I wish I had time to craft a piece of literature about the time among the Muslims of Dearborn, MI. It was great to walk the streets with my brother Karl and to be engaged in ministry with him again some fifteen years after he and his family were commissioned as tentmaker-missionaries by our church to the city of Jakarta in Indonesia.
There is a great work there now that we shall leave nameless because of the sensitive nature of the church (Indonesia is the largest Muslim population country in the world). We came together in Dearborn on the eve of the annual Dearborn Islamic Festival to walk the neighborhoods, pray for every home, and interact with as many people as God gave us opportunity.
One area of town that we spent Tuesday afternoon in is 95% Yemeni Muslims. Hundreds of kids dotted the sidewalks, hajab-covered women went about their errands as mostly-unemployed men, periodically engaged in conversation with us but more often gave us inquiring stares or stayed out of sight beyond open doors.
We did meet a number of men, the spelling of whose names shall be pure conjecture on my part, there was Habeeb from Yemen who offered us water and spoke with us for perhaps 20 minutes. Ali was from Lebanon and gave us 40 minutes and thanked us for the visit. There was Ed, a Catholic man we met on Wednesday in another neighborhood and in another, a profane and bigoted Albanian man who had no room in his heart for African Americans or Hispanics.
At each home we left a brief piece of literature titled, God is Not Silent or the Problem. When asked what we were doing, we simply told them. “We are Christians out here in the neighborhood praying that Almighty God would bless you and your home with peace and giving out this piece (handing the flyer to them) about Isa (Jesus) and the Injeel (Gospel).”
Only once or twice did we get anywhere close to making the gospel clear but we saw many reading the pieces we left and pray that the seed that was sown will find good soil.
On my second day (Wednesday) we walked a neighborhood in the morning, simply praying for the people. In the afternoon, we were sent back to the same neighborhood to distribute literature. Something started to happen in the my spirit after spending most of two days praying for all of my Arabic-speaking new friends. It’s the same thing I have told so many about over the years.
“It is impossible to pray for long for anyone or group of people without beginning to actually, really care for the people for whom you are praying.”
My heart began to break. To see the hundreds of children and know that they are trapped in a religious system that will deny them the opportunity to even hear about the risen Christ, the King of Kings and the Savior of the world, was becoming more and more of a burden, a pain, a sorrow. Karl was on one side of the street and I on the other and I found my facial muscles contorting in grief as I struggled to hold back tears for the children.
“Lord they need you. These beautiful children, made in your image, would you free them, free their parents from the enslavement of this system (Islam). Free them, through the gospel, from their enslavement to sin. Make them instead slaves of righteousness. Make them followers of the Christ. Draw them to the beauty of the gospel. Conquer every barrier to becoming followers of One who laid his life down for them. Help your people to love them with a love that is willing to sacrifice and be sacrificed for them.
Bring peace to these homes. There is no peace, no lasting peace without the Prince of Peace reigning in our hearts. Lord draw them to yourself that they would be numbered among those from every tribe, nation and language at the end of the age, who will bow down in praise to you for their redemption. Thank you for my redemption. Don’t let me hold it to myself. Make me bold in my proclamation of the gospel that more might come to know you. In the name of Jesus, I ask all of this and so much more. Amen.”