.' And he the the demon begged him earnestly not to send him out of the country. He implored him, 'Don't make me leave the country.' Now a great herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside and they begged him and implored him, saying, 'Send us to the pigs, let us enter them.' So he gave them permission and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. And the herd numbering 2,000 rushed down the steep bank and into the sea and drowned in the sea. The herdsmen fled and told the story in the city and in the country, and the people of that city and of the region came to see what had happened. And they came to Jesus and they saw the demon possessed man, the one who had had the legion. And now he's sitting there clothed and in his right mind and they were afraid. And those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon possessed man and to the pigs. And they began to implore Jesus to depart from their region. And as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons implored him that he might be with him, that he might go and travel with him. But Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home. Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.' And so the man went away and began to proclaim in the decapolis, the 10 Roman cities in the area, how much Jesus had done for him. And everyone marvels." Now it's worth noting there are two other accounts of this story, one in Matthew chapter eight and another in Luke chapter eight. But let's begin with a few observations of the account in Mark. The first we need to note that three times in this passage, someone is imploring Jesus. And in the Greek implore can be begged, to plead to, you know, to to besiege. Three times we see someone begging or imploring Jesus. The demons implore Jesus, "Don't torment us and don't send us out of the country." The people of the nearby city implored Jesus to leave their region. The man saved from the demons implored Jesus that he might accompany him back to Israel and participate in Jesus's ministry there. It's worth noting that in Matthew's account of this story, Jesus cast demons not just out of one man, but out of two. Nevertheless, Mark and Luke recorded that only one man showed his gratitude and wanted to follow the Lord. So what happened to the other man? The scriptures do not say, and we're left with the implication that only one of them truly embraced Jesus. How sad is that? And yet it's evocative of Jesus healing the 10 lepers back in Israel. And yet how many came back to bow down and worship him? Only one. Judas Escariot walked with Jesus for upwards of three years, and yet he never embraced Jesus as messiah, as savior, as God, but rather doomed himself to hell forever with no way of escape. This is the painful truth, one of the painful truths we must understand and accept in ministry that only a few enter through the narrow gate and they find eternal life. But the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction and there are many who enter through it. It should also be noted that both the demons and the people from the city and the region, both of them were granted or all of them were granted their request, they were imploring Jesus for something and Jesus told them all, "Yes." Jesus granted the demons' request to enter the nearby swine. The demons immediately drown them. But that's a separate story. You're not gonna find a lot of sympathy for pigs on this side of the river. I joke that when we first got here, I thought, "Wow, Lynn, we need to invest in pork barbecue. They don't have any here." It didn't really work out so well for us. Okay. Likewise, Jesus granted the people's request to leave their region. Like just a second. Leave their region? How sad is that? Jesus comes and cast demons out of two men that were uncontrollable and the the reaction of the people is fear, not awe, resistance, not receptivity. What was going on there? Why didn't they all say, "Hey, come and heal this person. Come heal that person. I've got someone that needs to be healed. I need to be healed. Come teach us. Who are you? Talk to us. Tell us who you are. You must be from God. Tell us how to know God." No, they implored him, they begged him, they pleaded with him. They besieged him. "Leave, leave." And Jesus granted their request. But as for the saved man, he got a big fat, "No." He pleaded with Jesus. He implored Jesus. "Hey, let me join your team. Let me follow you. Let me cross the river back over into Israel. I'll go wherever I'll serve you." And the Lord says, "No." What is that all about? The text says that Jesus did not let him come. Rather Jesus said, "Go home to your people and report to them the great things that the Lord has done for you and the mercy that he has shown you." And to his great credit, that man obeyed, he went away and began to proclaim in those 10 Roman cities in the Decapolis the great things that Jesus had done for him. And everyone who heard was amazed. What is God trying to teach us in this message? Why did Jesus cross the river, the Jordan River? Indeed, why did Jesus enter the land of the Gentiles, a land that today we call the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan right across the river? Why did he do that? Didn't Jesus say I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? Yeah, that's exactly what Jesus said in Matthew chapter 15, verse 24. But remember that Jesus knew that most of the house of Israel was gonna reject him. He had said he'd come to reach the lost sheep, but many of those sheep wanted to stay lost. Remember too that the Hebrew prophets told us that the ultimate calling of the Messiah was not merely to save Jews, definitely to save Jews, definitely to draw Israel into the kingdom of God, but not only. His ultimate mission was also to save people from every nation, right? In the Abrahamic covenant, Genesis chapter 12, the Lord makes it clear that through Abraham's seed, God would bless all the families of the earth. Genesis 12:3. In Isaiah chapter 49, verse six, the Lord said to his anointed one, to his future, Messiah, right, "It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved one of Israel. No, that's too small a thing just to do that. I will also make you a light to the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. In Daniel chapter seven, the Hebrew prophecies a vision of the coming kingdom of the Messiah. Daniel writes, "I kept looking in the night visions and behold with the clouds of heaven. One like a son of man was coming and he came up to the ancient of days and was presented before him. And to him, the son of man was given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away, and his kingdom is one which will not be destroyed." Daniel chapter seven. In Hosea chapter two, the Lord says, "I will also have compassion on her who has not obtained compassion. And I will say to those who are not my people, 'You are my people.' And they will say, 'You are my God.'" One more though, I could go on. I can't help but to cite for my favorite book of the Bible, Book of Joel. I commend it to you in Joel chapter two the Lord says, through the Hebrew prophet, "It will come about in the last days that I will pour out my Holy Spirit on all mankind and before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes, it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." This is exactly what Peter quotes in his inaugural sermon. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul quotes in Romans. This is God's heart. The Bible couldn't be clear. God loves Israel and her neighbors, God's heart is not either-or. It's both-and, and that's why Jesus repeatedly told his disciples that the salvation and redemption and joy he was bringing to them was not limited to the Jewish people. Consider just two classic examples from the mouth of Jesus, everybody knows this. John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in him," a Jew like my father or a Gentile like my mother, "whosoever should believe in him," in Jesus, "in his death and resurrection shall not perish," die and go to hell and stay there forever and ever and ever in the burning torment with no way of escape, "but shall have eternal life." And then of course, Matthew chapter 28, verses 19 through 20, what we know as the Great Commission. Go ye therefore, and make disciples just of Israel. No, that's not what it says. He says, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And remember, I'll be with you to the very end of the age." Should it be surprising then that here in Mark chapter five, we see Jesus crossing the river to save one gentile man and then sending that man throughout the gentile world, 10 different Roman cities, to tell his people the good news of God's love? Should that surprise us? It should not. It's true that Christ didn't grant the man his request, but that was because Christ had a better plan for him. He had a mission for that man to reach his own people. And he knew that in that plan, this man would find great, great joy. Sometimes the greatest answer to our prayer is when God says "No." We can bring any request to him, but our Father knows what's best for us. And when he says, "No" it's not because he doesn't love us, it's because he does. The more mature we are in Christ, the quicker we'll be to embrace that and to be grateful when God says "No" knowing that if we are humble and patient, he will guide us as something better, even a mission to reach a people group with the gospel that we had may we may never have expected, even perhaps a people group we had never really loved before. This is where the deepest joy of Christ is found, not in getting our way, but in going his, not in doing our will, but in doing his. This is not what Jesus spoke of in John 15. "These things I've spoken to you so that my joy may be in you and that your joy might be full." God wants us to have full joy. "You didn't choose me, I chose you and I appointed you to go and bear fruit. And that your fruit would remain so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. God's great love for the Arab people has captured Lynn's and my heart. Lynn, and I could not love Israel and the Jewish people more than we do. I hope that you have some sense of our commitment to Israel and our people. This is true of the entire Joshua fund team as well. But we don't believe theologically that it's enough just to bless Israel and Jewish people. It's good, it's absolutely important, but it's not enough. God has called us to bless all people in the region, all people everywhere. Why? Because Jesus loves the Palestinians. Jesus loves the Lebanese. Jesus loves the Syrians. Jesus loves the Jordanians. Jesus loves the Iraqis. Jesus loved the Egyptians. Jesus loves the the Saudis and the Emiratis and the Iranians and the Pakistanis and every person in this area and every person in this world. And often we as evangelicals who love Israel, don't say it enough. First we have to believe it and then we need to say it and then we need to show it. Jesus loves all the people of this epicenter. He died for them. He rose for them. He's coming back for them. And he commands us to love them with a deep and everlasting love. The question is, how? How can any of us make a real difference in this part of the world? You can see, you heard all the last, you know, throughout the summit. It's not easy. You and I can't solve the refugee crisis. The church cannot solve the education crisis in a region rife with illiteracy or cure poverty or all diseases. We rescue all people in the region from drug and alcohol abuse. Governments, businesses, nonprofits, they invest billions of dollars in such worthy projects. And so too does the UN and even still, it's just a drop in the bucket. The church does not have this level of resources. The Joshua Fund certainly does not. So you and I must focus like a laser on that which the church is uniquely called to do. What would the church and not the government or the UN is uniquely called to do? And that is to fulfill the great commission. Paul wrote to Timothy and said that "God desires that all men be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth." Peter wrote that "God desires that none should perish, but that everyone should come to repentance." And yet the apostle Paul rightly asked "How? How will they call on him whom they've not believed? How will they believe in him if they've not even heard? How will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they're sent?" Just as it is written, how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things? This is the mission of the church, to love Christ by loving those who don't yet know him. That means reaching every Jew and Gentile in this land with the gospel of Jesus Christ. But it cannot stop there. You and I must be willing to cross the river. We need to give everyone in the epicenter the opportunity to hear the gospel message in their own heart language and then give them a chance to make a decision for themselves to receive Christ or to reject him. We don't wanna pressure anyone and we don't wanna force anyone. To the contrary, we wanna love them enough to make sure they get a chance to hear God's free offer of salvation and get their questions answered and make their own decision, yes or no, in or out. And if they say yes, then loving them means helping them to be discipled, to be pastored, to be encouraged, to be prayed for, to be taught how to introduce their family and friends to Christ. And this is the heart and the passion of the Joshua Fund. Indeed, this is the heart and passion of everyone who has spoken at this prayer summit because it is the heart of God. And we know that not everyone in this part of the world is gonna say yes to Christ. But we also know that many will say yes, not just on this side of the river, but on the other side as well throughout the Muslim world. And in this we have great joy. What do we have to look forward to prophetically? Revelation chapter seven tells us. John writes, "I looked and behold a great multitude, which no one could count from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white robes and palm branches were in their hands and they were crying out with a loud voice saying, 'Salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb.'" This is what we have to look forward to. The Bible prophecies are clear. A great harvest is coming among all peoples. And the only way we can fail is not to heed the word of the king, the message of the king. He's gonna do it. The question is whether we will have failed to play our part. Now, what is God doing in the Arab world? The church in the Arab world has been deeply shaken in recent years, followers of Jesus Christ have been targeted by radical Islamist terrorists. Churches have been bombed, set ablaze, riddled with machine gunfire. Christians have been captured, enslaved, starved, beheaded. Some have even been crucified for their faith in Christ. And yet amid such darkness, the Holy Spirit is on the move. Followers of Jesus Christ in this region are boldly and creatively communicating the gospel of Christ to their people using satellite television, radio, the internet, Bible distribution and literature distribution, and their own personal witness to reach more people than ever before. Hundreds of millions of Muslims are now able to hear, read, and consider the gospel message in their own heart languages. And remarkably many are open to saying yes to Christ. I commend to your attention a study called "Believers in Christ from a Muslim background, a Global Consensus." This was a 19 page peer reviewed article written by two respected Christian scholars back in 2015, Dr. Duane Alexander Miller, a professor at St. Mary's University in Texas. And Patrick Johnstone, who is the longtime editor of "Operation World," a series of books that carefully documented the state of Christianity in every country on the planet. Those are a series of books that have sold two and a half million copies. They worked together and their study published in 2015, as I said, in the interdisciplinary journal of "Research on Religion." I know you're all reading that every day, but nevertheless, this comes outta Baylor University. They examined all the research that has been done on Muslim conversions to Christ between 1960 and 2010. Okay? So eight years, you know, they had to stop eight years ago because that's all the data they could pull together and fairly review. But their conclusions were stunning. From 1960 to 2010, the number of Muslims that converted to faith in Jesus Christ, left Islam came to Christ, grew from fewer than 200,000 to some 10 million people. That's eight years ago, right? We're not counting data from the last eight years. Now, in a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, 10 million conversions to Christ is not enough, is it? No, of course not. But look, we are in the early stages of one of the most exciting great awakenings in world history and the first great awakening among Muslims, pastors throughout the epicenter are reporting, encouraging signs of hope. And after centuries of spiritual drought, I can report to you that the church in the Middle East is truly growing again, slowly but steadily. Now, to be sure, we have to be careful with numbers. We always have to be. Some Western missionary and ministry leaders and local pastors can at times get tempted to exaggerate progress to friends and neighbors. Likewise, radical Muslims or Jewish anti-missionaries can report to their compatriots and donors inflated numbers of Jews and Muslims coming to faith in Christ in an attempt to exaggerate the threat and raise more money. So that's why I appreciate the careful work of Miller and Johnstone to say, "Okay, well this is the best." You know, they worked, they checked for double counting and they, you know, anyway, the point is that's a conservative estimate, 10 million, but that's amazing. 200,000, 10 million. Yeah, if you look at it against the total number of Muslims, you could be discouraged. But if you look at wow, each one of those is a story of God's transformation, then that's exciting. And it's very similar to the story of Acts, right? One day there's 11, then there's 120, then there's 3,000, then there's 5,000. You know, the Lord gives us some numbers just to give a sense of the dynamic. Not 'cause we're supposed to be fixated on numbers, but 'cause he wanted us to understand the dynamic. Now that said, the vast majority of those Muslim conversions that this study reviewed, those took place in places like Indonesia and Iran, okay? Here in the epicenter in Israel, the Palestinian authority and the five Arab countries around the holy land where we work, the numbers of people coming to Christ are far fewer, okay? Something's happening in Indonesia, Iran, and few other places that is much more dramatic than what we're seeing here in our little neck of the desert. Not a lot of woods, but anyway.
- [Announcer] Our verse of the day today is found in Mark chapter five, verse 19. "And he did not permit him, but said to him, 'Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has shown mercy on you.'" Our prayer requests today are to pray for ministers and pastors in the epicenter region, that they are strengthened in the Lord. And second, to pray for all people who do not know Jesus in the Middle East, that they may come to know Jesus as Savior.
- [Joel] The Joshua Fund released a report that provides a useful if imprecise snapshot of the state of the church in the epicenter. It was based on interviews with a wide range of Arab pastors and ministry leaders in the region, and a review of the articles and studies on the subject. I wanted to give you a few of these numbers. Again for context, just for some context. We mentioned that in the Palestinian Authority, there are only about 1,500 Arab evangelicals in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. That includes between 200 and 250 Muslim background believers who live in those areas. However, few of them at those attend church out of concern for their safety or because they don't yet feel welcome to come into the church because people fear like they feared Paul when he first came to Christ, "Hey, that guy was a terrorist. Maybe it's a scam." You know? So there's that anxiety And we've noted worldwide, there's an estimated 30,000 Palestinian born again followers of Christ, but most of them have left. So now in Israel, we've noted that there are between four and 5,000 Arab evangelical Christians, and many of whom feel very closely connected, obviously to their Arab Christian brothers in the Palestinian authority. Now, when you cross the river in the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan, there are an estimated 10 to 15,000 born again evangelical Christians. In addition, there's an estimated 10,000 Jordanian evangelicals who have moved out of the kingdom and moved to the United States or Europe or the Gulf for educational and business opportunities. And while most Jordanian evangelicals have come to faith from nominal Christian backgrounds, there are an estimated roughly a thousand Jordanian MBBs, Muslim background believers. There are possibly more, but it's difficult of course to to know precisely. Now, in the big picture, about 96% of Jordan is Muslim. There are about 145,000 Jordanians who are self-described Christians, most of them from Catholic or Syrian Orthodox or other type of historic denominational setting. Some of them are born again, some of them not. So we need to be praying for those in the historical churches as well as for Muslims. Don't leave out of your prayers, those in the historical churches because they know of Christ. They're not opposed to him, but they don't yet realize that you can have a born again relationship. That was similar to my mother growing up in one of the historic churches. In Egypt, this is exciting. There are approximately 2 million Egyptian Protestant, born again followers of Jesus Christ, 2 million. That is far and away the largest even Christian population of any country in the Arab world. Now, big picture about 86% of Egyptians are Muslim, and there are about 11 million Egyptians who self subscribe as Christians. Most of them are within the Coptic Orthodox Church as well as Catholics and others. So again, there are born again believers. There is a bit of a revival going on in the Coptic Church, and we need to be praying for those in the historic churches there. In Syria, we believe there are currently between 21 and 23,000 evangelical Christians. Though at the moment it's impossible to be precise because many people have had to flee and some have been killed because of the terrible Civil War and all the terrorism there, and really genocide against Christians by ISIS and others. Now, while some 90% of Assyrians are Muslim, there's always been a sizable Christian minority in Syria. Again, because of the Civil War and the genocide, many have left. And in fact, the number of people who say that they're Christians, again, I'm not judging their faith or not, but who self-describe as Christians, that number has dropped in Syria from 1.25 million to about 500,000 today. That's what's going on because people are fleeing and many have been executed in the genocide. In Iraq, we believe that there are currently between one and 3,000 evangelical Christians. Now, that's not that many. I've been to Iraq four times. I've spent time with a lot of the leadership there. And you know, the good news is that worldwide there is an estimated 53,000 Iraqi born again evangelical Christians. But again, most of them fled from the war and the terror there. And now live in the United States, Europe, the Gulf, and elsewhere. Again, big picture in Iraq, about 96% of that country is Muslim. Again, there's always been a sizable Christian minority there. But because of war and terror and genocide by ISIS, the number of people who describe themselves as Christian has dropped from 1.5 million just a few years ago to maybe two to 300,000 today. In Lebanon, we believe there are an estimated 15 to 21,000 evangelical Christians. About 60% of Lebanese citizens are Muslim. There are actually about 1.3 million Lebanese who describe themselves as Christians. So again, as we pray, we wanna pray for Muslims, we wanna pray for historic Christians 'cause there's a lot of opportunity among people who are so close and potentially not yet there. Now, people have asked me, is it possible that there are far more Muslim background believers in the Middle East than these numbers reflect? And the answer is, of course, that is possible. As a result of satellite TV and radio ministries as well as the advanced and creative uses of the internet, internet evangelism, it's certainly possible that there are significantly more MBBs, Muslim background believers who have not yet come forward and identified themselves to the church, and they're not identified yet as followers of Christ. But that said, the numbers are very difficult to assess. And so we've only included conservative estimates in the Joshua Fund report. But here's the point, two points actually. And with these I will close. First, Christianity is not dead in the lands of its birth. Okay? It is under attack. It has suffered real losses. But Jesus is keeping his promise. It was Jesus who said that, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." And we just wanna thank the Lord that he is holding true to that word. And I think it's important to underscore what Moonie told us. "A displaced church is still okay." If someone comes to Christ here or in this region and has to flee someplace else, they're still in the kingdom and we're still grateful, even though they don't show up on the rolls of the local church. So that's one thing. Christianity is not dead in the lands of its birth. But second, now is the time for the followers of Christ to follow his lead, to cross the river, to stand with the church in the Arab world, and truly support them as they seek to fulfill the great commission in this generation. The evidence indicates that we are in the early stages of an historic spiritual awakening to Christ in the Muslim world. More Muslims have come to faith in Jesus Christ in the last half century than in the last 14 centuries combined. To be sure, the church in the region is still trying to figure out how best to minister to these Muslim converts. But how can we not come alongside our brothers and sisters and find ways to help them in this critical hour? I am so grateful that so many evangelicals love Israel and the Jewish people, and have a heart to help Jewish believers advance the gospel and grow the messianic body. At the same time, I'm also grateful that God is giving, I believe, a growing number of evangelicals a love for Arabs and Iranians and other groups in the Muslim world, and a heart to help the church on the other side of the river to grow as well. More and more people are asking the Joshua Fund, my colleagues and I, how can we make a difference in the region? How can we help? And as we close, let me share with you very, very, very briefly, four strategies, four words that I want you to remember as you take away from this summit. Learn, pray, give, and go. Okay, learn, pray, give, and go. That's the four words. If you forgot everything else, I want you to remember, go home with learn, pray, give, go. Why? First we wanna see in the Joshua Fund, we wanna see a growing movement of Christians in the West and around the world learning what is God doing in Israel and the Arab world? What are the challenges that our brothers and sisters are facing? And how can we come alongside? That's what you've been doing here. You've come to learn and you're like, "Yeah, and I'm almost done. You know, I got it. We're landing the plane. I can see the runway. The landing gear is down." but you're learning and I'm so grateful. So the next step is, as you learn these things, the next step is we wanna mobilize Christians to be praying faithfully, consistently, without ceasing for the believers in this region, for pastors and their families, for the salvation and transformation of all who do not yet know that Jesus is the lover of their souls. The number one reason so many Muslims and so many Jews are coming to faith in Jesus Christ is that more Christians are praying for their souls than ever before. Imagine the fruit that will come if more believers are mobilized to pray more faithfully. Learn, pray, give. Third, as the spirit of God draws more and more people in the epicenter to Christ, Christians through that around the world that have financial resources can give cheerfully, sacrificially to the work of the kingdom. As these needs grow, the local body has a very hard time even meeting the current needs, much less the needs of growth. The needs are both exciting and enormous. The Joshua Fund is already investing millions of dollars, encouraging, refreshing training pastors and ministry leaders, distributing Bibles to Syrian and Iraqi refugees, equipping Muslim background believers to abide in Christ and make other disciples, and in many other projects to strengthen the church here in the region. But the needs and the opportunities both in Israel and the Arab world are far greater than we can adequately handle even at our current funding level. So if that's something you would consider giving, we would love to be a partner with you, a trusted resource. You know, we talk about, you know, how if you came here to this land, would you know how to find a Mazen or a Arez or a Victor or a Daniel or a Carlos? I mean, part of it's because we're here and we get to know these folks and so from our side of the Joshua Fund, we think of ourselves as a venture capital firm, spiritually speaking. We're trying to identify small but promising growing ministries that we can come alongside, pray for, encourage, resource and fund if the Lord allows us. From your side as a donor or a potential donor, it's like a mutual fund. You're like, yeah, "I wanna help, but I wouldn't know the first thing. I wouldn't know how to buy $25 a month or $10,000 a year or whatever the number would be, I wouldn't know where to put that money 'cause I, yeah, these people seem nice, but I haven't done the vetting. I don't know their theology. I don't know where the money goes." That's what a mutual fund is, right? You're not a stock picker. You're not timing the market. You're like, "Hey, I trust these people. I'm gonna trust that they're gonna invest wisely. I will note for all the lawyers in the room, including our own, we're not talking about near financial return on your investment in this lifetime. Okay? So you're investing for eternity as the scriptures teach. So I just wanna put this disclaimer, but learn, pray, give. Okay, and fourth and finally is go. And you're like, "Yeah, exactly." No, okay, hang in there. Fourth and finally, we wanna inspire, Joshua wants to inspire Christians not only to go to Israel, and to bless Israel and Jewish people, but to go to the Muslim world, to strengthen our brothers and sisters to advance the kingdom of God. There may be people in this room whom God is calling to go into full-time ministry. Maybe not with us, but maybe with some other ministry. I wanna say yes, good. Don't walk outta here thinking, well, I learned, I pray, I give, well, I'm not, I'm not going. I mean, don't. You know I have a son named Jonah. You name one of your kids, Jonah, you need to remember every day, hey, the Lord might ask you to do something difficult. He might ask you to move from one place where you're comfortable, to another place where you might not be comfortable for his purposes. Maybe the Lord's calling one of you, or more than one. "The fields are white for harvest, but the laborers are few." But also you're about to go home. And so now you've come. Normally I'm in the North America or wherever, say, "Hey, you should go to Israel. You should come and see what we're doing." Now I want you to go home and I wanna encourage you with this thought. I wanna make sure that you take some time from your tour, from this conference to write down, separate from all your other notes, distill out three, four, five insights the Lord has given you. Maybe it's a factoid, maybe it's a testimony, something that when you get home and your family or your neighbor or your pastor or whatever says, "Hey, what was it like? How was it over there?" And you're like, "Oh man. I mean, oh, it was just, I mean, I, where you, where do I begin? I mean, it was just so wow." They're like, "Okay." And then they say, "You know, by the way, you know the lawn needs to be mowed. And by the way, you know, healthcare is needed and blah, blah, blah. Your mom needs this." And you know, and then the moment's lost. Go back as an ambassador, not for Israel, not for the Arab world, for Jesus. Go back and be ambassador for Christ. What did God teach you on this trip? What did he teach you at this summit? And you can also point people to epicenterconference.com where all these messages will be. Say, "Hey, I encourage you. Take one message a day, a week, whatever, process it for yourself." Learn, pray, give, go. Why? Because of Mark, chapter five. Jesus crossed the Jordan River for one reason, to reach one man. And from that one man, the church in the Arab world was born, one man. What if you and I were willing to follow Jesus across the river? Certainly in prayer, but maybe in our giving as well, maybe even in our going, what if more and more Christians were willing to learn and pray and give and go to advance Christ's kingdom throughout the epicenter in Israel and beyond? How many more souls could be won? How many more disciples could be made? How many more brothers and sisters could be encouraged? How much more joy would you and I experience if we humbly, boldly, courageously followed our shepherd, praying all the while thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Let's close in prayer. Father, you're awesome. Jesus, come. Come make it all right. Fix every injustice. Make all things new. We can't wait for you to come to this city, to redeem people and to set up your kingdom. We look forward to that day. And until that day, should you, terry, and we don't even want you to, terry, we say, come Lord Jesus, most of these people, their trip is over. They'd be happy to stay. Just meet us in the air, Lord. Take us home. But if you, terry, help us be found faithful. Help us sift through all that we've seen and heard, which is a lot, a lot. Give us wisdom. Teach us how to learn and to pray, and to give and to go that we might hear from your lips one day "Well done, my good and faithful servant. You are faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master." We pray these things with great thanksgiving in Jesus' name, in Yeshua's name, in Yeshua's name. Amen. Amen.
- [Carl] Thank you so much for joining us today to explore the love of Jesus for all people in the Middle East, the dynamics of conversion in the Middle East, and the importance of giving, praying, and going. If you've found this podcast really valuable, please get in touch with us. Let us know who you are. Do you want to talk about something special or different on this show that you've heard? Do you want Joel to answer a question? Go to joshuafund.com and click on contact us. Your feedback is very valuable to us as we develop this podcast. And as always, you can check out our show notes for anything you heard on the podcast that you'd like more information on. For Joel Rosenberg and the entire Joshua Fund ministry team, I'm Carl Mueller. Thanks for listening to this episode of "Inside the Epicenter" with Joel Rosenberg.
- Hi, this is Joel Rosenberg, founder and chairman of the Joshua Fund. And I've got exciting news. In 2023, I'm inviting you on behalf of our entire board and staff to come to the Holy Land, to come to Israel on the next prayer and vision tour. This is the 75th anniversary of the prophetic rebirth of the modern state of Israel back in 1948. And what is God doing here? It's amazing spiritually, economically, in so many ways. There's been so much growth, so much progress. But the best is yet to come. And we want you to see it. We want you to walk where Jesus walked. We want you to see where the apostles ministered. We want you to see where people's lives were transformed by the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We want you to see this city where Jesus died and rose again and where he's coming back, I hope soon. But in the meantime, come to Israel with the Joshua Fund. You can learn more about the trip, the itinerary, the cost, all the details at joshuafund.com. But sign up quickly 'cause I think this thing is gonna fill up fast. The prayer and vision tour of Israel in the fall of 2023. I hope to see you there.