The Night of Power (Laylat Al-Qadr)

The Night of Power (Laylat Al-Qadr)

Laylat Al-Qadr (the Night of Power, Night of Destiny, or Night of Decree) is the holiest night of Ramadan. It is the night when Mohammed is thought to have begun receiving the Quran. The exact night is disputed, so Muslims hold special observances for the last ten days of Ramadan. Some will practice itikaf, a sort of spiritual retreat where one stays in a mosque for the whole ten days in order to worship and attach oneself closer to God. 

The Night of Power is said to be worth 1000 months and, as the gates of Paradise are open for this one night, it carries blessings beyond those of other nights in Ramadan. It is believed that if on this night, one stays awake and applies themself to prayer, meditation, and the reading of the Quran, their previous sins will be forgiven and the rest of the year, which is determined on al-Qadr, will be blessed.

This night has been significant in recent history for the Church as well. There have been numerous accounts of Muslims who, earnestly and passionately seeking a revelation of God over Al-Qadr met Isa al Masih (Jesus the Messiah) in their dreams.  Typically these dreams reveal, in whole or in part, the true way to righteousness with God, a relationship with Jesus Christ. These dreams have been instrumental in bringing the gospel into areas previously prohibitive for evangelism. Several of our partners have said Ramadan is one of the most fruitful times for evangelism due to Muslim’s heightened spiritual focus.

We ask, therefore, that you would petition our Lord with fervent prayers on behalf of Muslims over these last days of Ramadan. Pray that Muslims who are seeking to know God would discover the Way, God’s Son, Jesus. 

THE NIGHT OF POWER AND THE INFIDEL

The Night of Power, an especially holy night near the end of Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting), had arrived for Rahmad. read more …

REMEMBER SUSI, THE SEEKER?
Since the beginning of the year, Jane* and her local partner have been studying the Bible with Susi*, a spiritually hungry Muslim read more …

I AM READY!
“I have some great news to tell you,” Job shared with Frank over the phone. “I’m ready to follow Jesus!”  read more …

Muslim Background Believers Need Our Prayers

Muslim Background Believers Need Our Prayers

In February of this year, several key leaders met to discuss critical challenges and hurdles impacting disciple-making efforts in a Muslim majority country. Attendees discussed the intricacies of the discovery process, the significance of directing attention toward spiritual generations to come, and the essence of what constitutes a church. Two disciple-makers shared the impact of those meetings and some items for prayer:

From Passively Learning to Becoming a Multiplying Disciple-Maker
*Rafiq had attended an in-person discipleship training 18 months ago. While he seemed to appreciate the training at the time, Rafiq did not put into practice what he had learned. 

This February, Rafiq returned for further training. Two weeks after the February training, a significant change occurred in Rafiq. This Muslim-background disciple courageously invited a few of his Muslim friends to study together about Jesus. His friends agreed and two new groups were started, going through Bible stories from Creation to Christ! Praise God for taking hold of Rafiq’s heart and turning him into a healthy disciple who makes more healthy disciples.

Please pray that these new groups would personally experience Jesus and actively share what they learn with their family and friends, in order to start more groups. Pray also that these new groups would become the foundation of new churches. Join us in praying specifically for unwavering obedience in the face of potential persecution, especially during the upcoming month of Ramadan. The evil one has come to steal, kill and destroy, BUT Jesus came to bring life in abundance.  

Remember *Gia, the Determined Disciple?
Gia lit up the room in the February training with news of the more-than-40 first-generation discovery groups and churches that she and her cousin helped start. Praise God for Gia’s determined, focused efforts in making disciples! The group rejoiced to hear about the groups Gia initiated, but the true cause for celebration lay in the cascading effect of her groups giving rise to new ones.

During the training, Frank the movement catalyst focused on the essence of healthy discipleship – the reproduction of disciples who, in turn, multiply into subsequent generations. He emphasized not merely cultivating spiritual “children” but rather fostering “grandchildren” and “great-grandchildren” – a vision of multigenerational disciple-making. 

Now Gia knows that focusing on her “great grand-children is indeed a better way to share with everyone about the God who changed her life completely and can change theirs too! She has been telling her first generation groups to start groups, and we praise God that five new second generation groups have started just since the training!

When the word of God transforms someone’s life they can’t help but share it.

Gia and her team are putting into practice the biblical principles of multiplication and are effectively making healthy new disciples who make new disciples.

Pray for these new second generation groups. Ask that the groups be transformed as they listen to the word of God, obey God’s commands in their everyday life, and then boldly share the news with others. 

*pseudonym

READ OTHER STORIES 

REMEMBER GIA, THE DETERMINED DISCIPLE
“It is my duty to tell them, and I passionately want to, but I don’t know how. Please train me on how to reach my read more …

WIFE BEATING DRUNK MEETS JESUS
After she became Jesus’ disciple, Gia* began to share her testimony with others in her village. Her testimony and  read more …

CAN CHRISTIANS MESS UP THE PLAN
They went door-to-door, passing out Bibles in foreign languages and offering free meals worth far more  read more …

Praying with Purpose During Ramadan

Praying with Purpose During Ramadan

As a cross-cultural Christian in a 99.9% Muslim country, I find Ramadan to be filled with stark contrasts. On the one hand, multigenerational families gathering around tables each night eating homemade delicacies and food drives that collect pantry staples for poor families are almost universal. On the other hand, thievery due to pressure to buy gifts at the end of the month along with arguments, fist fights, traffic snarls, and shortened tempers due to nicotine and caffeine withdrawals all increase during the 30 days.

The sharp contrasts powerfully illustrate the ineffectiveness of outward religious practices to bring inward transformation. And yet, so few seem bothered with this reality and even fewer wrestle and search for a solution. Five times a day, the Muslim call to prayer continues to ring out. It echoes and clashes from the various mosques in my neighborhood that aren’t in sync with each other. Five times a day, the land is flooded with announcements from loudspeakers saying, “there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” Year after year, many abstain from food, water, and nicotine during the daylight hours in an effort to appease God and try to earn merit.

In the midst of this environment, I and a relatively small community of other Christians seek to bring the Good News of God’s kingdom and the life, death, burial, and resurrection of His Christ to people who have had virtually no access for 1400 years. Such circumstances cause me to cry out, Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Cor. 2:16b, NKJV).

And that desperation, that utter helplessness I can feel as I engage in Gospel conversations with neighbors, friends, and strangers, leaves me no choice but to pray. The longer I live in the Muslim world, the more convinced I am that only the power of prayer and God’s Spirit can bring transformation.

So, when I heard about the opportunity to champion 24/7 prayer for the entire 30 days of Ramadan last year for the Muslim country that I want to reach with the Gospel, I knew I needed to say, “Yes!”

The team at Pray4Movement.org built a free, simple tool that empowers anyone who wants to promote continuous prayer for a people group, city, country, or region. In just a few clicks and by answering a few questions, I received a web page of my own that I could customize and then send out to my friends, family, coworkers, etc. They could then sign-up for time slots to pray.

I only needed to find 96 people who would commit to pray for a different 15-minute time slot each day of Ramadan to cover the entire 30 days with prayer. Intercessors received an email each day before their committed time slot with a reminder and a link to go view that day’s biblical prayer fuel. The Pray4Movement team developed content that could be customized for my people group with just a few keystrokes. However, I had complete freedom to write my own custom prayer requests and prayer guides. By God’s grace, we filled the 30 days with nonstop prayer!

Only in eternity will we know the full impact of what happened as the Church prayed extraordinarily for the Muslims in the country where I live, but I believe God answered our prayers and is answering them in beautiful ways. Since Ramadan 2022, our team has witnessed a significant increase in groups of people interested in reading, discovering, and discussing the Bible with their friends.

Our country wasn’t the only one that tried to go for continuous prayer coverage during Ramadan 2022. It turns out that 84 different champions took on the challenge impacting 64 countries. At least 6,395 intercessors filled more than 170,000 15-minute prayer slots.

One prayer champion in a sub-Saharan Muslim nation said they saw God move in powerful ways during Ramadan as people prayed. A Muslim man who cut off relationship with his Christian children began calling them, bringing hope of restored relationship. An elderly woman who refused to submit her life to Christ for decades accepted Christ during Ramadan. Other Christians in the country were compelled to grow their prayer life for their Muslim neighbors and sought to be brighter lights among them. Evangelism efforts among this people group in the weeks that followed proved more fruitful.

One of the most persecuted countries in the world rallied more than 100% prayer coverage during the 30 days. The prayer champion for that Muslim nation said, “I don’t think that we know even a small percentage of the impact that was made by praying 24/7 during Ramadan this year. Consistently, we heard how many people felt a heavy spiritual oppression. I think that signifies that we are pushing against the enemy in an effective way. We had several people around the globe that communicated just how impactful it was to have the prayer fuel and were encouraged by the unity of praying together with others. We are expecting that fruit will come from this initiative and some evidence of that is already coming.”

Another prayer champion working in a Muslim country in South Asia said, “We had over 100 people praying daily for the work, and we know of at least three Muslims that came to faith during this time. Normally, Ramadan is very slow, with few responses or new believers. So this year was different! Five more have followed Jesus in the month after Ramadan!”

As if these stories aren’t glorious enough, something important happens in the intercessors, themselves, as they devote 15-minutes a day to pray for a Muslim people group, city, country, or region. Yes, their prayers make eternal impact in the spiritually dark places they pray on behalf of. But their prayers also make an impact in their own lives. They begin to be changed and God softens their hearts for the people for whom they are praying. If you pray for the nations consistently, you’ll find that at some level you will have to go into action for the nations through giving, going, mobilizing, or serving.

During Ramadan 2022 (April 1-May 1), when all of the time committed to pray for Muslims across all of the 84 different initiatives was added up, it totaled 4 years, 359 days of prayer or 43,660 hours! The team at Pray4Movement is asking God for even more prayer initiatives and multiples of prayer hours totaled for the Muslim world in Ramadan 2023.

My heart aches for the millions in the land that I live in to know the Christ that came to save them not just from their evil deeds, but also from their good deeds done from wrong motives-from selfishness and self-righteousness, from outward religion to inward transformation. This Ramadan (Mar 22-April 21, 2023), technology has given our generation unprecedented opportunity to pray with insight and specificity for Muslim people groups, cities, and countries. Would you champion prayer for one of them among your family, friends, congregations, and partners?

This article was first published in Mission Frontiers: Women in Mission, Mar/April  2023 , pages 11-13. It was used here with permission.

 

Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year

This year, Chinese New Year (CNY) begins on Saturday, February 10, marking the new year’s arrival (on the traditional Chinese calendar) for nearly one-sixth of the world’s population. The whole celebration lasts 16 days, from New Year’s Eve through the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the new year. For a portion of those days, nearly 1.4 billion people return to their family homes, making it the largest annual migration of people on earth.

Once home, families usher in the New Year by eating a family meal together, honoring their ancestors with offerings, exchanging gifts of money, and generally welcoming good fortune into their lives for the upcoming year.

The reunion meal, eaten on the Eve of Chinese New Year, is considered to be the most important meal of the year. Before the meal begins, the family honors their ancestors by offering food and lighting incense. Then the family enjoys many symbolic foods, which, when consumed, are believed to ensure a happy, healthy, and prosperous year. On the stroke of midnight, fireworks are set off to scare away evil spirits and bad luck. Many cities have huge public displays, but some families and businesses also have private ones.

Liberal use of the auspicious color red also courts good fortune in the new year. Red lanterns, banners, couplets, and symbols decorate businesses and homes. Red clothing is a must and is thought to protect people and bring good luck and fortune.

Giving money in bright red packets is a way to pass on good luck. Children delightedly receive the envelopes from family members and close friends. Married people pass these packets to their single friends, and businesses often give them to their employees and loyal customers.

During this time, people adhere to many rituals and taboos. There is to be no cleaning of the home, laundry, or even oneself on New Year’s Day. To do so would be to sweep or wash good fortune away, ensuring a difficult year. One should not use sharp objects such as knives, get a haircut, break anything, say unlucky words (“death” or “sickness”) or do anything taboo that could cause good fortune to leave the family.

Please pray that people would realize that wealth alone can blind one to their true state of being. As Revelation 3:17 says: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.”

HOW CAN WE PRAY:

  • Pray that Beyond field workers would be ready to engage those celebrating CNY with the truth of the gospel.
  • Pray that the seeds sown during this time will find fertile soil and will take root, and pray that those who hear will come to know that life in Christ is the best choice they could ever make.

 

Freedom from Demons, Baptism and 40 New Churches

Freedom from Demons, Baptism and 40 New Churches

Moon (literal translation of his name into English) is from a poor, nomadic, unreached people group in India. Illiterate and low caste, Moon had no job and no prospects. He lived on the side of the road in a plastic tent, sleeping on adirt floor. Moon was estranged from his wife because of his abusive anger. He was once arrested for getting violent with a girl. He fought anyone and was afraid of no one.

Sanjay and a friend, Jacob, had been working closely with Moon’s community leaders for a couple of years. The leaders asked the two men for help. Sanjay and Jacob’s first impression of Moon was that he was simply crazy. He even drank the blood of goats when they were butchered in the market. What kind of person was this!?

For months, Sanjay and Jacob returned to Moon’s community to visit with him and pray for him. Most people avoided Moon. Sanjay and Jacob loved him. During the course of a year, they saw change. Moon became a follower of Jesus. He became peaceful. He and his wife reconciled. They now have a son.  As a family, they eagerly share their story with others. 

Sanjay estimates that over 40 new house churches have been birthed through Moon and his wife’s efforts. Moon has even baptized new followers of Jesus who he is discipling.

Like the story in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, Jesus is still in the business of rescue. Rescued new disciples are making more disciples. The movement churches reported more than 100,000 baptisms in two months, across 16 states in India. This is the power of multiplication—every disciple making another disciple.

 

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