The Arab Spring (Spring 2011 newsletter)

The following is an article from a recent newsletter of a good friend of mine (DB-name withheld) who is a pastor-missionary working in the Middle East (particularly Egypt) and does training in the US, as well. His perspective on current events is much more insightful (based on personal experience and contacts) than typical media sources.

The last 6 months has been a volatile time in the Middle East and North Africa. The Arab Spring is shaking up the region in a manner not seen since Mark Sykes and Francois Picot took to a map with their markers in 1916 and divided up the Ottoman Empire into colonies ruled by Britain and France. The governments of Tunisia and Egypt have been overthrown while brutal dictators in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Libya have murdered their own citizens to stop the cry for democratic reforms and basic human rights. The revolutions could be a blessing or a curse for the church. The right to free speech and to change ones religion from Islam to Christianity without fear of reprisal would be great! But many political analysts say this is improbable. A more likely scene is the Muslim Brotherhood is elected to power.

Certainly the Revolutions did not change the fact that extremist Muslims continue to attack Arab Christians. In March, rioters set fire to a church in Helwan Egypt. In Mansheit Nasr, the area where I served while living in Egypt and where I stay whenever I visit Cairo, some of the Christian youth wanted to show solidarity with the church in Helwan. They went down to the highway below the district, where they had a demonstration, stopping the traffic. That evening 400 Salafi Muslims armed with guns & clubs attacked the young men. In the ensuing melee 10 people were killed, over 140 injured. The 9 dead Christians, pictured on the next page, left 5 widows under the age of 25 with 10 children and 3 more in the womb. By God’s grace Dreams Alive and friends gathered over $7,000 to help these families.

The Arab World is shaking. Could this be a fulfillment of an ancient Biblical prophecy? The character of Islam was already predicted before the birth of Ishmael (father of the Arabs) 4000 years ago, and remains true of Muslims today. Hagar, the mother of Ishmael was told of Muslims “He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone's hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers." (Gen.16:12, NIV). Osama Bin Laden and all the corrupt despots fulfilled this prophecy and many Muslims will fulfill the prophecy. As my Egyptian friend Randa Samir wrote, “The devil has a lot of alternatives to Osama Bin Laden. Satan is well trained in hatred and darkness in world systems.” Abraham prayed for Ishmael, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!" (Gen 17:18) Way before Islam entered the world the vast majority of Arabs were Christian, they “lived before God.” Now, despite the hate, the Holy Spirit moves silently & mightily in Arab nations once again, and Muslims are turning to faith in Jesus.

We are living in momentous times; any thing can happen in a remarkable way. The Holy Spirit is moving among Muslims throughout the world. As children of God let’s lift the prophetic prayer of Abraham to God in faithful prayer for Arabs. Many more of them will come to Christ.