“I welcome the hard times…” My jaw dropped when I heard Pastor S (from Cairo, Egypt) utter those words. He challenges me to search my heart and ask if I really want revival, and if I want to be a part of God’s move in our generation.
I hear frequently, as we gather to pray, cries to God for revival in our land. Many of us are hungry for a great movement in our midst. We pray for God’s Kingdom to come, and for His will to be done. We ask to see miracles and to witness the testimonies that we hear from distant lands. But, do we really know what we’re asking for? Are we willing to pay the price for such a revival?
You see, on one hand we’re praying for these things, but at the same time we’re concerned about being safe, protected from all forms of evil. We don’t want any pressures or difficulties. We want our comfortable lifestyle protected at all costs. According to our prayers we want God to do something big in our midst — but we’re not ready to participate in it.
I know this sounds harsh, and I apologize. Perhaps I shouldn’t use “we” but speak only of myself. I am writing my reflections of one of the many lessons I learned during last week’s mission trip to Egypt.
While we were in Cairo we visited a large Evangelical church, and we had the privilege of meeting with the pastor and some key church leaders. We heard about their church, their missions and outreach efforts, and their involvement with the current refugee crisis.
I must confess that this trip challenged many of my presuppositions and judgments. I found among the Muslim population a gentle, loving, welcoming people — not very different from ourselves. Among the Christians I expected to find a fearful Church, operating covertly in fear of their enemies; but instead I found the opposite: a strong Church, bold, fearless, courageous. I found a Church that shines brightly in a dark world, reaching out to all men with the love of God, expressed in practical ways. They have hospitals, drug rehab centers, sports camps, festivals, and marriage enccounters where they welcome their Muslim neighbors with no strings attached. They accommodate their needs and love them on their terms — not ours. And so, moved by these expressions of unconditional love, many Muslims are coming to Christ.
I heard first-hand accounts of churches in Lebanon, for example, that used to run 30 or 40 members, who have opened their doors to Muslim refugees and now have over 600 gathering to worship Jesus as Lord. That is revival!
I used to picture the Middle East crisis as Muslims persecuting Christians and threatening to eradicate our faith from their land. Now I see another side of that coin: radical Muslims persecuting Muslims, and these in turn finding refuge among Christians. That is revival!
As I mentioned earlier, Pastor S, reflecting on their current political situation and the possibility of the reinstatement of a harsh regime said, “I welcome the hard times; but I’m just not sure whether the people will be able to withstand it again.” He welcomes the hard times because he has seen the revival that results from that (which, incidentally, is the pattern that we see all through the book of Acts — persecution always precedes revival).
So, what about us? Are we ready to embrace our Muslim neighbors and love them unconditionally? Will we open our doors to refugees who are coming to our nation? The American Church is being presented with her greatest opportunity for revival that our generation has seen. How will we respond?
I leave you with my own reflection and invite you to reflect along with me. Father, please show me what is in my heart. Let Your perfect love cast out all fear so I can better partner with you. Teach me to pray, not for my comfort, but for Your Kingdom and will to be established in our midst. Change me annd mold me. I want to be a vessel of Your love. Bring revival to our land, and let me be Your instrument in it.
Dr. Chiqui Polo-Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015